Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tricks of the Trade

Real life happens around us while we play in the imaginary ones we create. How do you keep yourself in the writing zone and out of the ruts? Are there tricks to staying focused, especially at this time of year?

From Jim

Writing a book is hard. Distractions everywhere. The family! The friends! The housework and meals! Holidays are the worst! And KIDS? You spend twenty years sacrificing your dreams and breaking your back raising the whining little mucus makers, then they grow up and disappoint you. (Just kidding. Not.)

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What’s a writer to do?

Now there’s hope. Follow these simple steps and you too can stay focused and find inspiration to create your own mediocre novel.

1. Keep a spreadsheet of your daily word count. It’s a constant reminder of how little you’re accomplishing.

2. Get out of the house. Too many distractions. Find a comfortable work space and go there every day.

3. In an ideal world, make sure you have at least twenty minutes to get into gear of writing. After that, things start going.

4. Stop your work for the day in the middle of a scene, not at the end. It’s easier to get things going again the next day if you’re in medias res.

5. Know what your next scene is going to be. Staring into space wondering what to write next can be a major time suck.

6. Write down your inspirations and ideas. How many times have you come up with a fantastic idea, only to forget it before you got to it? Gone.

7. Keep a pad and pencil next to your bed to memorialize those fantastic ideas. Be prepared, however, to scratch your head in the morning. Not all middle-of-the-night ideas sound great in the light of day.

8. Have a deadline. If you’re in a writers’ group or have a publisher, you probably have deadlines. If not, challenge yourself to reach milestones by certain dates.

9. Others have already said this: Treat writing like a job. Act professionally. Show up and work hard.

10. Make bargains with yourself for word count milestones. e.g. I’ll get up for a coffee once I’ve finished a thousand words.

10. Thread your belt and strap it around the frame of the chair. Not so easy to get up, is it? You have to acknowledge defeat and unfasten the belt to leave your work. Commit to reaching a certain writing goal before unstrapping yourself.

11. Reward yourself when you meet your goals. Alcohol, chocolate, television, books. Whatever motivates you.


7 Criminal Minds said...

Good post, Jim. I'm also a fan of rewarding oneself ... often :-)

Susan C Shea said...

Good ideas, all of which need a primary motivator: will this effort ever see print? I know there are writers who ignore all of that (poets among them, god bless them all) but I am used to having book contracts and they're the whip that keeps me in shape! said...

Nice idea