Summer quarter is almost here and believe it or not, we’re almost halfway through the year now. It’s the perfect time for me to check in with all of you… have you set your writing routine yet? (You know, the one you keep putting off?) Did some of the great instructor tips that we offered (here) help out? I’m happy to report that amidst a busy schedule, I’ve managed to put in my 15 minutes a day (normally at 1 in the morning!), and when I’m lucky, it turns into more.
For one last boost from Writers’ Program instructors, here are a few more tips to help you on the road to creating a writing practice:
Do you write every day or wait for your muse to inspire?
“Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. You may be waiting a long, long time. Get into the habit of writing every day, even if it’s only a few lines. When you finish writing, ask yourself, ‘How can this be improved?’ Then put it out of your mind, leaving your subconscious to come up with suggestions. This really works, especially if you repeat the question before you go to sleep. In the morning—voila!” —Claire Carmichael
“I consider writing a discipline. I truly believe part of writing success comes from writing every day. It’s like exercise—use it or lose it.” —Naomi Benaron
“Some writing time is better than no writing time. Even an hour is good. Again, stick to your schedule. A few writers I know are able to use ALL their not-otherwise-engaged moments to write. Mostly, it’s a matter of discipline, like going to the gym. Once you get in the habit, you’ll be okay and it won’t be so hard.” —Les Plesko
How do you find balance with your writing when it comes to other commitments, including families and full time jobs?
“My daughter’s six, and I don’t know a single writer with children who’s been able to answer this question to their complete satisfaction. I write while she’s at school, or asleep, or otherwise provided for. There’s guilt involved.” –Matthew Specktor
“I have teenagers. When they’re doing homework, I jump on my computer to write. If I’m waiting to pick up a carpool, I always have a notebook handy, or a book to read for research. I also ask my kids to brainstorm with me about my stories. Sometimes I think they’re better at it than I am!” —Jennie Nash
“Finding a balance is extremely challenging but I have found that sticking to a strict schedule is the only way for me. This means getting up at 4:45am and writing until 7:30am every morning during the week before work.” —Hannah Dennison
“Sometimes I do it beautifully and sometimes I don’t, and it’s a mess. I haven’t a clue what the secret is. If you find out let me know.” —Laurel Ollstein
What’s the best way to set—and stick to—your writing goals?
“I need visual prompts, so the best way for me to stick to a writing goal is to have the goal (the deadlines) written down on my calendar–not my computer. It needs to be where I can easily see it. I check the calendar every day and see what appointments or family duties I have that week, then work my writing schedule around those appointments.” —Roberta Wax
“Create realistic writing goals. I don’t sit down saying, ‘Today I’m going to write a novel.’ That would set me up for inevitable failure and frustration. But I do sit down saying, ‘Today I’m going to begin a draft of a short story and see how far I get.’ That’s manageable.” —Daniel M. Jaffe
“If one is looking for a way to achieve writing goals, my suggestion is to make a plan and stay with it. But don’t set unrealistic goals. Begin with targets that are easy to meet and gradually make them a little harder.” —Linda Palmer
“First, have a goal. Then, enjoy getting there.” —Maria Amparo Escandon
Mae Respicio is the Program Representative for Onsite Creative Writing.