How’s the writing going? Have you managed to carve out daily time for your writing goals? (Even just fifteen write-able minutes?!)
It’s been a few months since our last batch of inspired tips from our instructors on how to make daily time for your writing. Here are a few more to keep you going!
“To keep writing part of my life, I’ve become a jotter. I write lines or ideas or images on the backs of receipts, napkins, ads. Even if I happen to lose the scrap (which is often) what I’ve written stays in my mind in a way that it never could if it wasn’t written down. Jot, jot, jot.”
“Writing isn’t typing, so use the time you usually spend stuck in traffic and “write” a scene in your head. Or better yet, take a walk without ear buds or a chattering friend–preferably in the morning when your mind is freshest. Your brain will have no choice but to react to the stimulus of the actual, real life around you and begin to free associate; the result is that your mind will usually turn to your story and you’ll have a breakthrough or two. And you’ll get some exercise. And you know you need it, just look at yourself. Anything that forces you to turn off your TV, stop surfing the net, and just THINK is critical to original storytelling. You have to stop processing other people’s material in or order to start thinking about your own.”
“I put writing on my to-do list. It sounds obvious and silly, but I write down the title of my work-in-progress on my list. I’ve always used to do lists, and I love to cross out the list items when I’ve completed them. And I only require myself (a la Anne Lamott) to write 200 words a day. Of course I usually do more, but if it’s on the list and it’s not a scary word count, I can do it, every day.”
“There’s a lot more to the writer’s day than writing. So, when I commit to being a writer every day, I acknowledge that a lot goes on in my head and heart before it comes out on paper. This means that on those days that I cannot spend a couple of hours of concentrated effort at the keyboard, I can take a walk and make notes, or I can read a chapter of whichever book I’m in the middle of, paying attention to the writing, or I can watch a film and think of it in screenwriting terms, enjoying and studying it at the same time. This is what a writer does: a writer lives writing.”
“When I am writing and having trouble getting the work done I do two things. Make sure I know what I am writing, as in having some kind of plan for where the scene is going, and also, giving myself permission to write bad fiction. I can’t be brilliant every day, but I can certainly do several pages of crap every day.”
“I have kept a variety of spiral notebooks through the years, forcing myself to write something by hand every day. Looking back through my current little pink polka-dotted journal, entries are a doodled mish-mash of everything from grocery lists, to questions I wanted to ask the doctors while my father was dying, to ramblings of gratitude to jotted down story ideas to contract details and taped-in fortune cookie quotes. I’m sure it looks insane to anyone who’d care to look, but doing something tactile like this each day feels creative, even when I’m not spending hours on an article or essay under deadline.”
“I once heard Ray Bradbury say, ‘Make writing the first thing you do every day.’ Sounded like good advice for somebody else. I’m not a morning person. But then I noticed that there were too many days when I was tied up with my students’ work, or my house, or shopping for dinner… too many days when I got into bed and had never found time for my own writing. So, morning person or not, I started writing at 6:00am every day except weekends. I don’t check emails. I don’t make phone calls. I don’t even make breakfast. I make a cup of tea, sit, and watch the world slowly get light, and write. For me.”
Mae Respicio is the Program Representative in Creative Writing (Onsite), and just like you, she’s trying to make time for her writing every day (she’s on the 200 words a day plan). Commiserate with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.