How To Sell More Stories: Write More!
What is the single biggest cause of writers not selling their work?
It sounds silly, but think about it for a moment and you'll agree.
What do writers need to write?
They need time.
Okay, yes, maybe I have turned into Ms. Obvious.
I've started making the time from waking till 9:00 am sacrosanct and it's amazing how much more writing I've been doing.
Instead of procrastinating writing to blog I procrastinate blogging to write!
Rob D. Young's 6 Strategies To Make Your Writing Schedule Sacred
It was with great glee I read The Write Time: 6 Strategies to Make Your Writing Schedule Sacred by Rob D. Young. Here are some of the strategies Rob developed to make sure his writing time remained sacred:
1. Make your writing time legitimate.
Writing isn't optional.
It's easy to think of writing as less important than cleaning the house, making dinner, spending quality time with friends.
I'm not suggesting these things aren't important, they are, but as Rob points out "tasks tend to expand to fill the time available for them."
Even if you're not planning on making your living from writing, writing is part of you, and writing gives your creative muse a workout--and you know the saying: Use it or lose it. Rob writes:
Your work matters, so stop treating it as "fake." Schedule it in the same way you schedule appointments and work tasks.
2. Invest in your writing ritual.
Ritualize your writing. How? Create rhythms.
Here's mine: I get up, put on the kettle, get out my writing journal--a book which only includes my writing and my notes on my writing, no daily reminders, no to-do lists--and I sit and write for about an hour and a half. After that I launch my day, read my email, research my blog posts and so on.
Later in the day when I'm not quite as fresh creatively I edit my work and do research. (By the way, I never edit the work I've just done--that would be madness, madness I say!--I work on a completely different manuscript.) As part of my work editing (and it is work) I flag passages that need to be re-written but I'll do the actual re-writing in the morning when I'm fresh.
One thing I don't do is look at my email before I write, not even one tiny teensy-tweensy glance, because every time I do I end up blowing through my writing time. It's always, "Oh, just one more thing." Uh huh. And pigs fly.
As Rob mentions, doing the same thing every single day helps to gently wake your muse and get her ready to grace you with her creative magic. Here's his advice:
What I encourage is developing your own rituals that involve things that you already enjoy. From there, a simple investment in your rituals can have a profound impact. It doesn't matter that no one actually needs 16 different flavors of tea (my current total): Buying new flavors is how I get myself excited about the ritual surrounding my writing. Likewise, I regularly invest in instrumental soundtracks (most recently work by Lindsey Stirling) because it makes me excited to get going.Any excuse to buy more tea is wonderful!
3. Unplug your distractions.
During the time you've set aside to write a first draft do not for any reason go on the internet. (That is, if you're anything at all like me!) Even to research something. You can do the research later during your editing time.
Research is important but it will often kill the momentum you've built up or, if there is no momentum, it will offer you something else to do besides writing.
But don't stop with the internet, turn off your phone too.
If you're one of those lucky writers who have an office don't be shy about putting a sign on the door telling folks it's your writing time and to please not disturb you.
4. Use peer pressure.
This is part of the beauty of #NaNoWriMo. In his article Rob looks at how writers can use peer pressure all year long to keep our butts firmly planted.
a. Use your website/blog
Put a widget on your site that tells your community/tribe both what you're working on (if you want to be super secret about the content you can label it 'Project A') and how far along you are.
My favorite words-written widget is over at the NaNoWriMo site: NaNoWriMo Word Meter.
b. Use writing groups
Get together with a group of similar minded writers. Rob suggests doing write-ins where you get together, unplug from the world, get maximally caffeinated, and write.
You can do something similar virtually by tweeting an appropriate hash tag (your group could even make one up) to your friends and followers and have them join you. You could even turn this into a game to see who can write the longest.
The suspicious among you--yes mystery writers, I'm looking at you--could use Google Hangouts so everyone involved can see that everyone in the group is indeed writing.
Rob suggests using Word Wars. Instead of seeing who can write the longest, see who can write the most words in a given period of time. Rob writes:
By getting connected with a community of writers that you report to regularly, who have an expectation that you will produce, and who you can "compete" with, you're far more likely to do the actual work. This sort of peer pressure is a way to adopt the role of writer in social settings that reaffirm this portion of your identity.
5. Create a space that's just for writing.
I have an ergonomic keyboard, a chair with extra lumbar support, audiophilic speakers, a clean desk, and organized drawers. My walls have humorous posters about commonly misspelled words, how to use semicolons, and when to use i.e. or e.g. in a sentence. I do this because I want to make myself comfortable, but also because I want to remind myself that writing is what this space is for.I have all those things too but, fact is, I do most of my writing (at least, for my first draft) sitting on my couch using a pen and a journal.
When I edit I either sit on my couch or at a kitchen table and use my uber wonderful Mac laptop.
I do, occasionally, use my convenient and ergonomically wonderful keyboard in my convenient, expensive, and seldom used office, but I prefer (when the felines allow) being in the thick of things, not cut off from the life of the house.
That said, I do think it's a marvelous idea for writers to have a space dedicated to writing whether, like Sheldon Cooper, you have a favorite spot on the couch or whether you have something more private.
6. The desire to write.
Having a desire to write doesn't make you a writer--writing makes you a writer--but it makes it more likely that you'll write.
If you want to be a writer, the sole requirement is that you write. And if you want to write, you have to create an environment and set of habits that make writing feel like the natural thing to do ... [R]eal writing isn't the sort that happens in tidal-wave crashes a few times a year. Real writing is found in the day-in, day-out practice of a craft we can come to love in the same way we love a home, a spouse, or even our own familiar bones.All links, unless otherwise indicated, are from Rob D. Young's article, 6 Strategies to Make Your Writing Schedule Sacred.
What is your writing ritual? Please share! :-)
Other links you might like:- An April Fool's Roundup
- How To Write A Great Opening For Your Story
- The New Yorker Rejects Its Own Story: What Slush Pile Rejections Really Mean
Photo credit: "127/365 "In dreams, we enter a world that's entirely our own."" by martinak15 under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.