Showing posts with label writing schedule. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing schedule. Show all posts

Saturday, February 9

8 Tips For Finding The Motivation To Write

8 Tips For Finding The Motivation To Write

Sometimes we don't want to write.

Perhaps you've hit a rough patch in your work-in-progress, perhaps you've come back from vacation or--like myself--taken time off to heal an injury.

Often getting back into the swing of things can be daunting and there's the guilt of having taken time off, for not having written (or edited) for a few days.

Deadlines loom--and perhaps pass, unmet.

It's natural to want to give up, to push the anxiety-inducing project to the side.

That's where I'm at now, and I'm looking for ways to pull myself out of this funk and WRITE.

So, in that spirit, here are 8 reasons to write, even if, like me, you don't feel like it.

1. Reward yourself

Give yourself something, a reward, when you finish your writing goal for the day.

For some, this might be a glass of nice wine, for others this might be a piece of fine chocolate--or perhaps a cup of hot coco with masses of miniature marshmallows dissolving into white foam on top. (You can perhaps guess what my preference would be! I'm a sucker for hot chocolate.)

Or perhaps you could get some time to yourself. For instance, if you have children, perhaps you could arrange for someone to mind them for 15 minutes or so while you take a nice hot bubble bath.

Or, if neither of those excite you, perhaps give yourself permission to watch a movie or an episode of your favorite TV show.

In the article How to Find Your Daily Writing Motivation James Chartrand writes that there are three things to keep in mind when choosing a reward:

a) The reward must be personal

It has to be something you want and something you're not going to feel guilty about afterward.

b) The reward has to be immediate

In order for the reward to work you need to give it to yourself as soon as you accomplish your daily goal. This way the reward will be associated with the stimulus (meeting your goal) and unconsciously you will feel that much more motivated, next time, to sit and write.

c) It has to be special

If your reward is something you regularly indulge in it won't motivate you to write because you'll be able to indulge in it regardless. James cautions that it may take several weeks for this method to reach its peak effectiveness, but it does work!

2. Set up consequences

Jody Calkins in her article 3 Keys to Getting Motivated to Write recommends also setting an extreme consequence that will befall you if your writing goal goes unmet. For instance, 50 pushups or crunches.

Or babysitting the neighbor's kids.

3. Warm up with a writing exercise

You wouldn't start exercising without warming up first, the same goes for writing. Do a writing exercise for 5 or 10 minutes to help get your creative juices flowing. But be sure to keep it to under 15 minutes or so. The goal isn't to start a whole new project (unless it is, then go for it!) it is to get you back into a writing mindset so you can work your way back into your old project.

4. Re-read a few pages of your previous work

Trish Love Elliott in Ten Ways to Find Motivation to Write recommends re-reading your previous pages as a way of working back into--and renewing your passion for--your project. She adds, though, that one should guard against getting so caught up in editing that you don't move on and write new words.

5. Write in a new place

One thing that sometimes works for me is going to my local (overpriced) coffee shop and treating myself to a decadent beverage--the more decadent the better! It helps if you surround yourself with all the accoutrements of a writer. The idea is to put yourself back into the mood, so play the part of the writer hanging out at the coffee shop, channeling her muse.

6. Read

To start yourself off, read for 15 minutes. If you're having a hard time believing you can actually do this thing, that you've got to be crazy to even think you could write, and so on, get a bestselling book from a second hand store or from the library. Pick one you think is horrible. The idea is to find a published book that sold well but makes you think: Hey! I can do this!!

Because you can.

7. Get your friends involved

Ask one or more of your friends to phone or email you and inquire whether you wrote. Be honest with them!

If you don't have anyone you feel comfortable asking to do this for you, set up your calendar program (I use Google Calendar) to send you an email reminding you to write.

8. Start small

In the beginning, when you're trying to ease back into a project, it's best to start small. Rather than demanding of yourself that you work for three hours, try 15 or 30 minutes. Once you're back in the groove you can increase the amount of time spent writing or editing.

Here are a few tips on how to, once you get back into a daily routine, keep it going: 12 Writing Tips: How To Be A Writer.

Do you have any advice, any tips or tricks, to share? How do you help yourself keep to a daily writing schedule?

Other articles you might like:

- Describing Character Reactions And Emotions: She Smiled, He Frowned
- Tags, Traits And Tells (Podcast)
- Good Writing: Using The Senses

Photo credit: "Untitled" by eflon under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Sunday, December 23

Writing And Publishing In 2013, How To Survive And Thrive: Part Two

Writing And Publishing In 2013, How To Survive And Thrive: Part Two

This is the second part of a two parts series about how to survive and thrive as a writer in 2013. The first part is here: Writing And Publishing in 2013: How To Survive And Thrive.

4. What Should We Write About? 

What should we write in 2013? Non-fiction, mainstream fiction? Genre fiction? If so, which genre? Paranormal romance? Urban fantasy? And what's the difference between the two? (See: What's The Difference Between Paranormal Romance And Urban Fantasy?) Or perhaps something genre-bending like a romantic western comedy on Mars? (I jest)

These days we're spoiled for choice.

Write what you love

Kris Rusch had an excellent post on this topic last week, and I agree with her 100%: Write what you love.
[A writer] should write the best story she can possibly write. She should be stretching her wings, trying harder with this book than she tried with the last book. If she feels safe and comfortable in the knowledge that the book will make all of her readers happy, she’s probably not trying hard enough.

In her creative office, every writer should feel like she’s on a high wire twenty stories off the ground over a major highway with no net to catch her if she falls. She should worry that this book is beyond her skill level, that she might not know enough to write this one, that she might not be good enough to pull this off.

At the same time, she should be having fun—but an adrenalin-junkie kind of fun, an I-can’t-believe-I’m-up-here-trying-this kinda of fun. (The Business Rusch: Where Art Meets Commerce)
It used to be that writers would scramble over themselves to get on email lists editors frequented in the hope that mention would be made of what kinds of stories were being accepted.

No one can predict what will be 'hot' in the future

For instance, at a conference I attended three years ago I was told, confidently, by a senior editor at a large publishing house that angels were the new vampires. "Three years from now," she said, "we're not going to be reading about vampires". Riiiight.

People read what they love, so writers should write what they love.

5. Diversity Is Your Friend

Publish Your Stories In Different Formats: Electronic, Audio, Video, Print

Why? To maximize exposure. Some readers prefer print, so set your book up at CreateSpace or Lightning Source and provide a print on demand (POD) version. Head over to Audio Creation Exchange (ACX) and do up an audiobook (you can pay to have this done by professionals or do it yourself at home).

In an article talking about how her Kobo sales have taken off, Lindsay Buroker writes:
Canada-based Kobo wasn’t on my radar at all in 2011 (my earnings were fairly negligible there), and it wasn’t until Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo, sent me a note in early 2012 (as a result of my woefully neglected self-publishing podcast) that I started following them more closely.
Nice! The point is, one can never tell which seed is going to germinate, sometimes it's the unlikely ones. I think the best approach is to try everything and see what works for you.

But don't stop at podcasting! Doing a video can be scary, but try reading a scene or two from one of your stories and then uploading the file to YouTube (or a similar service). Provide a link to your blog or wherever listeners can find out more about your work.

Lightning Source vs Createspace:
Jen Talty: Amazon's CreateSpace Vs LIghtning Source
Recording an audiobook:
How To Record Your Own Audiobook: Setting Up A Home Studio
Making a video:
7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion, Joanna Penn

Publish Yourself in Different Formats: Electronic, Audio, Video, Print

You want to help readers find you as well as your work. Last week I wrote about blogging and I feel that blogging is a great way to connect with folks, but don't leave it there. (And, yes, this is a 'do as I say not as I do' moment!)

What is the advice we're given about writing? Engage as many senses as possible! But this doesn't just apply to writing. It applies to everything, including self-promotion.

What is your goal when you sit down to write? What are you trying to do with your story? You're attempting to reach out to whoever is reading it and engage them, make them care. How do we do that? Through the senses: sight and hearing among them.

Videos and podcasts, as well as blogging, help make a connection with others. And it's free.

Joanna Penn was one of the first writers to take advantage of the possibilities YouTube afforded writers. In fact, that's how I first heard about her, because of one of her video interviews. And, as I mentioned above, Lindsay Buroker has had folks discover her through her podcasts. Those are just two examples, I know, but I do believe that video and podcasting are two ways of reaching out to an audience that are worth exploring.

6. How Much Time Should I Spend On Social Media?

I've heard folks say that for every hour of social media time one should spend 3 hours writing, and that's not a bad idea, but I think it misses something obvious: Every writer is different. It depends on what your goals are.

Let's talk about goals. Everyone's different, but it takes me at least four hours of editing for every hour of writing.  Since I write about 1,500 to 2,000 words an hour that means every 2,000 words of finished manuscript represents five hours of work.

2,000 finished, publishable, words a day would get me 730,000 words a year or a little over nine 80,000 word novels.

Not bad!

That was all calculated on one hour of writing and four hours of editing.

By the way, I'm not talking about editing the writing done that day. If you're anything like I am, that would be inviting disaster--I'd never get through the first draft!

Also, I'm not suggesting you spend one hour writing per day and spend the rest editing--though that wouldn't be a bad idea.

Every writer is different and many--myself included--like to write a fast first draft which means writing for two or three weeks straight and then editing. Do what works for you. If you're not sure what that is yet, experiment.

So where does this leave us with social media? If you're writing full-time (say 10 hours a day) you still have five hours left in your work day. (I know I haven't accounted for breaks or days off. These figures are approximate.)

Let's say you spend an hour and a half of those five hours doing administrative tasks like sending your previous work out to new markets or publishing your work yourself, answering writing related email (invitations to do interviews, guest posts, asking other writers to do the same for you), and so on.

Another hour and a half could be spent on stretching your wings into new markets. Try out podcasting, video blogging, whatever. Try something new. If it doesn't work, fine! But something will. Eventually.

Sooner or later something will catch and chances are it'll be the least likely thing you did. Hugh Howey is a great example of this.

That leaves two hours for social media. I use Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and a little bit of Facebook, but whatever social media appeals to you, use it to your hearts content for two hours.

This is what a 10 hour day would look like:

Writing: 1 hour
Editing: 4 hours
Administrative tasks: 1.5 hours
Stretching yourself: 1.5 hours
Social media: 2 hours

That's approximate. I'd probably spend more time writing and editing--or at least I'd like to. Administrative tasks seem to eat up most of my time.

What you can accomplish writing 1 hour a week

I think the overwhelming majority of new writers don't write full time. So lets look at a schedule for someone who can only write two hours a day, five days a week.

1 hour writing
40 minutes administrative
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes administrative
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes administrative
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes stretching your wings
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes stretching your wings
20 minutes social media

This is a rough approximation. The schedule will look vastly different depending on the writer. Also, in the beginning you likely won't have to spend as much time on administrative duties since you won't have as much work to send out, as much email, and so on. Also, if you can fit your social media tasks into odd moments of the day (waiting in line at the bank, buying lunch, riding the bus, etc.) you'll have more time to write.

How much work could a person using this schedule produce in a year? Let's take a look:

2,000 words per week times 52 weeks is 104,000 words per year! That's one 80,000 word book and a novella. Or it could be two 40,000 word novellas.

Not bad for one hour of writing a week!

My point: how much time you should spend on anything depends on your goals. When do you want to accomplish your goals by? What do you need to do to accomplish those goals? That's going to tell you how much time you should spend where.

You are the expert on you.

What are your goals for the new year? How are you planning on stretching yourself as a writer?

Other articles you might like:

- How Many Drafts Does It Take To Write A Novel?
- Writing Goals Versus Writing Dreams: How To Get From One To The Other
- The Structure Of Short Stories: The Elevator Pitch Version

Photo credit: "Grandpa" by conorwithonen under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Wednesday, June 27

Henry Miller's 11 Writing Commandments

I love learning from the greats how they worked, how they thought of their art/craft, this thing we call writing (such a drab name for an act so often fraught with terror and yet having the power to create ecstasy).

Courtesy of Brain Pickings, here are Henry Miller's 11 Commandments:
  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

I find (1) and (10) the hardest. It seems as soon as I begin work on one book I can think of at least 2 others I want to write more than the one I happen to be working on.

My favorite is (5), "When you can't create you can work." I wonder if Henry Miller ever woke up  up feeling like cotton batting had replaced his brains and he just wasn't up to stringing two coherent words together. It's strangely comforting to think he may have.

But that's not all! Here is Henry Miller's daily schedule:

- If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.
- If in fine fettle, write.

- Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

- See friends. Read in cafés.
- Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.
- Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.
- Paint if empty or tired.
- Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.
I think that's a great schedule. As always, the trick is sticking to it, as Mr. Miller did. I think there's a lot of truth to the saying, "Success is 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration".

I hope Henry Miller's schedule/work ethic inspired you to write, it has me!

Cheers, and keep writing.

Other articles you might like:
- Stephen King: 15 tips on how to become a better writer - Penelope Trunk Discusses Time Management
- Pixar: 22 Ways To Tell A Great Story

Monday, November 14

Don't committ professional suicide: protect your writing time

When I read this article I felt as though the author was speaking directly to me. Every day I plunk my posterior down and write blog posts. I've made that a priority, and I usually succeed in writing at least one. I was hoping that NaNoWriMo would help me sort me out as concerns my fiction writing -- but that was kinda like believing I could buy a chocolate bar and not eat it. It sounded good, plausible even, but it didn't have snowball's chance in hell of coming true.

Here is the article, curtsey of The Script Lab.
I talk about this a lot – simply because a lot of the time, people just don't do it. And that is professional suicide. You have to schedule your writing time and protect it like you would your own child. Then stick to it – like crazy glue. Because the writer's schedule is the writer's salvation.

Almost everyone who is really good at something finds that success because they practice their profession daily. It's not like the Olympian just shows up for the race. Four years of preparation can go into a single sprint that lasts less than ten seconds. Dedication is the key. You must show up every day and do it – whether it's the 100-meter dash or the next "Great American Novel". Being a writer – paid or not – is absolutely a job, so treat it like one. Be accountable. Be responsible. Be on time. Don't call in sick. Show up and write - Everyday!

This is no secret. Most of the best authors schedule their writing, and it's that dedication that makes them good. Even the "Father of American Literature" Mark Twain famously wrote every day between 8:30AM and 5:00PM from his writing studio at his home in Hartford, Connecticut, reading what he wrote each day to his children and wife after super. Apparently, Twain needed critical feedback too.

Now I understand that structuring a 40-hour writing workweek may be a fantasy for most people, but everyone has at least one hour a day. You just have to decide what you're willing to sacrifice. Watch TV a little less, get the kids in bed on time, and yes, try waking up earlier and knock out a few pages before the sun rises. Whatever you decide, you must make it routine.

Just think, without that kind of discipline, we may never have been blessed with some of the treasures Twain completed during his seventeen years at Hartford: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889).

Obviously, we must give credit where credit is due – Mark Twain was a colossal talent, but it was his writing schedule that allowed him to maximize that talent. It's easy to thank Twain for his writing, but what we should really be thankful for is Twain's dedication to his writing schedule.
- Safeguard Your Writing Time
I'm going to do something Rebecca Bollwitt ( suggested during her workshop at the Surrey International Writers' Conference: keep a detailed daily diary. I manage to make it to my day job on schedule, I should be able to write (at least!) an hour a day.