Don’t Whine

Some writing teachers or coaches will tell you that you need to write every day. Most of my productive writer friends set goals for writing a certain number of words per day. All of this is good advice.

When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote poetry that I sometimes shared; I wrote stories I never showed anyone. I was disappointed when a dark look at the future of our town didn’t win a community essay contest. My English teacher looked at me over her glasses and said, “Ann, they didn’t want to read this. They wanted something happy.”

Sometimes I find it difficult to write every day. I want to spend time with my husband. Then there is that pesky laundry that needs to be done. My office needs to be shoveled. We all have commitments to friends and family.

But while I go about my dishwashing or filing or toilet cleaning, I try to think about characters and plots. One of my writer friends likes staring out the window to contemplate plot points. Still, nearly all the writers I know spend periods of time avoiding putting pen to paper or hands to keyboard. But then you start jonesing for “it” – that feeling you get when the words come together, the plot revs up and your characters come tearing through the house.

What’s a writer to do? Put your butt in the chair and write. Don’t whine.

Here are some tips:

* Discipline to write every day can be scheduled.

* Remember not everything you write is going to be magic, nor does it need to be.

* Keep an idea notebook/file folder handy.

* Cut stories out of the paper or print them off. Or have a “stash file” on your computer for those “so weird it’s got to be true” stories.

* On your computer or somewhere, keep a list of prompts. Use them for free writes.

* Go to a writing workshop or even sign up for a class.

* If you’re a fiction writer, sign up for a poetry class to challenge yourself and to experiment with using words in a different way. Or if you are a poet, sign up for a screenwriting class for the same reason.

* Stay off social media sites.

* Work on a blog. Make a schedule for this, too.

* Write fan fiction. Not going to get into that whole story here but using existing characters to write a story just for yourself can be fun and can help you work on plot without having to invent characters. (One novel I wrote is based on existing characters. It will never see the light of day but I finished it, which feels good.) Be aware, too, that many authors do not like fan fiction so it might be better not to share it with anybody. Such things can also be considered a violation of copyright, which is another reason to just make this an exercise.

* Some people like journaling. I’ve kept journals for years but I’m not sure how helpful they are sometimes. Still keeping a journal helps with that “habit” of writing.

* Go write somewhere different: a coffee shop, the library, a park.

Above all, find ways to write that work for you.




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