This writing thing can almost be like a second job. I have found that sometimes words and ideas don’t always flow as I would like them to when I would like them to. In the hopes of keeping myself engaged, I have done some soul searching and researching.
It is amazing to know you are not the only who has to remember to return back to the basics sometimes to get yourself moving forward again. Now granted I am a writer working on her version of the Great American Novel, still I think these 7 basics can be shaped to fit anyone’s “second job.”
So, let me tell you what I have learned and am holding in my toolkit:
1. Write! Like, right now! And everyday! If you need to, make an appointment with yourself, write it in your planner, and work toward bettering your craft. Remove your distractions, i.e., the phone, internet, kids, all of it, and focus! I have blocked out an hour each day dedicated to my novel. Even when it starts off slow, I sit there and push through. Even if inspiration doesn’t strike until those last 20 minutes, that is lot more than what I would have had, had I not taken the time at all.
2. Spit it out! Get it all out of your head and onto the notebook, word processor, tablet, etc. Don’t stop writing to check spelling and grammar. You will have plenty of time for that later. At this moment, it is all about getting it out your head and into a more tangible form. Remember, you cannot copyright an idea, but once you have it in a tangible form, it is truly yours.
3. Read! You have to continue to read. And not just your genre, but others, too. Broaden your horizons and open yourself up to inspiration and strategies you might not have come across if you stayed in your box. Reading really is fundamental and can create opportunities of thought you never even imagined.
4. Take Notes! Keep something on you at all times that allows you to write down spur of the moment ideas. Especially as a writer, you may have an idea for further in your script than where you are currently at. Take a note of it for later. I think this was one of the few things I did right when I started my novel. I opened a notepad document and have kept a running log of all my ideas to refer to later. When you have a break the length of years, it really helps in getting you back on track.
Side note: Maintain a character log, too, so you don’t forget who everybody is, what they want, and how they relate to the story – especially if you don’t plan on finishing everything in one sitting.
5. Edit Yourself! The goal is to advance the storyline. If you think that a paragraph is too descriptive, chances are it is. Do not be afraid to take out words, sentences, paragraphs, or pages if they are not adding value. Also, if it doesn’t sound natural to you, neither will it to anyone else. This might have to be repeated until you are certain all of the excess baggage has been removed.
6. Get Feedback! Preferably from someone who is going to give you constructive and honest feedback. We are really close to those projects we work on, and sometimes can be overly critical or not critical enough. I am overly critical, so I know I will need a sounding board to help me see beyond what I consider faults, that are probably the best parts of whatever I am writing.
Side note: When getting the feedback, don’t take offense. If all you expect is praise, you may not be ready to go beyond hobby status.
7. WRITE SOME MORE! (please refer to #1).
At the end of the day, it comes down to if you really want to do it. Make that decision first, and then take action keeping the above in mind.
That about wraps up this post. Would love to hear which ones I missed or the ones you keep in your toolkit in the comments below. Also, please share with anyone else you think may benefit from this post.
Photo Credit: This Is Imperfect – Ryan Trimbleby