|Quick and easy writing Tips|
Like the rest of the Rogues, I attended Thrillerfest a couple of weeks ago and had a wonderful time! New York cooperated with decent weather and the short-lived Manhattan blackout stopped just two blocks before the hotel. We continued enjoying our evening as the Broadway theater-goers near Times Square tumbled into the streets to watch the performers sing outside while they waited for the lights to come back on. While I was there I gave a class on writing Action and Conflict and fielded a few questions from the other writers. Here are some of the tips I mentioned:
1. Do your best to write something every few days. If you can, write five days a week and treat it as you would any other job. On average I write five days a week. While I’ve spent many weeks writing every day, I find that burnout can creep up on me and the words become less useful. Sometimes I write more, sometimes less, but five days is an average.
2. Give yourself a word count goal. I shoot for one thousand words during each sitting. This can take anywhere from forty-five minutes to three hours. If I only have an hour to spend writing, then I write for speed. I shoot to write one thousand words in that hour. I don’t always make it, but setting a goal helps. (And try not to keep hitting that word count feature on your writing software. I have the option to add the count to the bottom toolbar, but I’ve resisted. I check every three pages or so).
3. Read books on writing. Hit your local library and pick up a few books on writing.There are the usual famous ones: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See (one of my favorites). If you can afford to buy the books, do so. I refer back to these every so often when I’m in need of encouragement. But there are some new ones that I may check out. I just found this one, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody, (in the photo to the right), and the title made me laugh. I’m going to check it out. My view on reading these types of books is that each one has the potential to broaden your perspective, and if I walk away with even one tip it was worth the read.
4. Silence the inner critic that says you don’t have the talent. Despite what you’ve heard since childhood, most of what we call “talent” is learned and not natural. Musicians practice a lot, as do dancers, singers and yes, even writers. If you argue to yourself that you don’t have some sort of vague “innate” talent, then you’ll never try anything. I just recently took up a singing class. I sang and played instruments from childhood through to college, but in recent years only sang in the shower or in the car after dropping off the kids at school. I’ve always enjoyed it, and this year resolved to get back to practicing. I’m in a group class and it’s been a lot of fun. We’re a mixed bag, from professional singers who are working to refine their skills all the way to newcomers who have never sung before. We all have to silence our inner critics during this class, and I consider it to be excellent practice for doing the same while writing.
5. Still need encouragement? Pick up some books that give you science-based tips. These two listed to the right are interesting. The Little Book Of Talent by Daniel Coyle distills lots of science- based practice into easily digested tips. It’s a companion to his earlier work The Talent Code. The other book, Deep Work, by Cal Newport is really about how to put down distractions like social media and regain a deep focus when working. This book is also science based, and is a longer, more involved take on getting back into the flow and avoiding distractions.
6. Enjoy the process. Even when the work isn’t going well, enjoy the process. Writing a novel is a lot like life, it’s the journey, not always the destination. Enjoy the journey and smile when it’s done!
I hope these tips help and Happy Writing!