Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ways to Keep Writing

Here's a list of ideas and suggestions of ways to keep writing toward your goal. You'll never be able to completely get rid of all the disctractions in your life, here's some suggestions for working around life and occasionally for tricking yourself into writing anyway.

· Set a timer for a short period of time (15 minutes or 30) and stay at the keyboard--no matter what--until it dings. Then do it again. Only allow yourself to get up after the timer dings, and always set the timer again if you stay at the keyboard. This will hold you in place long enough for the first impulse toward work-avoidance to pass, and you'll often discover yourself eager to keep going when your time's up.

· Schedule your day's activities--and schedule writing hours first. This doesn't necessarily mean putting them first in the day, but putting them on the schedule itself first, so they get priority. Schedule everything: bathing, eating, sleeping, telephone time (outgoing calls, at least), walking the dog--everything. Then, if it's not on the schedule, don't do it. Schedule it tomorrow.

· Form a support/nagging network of other writers.

· Graph your hours and/or pages against those of your support group. Post the graph where you can see it when you write. Also post it where you can see it when you don't write.

· Challenge other writers to finish a story a week, losers to buy dinner (or dessert, or whatever) for winners.

· Generate story ideas mechanically. Roll dice and pick characters and settings from a list. Tumble a desktop encyclopedia downstairs and write about whatever it opens to when it lands. Throw darts at your bookshelf and write a homage to whatever you hit. The goal here is to demystify "idea" as a stumbling block. Ideas are a dime a dozen once you learn how to find them. Become a supplier rather than a consumer.

· If you've been sitting on an idea until you think you're good enough to do it justice, do it now! You may be run over by a bus tomorrow. Even if you aren't, by the time you think you're good enough, the passion for it will be gone. Write it now! Write all your good ideas as quickly as you can after you get them. Don't worry about getting more; they'll come faster and faster the more you write. Before you know it, you'll be begging people to take them, like a gardener with zucchini.

· Turn off the internet until you’ve met that day’s goals. No email or web surfing until the time/page count/word count is met.

· Carry a note pad or tape recorder with you wherever you go. Use it to record ideas as well as the actual text of stories. Make it your external memory. The idea here is to keep yourself focused on writing no matter what else you're doing.

· Keep more than one project going at once. Switch to another the moment you slow down on one.

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