2015 so far: visited friends, moved bookshop, family visit, snow, family death, scrapbooked, sold a house, family wedding, mission trip...Is it any wonder my writing's been waylaid?!
'Thought I'd share some strategies that help me get back into writing. What gets you motivated? Feel free to add tips in the comments.
1. Free Write. Too paralyzed by perfectionism to start that next query? Daunted by that draft that hasn't been touched for two months? Grease those mental gears by writing about anything else. Set a timer and write about writing, or a memory, or a photo in the nearest magazine.
2. Journal. Capture events, details and feelings from today or the past week.
3. Change the Scene. Take your notebook or laptop to the library, city park, coffee shop or bookstore.
4. Carve Out Space. Create a writing nook or small office in your house. No room? Then pick a different chair from the one where you watch TV or do other routine activities. Keep your writing things — notebook, pen, research books — in that location. The trick is to signal your subconscious; when you sit in that spot, it's time to write.
5. Unplug. Yes, we type faster than we write (Scrivener is my favorite writing software). If you need to get out of a rut, however, or if you spent all day on the computer at your day job, it's time to pull out the paper. Brainstorm ideas for articles. Skim through Writer's Market books or your favorite magazine for submission ideas. When my genealogy-based book projects have been neglected, I draw an extended family tree and tape it to the wall to get a feel for timeline and subplots. Some writers use mindmaps (flow charts of ideas) while others sort characters or scenes on index cards.
6. Protect Your Best Mental Time. I never thought of myself as a morning person. I'd find myself standing in the shower or sitting at the table, staring into space. I finally realized that, while I'm not physically a morning person, my mind and imagination are in hyperdrive. Now I say no to morning meetings and appointments that aren't the best use of my most creative time.
7. Motivate with Deadlines and Rewards. Other people's deadlines work great, especially submission dates from a paying editor. Sticking to your own deadline, however, is hard, especially for a long-term project like a book. First, break big tasks into small pieces, like editing 10 pages or drafting a query letter. Don't use an essential as a reward — like eating a meal or playing with the kids. Pick a small luxury, and stick to it — like watching TV or treating yourself to a latte.
8. Connect with Community. With so many demands on your time, it's easy to put off writing. But having writer buddies to meet you at that coffee shop, or a weekly critique group, is a huge motivator (with a deadline!). I wrote this blog post at the encouragement of Wordsmith Studio — an incredibly supportive online writing community. We're celebrating our third anniversary!