Sunday, March 07, 2010

 

JUST WRITE!

Easier said than done at times. But it can be accomplished.

Many of us find it quite difficult to sit down with paper and pen or a blank computer screen and try to come up with something to write. This, of course, can lead to frustration and cause you to feel as if you've wasted your entire day doing absolutely nothing with your writing.

STOP! If this happens, there is a solution. Pull out a spiral notebook and just write. It doesn't have to make sense, it doesn't have to be about anything in particular.

Tip: Start off by picking a word or a phrase, then come up with a sentence using that word. Build from there. The object is to simply write. It doesn't matter if the sentences even make sense to you. The point is you are taking time to write.

If you feel you don't like this exercise that much, that's okay. The point is to get your writer's mind working and let your brain relax to get the ideas circulating again. Often there are times when I'm given an assignment on a subject that I know nothing about. I get a little frustrated with the subject and decide to try, but then walk away. But then I realize that I'm going to hurt my writing time if I don't utilize it. So, I reach for a spiral notebook and JUST WRITE.

Sometimes, I will even write silly poems in my spiral and include a few doodles. Anything to help keep me in the writing mode and using that time to write. Oh sure, there are a lot of other things I could be doing that would count as part of my writing time--researching a project, creating characters, etc. But, for me, I just don't feel accomplished when I work on those parts of writing. Being able to actually put something on paper or in the computer gives me that bit of satisfaction.

Tip: I actually set up writing time as an appointment on my calendar. That way, I keep it important not only for myself, but for my family as well. When they see the scheduled time, they know that it is time to let mom write and not to bother her unless it is super important or an emergency.

It's important when you have a family to make sure you schedule critical time for yourself. If you have little ones at home, like me, I choose to work on my writing when they go to bed. This, of course, can make for a rough following morning if I get into a serious writing drive.

The point is: just write. Find a way that helps you to just sit and do so. It doesn't matter if it makes sense, it doesn't matter if you have proper sentence structure, the point is to help stop the block and keep you from being frustrated with the task at hand.

Happy Writing!

For more tips on how to find time to write, check out Time to Write: An Interview with Kelly L. Stone.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

 

Results of my local writing mini-retreat

Let's face it. As I drove to my secret writing location, I was skeptical about what I was trying to accomplish. I was setting forth to write as much as possible, without outside distractions (including the Internet!) for as many hours as my fingers could be chained to the keyboard.
I didn't think I would accomplish anything and that maybe I had just been looking for a day to duck out to the mall without my band of ever-present accomplices.
Last weekend, this mom of three, accustomed to pouring milk over cereal, changing a diaper, making lunches, wiping a nose and taking a shower (but only on an odd-numbered day that starts with the letter 'M') with one wide swoop, found taking time for my own personal, creative writing more daunting than the daily juggles of parenting.
How many of you can relate to this statement (even if you might not be willing to say it aloud)?
I'm always ready to drop my creative project for the good/needs/wants/desires/strange requests of someone else.

But for part of one day, I understood and lived what it meant to block out that sentiment.
So, while I sat on a sunny deck and breathed in fresh air far from the charming screams of "MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM," I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
I stopped for a few pauses and to plug in my computer or to stretch my legs or to eat a bit. And it was glorious. For several hours, I crafted a character or two, I set up scenes, I plotted the twists and turns of my novel. I actually made progress that had been creeping along in my head for weeks.
During the week, I was able to refer back to chunks of text and sketch more of the plot. For once, in a long, long while, I felt like a fiction writer again.
And it felt good.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at www.TheWriteElizabeth.com, delving into creativity in everyday places. She is already planning her next writing escape...and shower.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

 

Now, what was it that I was typing?

The calm summer months. From my youth, I recall the lilac blooms that heralded the oncoming weeks spent free and away from school. I still enjoy those calming images...and then I turn around and realize, I'm not the one who is supposed to be enjoying these months, my kids are.
But often these days, I find myself chained to my desk, trying to fit in my freelance writing business in the midst of my own kids camp, complete with 8-, 5- and 2-year old children running circles around me.
While I love being a mom, I dislike the constant battle to find the elusive, amoeba-like balance for a family. Balance such as slowing my marketing as we neared the end of the school year. Or the balance that precludes any of my fiction writing while I winnow down the paying assignments.
I left my job to stay home, take care of the kids and write. And while balance can be tricky (which is why I'm awake at 4 a.m. on days when the kids' swim meets will run into the night), I also tend to be more lax and willing to put movies on that will entertain, nonchalantly checking the running time.
"Great, an hour and 15 minutes? I can get at least get started!"
Sometimes it works well, sometimes I find myself drifting through the Internet when I last remember writing a blog post. Asleep at the keyboard, again!
I'm fortunate that I am able to work through how to start a draft while I make lunch or that I have some good friends who take pity on me, helping me to arrange a play date for one or two of my kids. Or that I can often mine daily struggles and write something about them.
However, there are days when I wish I could slow down and just enjoy my life as a mom, not only my life as a freelance writing mom. Or just maybe enjoy my life as a freelance writing mom who gets to hit the snooze button more often than not.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer who enjoys the bubbly joys of life and parenting. She also blogs at CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and TheWriteElizabeth.com, where she contemplates finding creativity in everyday places. She's going back to bed now...hopefully.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

 

Hooray for 'I Love To Write Day'

By Jill Earl

Okay, I have to admit that I’d never heard of this event until I read about it a couple of days ago in a newsletter. The article, written by the event’s founder, John Riddle, gives the story behind ‘I Love To Write Day’.

A freelancer for 30 years, Mr. Riddle has written for numerous newspapers, magazines and websites. He’s also the author of several books and presents at writers’ conferences nationwide. Involved in coordinating special events while working in fundraising, including an attempt to assemble the largest number of people dancing the Twist for Guinness Book of World Records, he came up with the idea of holding the ‘world’s largest party for writers’.

Mr. Riddle’s goal of ‘I Love To Write Day’ is “to have people of all ages spend time writing. They can write a poem, a letter, a greeting card, an essay, a short story, start a novel, finish a novel…the possibilities are endless.” The event continues to garner attention since its inception in 2002 and November 15, 2008 will mark its seventh anniversary. Even governors of several states (including my home state of Maryland) have proclaimed November 15 as ‘I Love To Write Day’.

You‘ve probably got some ideas of your own. It doesn’t have to be a major writing project---unless you want it to be. It can be a simple as writing an encouraging note to someone. Community-wide, you can join schools, bookstores, libraries and many others in celebrating the day through various programs.

To join in the festivities, simply go here to http://www.ilovetowriteday.org to read up on the day.

And, let’s get this party started!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

 

Fitting in Writing Time

We writers often discuss this, finding time to write. It's not so bad when you're single and childless, except when you give in to procrastination, which even the best writers do at times. If writing were as easy as sitting down and churning out an endless stream of words without pause, many more books would be written. Maybe. Once you add in family obligations, day jobs, children and outside stresses, finding this time becomes more difficult. Some find it impossible and give up altogether, watching the years pass as their dream of publishing a novel or book of poetry fades away.

There is something we can do, even in the midst of chaos, to complete our short stories, our book of essays or our novel. One page a day. That doesn't sound like much, but pages, like pennies, do add up. Even on your busiest day, instead of giving up on writing because you're too tired, too stressed or uninspired, just try for that one page. In a month, you'll have 30 pages. In a year, 365 pages.

On those days when you have more time, you can spend them going over what you've already written. You can edit and polish and try to make it perfect. Instead of viewing the task of completing a book as huge and insurmountable, you can break it up into single sheets of paper that aren't as intimidating. One page a day will yield something tangible and complete one day. When you break it down like that, it almost sounds easy, doesn't it?

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Friday, May 09, 2008

 

More Tips for Finding Time To Write

On one of my past posts, I shared a couple different ways to find time to write besides locking yourself into a room with your computer and letting your family or friends fend for themselves. I suggested exercise to give you more energy and creativity. I also mentioned finding the right time of day for writing. If you are a morning person, try to organize your day, so you do at least some writing in the morning. Here are two more tips that I use to find more time to write. (Of course all of this is out the window if I have a deadline, then I find more time to write by not sleeping and drinking coffee!)



MAKE DEALS WITH YOURSELF
Some of you may make deals with your significant other. “If you wash my car, I’ll cook your dinner.” Or your mom. “I promise I’ll be there for the family reunion if you promise not to ask about my love life.” So, why not with yourself? “If I write three pages of my novel this morning, I’ll watch my favorite reality show tonight.”


I’ve heard some writers say they have written an entire novel by writing one page or even just one paragraph a day. If you follow this plan, in a week, you would have seven more pages or seven more paragraphs than you had before, when you were complaining you didn’t have enough time to write.



Make a bargain—“I will write one page a day, even on Christmas. If I do this for three months, I will reward myself with a game at that expensive golf course.”


Sometimes, I’ll set time limits. If I write for one hour, I’ll take a nap or order an artichoke salad from my favorite Italian restaurant or call my best friend for a gossip chat. It doesn’t have to be an hour; how about twenty minutes?


Write first. Don’t say, “If I just watch this one TV show, then I’ll write for one hour.” Tape the show, finish your article, then reward yourself with the video.

LEARN TO SAY NO
There’s not much explanation to this one. Holly Miller, travel editor for The Saturday Evening Post, said no to anything outside her day job for one year to see if she was ready to make a freelance career. Well, maybe you’re not ready for your only income to be from writing. But you want more creative time, and you know it doesn’t help that you are the Cub Scout leader or president of Jaycees. If these activities are important to you, be a part of them, but try not to be put in charge. Volunteer to help with one Cub Scout field trip or one Jaycee service project instead of being the leader of the whole organization.


Have you ever asked yourself, "What was I thinking when I said I would do that?" If you don’t enjoy a commitment you’ve made, see if you can politely get out of it. Whether it is going to eat with co-workers or helping your neighbors with their annual garage sale, if you don’t find value in it, then explain yourself. What could it hurt? Remember Don Quixote said, “Honesty is the best policy.” Plus, you’ll have time to write an article on how to use tact and get what you want.



If you really are having trouble fitting writing into your life and you love it with all your heart, then look at your life. Can either of these tips help? I hope you'll soon be clicking away at the keyboard.



Happy Writing!
Margo Dill

http://www.margodill.com/


**Portions of this article were previously published in Beginnings Magazine Summer/Fall 2004

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

 

Finding Time to Write

A number one complaint I hear from my writing friends is, "I don't have enough time to write." I wrote an earlier post about the ABC's of writing--Apply Butt to Chair. This time, I have a couple suggestions on finding time to write, and these may seem strange at first. But please, read on, and maybe even try one.

FIND YOUR BEST TIME OF DAY
Are you a morning glory or night owl? Do your creative juices flow with the rays of the sun or the glow of the stars? If you can figure this out, you could produce more quality work and probably more words per minute. The Internet is full of quizzes on finding your right time of day as well as articles with research on honoring your internal clock. Just go to any search engine, type in “morning person,” and check out a few of the sites.

Writer Lou Turner prefers to write at night because it’s quiet. “I live in a house with two sons, one husband, one grandson during the week, two male dogs, and one male cat. And none of them can find the kitchen or laundry rooms by themselves. When they go to bed, I turn off MTV, the golf channel and rock station, put my ceiling fan on low, open the window a crack so I can hear the fountain outside, and I write.”

Night writing doesn’t work for everyone. Writer Amy Harke-Moore says, “At night, a brain fog sets in.” When working on a deadline, she has written at all times of the day and found the morning to be her favorite.

Everyone is different. Taking the time to figure out when you are the freshest and when your creative juices are flowing can produce more quantity and quality in your writing.

EXERCISE
What does the E-word have to do with writing? Believe me, sometimes I wonder the same thing.
In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wellness, authors Patricia Smith and Muriel MacFarlane tell us, “Working out can improve mental vigor, reaction time, acuity, math skills, creativity, and imagination.” Scientists have conducted studies on the connection between individuals who exercise and their response time to mental challenges or their improved scores on intellectual tests. With a healthy flow of blood and oxygen, the brain is protected and works better.

I have to admit when I exercise, I have more energy in all aspects of my life. If I have more energy for everything, that means I have more for my family and friends and job, but most importantly—my writing.

Exercise has a fringe benefit, too. It gives you time to think about those parts of your story, article, or poem that are driving you crazy. During a set of jumping jacks, you can rescue your hero from the villain. While racing around the track, you may create the perfect title for the love poem you polished off the night before. Cycling down a forest trail allows time to discover another spin on a nonfiction article about spider webs. Besides more energy and time to work out plot points, the fat will fall off, muscles will tighten, and you can eat more chocolate whenever you get writer’s block.



**A portion of this post originally appeared in Beginnings Magazine, Summer/Fall 2004

by Margo Dill
www.margodill.com

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