Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Simple Ways to Streamline Your Writing Life

Today, I'm sharing tips that have streamlined my writing life, and I'm begging you to share yours too.

successful business woman on a laptop
Photo by sepblog

  • Ritualize your writing sessions. By that I mean, start in the same way each session. Give your brain a trigger that it's time to get started. For me, I spend 30 to 45 minutes each morning going through e-mails, blog comments, and social networks before switching computers to write, revise, or plot. By doing this, I release anxiety about staying connected, and I free my brain for creative work.

  • Have a plan of attack. Before each session, briefly think about what you want to achieve during that block of time. Sometimes you'll get more done, sometimes less, but planning gives your brain a runway of where to go.

  • Don't stay away too long. When you take extended time away from your project, it grows into a monster in the closet. Suddenly, the book you loved becomes a horrific beast in your mind. Even if it's only for ten minutes, chip away at your task regularly.

  • Ignore how you feel. When you feel excited about your new book, write. When you feel like pulling the covers over your head, write. Don't let your feelings dictate your productivity. Athletes can't skip practice because they're feeling insecure, and neither can we.

  • Find supportive writing friends. You'll weather the ups and downs of the writing life if you have friends who get it. Your spouse, sister, best friend, and co-workers might not always have the words you need to hear, but other writers deep in the trenches will. I've met amazing writers through blogging, local writer's groups, and conferences. By cultivating friendships with them, I know I always have someone to turn to when my hope fails. And it's rewarding to be able to help them when they're struggling.

What simple tips do you rely on to keep moving forward with your writing? Please share! I'm going to compile the list for one of next week's posts.

Join me on Friday to set one goal!

31 comments:

  1. Very nice post -- practical. And yes, these things all work well.

    I have additional tactics that work well for me, but each of these has been very helpful.

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  2. Form a crit group. Eat chocolate. Have a glass of wine. Write through storms. Write in storms. Write around the storms. Make the storm your subject. And then believe in rainbows. They do come out. :) (did I mention the chocolate and the wine?)

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  3. Excellent list! I'd add in company with ignoring feelings, write through the fear.
    ~ Wendy

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  4. Heather Sellers in CHAPTER BY CHAPTER suggests you finish one session with direction for the next. That way you jump in knowing exactly what you need to do.

    I don't always follow this, but I try.

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  5. To put the least amount of pressure on myself to do it. The less I set goals, the more I get done. I don't know, I think when I feel free, I feel like there is nothing in the world I can't do, and then I just do it. I guess that's a little backward. But it works for me!

    Are you a writer? Then you MUST enter this CONTEST!

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  6. What? Are you all writers or something? :)

    Thanks for chiming in with your tips! And thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Totally agree with this list. One thing I try to do as well is the night before, when I'm falling asleep, I start the writing process by daydreaming (can you call it that when it's at night and just before you fall asleep?) about my story, where I want to go with the next scene or chapter. This seems to help jump start my writing for the next day.

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  8. ^ I do the daydreaming at night as well. I like to see the next scene in my head before I sit down to write. I also find writing on a computer that is "unplugged" (if you can find one these days) helps minimize distractions. If my computer is on line, I'll think I'll just pop over for a sec to check email or something and before I know it I've wasted a tonne of time.

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  9. Great tips!

    Some of them I do subconsciously, but for me, it really does come down to just write--no matter how I'm feeling.

    Although, sometimes what the story really needs is for me to just be quiet and listen or some time to percolate a little more. At those times, I take a step back, trusting myself that I'm not just trying to procrastinate. ;-)

    (And thanks for your kind words. You made my day. :))

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  10. This is really great advice. I love what you said about giving yourself some time to get into it... by doing blogging or whatever. I tend to drive right into my projects and I'm realizing that at times that is not the most productive thing to do.

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  11. Great post and great advice. It's basically the plan I follow, though I haven't yet taken the time to examine it. Soon....

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  12. Those are all great helps to writing. I used to have a log where I listed the date and time of writing. I am sort of a control person when it comes to this sort of thing. Since I didn't want any holes in my log, I had to write every day. Once I started, it was always fun.

    One other tip to do a chore you don't want to do. Say you are ridding the kitchen and then you will write. So just before you wipe the sink down, set up your writing things. Then finish the kitchen, even do a small break. But when you go to write it will be all set up and be like walking into warm water. Blessings.

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  13. Hi Jill -

    Thanks for sharing your strategies.

    I've been spending the mornings on the Internet, running errands, etc. At 1:00 P.M., I sit down and work until 4:00 P.M. I get three solid hours and finish my writing for the day.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  14. These are great! I second the advice on not staying away from the novel too long. It does tend to turn into a monster!

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  15. Excellent, Jill, thank you! This is timely for me as I get this new school routine thing going.

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  16. Great post!
    My tip? Reward myself after I complete my daily goal.

    How?
    BLOG VISITS!
    Like THIS ONE RIGHT NOW!!!

    P

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  17. I love hearing how YOU streamline your writing. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your secrets!

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  18. This is so helpful- I love connecting with other writers- we are a tribe.

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  19. I second all your suggestions! My biggest friend has been "Don't stay away too long!" When I write every day--or even every other day--I find I'm more excited about writing than I am if I take a long break.

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  20. Jill:
    Keep a list of ideas and a journal of thoughts that might work into a story, essay or whatever you write. Or a setting, or a character flaw.

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  21. I agree with everything you wrote. That's exactly what I do :)

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  22. I think you've just about covered it! For me, I have to write my goal before checking out blogs and twitter. Otherwise, I'd get nothing done!

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  23. Coffee. :) Lotsnlotsnlotsa coffee. :)

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  24. I agree with Jaime. Coffee. :-) No, seriously, I adhere to the write whether you feel like it or not principle. I make it a part of my day and try not to let anything interfere with that time.

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  25. Great Post! I'm going to print it out, and post it by my writing space on my new bulletin board for writing - gasp, old-fashioned organization - that's my new trick, along with most of the above that you mentioned.
    It seems I need to have things posted right in front of my face, if I'm going to get them done. Kind of like writing God's word on our hearts, foreheads, etc to keep it in us and in front of us.
    Hope you are having a blessed day!!!

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  26. Great advice! I write early in the mornings so before I go to bed, I review my notes or outline to know where I'll be in the story when I first wake up. That way I don't waste time and get right to it.


    Have a great day, Jill!

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  27. You are a prime example of someone who uses her blogging effectively. I always enjoy your posts, and they're such good advice!

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  28. This is great stuff, Jill! I stress myself out about so much stuff. I can lose myself all day online reading, researching, and commenting rather than writing. Your suggestions sound like great ones. :)

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  29. Great advice.
    As I am thinking about setting up a wbsite, I found your Blog Archive very useful too.

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