Right in the middle of NaNo this past November, I signed up with the Writer’s Digest online sign-up... thingie. Originally, I was looking for an article that I wanted to share with my growing NaNo circle, something about 10 Writing Habits and why they were good or bad or both. I had read the article while at a client’s office and thought it would be great. Unfortunately, the online structure of Writer’s Digest meant I not only had to purchase the entire back issue but, in order to be given the chance to purchase the issue, I had to subscribe to the magazine. At the time, that was too much work and a little more money that I was good for, so that idea fell into the cracks.
However, as a direct result of this trip through the nooks and crannies of Writer’s Digest, I ended up on their email list and boy, do they have a lot to say. I receive anywhere from one to three emails a day from their website, on everything from tips for writing, editing and getting published to web conferences* on different ways to turn writing into a lucrative career NOT via a book deal. Did you know that people will pay you to write corporate memos for a living? Yeah, neither did I.
Now, like many of you, I haven’t written a single word since NaNo (except for those times when I stop dead in the grocery store to jot down a plot idea on my phone. It annoys my boyfriend to no end. The stopping, not the writing). After Jenn surprised me with an email telling me it was my week to blog (charts, what charts?), I decided my best bet was see what I could dig up out of the emails and pretend like I actually planned for this. To that end, I present: 6 Simple Ways to Reboot Your Writing.
Oh, you’re still here. What, you want me to write about the article about writing? What is this I don’t even - fiiine. Here is the 6 Simple Reboot tips as they apply to me. For putting this much effort out there, I expect some comments on how they apply to all of you, even if you just do one of six. Anyone doing all six obviously has as much free time as I do and probably deserves some kind of prize.
1. Your New Year artist statement: You do have one, don’t you?
I didn’t have one before reading this article/writing this blog but here is the one that I made up on the spot:
When I began writing, it was because I had all of these ideas in my head and they never stopped and I needed to do something with them. To me, that is my creative writing: a release for all of the ideas that build up and up and up and give me headaches until I give them a space to suck up paper/hard drive. As a result of all of the creative writing, my professional writing is superb and gives me the confidence in my daily work doings to think that maybe, just maybe, I’m not a complete failure.
2. Your current regimen: Still working?
I keep trying to tell myself I will have a writing schedule. I will have a time specifically set aside for writing when I will ignore the siren calls of Skyrim and Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and just write. This never happens but for the handful of times it actually has and man, was it ever effective. NaNo proved to me that I felt so, so much better when I had words on the page than when I had promises to myself that I would put words on the page. There will always be excuses but there comes a time when you have to suck it up, buttercup, and get to doing. For me, that time will be... likely February.
3. Your hardware, software: Time for an upgrade?
Scrivener vs Word = no contest. Scriv was a fastastic tool for my NaNo this year and allowed me to write in workable chunks instead of feeling like I needed to keep continuing the same plot path because it was all in the same file. I sincerely hope I haven’t missed out on being able to get the discounted copy (in February) but I might just pay the full price regardless. It’s worth it.
4. Writing extracurriculars: Are you missing out?
Now, the article talks specifically about outside learning tools, such as writing conferences and web conferences*. To me, this is more about building an outside circle of people to do the local event planning for you and take you from your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is likely a lot like mine - a lot of distractions and empty promises (see #2). Getting out to write ins (while also full of distractions) creates a space where you’re encouraged to write because everyone else is writing. A location change can also inspire new wiggles in your writing - new locations, new ideas, new characters.
5. Your support network: Is it in place?
Uh, I think so. You’re all here, right?
Sometimes it can be hard to get support from the people we feel like should support us most. In high school, when my urge to write was really taking off, my mom was less supportive than I would have liked. It wasn’t until I started looking into colleges and the writing opportunities there that she actually got on the bandwagon - and then promptly fell back off when I switched majors. To that end, I don’t really go to her for support on my writing anymore, though I do go to her for other things. Sometimes we need to build our support networks out of different people for different things to get the support we really need.
6. Day planners and deadlines: Have you mapped out a path to success?
Deadlines are actually amazing motivators but as a procrastinator, deadlines also represent the least of my ability. When I wait until a deadline, I rush and when I rush, it sucks and when it sucks, I’m frustrated and suddenly less motivated to take on another project. My push to get 20,000 words out in the last four days of NaNo left me with a novel I will probably never touch again. There is a lot to be said for doing even a little bit of plot mapping. It keeps you on a track - and yes, I even mean you, members of the Illustrious League of Pantsers.
Also - This blog isn’t due until Friday and it’s only Wednesday and I’M DONE ALREADY. Deadlines be damned!
All right, your turn. How does your writing need a reboot?
*I hate the word webinar. It’s an atrocity.