Posted in A Writer's Life, beginning, beginning writer, build confidence as a writer, grammar, great writing, how to write, inspiration, love of writing, researching, The Writer's Toolbox, write, writer, writing, writing advice, writing and thinking, writing better, writing journey, writing time

Writing, a Never Ending Journey of Exploration and Learning

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow

If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.

When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.

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Posted in procrastination, The Writer's Toolbox, writer's block, writing blues, writing discipline, writing everyday, writing journey, writing time

Writing Procrastination and What To Do About It

Procrastination plagues all writers at one time or another in the writing journey. It’s a barrier that must be broken through to be a writer, and separates the casual writer from the real writers. Procrastination a tricky beast that takes on the face of many problems like writer’s block, the missing muse, the “I don’t have time to write” excuse, or how about the “I can’t write, because I’m just not that good at it anyways.”

Say what!? That stuff isn’t procrastination. No. No. No. Those things are real problems. Really they are. Aren’t they?

Come on. Let’s be honest. Let’s call it what it really is. It is procrastination. What does procrastination mean? It means not wanting to do something. And all the excuses above do what? It makes it so we don’t do anything at all. Sure we want to write. We talk about it all the time, but talking is NOT writing. So we talk and we use terms like writers block or the missing muse. Or say things like “I don’t have time to write”, or “I can’t write, because I’m just not that good at it anyways.” But all this talking is just keeping us from writing.

Writer’s block. It’s hard to be even semi serious about writing without hearing those words at some point. I used to be someone who used the term writer’s block like it was a real thing and it actually meant something. And then I pushed past the barrier of procrastination and discovered for the first time what being a writer really meant. I don’t get writer’s block anymore. I’m simply a procrastinator when I don’t write. I call it what it really is. The best way to fight writer’s block is to writer EVERY SINGLE DAY, even if it’s 10 minutes of mental vomit or what some call free writing. Eventually, that “block” will fall away as a solution to the problem is revealed.

Ever heard or said this before? “Well, my muse is missing. I can’t write.” Wrong. Real writers write with or without any inspiration. We just do it, because there is no other option. Real writers write when there isn’t a spark of inspiration to be found. Real writers understand the importance of keeping up the momentum of writing, because stopping means losing the drive to write and it often means a project goes unfinished or a deadline is missed. We all live for those rare moments when that bolt of lightening hits us and says “Look at this awesome new idea.” But in reality most writers just write. There is no magic lightening moment. There is no little spark that jump starts a writing project. Writers write, and every once in a while, they are rewarded with being immersed in the Writing Zone. And that sort of experience is better than any muse any day of the week.

And then there’s the “I don’t have time” excuse. There is always time to write. Really there is. Cut out that three hour television watching marathon right before bed and write. Get up a little earlier in the mornings and do writing before the day gets started. Stop wasting time surfing the internet and use it to write. I’m sure a closer look at the daily routine will shed some light on where time is spent, and what can be reduced so writing can have its time. Ultimately, sacrifices will have to be made. The real question to ask is… “How bad do you want it?”

Let’s not forget the “I can’t write, because I’m just not that good at it anyways.” No one is a good writer. Not at first. Not even ofter a few years at it. Writing takes a long, long time to cultivate. It takes lots of practice. It takes lots of mistakes. It takes time. It takes dedication and a full commitment. Writing is like a muscle in the body. It only gets better with practice. The more practice, the stronger it gets. Good writing doesn’t happen overnight. And writing is never perfect, no matter how many years of working at it, but it does get better. And there’s no better feeling in the world than to compare work from one year to the next. It’s a measuring stick that makes all the effort, all the sacrifices mean something.

Want to be a writer, a real writer? Then stop procrastinating and stop using words like writer’s block and missing muse. Find some time to carve out for writing only. Guard that time. Be jealous of that time and let nothing hedge in on that time. And be a writer with mistakes and all. The next time procrastination rears its ugly head, tell it to shut up and just write.

Posted in A Writer's Life, how to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing process, thinking on writing, writing, writing advice, writing and thinking, writing everyday, writing time

5 Ways to Find Time to Write

writing1.jpgFor most writers finding time to actually write can be one of the most difficult things to do. Many writers have other jobs that help pay the bills while trying to build their passion as a writer. And some, like myself, are stay at home moms (or dads) who write as something to do to keep the insanity of parenthood from pulling them under. You would think that the stay at home parent would have a slight advantage to those who work and be able to write all the time. This is not true.

Finding time to write and balance the schedule of my son has been quite difficult these last few years. Mostly because set schedules are hard to stick to when a child decides to get sick and requires your every moment to help them feel better, or he gets grumpy and doesn’t want to do what you ask and it becomes an epic battle of wills, or he decides he want to be played with no matter how much you want to sit down and write, oh and then there’s the accidents like fingers getting squished by doors or that jug of milk that gets spilled all over on the kitchen floor by an over helpful toddler. Any one of these things (and more) can bring your day to a screeching halt and those plans for writing just got vetoed in a big way. And even when said child goes off to school, a parents job is never truly over, and in some ways gets even more complicated.

Let’s go back to those diligent people who work outside the home (or some who work at home). Writing isn’t much easy for those folks. I know a few of those kind of writers. Who juggle work, family, and writing. Some manage to squeeze some writing in during slow times at the office. Others don’t have that luxury and have to wait until home, but between all the grocery shopping, little league soccer games, and still finding time to do some exercise for yourself, well there isn’t a whole lot of time left over for the true passion of writing.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you wonder if it will ever end and you actually WILL get time to write? The answer should be yes. If you really love writing and those characters just won’t leave you alone until you get them down on paper, then YOU will find the time to write.

  1. Smaller Chunks

The best thing I’ve found that works for me is to be willing to tackle writing in smaller chunks. Think one scene at a time, or one section of a scene. Know what you are going to write before you even start writing.

  1. Know What You’re Going to Write

You know all that time you spend in the car driving from one place to another? Or you’re folding the laundry, or cleaning the house? Use that time to think about what’s most important and what needs to be tackled first. So when you do get a minute to write, you’re not wasting it asking yourself, “So what do I write now?”

  1. Carry a Notebook Everywhere

Carry a notebook everywhere you go. Be ready to pull it out and jot down notes, thoughts, short scene or story summaries, or character descriptions when you get the chance. Waiting in doctor offices, or waiting for your vehicle to get a tune up are perfect times to pull out that notebook!

  1. Work late, Work Early

Be willing to have some late nights or early mornings to write. I know infringing on sleep is hard, but if you are like me and spend half the night thinking of your characters instead of sleeping, then you should just get out of bed and write. Believe me, it’s easier that way.

  1. Make Sure to Write Everyday!

Be willing to MAKE time for yourself. Sure the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Sure the cat needs to go to the vet. Sure you really should be getting laundry done for work the next day. But finding at LEAST 15 MINUTES to write each day is important. Find ways to fit that time in no matter what. Even if that means eating on paper plates for the next two days. Everyday that you write makes it that much easier to write, and soon you’ll be wondering how you managed to get so much writing done in the small amount of time you have to dedicate to it.

If writing is truly a passion that you want to explore, YOU will find the time to write.

What ways do you use to find time to write? Feel free to post comments below.