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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Five Ways to Keep Writing No Matter What

Readers, are you tired of waiting for your favorite author’s next book?

Writers, are you struggling to stick to your timeline?

I know I’m not progressing through my WIP On Best Behavior as quickly as I’d like.

Time for a helpful guest post from writer Samantha Gray!

Take it away, Samantha…

5 Ways to Keep Writing No Matter What

Writing is not for the faint of heart. We confront feelings that are powerful and sometimes very complicated. We bare our souls for the world to see. We offer this gift to the world, perhaps secretly terrified of rejection. No wonder so many writers are suicidal, or alcoholics, or dry up and become reclusive hermits, never to be heard from again. But it doesn't have to be that way. Below are some heartfelt suggestions for how to keep going in those moments where you just want to give up on your dream:

1. Drop what you're doing. No, really. If you're having a genuine morale problem, AKA writer's block, it's less important that you make progress on the particular project of the moment than it is that you recapture a sense of forward momentum and happy flow. That doesn't mean you stop writing. Quite the opposite: the whole point here is not to stall out, not to freeze like a deer in headlights. Rather, try writing something random, low-pressure, and above all, fun. There's no harm in a little side project. Who knows, maybe this little throwaway will even become your main project. Your block could be your heart telling you you're barking up the wrong tree.

2. Remember, NO ONE IS WATCHING. Your precious baby is yours alone for now, to nurse as you see fit. You get to decide when it finally gets released into the world, and that time hasn't come yet, so your piece can be as bad as it wants to be for now. Remember that bumper sticker slogan, "Work like you don't need the money, Love like you've never been hurt, Dance like no-one's watching"? Well, write like no one can see. Because they can't.

3. Think back to when you first fell in love with writing. What were you working on then? Try to find a way to reconnect with that feeling, and work that one-time inspiration back into what you're doing. What was it that you enjoyed most about it? Get back to those basics and you may find that what you're putting on the page is revitalized.

4. Reread your favorite book, something you purely love. Even if it's totally unrelated to your own writing goals, it may help you rediscover that feeling described above. Something totally different from your own project (science fiction instead of romance, poetry instead of fiction) may shake you out of your funk and offer new inspiration.

5. Take a walk. Sitting at your desk all day is simply not good for you, physically or mentally, especially at those times when you don't feel good about what you're doing. I describe this as an "occupational hazard" for writers and people think I'm joking, but it's true. Prolonged periods at a chair are bad for your back, your circulation, your digestion…and don't get me started on the bleary-eyed, discombobulated feeling I get from staring at a screen for hours on end. On that note, I'm out of here! Time to go get some fresh air. Happy scribbling!

Samantha Gray is a freelance writer based in Houston, Texas, who offers college advice to those interested in furthering their studies and careers. She can be reached for questions or comments at samanthagray024@gmail.com

Thank you, Samantha! I can definitely vouch for the boost that comes from taking a walk. Exercise increases cerebral blood flow, letting the creativity flow like liquid. Check out another post by Samantha about great YA books HERE.

16 comments:

Trisha said...

I'm generally pretty good at keeping going...with *something* at least. Maybe not so good at sticking to the one project I should be sticking to ;)

I like your tips here!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

All great suggestions. I find biking helps me clear out the cobwebs, and I can practice dialogue out loud and nobody minds!

And reading snippets of poems and books I have loved re-energies me, too. Great guest post, Samantha!!

Jennifer Lane said...

Trisha, that sounds wise to hop around to various projects as a way of keeping the pedal to the metal.

Jennifer Lane said...

Roland, a bike ride with the breeze flowing through your hair sounds like just what the writing doctor ordered.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My guitar playing helps me. Although once I begin on a project, the writing just flows.

Heather Murphy said...

These are great tips. Thanks!

Jennifer Lane said...

Alex, that flow feeling is awesome. I have that once in a while. Recently some buddies and I have been doing writing challenges, which have been very motivating. That's an idea for a blog post! I remember how the guitar helps you--very cool. From one artistic venture to another.

Jennifer Lane said...

Heather, I thought so too. Thank you, Samantha!

CarolOates said...

Great advice. Thank you.

Jennifer Lane said...

Thank YOU, Carol! We should do a writing challenge soon.

Suze said...

No. 1 is awesome. Necessary.

Good stuff, Jen.

Jennifer Lane said...

Suze, I like #5 the best but they're all helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

Debra Anastasia said...

Great post! And fart like no one is standing behind you is the only one I'd add.

Nicki Elson said...

Thanks for the tips! Giving permission to walk away is the best thing, I think. I can sit in front of the screen stymied, and then as soon as I get up to take care of some other duty, the perfect line comes to me - yet its shocking how quickly I forget to just do that!

Um, oh, I see Debra's added a 6th bit of advice...no comment.

Jennifer Lane said...

Nicki, I think I'll ignore Debra's rather dubious advice as well. :D Though Debra, I suppose if you clear things out a bit, you'll be more clearheaded?

Feather Stone said...

I'm never short of projects, and writing is only one of them. I find that if I put pressure on myself to complete something within a specific time period, I freeze up. Just the rebel in me. lol Don't tell me what to do, babe!

 


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