Readers here at MW have heard before that writing is a job. If you want to write professionally, you need to treat your writing as a business. Which means you show up to “work” every day–aka you get your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard. But as much as we say that, the truth is, writing is very different from most jobs. In most other professions, it is possible to “ride the clock,” to show up, answer demands with the answers you’ve been taught in school or through experience. You can’t do that with writing.
You show up to your writing job and you have to create something new and exciting from nothing. Sure, we have craft skills to fall back on, maybe an established series with characters, and even an outline–but every time we sit down we have to create. Let’s face it, sometimes that’s hard to face everyday. Any number of things can get in the way of writing, everything from busy schedules to stress or doubt.
So how do we overcome those things and spend our writing time productively? Well, the answer will be different for every person and likely change from situation to situation. That said, here are a couple suggestions to get you started.
Have defined goals. This can be that you want to get in an hour/2 hours/6 hours (whatever) of writing time everyday. Then you guard that time and give yourself permission to let everything else go for that block of time. Or you could say you want to write X number of words each day and let that goal drive you forward.
Fall in love again. If, despite your best efforts and dedicated “attendance” at work, things just aren’t working, step back, open a new file/grab a sheet of paper, and jot down what got you excited about this writing project in the first place. What makes your story unique. What attracts you to your characters? Get yourself excited with the story again and words will likely start to flow again.
Change your scenery. Sometimes change can refresh a situation that’s gone stale. Try switching where/when/how you write and see if the words start flowing again. (But don’t spend all of your writing time looking for the prefect setting to write.)
Hang out with other writers. Now again, don’t let this eat up your writing time, but sometimes some camaraderie can make the next time you go to sit in front of your computer a little easier. If you have a critique group or just some local writing friends, that’s perfect. If not, check out some online communities. The support and understanding of your peers can go a long way.
Give yourself permission to be less than perfect. The pressure to write the RIGHT words can sometimes get in the way of writing ANY words. The great thing about writing is that you get to edit those words before anyone has to see them. Dialogue just isn’t snappy enough? That’s okay. Unlike real life where we only get one chance to sound brilliant, we can come back to that line of dialogue later and rework it.
Read a good book (though not in your writing time). Like the suggestion to fall in love with your story again, this one is about falling in love with the magic of books. Reading a good book can remind us of why we’re going back to the computer every day (You know, besides the fact that the kids have to eat and the mortgage has to be paid.)
Okay, that is rounding out to a pretty good list, but please, if you have suggestions of things to do to make showing up to ‘work’ each day a little easier, do share.
Good writing everyone!