I recently celebrated my birthday. Now, in general, I don’t go much for big celebrations. This isn’t because getting older bothers me — I find the alternative is not so good. Really, it’s because I’m lazy. With my daughter’s birthday and Valentine’s Day both happening shortly before my birthday, I’m partied out. Enough work. I just don’t want to cook. That’s all. So we play it low-key.
But this year, my friend came up with an awesome gift that I have to share with all you writer types — or those who have writers in your life. Because it is SO cool. My friend gave
me a Writer’s Inspiration Package. A very heavy basket, which, when I opened it, proved to be filled with all sorts of goodies –all wrapped of course, so I couldn’t guess what they were ahead of time. “You have to open them in order,” she instructed me. On the top was a sheet of paper, 10 Steps To Finishing Your Book. Each package was numbered to go with one of the steps.
Here are the 10 Steps To Finishing Your Book — along with corresponding gifts.
1. Get Rid Of Your Gremlins For Good.
Whew! Does she know me or what?! Gremlins are those voices in your head telling you that your writing sucks, and why are you doing this anyway? Somehow, no matter what I do, they creep back in and get noisy every time I write. But now, they’d better watch out because I’m getting rid of them. For Good. I’ve got a pink hammer (so my husband doesn’t take it) and I’m not afraid to use it.
2. Get The Creative Juices Flowing.
I don’t always have the chance to write every day, so when I do sit down to write, I have to prime the pump a bit. Music helps — I create playlists to go along with each novel, so my brain associates that music with the contents and emotions of that particular novel. But now I have another way to get thinking. Sometimes keeping my hands busy with a simple task (I know someone who draws spirals) frees up my brain to think, create. Showers work really well too.
3. Remember You Have Many Of Us Cheering You On.
It helps to let people know you are
writing. It holds you accountable. It makes you embarrassed if they ask how the writing is going and you have to admit that you haven’t been writing — so that helps you to sit your butt in the chair and write. I love it when I know people are waiting to read what I’ve written. Inspires me to write even when I don’t feel like it. Nothing like a deadline to make me productive!
4. Set Time Aside Every Day To Write.
This can be hard. But even if you only have ten
minutes, it adds up. The more consistent you can be, the less “getting into it” time you will need when you do sit down to write. It’s like how when you get used to waking up at a certain time for school each day, you often wake up at that time on the weekend too. Same thing with writing every day. If you do it on a regular basis, your brain starts to expect it. You might even find you miss it when you don’t sit down to write.
5. Take Your Medication To Prevent Writer’s Block.
Of course, if you write every day, you might find that writer’s block doesn’t exist. And it does depend on what you mean by writer’s block. Maybe you mean you don’t FEEL like writing — write anyway and you often find that you do feel like it. Maybe it means you don’t have any idea what to write about. That’s where using a prompt can come in handy. (Check out the list of writing prompts on the links page) Or just set a timer and write whatever comes into your head. That’s the idea behind Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages.
6. Write, Write, Write!!!
Doesn’t get any clearer than that. Butt in chair. One letter, one word at a time. Write. On paper, on the computer… whatever works for you. When I get stuck in my novel, I’ll switch to journaling and it often helps free things up again. But nothing gets on the page unless I sit down and take the time to WRITE.
7. Make Sure You Are Well Nourished.
Usually this isn’t a problem for me. Although I have been known
to get so caught up in the writing that I forget to eat. (That doesn’t happen often.) Chocolate and Peanut Butter — what’s not to like? Even has protein. Of course, my number one writing candy is… SKITTLES. It’s something about being able to arrange them by color… Not that I’m ocd or anything… : )
8. Stay In Your Seat And Write Some More. This Should Help Keep You There.
Yup, it always comes back to sitting your butt down and writing. Duct tape = love. And now it comes in all sorts of awesome colors and patterns so you can be stuck in your seat but still coordinate.
9. Print and send it off to the editor and agent.
At some point, you need an audience. Join a
writing group, blog, send your awesome story/poem/novel off to a contest. Query an editor or agent… Get it out there. It’s scary, but the writing process isn’t complete until you have a reader. Otherwise you could just keep it all in your head — that would be a lot easier. But not nearly as rewarding as connecting with someone using your written words.
And finally, take time to celebrate. Finish a rough draft? Great job! Celebrate. Got through a first edit? That took some hard work. Celebrate. Shared your poem with an audience? Super! You are brave and you should celebrate. Recognize that even though writing itself is a rather solitary occupation, you can have a community to support you, encourage you, and celebrate with you. And for those of you who know a writer — this Writer’s Inspiration Package is a great way to help.
Thanks Betty Jo. You Rock!