July 28, 2014

Planning Your Reading Outfit Is Not Writing

by Leonid Pasternak (via)

Like everyone, I struggle to carve out time to write.  It’s easy to let the world sweep away your time.  And so I was thinking of a list of ways small and large to incorporate more writing in your life.

·         Take a notebook wherever you go and scribble in it when you’re stuck in traffic and on the subway and waiting in the doctor’s office and at lunch on your own.  We often think we need a huge block of time to accomplish a writing task, but you’d be surprised what you can accomplish with a minute here and five minutes there.
  • The hard part of about doing small bits of writing is keeping a continuity of thought.  What was I writing again?  So to counteract that, there’s a couple of things you can do.  Keep a list of ongoing projects, so when you do have a minute you know exactly what to work on.
  • If you only have little bits of time like this, it’s often best to work on small project.  Poetry is a good project for this.  Or small essays.  Or even just brainstorming for longer projects.
  • Use commute time to think through longer projects. If you’re driving for hours, think through your plot or your characters or even dream up a new project. Scribble notes, talk into a tape recorder, or pull over to the side of the road to keep track.
  • Set a desktop timer.  You know you’ve got 20 minutes till the baby wakes up, and you could fold laundry and start lunch, but instead fire up the computer and set the desktop timer for 20 minutes.  Ignore the siren song of the dishes, and don’t click on the internet for the full 20 minutes.  Just move your fingers over the keyboard.
  • Commit to a blog.  Writing begets writing, and so if you commit to writing a blog, even just a few lines and an interesting photo, it’ll keep you in your writing. 
  • Do daily pages.  Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way maintains that writing three pages a day longhand is a must for writers.  Much like a blog, it connects you to your writing and exercises that muscle.  It keeps you in practice. It can be anything ~ you can complain about things. You can write the same sentence over and over and over again ~ “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.” Eventually you’ll follow your thoughts and write something else.
  • Write first thing in the morning.  By doing this, you’re committing to your writing. You’re putting your writing first, when you’re fresh. You’ saying, “Writing is important to me, so much so that I’m actually putting my money ~ my time ~ where my mouth is.”
  • Write at the same time every day.  Habit is your friend when it comes to writing, and if you write every day, it is so much easier.  I think most people are this way: the hardest part of writing is getting into a project.  Getting over that first hump. By writing every day, you make it easier to surmount that initial resistance.
  • Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, as they say. Don’t wait for inspiration. Do the work.
  • Talk to friends about writing. Nothing is more inspiring than talking to other people who care about writing as much as you do.
  • Tell people no.  The world wants you to do what it wants, which is decidedly not writing. You have to make boundaries or you will never get anything done.
  • Last and certainly not least: Write.  Thinking is not writing. Doing research on the internet is not writing. Planning the outfit you’re going to wear to your first reading is not writing. Writing is the only thing that is writing, moving the pen or the keystrokes across the page.

Happy writing. Joyful writing. Sucky I-can’t-hardly-make-myself-write writing.  Force-myself-to-sit-in-the-chair writing.  It’s all writing. Go forth and be fruitful!

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