Thursday, August 29, 2013

Step 1: Getting Started

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Thought for the Day: "I don't know where my ideas come from, but I know where they come to. They come to my desk, and if I'm not there, they go away again." ~Philip Pullman

The very best way--in fact, the only way--to become a better writer is to write. You will have to decide on a schedule for writing, therefore, and commit to it. Decide on a schedule that works for you. Some writers write every day, but you don't have to. Maybe you will decide to write Monday - Friday, or two or three days a week. Some writers write for a specified length of time, an hour or two, or until they have 1,000 words, or maybe one page, or two or three. I have a friend who declared Thursdays writing days; she wrote only on Thursdays, but she wrote every Thursday, no matter what. She is now a tenured professor of Creative Writing and has just published her third book...

Do these things first:

Thumbnail image for clock.jpg1. Decide on your writing time and write it on or program it into your calendar. Treat it like any other appointment you make (unless you are the kind of person who misses appointments, then treat it as MORE important than that).

2. Next, write down the details of your plan. For example: "I will write on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m." Don't take on too much, too soon, or you will get discouraged and quit. But if you do slip, you can revise the plan and start again.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for yellow pad.jpg3. Figure out where and how you will write too, and write that down (you are creating a contract with yourself). Will you use your computer? Then be sure you have it set up somewhere you won't be interrupted and that you have a power cord. Are you going to write longhand? Then you will need paper and a pen or pencil (and a pencil sharpener and a flat surface, and again, some peace and quiet). Plan ahead and ready your space and materials before your "appointment" time.

4. Make a list of projects you want to work on, if you have some in mind. Again, for example, write "This school year, I will complete 5 poems in my zombie apocalypse series (or whatever...), and revise the short story that I wrote for a class last year."


5. If you don't have any projects in the works, try Morning Pages until you do (see also "Artist Dates"). The idea of Morning Pages comes from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and they are a great exercise even if you are an accomplished writer already.

6. When you have all this written down, put My Writing Plan across the top, sign it at the bottom, and display it near your writing space. This is a promise to yourself.

A Writing Prompt: Write a "list" poem that addresses the questions below. (Click here for an example of a "list" poem by me, and here for one by a real poet.)

--What I could be doing instead of writing
--What I will do to make myself write
--What I will write about
--Why I will write

Writing Advice:
How To Write a Book When You're Really, Really Busy

Inspirational Words: "I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I am inspired at nine o'clock every morning." ~Peter De Vries (author of 23 novels!)

Resources and Links:
Creative Writing Prompts
Writer's Digest

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