10 Foundational Writing Practices

Work-174946-mMy church is currently featuring a series on foundational spiritual practices and as I listened to our minister a couple of Sundays ago, I started thinking (as always) about writing.  What, I wondered, would I consider to be foundational writing practices?  I pondered and made notes on this for a few days and this blog post is the result.

What do I mean by foundational practice?  I mean the activities that will insure you a successful and inspired writing life, one that will keep you productive and make you happy. (Because I am convinced that if a writer is writing, the rest of her life can be falling apart and she'll still be happy, or at least deeply satisfied.)

So, here goes–my list of the ten foundational writing practices I think are vital to your life.

1.  Write every day.  Something, anything.  Even if it is for five minutes.  Committing to this has the potential to change your writing (and you) in a powerful way.

2.  Follow the writing process.  Let her rip!  Write a shitty first draft in which everything you got at the moment is glumped onto the page.  And then rewrite and revise it until your manuscript is a glowing jewel. 

3.  Read as much as you can in your genre–or any other genre, for that matter.   If you're not reading you shouldn't be writing.  Period.  You've got to get the rhythm of words inside you in order to be able to spit them out onto the page.

4. Study craft.   Read the experts so you can master the fundamentals–and then go beyond them.  Read writing books, writing blogs, and any article on craft you can get your hands on.

5.  Keep a journal and/or an idea book.   Journaling and morning pages are wonderful tools to develop ease and flow in your writing.   But sometimes when you're wrapped up in your WIP, you don't want to take time for journaling.  That's cool.  But at least keep a journal of ideas.

6.  Learn the fundamentals of grammar and spelling.  But don't obsess about them, either.  You've got to learn the basics!

7.  Connect with other writers.  Okay, I know you're an introvert and would rather spend hours at your desk.  But the rewards of connecting with other writers are immense.  Nobody gets a writer like another writer, period.  And these days you can connect online and never have to leave your desk.  Except you also want to consider:

8.  Move your body.  Sitting at her desk all day makes Mary a wide girl.  It's really important to move those bones–walking, running, yoga, something.  

9.  Calm your mind.  Pay your hard-working brain some attention, too.  Spend time in meditation, or prayer, or even just take a few deep breaths to clear the cobwebs out throughout the day.  This will help with:

10.  Stay positive.  This is a tough business.  You're going to get bad reviews, rejections from editors, crappy emails from people who don't like your work.  If you maintain a positive mindset, it is easy to say, f–k it when this happens.

Okay, those are mine.  What are yours?  

Photo by clarita.

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13 Responses to 10 Foundational Writing Practices

  1. J.D. 01/30/2014 at 05:22 #

    Charlotte, I’m trying to find a hole in this list. There isn’t one. You nailed it. I’m pinning it over my computer.

  2. Sandy 01/30/2014 at 10:04 #

    Can’t argue with any of those points. Perhaps one I would add is ‘Know when to lean your support group’ whether it be a spouse, best friend, goldfish ;). There WILL come a time when you’re down and thinking ‘I’m the worst writer in the world and I should just give up’. Having someone look you square in the face and say ‘You can do this, stupid. Now, go write!’ can help get you over the tough parts. And knowing you have someone cheering you on can be a huge confidence boost (particularly for newer writers).

  3. Charlotte Dixon 01/30/2014 at 15:12 #

    Great addition to the list, Sandy, thanks!

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Don Williams 01/30/2014 at 20:15 #

    Excellent points, but the third is the one that I’ve really been neglecting and shouldn’t, so starting today I’m making an extra effort to do so!

  5. J.D. 01/31/2014 at 04:13 #

    I’m having trouble with a chapter because the events are so personally painful for me. Many of the people I have fashioned my characters after are still living. I look for it to work out though; I’m talking to my goldfish about it at lunch 😉

  6. Charlotte Dixon 01/31/2014 at 05:56 #

    I'm so glad, Don!

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. Charlotte Dixon 01/31/2014 at 07:31 #

    I wish I had a goldfish to talk to. :-) 

    Sent from my iPhone

  8. J.D. 01/31/2014 at 09:56 #

    At lunch we are having … uh … chicken.

  9. Robyn LaRue 01/31/2014 at 22:27 #

    Fantastic list, including #11 from Sandy. Heaven knows how easy it can be to get down on writing some days, but I have two writer friends to encourage me. Priceless. :) My hope for every writer is to have hat kind of support.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 02/01/2014 at 11:09 #

    Support and connection among writers is sooo vital!  Thanks, Robyn.

  11. Charlotte Dixon 02/04/2014 at 09:56 #

    Thanks, J.D.! I’m glad it was helpful.

  12. Nownovel 02/07/2014 at 04:06 #

    Great list, especially number 1. the power of morning pages (or a structured approach to writing) can’t be underestimated.

  13. Charlotte Dixon 02/07/2014 at 05:48 #

    Very true!  We often overlook them because they take up precious time but they can be vital.  Thanks for commenting.

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