Tag Archives | consistency

Consistency for Writers

Little_boxes_high_599073_hConsistency.

Yawn.

The word is much like the word discipline in that it elicits yawns and boredom from us.  I mean, who ever got excited about the word consistency?

And yet, consistency is how writing gets done.

When you have a consistent writing practice, books get written.  Blog posts get written.  Essays get written.  I was thinking about this today when I was despairing about a lenghty ghostwriting project I've got going.  The topic is dense, the information complex.  And I'm getting the book written one word at a time.  I keep going back to it consistently.  I keep putting it on my to-do list. And the chapters are piling up.

So, too, with my latest novel.  I keep plugging away at it (actually, that makes it sound like it's not much fun working on it, and the opposite is true–I love it) and with a consistent practice of 1000 words a day, I got 100 pages done from the time I came up with the idea.

Consistency, in my mind, is better than wild late night sprints staying up until all hours working–and then crashing for days.  Consistency is the turtle, not the hare.

Here's a consistency story for you:

In November of 2007, I left a comment on a blog about Zen practice.  I'd found the blog and "met" its owner through what was then a hot site for bloggers called BlogCatalog.  (Many of my initial online friends and blog readers came from this site.  This was before Twitter, before Pinterest, before Instagram, and one year after Facebook opened its doors to all comers, not just college students.)  The blog's owner, Derek Ayre, a Welshman, emailed me and thanked me for the comment.  I emailed back.

A pen-pal friendship across the oceans was born.

At first we wrote every day.  Then we wrote every other day. Now we write each other about once a week, though sometimes life gets in the way on either end and it turns out to be weeks before one of us answers the other.  

But here's the deal: we always answer each other eventually.  Because the pen-pal friendship is important to us.   And so we are consistent with it.

(I have a bit of an ulterior motive in mentioning Derek because he's got a guest post coming up here on Tuesday and I wanted to spend more time introducing him than a short bio would allow.)

If, at any point in the past six years that we've been corresponding, one or the other of us became inconsistent, the friendship would have died.  But we've been consistent in honoring our email friendship and the result is a connection I treasure.

So, yeah, if you're looking for a good buzz word for 2014, you could do worse than to choose consistency, my friends.

What are you consistent about?  Your writing? Something else?  Please comment.

(And come back Tuesday for Derek's post.)

Photo by 416Style.

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12 Habits That Will Bolster a Consistent Writing Practice

Brief aside before we get started: Welcome to all of you who have found your way here from BlogHer!  I'm so pleased you are here.  You can navigate five year's worth of content on writing, inspiration, creativity and spirituality through the subject cloud in the right sidebar.  And please stay in touch by subscribing to my newsletter in the form to the right–you'll get notice of classes and book releases as well as a free copy of my Ebook, Jump Start Your Book With A Vision Board.

Everystockphoto_211230_mOkay, back to the topic at hand: what habits encourage a regular writing practice?

First, let's define regular writing practice.  I mean every day.  Or damn close to it.  I know, I know, I hear your excuses and see you making faces at me.  But truly, the best way to sink deeply into your writing, whether you are keeping a journal for yourself or writing a novel, is to connect with your work every day.  If you don't have time to write, read a page of what you've written.  Do whatever you can to somehow stay in touch with your WIP.

And now to get to the habits that I've learned help me to do this.  And yeah, I get that it is difficult to find time for some of these things as well.  After all, if you can't find time to write, when are you going to find time to walk? Or meditate?  Or any of the other things on the list?  I struggle to incorporate these habits into my life, too.  But here's the deal: the struggle is worth it.  Because my writing life and my personal life work better when I do.

So, let's get started.

1. Writing.  I know, duh.  But the kind of writing I'm talking about here is not working on your passion project, but journaling.  Or blogging.  Or writing morning pages.  Personal writing of this nature will help you sort your thoughts, clear the dreck from your brain, and train you in getting words on the page.  It is worth taking the time for it.

2.  Reading.  Once in awhile, someone will come to me and say they want to write.  And when I ask them what they read they say they don't.   Really?  It is impossible to write well without reading a lot.  Like, inhaling words.  Imprinting them in your brain.  Read everything you can get your hands on.  Reading will inspire you to write more and better.

3.  Sleeping.  Our romantic vision of the creative person is that of the mad writer or painter staying up all night, working and then collapsing.  News flash: this is really bad for you.  We need sleep to rejuvenate our bodies and replenish our brains.  Make sure you get enough.

4.  Take Joy.  Find the things you love and do them.  One of my great joys in my life is my family and I spend as much time with them as possible.  Incorporating joy into your life will give you a solid base from which to create.

5.  Admit Bad Habits.  Once you acknowledge your bad habits, it is the first step for them to dissipate.  In the spirit of full disclosure, here's mine: stupid TV. I used to hate TV and railed against it every chance I got.  Then I discovered American Idol.  And The Voice.  The good news is that those shows are over for the summer.  Except I just started watching America's Got Talent.  Truly, it is my pug's fault.  He gets upset if he can't sit on the couch and watch TV with me. 

6. Fuhgeddaboudit.  Take a break from working so hard, or even thinking so hard–most of us creative types walk around in a haze, pondering our WIPs.  But giving your brain a rest from figuring out the plot of  your novel can allow it to present you with luscious new ideas.

7.  Walk.  Julia Cameron recommends walking, not so much for the exercise, though we need that since we sit on our butts all day, but for the creative haze it can put us in.  Creative haze.  I made that phrase up.  Nifty, huh?  Anyway, something about walking shakes up the mental synapses and allows new thoughts to arise.  Take something to write on, because I guarantee you'll need it!

8.  Focus.  When you're writing, write.  Don't check your email inboxes or hit up Twitter to see what's going on.  Use the power of attention to get your writing done.  I like to write in 30-minute bursts, setting a timer.  For those 30 minutes I do nothing but write.  Then when the buzzer goes off I get up and walk around a bit (okay, I check inboxes and Twitter, too) and then return to the computer and do it again.

9.  Be Positive.  It is so easy to fall into the habit of negativity and most people in the world don't even realize they are doing it.  Dare to be different.   Be positive–about your life and your writing. One way to start is by looking at all the things in your life and writing practice that there are to be grateful for–like the fact you have a brain and functioning fingers to tap at the keyboard.

10.  Be Quiet.  Meditation can help with both #8 and #9.  Another thing you can do while being quiet is visualize yourself writing regularly.  According to Jonathan Fields, studies have shown that this kind of visualization really works.

11. Do Something New.  Brendon Burchard talks about the power of doing something new and different every so often.  It can be as simple as driving to work a different way!  The creative brain thrives on new input, so find a way to get some.  Drive to the beach for the day.  Take an Artist's Date.  Read a book in a subject completely new to you.

12.  Retreat.  Over and over again I hear from writers about the benefit of retreating.  You can take a personal writing retreat or go to one where there will be writing guidance. Retreats can be life-changing experiences. (Not lyin', one of the participants at my recent Diamond retreat used those exact words to describe it.)

Okay.  These are my 12 writing-boosting habits.  (And please don't think that I'm some paragon that managed to do all of these all the time, I'm not.)  What are yours?  Let's discuss in the comments.

 

Photo by ppdigital.  I was going to find a photo of a sun, to indicate the sunny happiness you'll feel when partaking of these habits, but that seemed a bit of a stretch.

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