7 Writing Session Savers for When It’s a Slog

Writing has been a slog for me lately.  In the month of November, for Nanowrimo, I wrote over 50K words.  50,047, to be exact.  And since then I’ve written under 4,000.  Yeah. A slog.

Here are some of my excuses for not writing:

–Snow and ice storm

–Christmas

–My grandson’s birthday

Teaching a workshop on character and promoting next year’s France workshop

–Christmas

–It’s a slog

Because when writing is a slog, it is not so much fun.  And why else do we write, if not for fun? Because, honestly, this industry pretty much sucks.  The gatekeepers are mean, keeping us away from the citadel, and if we choose to go it alone we have to cultivate the mind of an entrepreneur.

But I digress.

This morning, I finally wrote one thousand words.  1,000 exactly because I stopped as soon as I hit that magic number. (My usual goal for a daily word count is 2,000, but I’ve followed my own advice and lowered my expectations.)  And that made me feel good. And I started thinking about the ways I help myself when writing is a slog. Such as:

  1. Admit it.  If you are in a not-fun stage with your writing, admit it. Don’t try to sugarcoat it. Fess up. The writing gods and muses love honestly.  Once you’ve realized what’s going on, you can deal with it a lot more easily.
  2. Write a word.  Just one word. Then another and another. And another. With luck, it will quit being a slog and you will start having fun. But if that doesn’t happen, at least you will have words on the page.
  3. Try a prompt.  Oh hey, I just happen to have a prompt book for you right here.  Sometimes a prompt is just what you need to start enjoying the work again, because it can take you in all kinds of unexpected places.
  4. Change your routine. If you usually listen to music, don’t.  Or vice-versa. If you usually sit in your office, try the kitchen. Or pack things up and hit the coffee shop.  Change it up and see if that doesn’t rejuvenate you.
  5. Get your ya-yas out.  Go for a walk. Hit the gym. Do some yoga.  Come back to the work with a fresh mind. Maybe you’ll have a fresh attitude as well.
  6. Read. Nothing gets me excited about writing like delving into a book. Fiction or non-fiction does it for me. Maybe it will for you, too.  (Right now I’m reading Gaining Visibility, by Pamela Hearon,  and Lisa Cron’s book called Story Genius).
  7. Give up. Admit you’re not into writing at the moment and don’t force yourself to do it.  But do this whole-heartedly, in a way that you’ll be at peace with. Not in a way that you’ll be torturing yourself with the dreaded words, I should be writing, every few minutes.

What do you do when your writing becomes a slog? I’d love to hear how you put the fun back in it.  And remember, one of the best ways to get enthusiastic about writing is to work with a coach. You can read more about that here.

Image by Thomas Helberg.

Because I Know You Love Them: September Writing Prompts #4

And here you have them: the last set of writing prompts for September.  Hope you’ve enjoyed them, and stay tuned for news of the release of a writing journal of prompts soon!

–Not in this lifetime.

–If ever I should leave you….

–What are the parameters of your main character’s world? Is he an international traveler, or someone who has always stayed close to home?

–Whatever. Just don’t expect any help from me.

–When was the last time you got to say, I told you so?

–They ate pie for breakfast, brownies for lunch and cake for dinner.

–I love staying in hotels so much that I think I was raised in one in a previous life. How about you? Do you have any feelings about how you lived in a previous life?

Enjoy!

Of Course You Can Do It: September Writing Prompts #3

September is Writing Prompt Month! Actually, I have no idea if that’s true, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? Here are your prompts for the week:

–What a fool he was. Yet still she was in love with him.

–Rise and Shine! Bright, shiny new day!

–Oh God, do I have to?

–They argued all day and all night and then got up the next morning and argued some more. What are they arguing about and why? Figure that out and then write a scene.

–He had the most unlikely business idea. And yet, it was brilliant.

–What is scarier: clowns or mimes?

–And when it is all over, at last I’ll be able to….

Okay, go to it! And have fun.

No Excuses: September Writing Prompts #2

I’m in a prompt kind of mood (or at least I was when I wrote this post, before I left for France) because later on this fall I’ll be coming out, with a wonderful co-author, with a writing prompt journal that you will be able to hold in your very own hands! Exciting, no? But in the meantime, because its Monday and you need to write this week, here’s a week’s worth of prompts for you. Go to it.

–He never knew that his aunt had turned into a hoarder, but now he edged along a narrow path that skirted the huge pile of junk in the living room.

–It will all be over soon.

–I don’t like you, but I love you. Seems like I’m always thinking of you. (With thanks to the Beatles.)

–The pile of notebooks threatened to topple over at any second.

–But, after all….

–You main character’s favorite way to spend her free time.  Drinking wine, pursuing a hobby, watching TV, having sex, hiking, reading, what?

–My neighbors collect gnomes and have them all around their yard. Sometimes they find new ones that friends have left in odd places. What do you collect and why? How about your main character?

Okay, you’ve got your marching orders for the week. Go to it! And if you write something you want to share, put it in the comments!

To Keep You Busy While I’m Gone: September Writing Prompts #1

pencil_notebook_writing_237689_lJust in case you were thinking, while the cat’s away, the mice will play, no such luck.  To give you something to do other than sit around and sob about my absence, I’ve decided to set up writing prompt posts for every Monday in September, with seven posts for you. One for each day.

You know the drill. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes, and write without stopping. Use the prompts as a warm-up tool, or to inspire you, or when you are blocked. Okay? Here goes:

–Pink, yellow, purple, brown. Mary shook her head as she sorted the yarn her mother had chosen.  She’d suspected it for a long time, but now she was certain: her mother had to be color blind.

–The road trip was tedious, especially when they got stuck in traffic for 30 minutes and Kevin started telling her to be patient.

–The small child turned the item over and over in her hands, then looked at the person who had handed it to her. “It’s called a watch. You tell time with it.  People used to wear them all the time.”

–A group of brightly colored hot-air balloons sailed over head. She was so delighted with them, she ran through the fields, chasing them.

–He was a mean, ugly person with a twisted sense of humor. Yet still she loved him.

–Down the rain fell, harder and harder.

–If there was one thing your main character could change about the place she lives, what would it be?

Okay, have fun. Look for a guest post coming up soon. And look for another edition of prompts next Monday, September 12th.  Oh, and here’s a little teaser–there just may be something in the way of a prompts journal coming up later on this fall!

Happy writing!

7 Productivity Hacks For Your Writing + A Last-Minute Bonus One

yellow-dailyshoot-8257834-lDid I just use the word “hack” in the title? I did. Those of us who have been around for a long time remember when “hack” was a word thrown at writers who had sold out, who wrote crap for money.  But now it is more often used (some would say overused) as a synonym for tip, or hint, as in household hints. Trust me, these used to be very popular, things like “cleaning hints for pennies,” or “how to remove photos from an album with a sticky backing.”  I took these from the Hints for Heloise site.

Today I do not have any household hints because I’m a bad housewife.  (If you could see the cobwebs on the window in my family room, you’d agree.) But I have hacks—and not the bad writer kind, the good productivity kind.  The you’ll-get-tons-more-writing-done kind.   Because I don’t know about you, but my writing life is often more about making sure my butt gets in the writing chair and stays there than anything else.  So here goes.

  1. Accept your creative process as it is. Your process involves frequent breaks for scouring the web? Or knitting? Or wandering down the block to chat with the neighbors? So be it.  If you’re getting the work done (and that’s the most important part of this equation) then accept your nuttiness.  I love this post  by Danielle LaPorte.  She says it much more lyrically than me.  Also, if you’re not getting the work done, then keep reading.
  1. Get your lazy ass up and walk around once in a while. Oh, sorry, that’s what I tell myself all the time. Didn’t mean to be quite so indelicate with you.  But maybe that’s what you need to hear, because I know it’s what I have to remind myself.  You will be more productive and feel much better at the end of the day if you get up often. I know the stereotype of the writer is the opposite: there we sit, so absorbed in our work we forget to eat, forget to get up to use the bathroom, forget everything but the work.  Even if you should be so lucky that you experience that transcendent state regularly, it is not good for you.  Sitting is killing us.  You must get up regularly.
  2.  Pomodoro yourself. The Pomodoro method is a whole thing, but you don’t need to take their classes or buy their product. You just time yourself—25 minutes working, 5 minutes off.  I use this online timer  and when it goes off tell my lazy ass to get up (see #2) and walk around the house. Works like a charm, especially if you…
  1. Stay hydrated. This is my secret weapon for productivity. Because, number one, drinking tons of water makes you feel better.  But also it makes you have to pee like a mo-fo.  And that requires getting up a lot. (Again, see #2.) I also trick myself by leaving my water in the kitchen, so that I have to go on walkabout to get to it.  Oh, the mental gymnastics we do to keep going.
  1. Keep scratch paper by your computer. This way you have a place on which to write all those brilliant notes about your novel that occur to you while you’re writing a blog post. So as to prevent yourself from switching from said blog post to novel mid-work session, make a note of it.
  1. Have a way to file those brilliant ideas. If you’re smart and organized, you’ll figure out one system and stick with it.  If you’re like me, you’ll constantly search for a new and better technique (just as I search for a new and better calendar).  I love One Note  and I know others like Evernote, too.  But I also love paper. I’ve tried index cards and putting them in a small file box, and I’ve tried notebooks.  I just made myself a to-do book that is supposed to contain all my things to do and ideas, too.  So far, it’s not working so well.  And that would be because, um, I forget to look in it.
  1. Schedule a few minutes for it. Say you’re busy closing the deal of the century and you are working on a novel at the same time.  When the deal heats up, the novel will suffer.  But one thing you can do to maintain your productivity is work on your project a few minutes a day.  C’mon, you’ve got five extra minutes.  Or even 15.  Because, as the wonderful Rachael Herron says, “If you gave fifteen minutes a day to moving toward a goal, you’d spend ninety-one hours on your project this year!” Huzzah.  Go write for fifteen minutes.
  1. Last minute bonus hack! Literally as I was finishing this article, an email came in advertising that the Freewrite  is now available for purchase. Go check it out—it’s like a typewriter for this millennium, with the bonus of no internet access.

So, those are some ideas that I hope will help you.  Got any writing hacks yourself? Please leave a comment and tell more!

 

Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #54

Ah summertime….I've been on vacation, I've been slacking…no scratch that last one, I have not been slacking since I got home.  There's much to do to catch up from vacation and get ready to be out of the country for three weeks.  Awk! The thought of it makes my heart pound–in a good way and a bad way. Anyway, all this is by way of saying that this week on my Tumblr blog, I missed a few days.  Blame it on brain overload, but I thought I had a bunch of prompts scheduled to run and then I came home and realized I didn't.  Alas.  But I did publish two prompts on one day to make up for it!  So here you go:

#376  The look on her face said it all.

#377 There was nothing she could do but quit worrying about it.

#378  Write about what happens when your main character travels.  Is she intrepid, an adventurer? Or does he hate leaving home, needing everything to be just as he likes it?

#379  How does your main character want others to see her? How does she see herself? Are the answers to these two questions the same? If not, explore the rich space in between.

#380  What is your very first memory?  What is your main character’s?

 So, yeah, a bit sparser than usual.  But there should be enough to keep you going for a little while. How is your writing proceeding? 

Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #52

Here we go again with our weekly collection of prompts from my daily Tumblr blog.  Enjoy and write a lot, will you please?  It would make me happy.

#357  Use the words umbrella, metal and sunlight in a sentence.  Now use that sentence as a prompt.

#358  He couldn’t understand a word she said.  

#359  Write about your character experiencing a storm.  Is he/she scared or exhilarated?  Eager for it to end or happy to let it rage around her? Does it energize her or tire him?

#360  Who is the love of your main character’s life?

#361  “I’d stay another year if I saw a teardrop in your eye.” Heard it In a Love Song,by the Marshall Tucker band.  Write about what’s going on here.

#362  It was over.  Thank God.  She breathed a huge sigh of relief.  But then….

#363  Oh, the exhilaration of it all!  

There you go! How is your writing going this week?