Tag Archives | write every day

Guest Post: How to Write a Novel Without Even Realizing It

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago in which I trumpeted the value of writing for even a few minutes every day–and Amanda commented on her success in following that prescription.  I was emailing her to write a guest post before I even finished reading her comment!  And here it is, and I find it very inspiring.  Amanda has appeared on these pages before–you can read the interview I did with her last year here.  Scroll down and read more about her wonderful novels!
 
Clock-clocks-alarm-546827-lWrite before you wake up…or, how I got so far into my next novel without even realizing I was writing it.
 
Recently, Charlotte wrote a post about writing every day. In it, she said, “So, how important is it to write every day?
 
Well, I think its every thing.  Every damn thing.  I do.  I believe that writing every day is what we should all strive for. … And that is what it really boils down to.  Whether or not you actually want to write.”
 
I’ve read similar articles before. I’ve heard similar advice. I usually reply with “but…but…but…”
 
I want to write every day, but I have 2 kids.
I want to write every day, but I have two other jobs.
I want to write every day, but I volunteer.
I want to write every day, but it’s the weekend.
I want to write every day, but the last season of Mad Men is finally on Netflix.
 
A week before Charlotte’s article I watched a webinar with the founder of The Organized Artist Company, Samantha Bennett (she’s also a former SNL writer!) and she gave a lot of similar advice. Just. Do. It.
 
That week, with my husband away at a conference and my children running around like the banshees they are, and my first week in a brand new job at a company, where everyone was away for the same conference my husband was at, I thought I was losing my mind. I hadn’t been writing in my journal, much less working on any creative writing. I was in the place in between projects where it’s easy to get stagnant: waiting for feedback on one manuscript but not sure how to start the next. Sam said that all creative work can be accomplished in 15 minutes a day, as long as you’re consistent with it. In the morning, before you check your email, before you turn the TV on, before you see Facebook or any part of the internet…15 minutes. Before your brain has time to think.
 
This is the same concept that Julia Cameron uses for working on Artists Pages right away in the morning— you’re not awake enough to self-sensor. First-thing Artists Pages don't work for me, because I’m not engaged enough with it and fall back to sleep. But, with two days left until my hubby got home, I decided to give actual writing a shot. 15 minutes, immediately, before I did anything else. Which meant I had to write long hand, because if I’m near my computer I must check email and Facebook, just as I must breathe.
 
I woke up, stumbled down the stairs, told my son to go back to bed, it was too early to be up (when he asked why I was up I said I was writing. In our house, this is code for leave me alone. I’ve trained them well.) and I started to write. 
 
I did it again the next day.
 
And the next. 
 
After about a week, started waking up before my alarm, knowing what I was going to write. I had my first book dream, in which I was one of the characters. 
 
It’s been a little over a month now, I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve done it almost every day since. I have a full notebook of handwritten scenes. As I’ve re-read them, I’m kind of amazed. They’re a lot better than most of my first draft stuff. More direct. Less tangents. I have to wonder if it’s because I was more focused while I was writing. This isn’t the fastest I’ve written, but it feels different. More complete in some way. And I’m in a MUCH better mood each day for getting the words on the page, first thing.
 
It’s not hard to get up 15 minutes earlier. If you’re not a morning person, (I’m totally not one) it will feel hard, I know, but just tell yourself it isn’t. You can program your coffee pot so it’s ready when you get to the kitchen, pour your cup, and go. Or sleep with your notebook or computer next to your bed, so you don’t even have to get up to get writing. It’s just 15 minutes. You can totally do it. 
 
Amanda_Moon_Headshot-Smaller_FileAmanda Michelle Moon writes novels inspired by real events. Her first two novels, The Thief and The Damage, tell the true-life unsolved mystery of a pair of Wizard of Oz worn ruby slippers from the perspective first of a fictional criminal, and then of the people affected by the theft. In May she is launching her first audiobook! Both books can be found at www.stealingtherubyslippers.com. When she’s not writing, she lives with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works for NoiseTrade Books. Connect with her at www.amandamichellemoon.com.

Alarm clock photo from alan_cleaver2000.  Author photo from Amanda! 

What do you think?  Can you find 15 minutes in your day to write? Can you rise a little early?

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Should You Write Every Day?

HappywritingI was at a gathering of writers last night (Portlanders, we meet every last Monday of the month for Literary Libations, join us) and Angela Sanders, an accomplished mystery writer who is doing very well with her books (can you say number one on all Kindle sales?) was talking about her career.

Angela talked about how she does very little social media, sends one newsletter out a month (subscribe here, its definitely worth it), and beyond that, "I write every day."

Because–that's the most important thing.

Writing.  

As often as humanly possible.

And yes, while writing in a journal, or writing a blog post, or ad copy for your next class, or whatever, is all terribly important, when we talk about writing every day, we're talking about writing on that project of yours.  You know the one–the novel that keeps you awake at night.  The one where the characters keep doing things that delight you.  The one you have in your head.  Or hopefully in a collection of notes carefully stored somewhere.

So, how important is it to write every day?

Well, I think its every thing.  Every damn thing.  I do.  I believe that writing every day is what we should all strive for.

But people scowl at me when I say this.  They throw things, like rotten apples, at me.  They yell and scream.  Okay, maybe they don't really, but I can see by the look in their eyes that they are wishing they could.  Because they really don't want to write every freaking day.

And that is what it really boils down to.  Whether or not you actually want to write.

I'm sorry, but that's the plain, hard truth of the matter.  (And for the record, I'm lecturing myself here as much as anybody.)  Once, years ago, I read something that bears on this.  I believe it was in a Julia Cameron book.  She said something to the effect that if a man is in love with you, no matter if he's the busiest executive in the world, he'll find time to call you.

So, ahem.  If you're in love with your writing (and you should be) you will freaking find time to do it, even a little, even if you're just thinking about it, every day.

And here's a little tip to help you do it every day:

At the above-mentioned Happy Hour wherein we discussed every aspect of writing, one of my most favorite writers (and human beings) in the whole world piped up and said she'd been writing every day.  

Gasp.  This required a huge gulp of wine to process.  Because Jenni, (who is likely reading this and rolling her eyes) has not written for months.  This has been the cause of much consternation and hand-wringing between my biz partner Debbie and I, because Jenni is a damn good writer, writing a really fun mystery.

So to hear her announce that she was now writing regularly again was amazing.  And we found out her secret, which is…..

Write for ten minutes a day.

C'mon, everyone can find ten minutes.  And the bigger trick to this is that once you start writing, you often look up and realize that an hour, not ten minutes has gone by and you've really not felt like stopping.

So, the moral of the story is that, yes, I do think every one should write every day if at all possible and that really, everything will fall into place for us all if we just write as often as possible.  

Please share what you think in the comments!

Image by Jem.

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