Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Girlfriends Share Tips on How to Be a Productive Writer


The hardest thing for me by far is the distraction of the Internet. I
can think of a thousand things online to tweak or check or join, when
I'm supposed to be writing. I went to a writers’ conference a couple of
weeks ago and heard a novel suggestion: Turn the Internet off when
you're working! So I'm trying:).

Lucy Burdette

Write dreadfully

I definitely use mental tricks. One of my favorites when I'm stuck on a scene is to tell myself that I have a set amount of time (about 10 - 15 minutes) to write the *worst* paragraph imaginable. That the actual goal is for it to be really bad and I will not have succeeded unless it's absolutely awful. That helps to remind me that it's perfectly okay to scratch things out. Most of that paragraph will, indeed, be dreadful, but there's usually some phrase that's worth saving and, often, by more clearly defining what I don't want in a scene, I'm better able to see what I do.
Marilyn Brant

Time is Money

I pay a babysitter to watch my kids so that I can write.  Her hourly rate usually motivates me to get right to work!

Brenda Janowitz

Stay Away From Savage Chickens

I totally have to trick myself into writing - which is a little weird, I think, and sad because I guess that makes me a bit gullible.  If I can get my butt in the chair and turn on the computer, I can get myself to write.  The hard part is not checking email, facebook, savage chickens, etc.

Leslie Langtry

 Change Your Location

I typically set a word count goal or scene goal for myself no matter where I am. Yesterday I checked out a new coffee shop downtown and took my iPad and bluetooth keyboard and used Omm (writing app) with the goal to start the first scene of my new short story. I didn't have long to stay before I had to go do "mom stuff" but I ended up writing 800 words and getting to try their mini-cinnamon roles and Americano, which was divine. When I'm at home, I typically write first thing with the goal to write either 1 or 2K. If I write before I start anything else, it gets done. Writing in new locations feels like a treat, too.  Besides the new coffee shop, there's a very modern library that opened on the other side of town I'm looking forward to visiting. As long as the place has wi-fi I can write, use Omm and headphones for quiet, and write, write, write. 

Malena Lott

Every Writer Needs Rules

Here are my rules.  Each of which I'm prone to break.  Still.
"Seat of the pants to seat of the chair."
No internet, except Wikipedia if I need to check a fact.
9-12 is writing time.  I don't meet people for lunch because that means the whole time I'm writing I'm thinking about getting to my appointment, dressing, showering, all that stuff.
If I think of something that needs to be done, desperately, I can write it on a list instead of hopping up to do it.

And if you want something from a really prolific writer:
Henry Miller's writing commandments
From Henry Miller on Writing, his 11 commandments:
1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to "Black Spring."
3. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can't create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don't be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it -- but go back to it the next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Sheila Curran

Two-Thousand Words Per Day
If I need to get my butt in gear, I set a word count goal and refuse to leave my computer until I've reached it.  To jump-start my new manuscript, I decided I had to write 2000 words a day.  Knowing there are other things I want to do--but can't do until I hammer out those 2000 words--keeps me going.  I may not be able to sustain that pace for the entire manuscript, but it gets me going when I need to get going.  Pick a number--word count or page count--and stick with it.  No play, no food, nothing but bathroom runs permitted until you reach that number.
Judith Arnold

Small Blocks of Time

I write much better if I know I only have a limited time--an hour or two as opposed to five or six. I think it comes from writing during nap time and Barney episodes. 

Knowing I only had 25 minutes to get words down on paper was a great motivator to get with it! 

Now that I'm not limited by the purple dinosaur time limit I do read over what I've written the day before and that always pulls me back into the story. Before I know it, I'm back at it. 

Sara Rosett

Bag of Tricks

I've talked about Freedom and the Pomodoro technique in an earlier post.

I've used  

I've done sprints with another author, challenge them on Twitter or via email to see who can write more in a given amount of time (20-30 minutes).

I've had other authors hold me accountable for getting something done by a certain day.

April Henry
Bribery Works Beautifully
Hmm, I have minimal advice in this area as I'm so easily distracted when I'm working!  So how about this:

I'm lucky that I write full-time as I need every hour in the day to get anything accomplished. Since I'm easily distracted, it's hard work to keep my butt in the chair (especially now that I'm nine months pregnant!  I can't sit in the same spot for long).  I usually start with a review of what I wrote the day before, tweaking and polishing, which gets me more in the mood to write fresh pages. Then I tell myself, "Just get so many words done in the next hour, and you can stop for lunch."  So, yes, a little bribery helps. The best days are when I just sit down, and I'm chomping at the bit to get the words out. Then I can't type fast enough. But since that doesn't happen all the time--rats!--I just have to push myself little by little, page by page, until the whole story comes out.

--Susan McBride

Timing Is Everything

I do the 45/15. I turn off the Internet and email and set the timer on my iPhone for 45 minutes and do nothing but writing. When the time is up, I get off my butt and take a 15 minute break and then I go back for the next 45/15 session. It's really helped!

---Wendy Tokunaga


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