Peggy Bechko: Writing Time – A Few Helps To Keep Things Moving

by Peggy Bechko

You’re a writer, you write, but you have another life as well, family, work, whatever takes you away from writing yet you DO want to write.

So how do you sort out the time?  How do you keep the juices flowing, how do you keep that brain alert and cooperating? Avoid those stones in the road?

stonesThere’s a lot more to writing than writing so I decided today I’d list a few tips I’ve used in my writing routine. There’s more, of course, but ten seemed like a good place to start. Developing great writing habits will take that writing a long way. Pick and choose which ones here and elsewhere work for you, then use them!

1. Exercise. No kidding. Do it. Stretch or do some simple exercise in between your writing or take breaks if you’re in for a long haul and run up and down the stairs or around the house or on the treadmill or play a quick game of catch with the dog. Move. Really.

2.Write on ugly paper or print your draft work on scavenged paper already printed on one side. Not only does it save you some money but it signals the brain that this doesn’t have to be perfect yet.

3. Work on condensing and writing tight. Write a synopsis of your story, then condense that, then condense the condensation. Get down to the bare bones of your story so you know what it’s really about.

4. Stop following links on the web and write – really write. It’s your time to write, so write.

5. Write when you’re uninspired. Yep, writing isn’t about waiting for the muse to strike – heck half the time the muse is ON strike. Put your butt in the chair and write – then exercise – then write. You might throw it out later, but then again you might not.

6. Disconnect when you write – avoid the electronics and shut off your cell phone, twitter, email, social interaction. Really, just stop. Give yourself some space and quiet to write in. Set boundaries. We’re far too connected these days so a little break will do you good as well.

7. Read great writing. Read not so great writing. Read. Read. Read. It’s part of the package. Did I mention read?

8. Use a thesaurus but don’t be an idiot about it. If you’re stuck and need a new word, break it out. Use it, think about what you discover; perhaps one word will lead to another. It probably will. But don’t be like some writers who pepper their works with so many ‘new and unusual words’ that they send their readers running for dictionaries – or just running period.

9. Always ask the question, what if. A great trigger. What if the moon was hit by an asteroid large enough to break it into pieces? What if the earth cracked open under your feet? What if an airplane seemed to fall from the sky and then simply disappeared? What if?

10. Stuck? Think about dialoging with your characters. If you’ve gotten to know your characters well you might have a chat with one or more of them. See where that takes you. Try doing it out loud like you’re speaking with an acquaintance. Those conversations can lean to interesting places. Let’s face it, we writers all have voices in our heads.

romances stackedThat’s  it, those are some ideas to consider. There are others. Many others you can pick up all over the place, but the real key is find ways to broaden your abilities, to focus and to create great writing. Use what works for you and discard the rest – well except for the exercise, don’t discard that. Really, I’m serious.
Til next time; I’m off for a brisk walk after I’ve written this and before I begin work on my nearly finished script.