Friday, June 6, 2014

Ten kick-in-the-pants tips to really get you writing.


Most people have a story somewhere deep inside. Some of those people believe that they would be good at telling that story. A tiny portion of those actually get their story written down.

Think you’ll get to it “later”?  It’s all too tempting to put off writing until some undefined time when you will feel more inspired, but if this is your dream then stop waiting and start writing. Here are ten tips that will help you get that story and those characters out of your head and down on paper.

1. Writer’s Journal
Carry a small notebook or use an app on your phone or tablet. Whenever something strikes you as interesting, write it down. Find your mind wandering and creating a past for the person across the room from you at lunch? Take notes. Intrigued by the outfit someone wore? Describe it in your notebook. These little observations can improve your writing skills and possibly lead to entire stories later on.

2. Set a Goal
Set aside an hour each day or plan to write a certain number of words. Stop waiting for the mood to strike, and write every day. Even if you are thinking, “This is horrible!” the entire time you are writing. Get it out of your system. You just may be surprised at some of the great stuff you come up with.

3. Edit
If you hope to sell your writing, do not underestimate the value of editing. Your first draft may be your baby, but it still needs work. Set it aside for a couple of weeks after finishing so that you can read it with fresh eyes or hire a professional.

4. Read
You cannot be a good writer if you do not study the craft. Here are 15 great Kindle books under $10 to get you started.

5. Writers’ Group
Meeting with other writers and critiquing each other’s work will give you perspective on your work and someone you are accountable to for getting some writing done.  If you can’t do it in person, find a virtual group online.

6. Take a Class
Feel that you have plenty of inspiration but your grammar skills are not up to snuff? Take an enrichment course. Several free options are available online or at local colleges.  Here are a few recommendations for (paid) online children’s-writing courses.

7. Inspiration Bulletin Board
Use the electronic Pinterest style board or a physical board where you can post images or quotes that set off your imagination and make your fingers itch to write.

8. When is your Writing Time?
Some writers scoot to their keyboard even before their first cup of coffee. Others are drawn to the late hours of the night. What time of day will work the best for you? Make sure to keep it distraction free.

9. Set the Stage
Do you work best in complete silence, with music on, or in a busy coffee house? Will writing at home leave you distracted by dirty laundry? Think about the times that you have been best able to write and attempt to create that environment on a daily basis.

10. Write what you Love
If you are forcing yourself to write about something that you find uninteresting because you think it will be more marketable, you are setting yourself up for failure. Write the story that compels you and it will captivate readers as well.

Many people think kids’ books are easy to write because they’re so short.  Most of us could easily disabuse them of that notion, just from our own personal experience of how hard it is to get a story out there on paper sometimes.

One final thought if you’re having trouble getting started:  get writing, even if what comes out is bad.  Don’t worry if you don’t have the perfect first line.  You can always add it later, and nobody will be the wiser.

If you’re waiting to write until you have a GREAT story, fully-formed, ready to burst out of your head like Aphrodite from the head of Zeus, it may never happen. 

If you’re anything like me, sometimes the biggest obstacle between you and your story is YOU… so kill your inner editor for a few minutes, sit down, crack your knuckles… and get going on that story.

Did I forget your favourite kick-in-the-pants tip?  What gets YOU writing when you’re stuck?

[photo credit:Marxer001, via Wikimedia]

1 comment:

As always, I love to hear from you.