Look at me! I’m writing! It’s been a good, solid, busy year, but I’ve been having pangs….nonblogging pangs. Luckily, it’s about this time of year people start to resolve to stuff and commit to things. So I’m committing. And when my three-year-old post about the winter blues resurfaced, I figured it was time to get a new one out. So here’s a little listical to help break in the brand-spanking-new year of writing.
1. Write. That’s pretty straight-forward, right? If only it were that simple. It can be hard to shake the nagging fear that comes with facing a blinking cursor. The way to get over that is to convince yourself that you are writing for your eyes only–after all, you are. Let the keys tick away beneath your fingers for fifteen minutes. Don’t let them pause. Don’t backspace, delete, enhance or italicize. Just type. Get used to letting your weird thoughts form words on the page. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to read.
2. Rewrite. Perhaps you are not in the mood to generate ideas and create a fresh, new manuscript. That’s why you should keep a folder full of half-baked notions, unfinished thoughts, synopses and what-have-you. Let yourself turn to these when you just aren’t in a brand-new-manuscript kind of mood. You may actually be surprised by how much better these ideas have gotten when left to fester in the folder.
3. Reward. If you still want to have a tantrum at the thought of sitting down in front of your computer for an hour (or even 15 minutes—see above), get yourself a little piece of chocolate, or a cookie, or a cup of espresso and put it on a high shelf, a la Frog and Toad. Don’t let yourself near it until you have finished your fifteen minutes.
4. Steal. If you are unhappy with the results of your new habit, and need to freshen things up, take one of your favorite books and copy it. Copy the words, if you’re trying to work on style (just don’t try to pass it off as yours, obviously). Or you can read it over a few times and figure out with the general lay of the land is. If it’s a novel, try rewriting a scene in a slightly different setting with a different character. If it’s a picture book, try to figure out what kind of structure it has and mimic it with different characters (a school becomes a barnyard, a duck becomes an accountant, etc.).
5. Incentivize. Oh, wait. That’s my job. So here’s your incentive: