| by Winter Lawrence |
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve undoubtedly got a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions. I mean, don’t get me wrong—I know not to overdo it, and I hope you do as well, but even if you’re a no-resolutions sort of person or a two-pages long kind of go-getter, January is a great time of year to try out some new habits, even if they aren’t part of your original resolution. So, in no particular order of importance, here are three writing tips you can try so that your 2019 isn’t only stellar, but also productive!
Create a Writing Schedule.
If I learned anything from NaNoWriMo, it’s that keeping a schedule is a key to success. For NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write 50,000 words in the course of a month, but why put that kind of pressure on yourself if you don’t have to! I say, start out small. Dedicate twenty minutes to writing—or shoot for 1,000 words a day. I don’t have a hard-and-fast rule for you here because you need to set reasonable goals for yourself—if not, you’re only setting yourself up for failure, so be diligent about keeping track of the goal that you set, but also be very mindful of everything that you also have to accomplish in a day. If you can honestly say to yourself, “Yeah, I can spare a half hour to write each day,” then do it! Just always remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be honest with yourself, and most importantly, be kind! Writers are inherently hard on themselves, which in some cases, is great—but not in this one. Set reasonable goals; be diligent with your schedule; and be forgiving when things don’t go according to plan.
Listen, I have a “day job,” and I also write and edit professionally, so I know how difficult it can be to find time to pick up a book for leisure, but reading for pleasure is immeasurably beneficial to writers—not only for pure entertainment purposes, but also because you’ll be amazed by how much you “see” when you’re reading someone else’s work just for fun. Naturally, for writers, “just for fun” means that you’re also learning—or picking up cool new turn of phrases, discovering a font that you absolutely adore, or realizing exactly what you shouldn’t be doing in your manuscripts. When you take the time to read someone else’s work without the express purpose of learning about your trade, you’ll find that you’ll more often than not stumble across the answers to many subconscious questions—and most importantly, you’ll stop thinking about your story while you’re reading someone else’s! That distance from your work is invaluable—it helps with clarity and perspective—so go find yourself a guilty pleasure to dive into (or if time is a factor, go read another one of my blog posts—wink, wink!).
Step Away from the Computer.
I know, this sounds counter-intuitive, but I’ve spoken to tons of authors and professionals in my day and this is the number one piece of advice people tend to dish out because it works! So after you’re done reading this, power down your phone for fifteen minutes—or put your laptop to sleep while you go for a hike. Whatever device you’re using, just be sure to step away from it for at least ten minutes a day! You, of course, can do a variety of things, and I would recommend switching it up to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Take me, for instance. Most days, I take my furbaby on a long walk, but other times, I busy myself around the house with cooking or cleaning, since I’m not one to sit idly. You can do yoga, or meditate, or go for a bike ride. The key is to be one with yourself for a few moments, without the outside world pinging or tweeting at you. Just exist and engage in what you’re doing without Googling a question or bugging Alexa to set a reminder. Yes. Things will come to you while you’re living in the moment, which is totally okay! Just try to remember them as best as you can and when you do reconnect with the world, then ask for that reminder. Trust me, it’ll do you a world of good and it’ll help with your writing immensely!
I hope these writing tips have inspired you to start a new routine, and if you’ve already found success with these techniques in the past, be sure to share your experiences with us—or feel free to leave other suggestions down below. I always love hearing from folks, so comment away! Take care, everyone. Until next time!