Fiction,  The Writing Life,  Writing prompts,  Writing quotes

Writing: It’s Complicated

Each September, I write a New Year post, because for me, the back -to-school schedule feels most like the start of a new year. Teaching for over 30 years will do that for you. This year, however, the landscape looks vastly different to everyone, school or no school, and I’m finding it hard to get motivated. It doesn’t feel like the usual fresh beginning of September. It feels like dragging my feet through yet another day of uncertainty.

One bit of advice that has come in handy from time to time is fake it ‘till you make it, and perhaps this is one of those times. So, even though my energy level is drooping and I’d be happy just to curl up and read a book (okay, another book) I’m making myself push on with writing a September blog, updating my author Facebook page, and collecting ideas for my new novel.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with taking a break, and giving yourself some time. We all need that on occasion. But, if you want to be a writer, sooner or later you have to write. And sometimes that means giving yourself a push.

Here are some steps for picking yourself up off the ground and pretending that you are motivated to write that novel:

  • Find your place. Perhaps you’ve been in the habit of writing in a café and now that doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Or you don’t have a room dedicated to your writing. That’s okay. Pick a comfy chair in the living room, or sit at the kitchen table. JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter at her kitchen table with three little kids running around. The main thing is to find a spot that will be your writing spot. A place that your brain will connect with the work of writing.
  • Carve out a time.  Ideally, this will be the same time every day. Maybe the most productive time for you to write is early in the morning. Set your alarm and make yourself go to your writing spot at that time every day. Or every other day. Do what fits best with your situation. But, do it! When Jane Yolen, (author of 400 books) was asked what her secret was to such prolific output, she answered, BIC. Butt -in-chair. There is definitely a lot to be said for this approach. Don’t worry about the output, but be absolutely committed to the process. Go to your writing spot and sit there. It’s a start. The writing will come.
  • Write something. Even if you simply record your frustrations in a journal entry, give your brain the idea that this is the time you have reserved to write. Write a simple poem. Don’t concern yourself with quality. Put up a large sticky note that reads WRITE BADLY, and then you can check this off your list. It’s okay. Maybe be even encouraged. If it has to be good, you’re judging before you even begin. Find some goofy writing prompts on the internet. I decided that each of my blog posts should include a writing prompt. Just in case.
  • Repeat. Exactly. Keeping going to your place. Make the time a priority and write.

Writing Prompt

Flash fiction is a short piece of fiction, usually under 1,000 words. Write a flash fiction piece about waking up in a different time period. Maybe it is simply a different day (past or present), or something more dramatic like a different season. Maybe it’s a year or even a decade out of sync. Are you reliving your worst nightmare? Or do you find yourself three years in the future and you discover you have a book published!

No rules. Have fun! Share if you feel like it.

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