Writing slips away from me sometimes. Or perhaps it's holding on with all its might as I pull away. I'm not sure which it is, but I knew this month that something had to change. Especially if I were going to publish my novel, The Suicide Tree, this year. I hope these simple changes will help you improve your own writing habit, just like they've done for me. Here's what I did:
1. Joined a writers’ group.
The Yukon Writers’ Society fell in my lap. The original organizer stepped down, so I stepped up! It was a great excuse to get some accountability and to help other locals get into the writing spirit. I’m still very new to having a writers’ group, but I’m definitely feeling encouraged just by our first meeting. Plus, I give our members homework now, which I too have to complete; that prompts me to get into my journal and be accountable to the other members. Here's this Thursday's homework in case you're curious:
- Write out and read your book/short story blurbs to the group.
- Share with us your personal writing day(s) and time for accountability. It's one thing to say, "I want to write this week!" but we reach goals when they're tangible. So you have two weeks to decide on a day and time that you will write. Then share that with us!
- Discuss your obstacles so we can all help each other overcome them.
- Complete the following writing exercise and share with us. (Optional.) If we're going to be serious writers, then we need to exercise our brains. Here's the activity: Write 5 potential book/short story titles you'd like to write and publish one day.
2. Unplugged from social media (sort of).
On Monday, I was going to shut down social media but realized what an issue that would be for potential clients trying to contact me. Plus, it’s kind of hard to completely shut down social media when you . . . coach people how to use it. Ha! So instead, I am embracing the lovely word known as willpower. I’m more cognizant of my constant use of Facebook and its brethren. So instead of checking social media eleventy billion times a day (that’s a joke), I’m replacing that activity with others things, like more work, exercise, writing, or reading.
3. Set a realistic word count goal.
I kept it simple, because I didn’t want to scare myself away. Just 500 words during writing time. That’s it. It’s not too small and it’s not too big. Just right!
4. Chose a permanent writing time.
This was actually part of our homework in the Yukon Writers’ Society. Basically, you have to figure out when you actually have the time to write without interruption. For me, the end of the day, usually around 8:00 p.m., is the perfect time to write. By then, all my work with Curiouser is done and I’ve had dinner. So I feel like I can truly concentrate on my writing and won't worry about the things I didn't accomplish during the day.
5. Forgave myself for not writing enough.
I am the queen of beating myself up for not reaching goals. I keep harping on myself because I STILL haven’t finished this novel, and I’ve been working on it for two years. I finally forgave myself for not writing as often as I should and for ignoring my one true love: writing.
6. Awoke my inner editor from its dreary coffin.
My profession wreaked enough havoc on my novel when I first started. I was always going back and forth without finishing, always trying to edit this or that. I shut it out at one point, finished the draft (to some degree), and accepted that all first drafts are terrible. Now, however, I woke the beast and told her to get in there and help me push this novel from mediocre to outstanding. Basically, I'm challenging myself.
7. Read Writer’s Devotional for early-morning inspiration.
It’s like reading your Bible in the morning, except it’s for your writer’s soul. I’ve not only learned a lot from this devotional, but I’ve also been encouraged by it. If you've never tried a writer's devotional, then I highly recommend giving it a shot.
8. Bought myself a new journal.
There’s something about a new journal that helps kickstart creativity. I got mine at Barnes & Noble and am excited to break it in with new writing ideas. It's simple, sure; but it makes me feel excited to get back into writing.
9. Embraced the fun and passion again.
I’m going to comment on this in a future blog post, but one of the key things I learned at the DFW Writers’ Conference was this: Writing is supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to cherish it; so if you’ve lost that love, then you have to rekindle it. It was hard to get back into my novel (again) after an absence. In fact, it didn't feel fun. But once I started, I felt that passion ignite and now I'm back in the game, baby.
10. Channeled my inner college-aged Shayla.
Back in college, I wrote every single day, usually multiple times a day. Every morning at 10:00 a.m. started with writing in my notebook. I’d write about anything, really—story ideas, characters, ramblings, poems. Now? I just don’t do that anymore. My goal is to channel that Shayla from . . . ahem, so many years ago . . . and establish a better relationship with my journal. Thank goodness I have a new one.
11. Changed my Netflix + Hulu passwords.
Okay, I know I could’ve used willpower for this, but it’s so easy to just plop down and turn on the TV without thinking. Especially when it’s lunchtime. Instead, I had my friend get into my accounts to change the passwords so that I wouldn’t get in for a couple of weeks. That way, I can spend more time catching up on writing. Now, instead of turning on Rick and Morty or Scandal while watching lunch, I sit at the table and read while eating.
I would love to hear the changes you've made to get back into writing. Share them in the comments so we can all help each other!
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. Her blog posts have been featured on popular websites like The Book Designer and Positive Writer. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.