Saturday, August 22, 2009

What's Your Writing State of Mind?

Anyone feeling a little like this? I am. This summer has been filled with one distraction after another. All the distractions might be fun, but they reek havoc with a writing schedule.

Fall brings consistency of daily writing back into the regime. Are you as ready for a change of season as much as I am. Is it time to get back to writing consistently every single day?

But there may be one little problem…are you ready to get into the groove?

In order to be a marathon runner you must learn to train every day. To start with small goals for activity and slowly build to more. You have to get your muscles in shape and prepare for the ultimate test to your endurance. Is preparing for writing any different? Not really. So what's a writer to do when their muscles are a bit out of shape? When the skills and abilities of achieving page goals each day are a bit…let's be polite here…less than toned? It all goes back to the basics--those same principles marathon runners use.

• Retrain your discipline. This is a tough one. How to be disciplined enough to sit down in your writer's chair after a long break from that habit. Two things that have always worked for me are a quote and a kitchen timer. The quote: "Discipline is remembering what you want." by David Campbell The timer: gets set for 10 minutes the first day, 12 the second, 14 the third, and so on. When the timer is on, I write anything that comes to mind. It's a great way to get back in the habit of writing.

• Start with a plan. What do you want to accomplish? You need a map, a guideline of where you are going. Do you want to complete a whole book by a certain date? Do you want to finish one chapter each week? Write one, three, seven, twenty pages a day?

• Set small goals at first, then build gradually over time to increase your endurance. One you have a plan you can break things down into smaller and realistic goals. Setting goals helps you feel like you are making progress forward. I might start my first week off writing three pages a day, then after the first week bump the total up by 2-3 pages a day until I hit my normal daily average.

• Track your progress. I'm a visual person and I really have to keep a log or a graph to show me what my goal was and then how I'm performing. Placing that chart near my computer desk can really keep me focused and inspired when things are going so well.

• Eat a healthy diet and get enough rest. Yes, you actually write better when you each nutritious food and sleep eight hours a night.

• Celebrate the successes. When you hit your milestones, celebrate the moment. One of my favorite ways to celebrate is to go for a hike. I like to think about it as time off for good behavior. It's also a great way to regroup and feed that writer's well with new thoughts and ideas about what to write next.

What do you need to do to get yourself back in shape after a long summer's break?

3 comments:

EmilyBryan August 22, 2009 at 6:31 AM  

Brilliant ideas, Gerri.

I went through writing interruptus when I was recovering from cancer surgery last winter. For a while, I just had to give myself permission not to write rather than beat myself up about not being productive. But I did other things that were writing related--reading, analyzing story arcs in the movies I watched, blogging, etc.

Then I set some very reduced daily page goals to ease myself back into the discipline of writing.

Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

C.L. Wilson August 23, 2009 at 11:15 AM  

Great post, Gerri! And every word is true. My challenge this year is to be sure to build in time for LIFE in the hectic writing schedule :)

Amanda McIntyre August 26, 2009 at 6:34 PM  

great comments Gerri! Al good goals though I'm not terribly sure just where the summer went..hum.

But I did find myself sort of staring at the walls that first day after the house was quiet.

I'd just sent in my ms. to my editor and between the two events, I found myself in a state of mind numb (is that a word? LOL)


I had to give myself the grace to gradually get my game on and get to writing /plotting etc..good topic!

Amanda McIntyre

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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