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Writers Take Note: Practice Makes Perfect

In the most recent issue of Shape magazine, Venus Williams, a tennis star and winner of numerous titles, talks about her seven ways to get motivated. And her first way involves practicing. She says:

“You have to practice to develop your talents–and learn to enjoy putting the effort in, otherwise you won’t succeed.”

She then explains that she does two hours of training per day in the gym and four hours per day on the court.

 

Procrastinating writers can learn a lot from Williams. She’s motivated, dedicated and, above all, reaches her goals.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a hard time putting in the effort and writing, which is the main reason why I don’t write most of the time. But this is something I, and every other procrastinating writer, needs to move past. If we’re ever going to succeed in our writing goals, we need to practice, practice, practice…and love doing it.

 

The best way to get started with practicing is to write, and write often. No more skipping days, no more “I don’t feel like writing,” no more “but there’s a rerun of Seinfeld on that I’ve never seen before.”

 

And you don’t need to jump into this and make a huge commitment. As Bill O’Hanlon says in his book, Write is a Verb (which I will be discussing in a later post), write for just 15 minutes a day to start. That’s it. Just 15 minutes. Eventually you’ll start to fall in love with writing and want to write for longer.

 

So do you think you can write for 15 minutes a day? Let’s try it together…then come back to let me know how you’re doing.

How To Push Through Blocks On the Road to Success

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up,” -Thomas A. Edison

That quote really struck home for me recently. I’ve been working on a lot of projects and I’ve been feeling like nothing is happening and I should just give up. But then I recalled this quote and told myself to keep on going. And it worked. A couple of my projects (including my novel!) have finally started to take shape, and I’m really excited about them again!
So I just wanted to share this with you because, as a procrastinator, I know, I understand how hard it can be to follow through on a project, especially when things start looking down. But you have to push through it.
There are always going to be times on the road to success where things get a little bumpy. This should be expected, but instead of allowing these bumps to throw you off course, let them be an opportunity for you to learn something–something about yourself, something about your project, something about writing.
Nothing worth it in life is easy.
And as they say, “A bend in the road isn’t the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.”

Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere

By Jennifer Blanchard

I came across the most amazing book (and then found out it was one of four in a series of books!) called Post Secret: Extraordinary confessions from ordinary lives, by Frank Warren.

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.

PostSecret began as an art installation for Artomatic 2004 in Washington, D.C. The simple concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions were (or are) made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams.

Since Frank Warren created the website on January 1, 2005, PostSecret has collected and displayed upwards of 2,500 original pieces of art from people across the United States and around the world.

The site, which started as an experiment on Blogspot, is updated every Sunday with approximately 20 new pieces which share a relatively constant style, giving all “artists” who participate some guidelines on how their secrets should be represented.

from Wikipedia

Not only is this a fantastic idea, but a great place to get story ideas, as well. After reading through my copy of the book, I came up with about 15 new story ideas!

So the point of this post is to get you thinking about–and looking for–places where you can get story ideas. Sometimes it’s the last place you’d think, sometimes it’s the first. But if you’re always on the look-out for ideas, then you’ll never be able to say: “I’ve got nothing to write about.”

Set A Specific Writing Time To Avoid Procrastination


By Jennifer Blanchard

If you’re like me, you tell yourself almost everyday “I’m going to write today.” And then you find 300 other things to do that are just “so much more important,” like cleaning the bathroom, washing the laundry, picking up after your kids, etc. And then you never end up getting around to writing. And then you feel guilty for the rest of the day/night/week.

But what you don’t realize, is that by saying “I’m going to write today,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. Especially if you’re a procrastinator.

When you tell yourself you’re going to “write today” or that you’re going to spend “the day” or “the weekend” writing, you’re bombarding yourself with having to write, which makes you feel overwhelmed, and then you look for a million other excuses not to write.

To get writing done, instead of saying “I’m going to write all weekend,” tell yourself “I’m going to write for two hours on Sunday.” By setting a specific day and amount of time, you are not only giving yourself freedom to do the other things you have to do (like walk the dog, bake a cake…you get the idea), but you’re allowing yourself freedom to write without feeling bombarded by it.

Give it a try this weekend. Choose a day and an amount of time, then when that day comes, sit down and spend that much time writing. That’s it. No more, no less.

I’m going to try it this weekend as well. Be sure to come back and let me know how it goes for you!

Never Give Up On Your Writing Dreams

“My mind tells me to give up, but my heart won’t let me,”–Anonymous

Many writers can identify with that quote above. Especially writers who’ve been rejected a lot, and writers who procrastinate to the point where they wonder why they’re even dreaming anymore.

Recently, I’ve had a few people make me feel like my writing dreams are impossible. And for a minute I started to think, maybe they’re right. Maybe this is something that will never happen for me. And then I tell myself to ignore them, stay positive and keep dreaming.

Sure, it’s really difficult to chase a dream and to keep on feeling like no matter what you do or how hard you work, you’re never going to get there. All writers understand this feeling (and actually, all dreamers understand this feeling, too!).

But you have to push through it. You have to keep on trying and, especially, keep on believing.

You have the power to make all your writing dreams come true. You just have to be willing to stand up to those who put you down and to look negativity in the face and say, “I’m doing it whether you like it or not.”

Because there will always be someone around who wants to knock you down. There will always be an editor who hates your work. There will always be a publisher who rejects you.

But if you believe in yourself, and keep on writing and keep on dreaming, eventually, you will get there. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

So whenever you feel like you’re losing your nerve, remember this: Critics didn’t put you here, so they can’t take you down.

The Secret to the Writing Life

Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com shared his “staring death in the face” story with us the other day. He noted that right after it happened, he all of a sudden felt alive again, like he had a new shot at life. And he didn’t want to spend that life doing something that didn’t excite him or that he wasn’t passionate about. So he got rid of the old and brought in the new. And he’s much happier now.

Read his inspiring story.

Not only did Brian’s story inspire me to take a look at my life and my dreams to see that the two aren’t matching up, but it also inspired me to take action. Yesterday, I sat down for almost 8 hours and worked on plot and character development for a novel I’ve been wanting to write forever.

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes near-death experiences are the best way to really wake up and realize that you only get one life, you should be living it the way you want to.

So what do you think? Did Brian inspire you to get started on those writing projects pronto?

17 Ways to Find 10 Minutes to Write


By Jennifer Blanchard

One of the most common excuses many writers give for why they procrastinate is “I don’t have the time to write.”

True, people are busier these days then they ever have been before–we’re multi-tasking machines, filling every second of our days with a task of some kind, always so busy….blah, blah, blah.

If you stop for a second and take a look at your day, I bet you can find at least 10 minutes somewhere that you can write (and you could probably even find a few 10-minute blocks of time).

You don’t have to be writing all day every day in order to get your writing done. You’d be surprised how efficient you can be when you only have ten minutes to write (especially if writing is something you truly love to do).

Inspired by the blog post, 10 Ways to Find 10 Minutes to Write, on DailyWritingTips.com, I am going to give you 17 ways you can find at least 10 minutes to write everyday. So here they are…17 ways to find 10 minutes to write every day:

  • Before you get out of bed in the morning–when you wake up, roll over, turn on your light, grab your notebook and write for 10 minutes (this is an exercise called “Morning Pages“).
  • While you’re waiting for your girlfriend/husband/kids to get out of the shower so you can get in.
  • While you’re waiting for the coffee to finish brewing
  • While you’re waiting for your kid’s school bus to come.
  • While you’re sitting in traffic–I don’t condone you write while you’re driving, but if you are sitting in traffic that is completely stopped (which happens a lot when there’s an accident), it’s ok to grab a notebook and jot a couple ideas down. (Just be sure to watch the road for when the cars start moving again.)
  • As soon as you get to your desk–when you get to the office, instead of spending a half hour checking your e-mails, take a quick glance to see if there are any e-mails that need immediate response, then grab a notebook or bring up a Word document and spend 10 minutes writing. You can always go back to the less-important e-mails later.
  • During your morning coffee/smoke break–bring your notebook with you and write.
  • During a meeting–yes, we all know that most meetings are a waste of time, so if you find yourself in one of these meetings, jot down some notes for your next story or poem.
  • On your lunch break–if you’re not using your lunch break to run errands, grab your laptop or notebook and head outside or to your company’s breakroom (or stay at your desk) and write while you eat (you may even get more than 10 minutes of writing time at lunch).
  • During your afternoon coffee/smoke break.
  • As soon as you walk in the door from work–yes, dinner needs to be made and there is homework to be done and a Girl Scout’s meeting and spending twenty minutes on the treadmill before bed. But before you do all that, take 10 minutes and write. Just getting down on paper those poem ideas or that great opening line to your next short story you came up with in your morning meeting will help you put your focus on the rest of your evening, while also keeping your writing on the back of your mind.
  • While dinner is cooking–unless you’re a beginner, you’ve probably mastered the art of making dinner. That also means you’ve got at least 10 minutes of time–while the rice is cooking, while the burgers are grilling–to write.
  • After dinner before you settle in to watch your favorite TV shows.
  • During the commercial breaks of your TV shows.
  • Before you go to bed–just quickly before you go to sleep, write for 10 minutes.
  • In place of watching a TV show you’ve already seen–you know what I’m talking about because we all do it: watching reruns of a show you like because there’s nothing better on. Instead, write for 10 minutes (or longer!).
  • After you put your kids to bed–once the little ones go to sleep, write!

So as you can see, there are plenty of ways to find 10 minutes in your day to write. No excuses, put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write for 10 minutes today.