I love starting a writing project in Autumn. For us here in the UK the weather is going to get more unpredictable, cold, wet, maybe snow, less chance of distraction, more time to write.
That’s all well and good, but what if you’re having trouble getting going. I was the same, before I started to write The Single Feather. Well, help is here!
Recently |I’ve been reading the rather wonderful, and extremely helpful – Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. Packed with both technical and practical help, it also has exercises to help get you writing and writing well.
The section he has titled Useful Habits contains some no-nonsense tips for getting your bum on your seat and starting to work. Here I’ll list a few of the main points, with some thoughts.
1) Adopt a daily routine.
Many people stipulate a start and end time for writing each day. The reason why is to treat writing like you would a job, you clock on and you clock off. As you get used to the routine, your mind will similarly be getting used to it. It can be in the morning, evening, during the lunch hour, whenever. Just make sure it’s every day, and at the same time. As Roy Peter Clark says: ‘The key is to write rather than wait.’
2) Build in rewards
Maybe if you hit 1000 words a day you can have a treat? Or manage to work for X number of hours? Or maybe you can treat yourself after every two or three chapters, with an extra special treat for when you’ve completed your first draft? It works for lots of people.
3) Draft Sooner
Roy Peter Clark says: ‘Thorough research is a key to a writer’s success, but over-researching makes writing seem tougher. Write earlier in the process so you discover what you need.’
This is very important. Clark says:’Some days you’ll write many poor words. Other days you’ll write a few good words. The poor words may be the necessary path to the good words.’
5) Watch Your Language
Try not to talk about writers block, procrastination, fears or ‘this is rubbish’. Turn them into positive words or expressions. Procrastination can be a ‘rehearsal’. Fears can be ‘getting prepared’ and so on.
6) Set the Table
Clark says: ‘When work piles on my desk, I find it hard to stick to my fluent writing style. That is when I take a day to throw things away, answer messages, and prepare the altar for the next day of writing.’
7)Find a Rabbi
Clark is saying too much criticism weighs a writer down. We need it, but also we need to find people who will give us praise for our productivity and effort, and not the quality of the final work.
It helps you keep going, and gives you that boost needed to get you over the line.
8) Keep a Day-book/Journal
This is another very important point. When you are beginning to write, you will have ideas at any point during the day. I tend to get a lot of my ideas while I’m washing up. The shower is also a popular place for plot twists. Having something to write in, that’s with you all the time is so important. Make it your journal and private. So you feel safe to express ideas, test them out before rejecting them or taking them forward.
If you are starting out on a writing project, I really do recommend this book, and wish you well. I never ever thought at the start of writing The Single Feather, I’d get to a stage where I could have the second edition of the book in my hands.
However, dreaming about that stage, and having people who believed in me helped me get my book published. Get some cheerleaders of your own, get a routine going, and a journal ready, then get writing! It really is the season to start. Good luck!
Are you starting a book or other writing project. Are you finding it easy to get going? Do you have any tips? Do use the comments section below.