Discuss: What Works for You?

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http://www.nprberlin.de/

Yesterday I wrote about the unfortunate occurrence of forgetting how to write. This means that you sit down to write and simply can’t find the typical flow that you normally fall into. This may cause you to experience writer’s block and feel like you have no more good ideas left. This is one of the worst feelings you might experience as a writer and I think we’ve all been there.

For the past few months, I’ve been “forgetting how to write” on a pretty regular basis. I don’t know if this is due to a lack of inspiration or simple laziness. I do think there’s a tendency among writers who have day jobs to come home and want to use their evening time for things other than writing. It can be difficult to sit down and really force yourself to do the writing if you’ve been busy all day. But I’ve found that when you do force yourself to write, you feel pretty great. If you can stay in a regular routine, you might just get something done.

We all have our own ways of dealing with “forgetting how to write.” In yesterday’s post, I quoted author Jory MacKay, who said you have to repent for your writerly sins. You have to admit that you’ve been lacking in inspiration, or haven’t been writing as well, or have simply been slacking off. Once you’ve done that, you can move past the forgetfulness and actually write.

For me, shaking myself out of the writer’s forgetfulness either takes something very big or very small. That is to say, I either need a huge anvil of inspiration to hit me square on the head, or I need to just tell myself to suck it up and get some writing done.

What works best for you? Have you experienced “forgetting how to write”? If so, how did you deal with it? What are your strategies? Please leave them in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Sticking With It

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http://www.nprberlin.de/

Yesterday I wrote about the value of finishing projects. Although we all know in the back of our minds that we should finish what we’ve started, we sometimes find it hard to resist the new project waiting in the wings. On those days when writing is tough, and your current project is no longer interesting to you, you could so easily drop it and start something new.

I personally had to resist this temptation quite recently. One evening last week, I sat down to do my daily writing and had a moment of weakness, thinking, “I have nothing more to give to this story, why not check out that new idea?” I’ve had a new writing project idea brewing in my brain since the end of last year’s National Novel Writing Month. So far I’ve been successful in keeping that idea at bay while I work on finishing the novel I started in November. But there are still moments when the lure of a new project, along with the inspiration that comes with that newness, has been tempting.

In this case, what stopped me from jumping to the new project was a status update from one of my writer friends. She had just hit 100,000 words on her current project, and she has been writing away for about a year now on the same project. Hearing about that kind of thing from my friends who also write is what keeps me going and makes me want to finish. The success of others can be a fairly good motivating factor.

On that note, are any of you struggling to stick with a project right now? Do you have a new idea that you’re dying to try out? What has stopped you from shifting gears to the new project? Share your experiences in the comments!

I also wanted to ask whether any of you disagree with this principle of always finishing the writing projects that you begin. I know there are some folks who commit “book adultery” when reading, who are able to drop a book if they find it’s not holding their attention and simply move on to another. Are there people out there who do the same with writing? I would love to hear from you in the comments! Do you find that abandoning projects is sometimes necessary? Does it help your writing process?

Hoping to hear from you in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Get Away from the Desk

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http://www.nprberlin.de/

I know what you’re thinking. It’s cold and horrible outside and you don’t want to leave the comfort of your desk. I feel the same way, believe me. But yesterday’s advice post was all about using a change of environment to jumpstart your writing process. So I think we should all take that to heart and get away from our desks for just one day and do some writing somewhere else.

Now, technically, you could cheat at this challenge and just write somewhere different in your house. If the weather really is frightful, then I give you permission to cheat. Try out your kitchen table (as long as it isn’t noisy), or a couch, or a comfy armchair. Why not try writing in your bed, if you don’t already? You might find that being somewhere else gives you new inspiration. If you find you can’t write lately, there may just be some bad vibes hanging around your desk. Shift yourself to a new place in the house and see what happens!

But if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not try leaving the house and finding a completely new setting for your writing? As was mentioned in yesterday’s post, a coffee shop might be the perfect place to hear snippets of conversations and see people interact in real life. Observing other people can help you understand how your characters should be interacting. Or, perhaps it might help to meet up with a friend and bounce you ideas off them. If the weather is nicer where you live, maybe sit outside and do some writing amongst nature.

Do you already get away from your desk on a regular basis? Share your different writing environments in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Your Current Focus

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http://www.nprberlin.de/

The great thing about getting a group of writers together is that you get to hear how unique everyone’s current project is. Oftentimes, you’ll find many different genres in one group of writers. You’ll also find that everyone has their own focus when they sit down to write. Some people may be concentrating on their characters, others may be more concerned about the plot. Yesterday I wrote about a quote from Chuck Wendig, which focused on the idea of using keywords in your writing. Today I’d like to talk about your focus in your current writing project.

Your focus is what you think about when you sit down to write each day and what you keep in mind as your progress through your project. Whatever your focus is, it might show up in the keywords that you thought of for yesterday’s post. So if you’re having trouble pinning down what your focus is, you might want to revisit those keywords.

Your focus might also be the central theme or plot element of whatever project you’re working on now. If you’re writing a crime thriller, you might be focusing on the person who did it and writing in such a way that leads your detective to that person. If you’re writing a romance story, your focus is probably the two people you’re trying to bring together in your story.

For me, the focus in my current writing project is a suburban town’s underground history of ancient magic. No matter what scene I’m writing, I always have that focus and foundation in the back of my mind. Keeping myself focused on that central story element means that I never forget where my story is headed, and it helps me remember to keep all of my characters on track.

So, what is the focus of your current writing project? What is it that you want to convey? Share what you’re working on in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discussion: Your Mindset

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http://commons.wikimedia.org

In my Writing Advice post yesterday, I quoted Brandon Sanderson, who said that he loves the process of storytelling. When he sits down to write, he is in the mindset of a storyteller who just wants to get these words onto paper. That got me thinking about what my writing mindset is. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my mindset changes often.

Sometimes I’m not really in the mood to write, but I know that I have to get some words down for the day. On those days, I’m in the mindset of “just get it done.” Other times I am strongly driven to write down the new ideas that are coming into my head. Sometimes I just can’t get the ideas down fast enough. For me, that is the ideal mindset and I wish it came around more often.

On days when my mindset is lackluster, there are ways that I can get myself more interested in writing. I often read through what I wrote the previous day to remind myself of where I am in my project and to kickstart my brain again. I also read to get myself inspired again and ready to write. And, of course, I do bribe myself with the promise of snacks or time relaxing.

Sometimes a writer’s mindset can change during one session of writing. You may sit down not wanting to write and then hit your stride, finding your inspiration and writing much longer than you had planned. This is also an awesome mindset to be in and it can spark all kinds of new ideas.

So, I was wondering — what is your writing mindset? When you sit down to write on a regular basis, how are you feeling? When you want to psyche yourself up to get some writing done, what do you tell yourself? Do you bribe yourself with thoughts of a shiny finished product, or do you have a brainstorming session about what could be included in your next section of writing? Share your thoughts in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Writing Resolutions

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http://commons.wikimedia.org

For the past couple of years on the blog, I have published a post about resolutions as the new year begins. Some folks always have resolutions related to fitness or diet. But we writers tend to resolve to write more, publish more, and read more. At least, that’s my assumption about the writer community. If I’m wrong, please comment on this post and set me straight. Or simply comment and tell me what your new year’s resolutions are because that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Personally, I always have at least a few resolutions on my list that are dedicated to the written word. This year I’m hoping to write or edit some of my work every day. This was my goal last year as well, but this year I’m making it seem more doable by setting the bar very low. All I have to do is write 350 words each day. I’m not sure how I’m going to quantify the editing, but if I can somehow get myself to sit down and edit my own work after editing other people’s work at my job all day, then I’ll consider it a victory.

Yesterday I wrote about making the time to write and I think that’s something that you have to keep in mind if you’ve created a writing resolution. Those resolutions are going to seem pretty simple throughout the month of January. But you might find it more and more difficult to keep your resolution until April rolls around and you’re finding that you would rather spend your time on other pursuits. So, start off strong! Section off some time in your day that is only meant for writing. Hold that time sacred and you’ll be more successful than some of your like-minded peers with similar resolutions.

So, now it’s your turn — what is your writing resolution for this year? Do you want to write a certain number of words each day? Do you want to make progress on a writing project that has lain fallow for too long? Do you want to establish a writing routine? Leave your resolutions in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discussion: Getting Ideas

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http://on-writing-a-book.com

This is the final few days before National Novel Writing Month begins. If you’re committed to participating and do not yet have an idea for your novel, I’d say you’re in trouble! But where do those ideas come from? Where does any writer get his or her ideas? It can be a difficult question to answer, but it might be the most-asked question that authors get. Every author has a different answer. Before I give my answer, here’s what Neil Gaiman had to say:

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it. You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if…?…Another important question is, If only…And then there are the others: I wonder…”

Now, I really respect Neil Gaiman and I love his answer. But I also don’t want to steal his answer, so I’m going to try to come up with my own. Where do I get ideas? If the timing of my inspirational bursts proves anything, then shower water must be where I get my ideas from. I’m sure many of us get ideas in the shower, and I think that’s because your mind is not doing anything taxing in the shower. Your mind is left to wander and that’s when the best ideas come.

But where do the ideas come from? I guess I would have to say that I get ideas from what I read, what I watch, and what I would like to see in the fictional world. If I would like to read about wizards in the suburbs, then that’s what I’m going to write (spoiler alert: that’s my National Novel Writing Month idea this year). Many different sources converge in my brain to come up with ideas, and I think that’s true for all of us. And it takes each of our unique brains to come with our own, unique ideas.

So, go forth and create! And please share in the comments where you get your ideas from.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan