Are You Committed to Writing Everyday?

Our guest speaker at the monthly gathering of writers hosted by the Writers Guild of Texas (of which I’m a Board Member),  gave the crowd a number of fabulous ideas geared to helping individuals write every day. Nathan Brown, former writing instructor at the University of Oklahoma and Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, shared a number of insights and helpful tips to help writers write every day.

Writing everyday may seem like an ominous task. In several one-on-one conversations I had before the Monday night’s meeting, a number of people in attendance expressed their daunting sentiments concerning sitting down and putting words on paper daily. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that they don’t want to write. To the contrary, they claim to have the desire, but lack two things 1) time and 2) ideas.

Nathan Brown definitely helped give each of us a means to write when inspiration seems to be avoiding us. He suggested making lists, exploring our memories, and recalling our senses. Through listing, you’ll always have something to write about. Think about those great family stories that get told at every gathering or better yet–what about those stories that nobody talks about but everyone knows. For inspiration, try recalling memories of your annual vacation spots, where you spent your summers, or where you grew up and writing them down. What are some of your strongest sensory memories? Maybe for you, it’s the smell of the apple pie that Granny baked or the taste of that first kiss. Mr. Brown’s pointers certainly were solid and offer opportunities for each of us to put pen to paper–or in our modern 21st-century–fingers to the keypad on our laptop. His insights prove useful if you’re a fiction or non-fiction writer.

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Carving out time, I think, is a bigger challenge for many of us, myself included. I find if I don’t set aside time to write, then it won’t happen. I’ve also had to schedule out blog posts an editorial calendar as a way of keeping me on schedule and posting regularly. I have to set daily word goals and make a point of finding time to write consistently. For me, that’s usually before I head out the door. But, I find myself writing at different times throughout the day, not just first thing in the morning. There are numerous nights that you’ll find me burning the midnight oil, sitting in the glow of my laptop screen, punching out words. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts—a lot of my writing the past several months has been academic in nature as I finish up my graduate degree.

I’ve found, the more I write and the more I focus on actually sitting down and producing material, the more opportunities to write present themselves. Writing is not for the faint of heart. There are days–even weeks–where it can be a very discouraging pursuit. Perhaps that’s why so many great writers simply write for themselves first, rather than an audience. Writing is something you have to do because you love it–and dare I say it—enjoy. This may seem like a rather sadistic endeavor–because in many ways it is. But there’s really nothing much better than someone being encouraged or entertained by the words you’ve written or by the story you’ve told.

Keep writing. Lord knows the story won’t write itself.

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The Remarkable Truth About Writing in a Monumental Transformative 21st Century

We live in a busy world on the move amid a hodge-podge of multiple cultures and different generations working together to achieve the boss’s goals. A happy boss makes a happy you. Rapidly changing technology demands that we become continuous learners, adapting to the new ways of communicating and performing work. Artificial intelligence and robots are on the horizon threatening to alter how we live, work, and play. Maybe ‘threatening’ is the wrong word. But be sure, change is coming.

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How will these changes affect you as a writer? Technology has changed how we write. We are far removed from the days of feather plumes and inkwells. I recall how dramatic having a word processor instead of a ribbon typewriter was for me as a young aspiring writer. Now as an aging aspiring writer, they have apps for that.

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Our multi-generational, cross-cultural world will influence the type of characters we write about and the stories we tell about them. How can they not? As a kid writer, I conjured up several aliases and pen names I could write under, since I didn’t see a bunch of books on the public library shelves written by authors with strange-sounding, odd-spelled names. In comparison, today my name doesn’t seem as out-of-place as more and more international writers are finding space on the local bookshelves.

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Advancements in technology have also made publishing more accessible to more people. This is both good and bad. The publishing houses do act as a filter, working diligently to ensure a certain quality of writing is published. However, you don’t necessarily need a publisher today. You can self-publish. Of course, this means you gotta get out and hustle to sell your books since you don’t have the marketing department of a publishing house behind you. Distribution is another challenge. Go to your local bookstore and tell ‘em you wrote a book and you’d like them to sell it. Odds are that won’t happen. Plus, with everybody and their dog being able to publish, there’s a lot of junk that gets in the way of skillful writing by people who have worked hard at their craft. But hey…who am I to judge. Creativity is a good thang, right? And that’s the truth.

Keep on writing…I believe in you.

~TDG

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Set SMART Writing Goals for 2018

Writers write. If you’ve ever stared the blank page glowing off your laptop screen, I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Stacks of notebooks and legal pads testify to your commitment. Yes, Stephen King, writers write.

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Writers plan and organize too. You set objectives. You aim for goals.

As 2017 draws to a close, what are your writing goals for next year? What strategies and tactics will you employ to reach your goals? Did you set SMART goals or are your objectives willy-nilly, feel gooders?

SMART Goals are:

S. – Specific

M. – Measurable

A. – Assignable

R. – Realistic

T. – Time based

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Studies and experience show the more specific goals are the greater the odds of attaining them. Measuring progress and achievement is critical. Otherwise you don’t really know how you are coming along and when you need to celebrate. Assignable is a nice way of saying accountable. Writing is a lonely affair. If the story doesn’t get written, it’s on you. Realistic is a big, daunting word. If you’ve never ever written, don’t start out trying to write “War and Peace” or “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Keep it simple. Make your goals attainable and reachable. Start by writing 100-200 words a day, six days a week. Take a day off. It’ll be okay. Build the volume of words you write until you are producing consistently. Find a level you can maintain. If you’ve never moved any iron, you wouldn’t go to your nearest gym and try to bench press 400 pounds of weight.  That would be ridiculous. And painful. Finally, make your goals time-based. Yes. That means set a deadline. As with previous steps, be specific, make it measurable, be accountable, and be realistic. I know that a ton of “experts” tell you how you can write your Great American Novel in 30 days. Odds are against it. Start with something like this: I will complete the first draft of my first chapter of 2,500 words for my 80,000 word novel on January 31, 2018.

Anyways…writers write. So why are you just sitting there?

Get to it.

I believe in you.

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Photos courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.com