It’s time for another pep talk, Writers! We’ve just completed the second week of the year, and this is also the point where most people begin to fail at their ambitious New Year’s Resolutions (See Monday’s post on this topic). So if you have some writing resolutions that you either haven’t been meeting consistently, or it’s beginning to wear on you, perhaps now is the perfect time for a pep talk.
Let’s see what Grant Faulkner’s Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo has to offer us this week.
This week’s pep talk discusses the myriad ways to be creative in your writing. You can outline or you can discovery write. You can write in the morning or late at night. Any and all ways to write are acceptable.
The process of writing is individual to the person writing. There is no one singular “right” way to write.
Some authors swear by outlining (R.L. Stine is one of them) as the way that helps them be prolific. But other writers take ten years to write a single tome (Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind) because they work full time or are full time caretakers of their family.
For myself, I enjoy and can follow a basic outline, but I am more of a discovery writer or pantser. And I absolutely cannot outline nor write the end of the story first. Once I know how the story ends, and how the characters will end up, I tend to lose interest.
How do I know this? Because I have over 10 stories fully outlined that I now have no interest in writing because I know the end. Fully outlining a project just doesn’t work for me. Generally, yes, I know the end will be a happy one, but I do not want to know the ending until the very last moment.
It is important to know what does and doesn’t work for you as a writer and creative person. That way you can optimize your writing process and writing routine. As the second week’s focus, it is important to know this, or at least reflect on it, at the beginning of this year’s long experiment. It is something to keep in mind and to experiment to find the ultimate optimization for yourself. We might not nail down the entire routine in one single week, but we can start experimenting to see what works for us.
Pep Talk Homework:
“Reflect on your process and work to make it a habit by taking steps each day. If you have a solid process in place, consider mixing something new in to see how it changes your work. If you’re a meticulous planner, try pantsing your next chapter. If you write first thing in the morning, try to write for 30 minutes before bed. If you write alone, write with a friend, or in a café.” Faulkner, 20
Remember it is easiest to compare word or page count when you are in the drafting stages. Progress can sometimes be more difficult to quantify in the editing stages. If you want to compare your productivity levels, it is easiest (not necessarily best, but easiest) to compare word count while drafting.
Here’s what I did:
I normally write in the afternoon or evening. I host writing streams on my YouTube channel from 1-3 PM Eastern on Mon., Wed., and Friday, as well as a Sunday stream from 2-5 PM. This is my main chunk of writing time and when I get the largest amount of words for the day. We typically work in sprints of 25 or 30 minutes with an approximately 5 minute break between sprints.
To shake up my routine a little bit, I decided to write by myself (not on a stream) in the mornings of these same days and compare my word count per hour of writing. This shakes things up in two different ways. 1) The time of day and 2) the company.
Confession: I have done this experiment before, and I find that it takes me longer in the mornings to get into a writing groove because my brain takes a long time to wake up. Below is the table with an hour’s worth of work in the morning and the afternoon.
|Day||AM Word Count||PM Word Count|
Granted, this doesn’t seem like it was much of an experiment, but it did get me to sit down and write at a time I normally wouldn’t. As a result, I’ve gotten a good bit more writing done this week. Ideas and plans for what to write also started much earlier in the day, so by the time I sat down for my afternoon writing sessions, I had already created mental outlines for several of my scenes and articles.
How to shake things up or establish your first routine:
Try all kinds of things! Look up authors you admire and what their routines are. Play with it! (P.S. Kate Cavanaugh has a great series on her Youtube Channel vlogging her experiments with famous authors’ routines)
This week’s “homework” is an experiment that can be revisited multiple times. There is a plethora of ways to shake up your routine.
Write by hand or dictate. Write in a coffee shop or outside if the weather is nice. Mimic a famous author’s writing routine. Write at different times of the day. Try out the different rooms in your house. Try the breakroom at work. Visit the coffee shops in your area and get some writing done in the café atmosphere.
Heck, there was even an author who wrote her whole book in the waiting room of a tire shop!
There are so many ways of writing to try and establish or shake up your routine. Find what works for you. And remember, you may have to revise your routine when you find it no longer works for you, and you may have to adjust it due to real life concerns.
Either way, I wish us both well in finding and establishing a new routine that helps us write ALL the words.
Writer’s Pep Talk #3