How do you get yourself to write?

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How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Mira » 12 Aug 2010, 13:10

I read a comment on a blog yesterday about writers who 'chat' about writing, but don't actually write. Arrrggghhh. That's me.

And it's true I'm both recuperating from school last year, and gearing up for school in a month and 1/2, but I could write alittle. Other than blog posts, that is.

It's not that I'm lazy, but I'm very mood driven. If I don't feel like it, and I can get out of it, I usually will. It's bad. I need some advice.

This site appears to be full of people who actually write, so I'd love to hear how folks get themselves to do it. Is it just that you love it, or do you have some tricks? Any wisdom or tips would be appreciated.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby theepicwinner » 12 Aug 2010, 14:25

Of course the love plays a huge part of it. But I believe every single writer has to discipline themselves to sit down and write. I love writing more than anything else. But I'm lazy. I have to force myself to squeeze out 2,000 words a day.

A good piece of advice I've heard is setting a certain time each day in which to write. It will get your body and mind used to writing at that time, and will make it more difficult to make excuses.

One thing that has always worked for me is reiterating my goals. They include i) not working at a job I hate, which will inevitably happen if I don't make it as a writer, ii) remembering how much I love, love, LOVE writing and how typing something is infinitely better than typing nothing, iii) that practise makes perfect, and last, but by no means least, iv) imagining what it would be like to have a published book with my name on it (which would include screaming my head off, running around my housing estate buck naked, kissing random strangers, etc etc)

Hope this helps.

EDIT: One more thing. Someone once said that those who dream of success die a dreamer, while those who are successful actually work at it. Not the exact quote but you get the idea. It's a good quote to tell yourself.

There's another quote (in my signature) which I love. Listening to songs to motivate yourself helps, too. ("Don't Stop Believing" is a good one. Heck, it's cheesy as HELL, but it works.)
"If you can think it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it" - Evan Taubenfeld

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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Margo » 12 Aug 2010, 14:49

With the cold hard knowledge that if I don't it's an automatic fail. Forever. Period.

I've had writer friends who insisted they could only write if they were happy/depressed/drunk/comfortable/inspired/etc. Not a one of them has ever finished a project.

I'm not one for tricks or methods of motivation. If a writer trains himself with these and suddenly they are not available or not realistic for the circumstances...no writing.

My one suggestion for someone having a really really really hard time would be to buy a NEO, schedule writing time like any other important appointment, go to a library or other quiet place (take your music player and earphones if you must have music), plant butt in chair, and write.

(Yes, I am channeling my inner drill sargent lately.)
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby theepicwinner » 12 Aug 2010, 14:54

Yes! Margo, you've reminded me of something. Don't wait for inspiration to strike. Just sit down and write. I made that mistake during the writing of my first novel, which I later scrapped. Since starting my second, I don't wait for my muse, and I find my writing is more of what I want it to be: smart, comical, and fun to read after I've let it mellow.

Just don't wait for inspiration. You'll never make any fast progress if you do. Getting published is difficult enough as it is. I've heard of people taking 10 years to write one book. I've written 1.5 novels since May 2010. If you wait for a certain mood, you'll be a hundred years old before you ever sell anything.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby polymath » 12 Aug 2010, 14:55

I sneak up on it. Writing exercises help to get me started. Put down a few words, just a few dozen maybe, I tell myself, of a brief scene, a vignette, or an anecdote; and I'm off and running. I try out new techniques, just learned methods, someone else's voice, inspiration, or premises; rewritten, reinvented, or reimagined, imitated. Simple sketches become great oaks. Some kernels fall on barren rocky ground and wither before they vine. But it's only a few words. No great loss.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Margo » 12 Aug 2010, 14:58

theepicwinner wrote:Don't wait for inspiration to strike.


Amen and pass the collection plate.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby ninafromnorway » 12 Aug 2010, 15:55

Doing isn't my problem. Finding time for it or a place where there is zero distraction is more complicated!
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Quill » 12 Aug 2010, 23:08

For me it is a lifestyle question. Room must be created internally and in one's physical schedule. Writing must be prioritized over time (it's a long range plan). Things that do not contribute must be jettisoned. It isn't easy. Junk collects, distractions abound. It's fiendish how the world works against the creative process. The various drags and potential drags must constantly be minded, be monitored, and the goal re-established. The path must be dedicated and re-dedicated on an almost daily basis. Even if one is not writing. Even if there is no possibility for writing on a given day, one is making room to write. Head space, desk space, me space. Space for my creative outlet. Because it is important.

I'm waxing metaphysical tonight, but I mean it. It's not just about driving oneself to the computer.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby karenbb » 13 Aug 2010, 03:30

polymath wrote:I sneak up on it. Writing exercises help to get me started. Put down a few words, just a few dozen maybe, I tell myself, of a brief scene, a vignette, or an anecdote; and I'm off and running. I try out new techniques, just learned methods, someone else's voice, inspiration, or premises; rewritten, reinvented, or reimagined, imitated. Simple sketches become great oaks. Some kernels fall on barren rocky ground and wither before they vine. But it's only a few words. No great loss.


Polymath is right (of course). Don't pass up on the seeds you come across every day--something you read, something you see, something that randomly crops up in your head. If it strikes you as odd, interesting, painfully boring, whatever--take note of it. It may have nothing to do with your novel, but it puts your brain in the writing mode. So, write it down on a post-it and save it for your writing time (also a must, you have to make time--I don't care if it means you have to get up at 4:30 because I do). Spend five minutes on your seed, just to get your brain cranking and your fingers flying. Then go to your book and get to it. Turn off your e-mail. Turn off the IM. Don't go on NB's forums. Just for a little while. Write.

One more thing...you can't underestimate the power of falling in love with your characters. Once my book got going and I REALLY got to know my characters, they woke me up in the middle of the night, they made me want to launch myself out of bed in the morning. I had to get out of the way and let them speak. If you can get to that point, you will have no problem getting plenty of stuff written.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 13 Aug 2010, 05:48

I wrote a blog post back in March here: http://sommerleigh.com/?p=355 about this subject. I started a writing group in my home town because I needed to work with other real writers. Except that no one who came to the group was a real writer. They all wanted to talk about writing, but few of them actually wrote and none of them spent the same amount of time and hard work on their WIP as I did. It was really disappointing.

I think there comes a time where a person who wants to write has to ask themselves, "Is this my job or my hobby?" If it's a hobby, then how and when you work on it doesn't matter. If it is a job, it has to be treated like a job where you sit down every day even if you just stare at a blank screen for two hours. I spend almost 40 hours a week most weeks working on my WIP. If I'm not writing, I'm researching. If I'm not researching, I'm editing. If I'm not editing I'm reading writing forums and catching up on industry news. I don't see many movies. I don't watch television. I don't spend half as much time with friends as I used to. (Also, I wouldn't give up what I'm doing for any amount of social life.)

I do it because I love doing it. Putting my writing first doesn't mean I'm sacrificing anything else. It's not a sacrifice when it's the first thing I wake up wanting to do. I make time for everything else, not the other way around.

Best piece of advice I've ever been given that I think should be handed out on a little business card to every person who wants to be a writer : If you want to be a writer, you must write.

Good luck. Changing your mind-set from being a mood driven writer to an every day, all the time, this is my second profession writer is tough. It requires completely changing your priorities. And unfortunately, there's no easy way to start than to just throw yourself off the edge and do it.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby marccolbourne » 13 Aug 2010, 06:48

This thread couldn't have come at a better time for me! Thank you so much for your ideas and encouragement.

Marc
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Down the well » 13 Aug 2010, 07:40

Sommer Leigh wrote:I think there comes a time where a person who wants to write has to ask themselves, "Is this my job or my hobby?" If it's a hobby, then how and when you work on it doesn't matter. If it is a job, it has to be treated like a job where you sit down every day even if you just stare at a blank screen for two hours. I spend almost 40 hours a week most weeks working on my WIP. If I'm not writing, I'm researching. If I'm not researching, I'm editing. If I'm not editing I'm reading writing forums and catching up on industry news. I don't see many movies. I don't watch television. I don't spend half as much time with friends as I used to. (Also, I wouldn't give up what I'm doing for any amount of social life.)


Except for the movie thing, Sommer is exactly right. Making time for writing is as much about a person's attitude toward it as it is about finding hours in a day.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Quill » 13 Aug 2010, 07:48

karenbb wrote:One more thing...you can't underestimate the power of falling in love with your characters. Once my book got going and I REALLY got to know my characters, they woke me up in the middle of the night, they made me want to launch myself out of bed in the morning. I had to get out of the way and let them speak. If you can get to that point, you will have no problem getting plenty of stuff written.

Good point. Fall in love with your characters, with your project. Then you will find them/it calling you. The project, and ultimately the craft itself, becomes your calling. Ultimately it's about love.

Good point also, made by many, about the one-step-in-front-of-the-other need to just write. But again, there's more to it than the simple application of grit and butt-glue. The daily habit is built on a whole gestalt of attitude and helps build it. One supports the other.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Margo » 13 Aug 2010, 07:52

Quill wrote: It's not just about driving oneself to the computer.


Yeah, on the most basic level it is. It has to be. Bottom line. You do it or you don't. You can spend years taking out the trash to clear your life. More trash will blow in the front door while you're emptying other things out the back.

Nike had the right idea.
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Re: How do you get yourself to write?

Postby Margo » 13 Aug 2010, 07:54

Sommer Leigh wrote:I think there comes a time where a person who wants to write has to ask themselves, "Is this my job or my hobby?" If it's a hobby, then how and when you work on it doesn't matter. If it is a job, it has to be treated like a job where you sit down every day even if you just stare at a blank screen for two hours. I spend almost 40 hours a week most weeks working on my WIP. If I'm not writing, I'm researching. If I'm not researching, I'm editing. If I'm not editing I'm reading writing forums and catching up on industry news. I don't see many movies. I don't watch television. I don't spend half as much time with friends as I used to. (Also, I wouldn't give up what I'm doing for any amount of social life.)
....

If you want to be a writer, you must write.

Good luck. Changing your mind-set from being a mood driven writer to an every day, all the time, this is my second profession writer is tough. It requires completely changing your priorities. And unfortunately, there's no easy way to start than to just throw yourself off the edge and do it.


I'd tell you to get out of my head, but I really don't mind this kinda stuff rolling around in there. Very well put.
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