Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Add Writing to Your Day

Tonight I’m hosting a poetry workshop at the library… this is part of the material I’ll be sharing:
Add Writing to Your Day (Every Day)
  • First you need to commit to writing every day. Don’t wait until next month or next year to make a resolution. Do it now; there is no time like the present. Don’t start out thinking you can sit and write for an hour or two a day. Start small. Set a realistic goal. If you are struggling, start out with even ten minutes a day. It may help to actually put it on your calendar and not let the time get diverted by other activities. Let friends/family know that this is your time. If you ride public transportation, use that time to write. If you need to get out of the house to find peace and quiet, take a walk with a mini recorder. Visit a local coffee shop to grab a cup and write for a few minutes. If you are stuck waiting at a doctor’s office or other appointment, pull out your pen and start writing. You could even use a ten-minute break at work to write. Carry a small notebook, mini journal or index cards with you at all times so you are always ready to write when you have a free block of time.
  • It really doesn’t matter what you write as long as you are writing. If you want to write poetry and get stuck, write something else:
    • Freewrite. Set a timer for at least ten minutes. Start writing. Don’t pick the pen up off of the paper. If you get stuck. Write “I am stuck” or some other meaningless phrase over and over until you are unstuck. Do not go back and edit. No one needs to read this. It is stream-of-consciousness and spelling/grammar doesn’t matter. Later, you can decide if you want to go back and mine for jewels.
    • Jot a letter. You don’t ever have to send it, but write something to a friend or family member. Write a letter to yourself in the past or the future. Write a letter to a company or a celebrity.
    • Draft a blog entry or write in a daily journal
    • Turn your to-do list into a lyric poem or other creative non-fiction or essay; tackle fiction; pen a book review; write a news article or a faux obituary
  • If you find it difficult to stick to your new writing habit, make yourself accountable. Let people know about your goals. Find a writing buddy or a writing group. Take part in a weekly writing challenge. Or have a friend/family member check in with you to see if you are writing.
  • Be ready for your daily session. How many times have you sat down to write and felt like you had no ideas or nothing to say? Use one of your writing dates as a brainstorming session. Start with a list of ideas you want to write about. Collect prompts or pictures to inspire your writing. When the time comes, you will at least have a jump off point.
  • When you are finding it hard to keep your commitment to write, take a break from the work, but don’t give up on the habit. Think of it as time to re-energize your writing batteries. Surf the web and read what other writers are doing. Look for new writing prompts. Set new goals. Work on the business side of writing: research markets, prepare submission envelopes/packets, back-up your writing if it is electronic (or consider copying it if it isn’t), revise old work, etc.

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