Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writing: Your Hunger

Hunger is just as much a part of breakfast as the food. Otherwise, why else are eating?

This may seem like lazy advice but here is a place where the old adage truly applies, “Practice make perfect.” There is truly nothing better to help you develop your craft than to just do it. For most writers, this is easier said than done.

For some (like myself) life involves school, a job, another job, maintaining a hobby like blog writing (not complaining, here) and, oh yeah, eating, sleeping, and I’d like the house to be cleaned every once in a while.
 If you’re following my recent advice I’ve also told you to add in reading books on your craft, networking, reading fiction, keeping up with blogs online. Writing tends to fall by the wayside some days because the necessary order of our priorities.

I once read a blog (though I don’t remember by whom) where the author jumped on their soap box and said that writers need to take their craft more seriously if they have any hopes of becoming published authors. They need to start treating it like a career if they wanted it to be.

Without dragging out my own soap box and berating you guys that are kind enough to pay me attention, I will say, this bandwagoner was right. I myself was the lost soul this sermon was preaching to. After guilt tripping myself for thinking I was doing my best when I wasn’t, I started following the advice. With wonderful results I might add. The blog I read didn’t detail what I should be doing. (It didn’t matter anyway, shamefully admitted, I already knew what I should be doing.) However, I’m going to provide a few tips that may help get to that novel or short story on track:

1.      Write every day.  It’s good to put yourself in the writing mindset for at least a short period every day. Many writers wait until inspiration hits. I used too. Now that I’ve held myself to this promise for some time I’ve found I write better and inspiration hits more often. I’ve also found that writing itself is a great cure for writer’s block. This doesn’t mean that you have to work on the same material every day. Once or twice a week put aside the work of fiction and write a letter to a friend…or a blog. It will give you a break without breaking your promise to do it.
2.      Set a goal. A goal keeps you motivated and gives you a solid number to work towards. It also tells you when you’ve done enough for the days your guilt tripping yourself for not doing so. Set a goal for a certain number of words per day. 1,000 words per day is a reasonable goal even for someone with a busy schedule. Note: If you find yourself regularly exceeding your goal, and it doesn’t feel like a challenge, increase it by 500 words. If you’re just starting out even 1,000 words can be difficult, so decrease it to 500 per day.
3.      Practice what you’ve learned. Try out all the advice you’ve acquired from reading and networking. Some you’ll find useful and other pieces won’t be your style. This is your chance to work it out and find out what does work. Making mistakes isn’t the easiest way to learn something but you always learn something and gain experience in the process.

These are three things you can use right now to accomplish your writing goal and will set you up for successful endeavors. Set yourself a reasonable words-per-day goal and stick to it. Practice what you learn reading and networking with other authors. Find out what works for you and stick to it. Find out was doesn’t and put it aside. Write when it hits you and write when it doesn’t. Trust that inspiration will come if you call for it.

Next post, hmmm, something about reference books. How they can be useful and how they can be damaging to your writing.

PS. I know there are some dedicated readers who noticed this post was late as my last post and I want to sincerly apologize for it. I'm not slacking off, I promise. I cherish this blog and it's readers because of the irreplacable encouragement that it provides me. That being said, I owe you an explanation. A good one. Just to be clear, I've withheld this from conversation for the same reason sports fans don't say they've won the game until it's over. I feel like there is no better place to say it first than this blog. Since this summer, I've been writing working on slaving over a novel I've been writing. The reason for my late post is that I'm in the final stretch and, to put it lightly, I've been very dedicated to it lately. I can't wait to post a short synopsis and reveal the title, but I'd like to wait until it's entirely done. I've set myself a deadline (though I won't reveal when). However I will say, that when it is the readers of this blog will be the very first to know.

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