Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 Ways Summer Makes Your Writing Possible

Summer brings sun and fun (and vacation plans and the kids summer schedule to manage). The last thing you want to do is sit inside a hot house while everyone else enjoys the season. But don’t pack away your writing just yet.




While summer may be looked upon as throwing a wrench in a well executed writing schedule, there are actually a few advantages it affords you may not be taking advantage of yet.
Here are the 5 ways summer makes your writing possible.

1. Those summer days fit in more than usual.

Longer hours means that even given the usual work, socializing, yardwork, and beach trips; there will still be early morning or late night pockets in which to write. Why lay in a warm bed when you can't sleep? Sit on the back deck with a notebook and write a few lines instead. Especially if you're working with an outline, those small writing sessions will add up to something substantial over the summer.

2. Relaxed routines means chores can be a snap.

If there was ever a time to give up a full on meat and potatoes dinner and made beds, it's now. A rotisserie chicken and a salad equal a balanced dinner and if your family hasn't heard the research yet, especially in warm weather, it's a bad health idea to make the bed. Use the extra time to finish up the rest of that short story and submit it to a writing contest.

3. Summer's happenings give you more writing material to work with.

Summer brings new experiences from food to events to road trips, not to mention more restaurant patio dwellers (if you're not above eavesdropping to glean plot points for your next book) If you're writing for a commercial market, your day trips can be turned into new articles for local and national publications

4. Nature is at its inspirational peak.

Step into the outdoors and into nature at its inspirational peak. Not only do you gather the benefits of reduced stress, bolstered immune system and connection to family and friends, but nature is a created entity like creativity. When you engage with it as you were designed to, you will experience heightened awareness (descriptive phrases popping into your head, colors you didn't previously notice, and more plot line what if's happening) Don't forget to take along your notebook.

5. Your office is portable. 
      
      All you need is a notebook and then a story can find you anywhere: sitting on a park bench, in the back yard, on a rock on a trail. People watching is plentiful. Your creative energy is up. There are no artificial lights buzzing at you. You are able to focus on your story. Get it down in those little inspirational moments. No one will know how much you're scribing but you. There is still time for many summer memories outside of the pages of a book.

      Are any of these strategies ones you use already? What else helps you write in the summertime?


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

3 Ways your Writing can Benefit from a Bad Day

Of course we'd all like perfect days in which to do life and in which to fit writing. Because shouldn't one make sure everything is going smoothly before trying to fit in something else? I don't believe so.




We can't control whether all of the conditions are ideal, but we can control how we respond to any conditions we find ourselves in. Responding with creativity is the best way to turn things around. And a bad day often makes the best creative fodder.
Here are the 3 ways your writing can benefit from a bad day:

1. It gives you believable characters.

A bad day makes you able to empathize with your characters. No one's life is perfect and writing about perfect lives is boring. We know what we know, but we also write about people different from ourselves. We need a broad range of experiences to give to these characters to bring them to life in order to resonate with readers. If one of your developing characters now gets put into your bad day situation, you can think through their response to it and work it into the storyline. A believable character is one who faces situations we can see ourselves facing and has human responses to them.

2. It can serve as a good read for someone else.

For your own benefit, writing your bad day onto paper serves to give you some distance. For others, it can be entertainment. Whether you write it humorously or poignantly, it can serve as a good read for someone else (who may well be escaping his or her own bad day) Good for you -- helping your readers out! A great story is one you can sink into. Readers who have this experience will be back for more.

3. Your writing will benefit from a production boost if you use it as a distraction technique.

Sometimes you'll need a break from whatever was going on that made it a bad day. Writing is the perfect fix. Getting into someone else's story is the exact opposite of minding your own business and it's a great break from reality. Your word count will thank you.

Sometimes a little rain is good for your art in a way that nothing else is. Benefit from it and then move on and have a great day tomorrow.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

3 Ways to Ensure Your Writing Project gets Top Billing in Your Daily Schedule


Working on your writing project is important to you. Important enough to follow productivity advice and schedule it in to your calendar like you would exercise or anything else you want to make happen. But what happens when the inevitable happens and something has to give. You look around your schedule and it seems the least risky category to shortchange. And that's true -- if putting roadblocks in front of your writing dreams doesn't spell risk to you. If it does, you'll be looking for an alternative. I have three:

1. Look for something else to bump first.

Especially if you are at the start of your project and haven't invested the time in that you have in other day to day items of your life, it may be an easy decision to skip writing. Once you start investing in your writing in terms of time and effort, it shows up higher on your mental to do list. It requires a re-think. Just because you've always checked your email three (or more) times a day, does that have to happen today? Perhaps you can take one of those times out, make something easier for dinner, short shrift a chore or put an errand off until tommorow.

2. Make sure you're being realistic about your scheduling.

 If emergencies often come up, you may benefit from building some more margin in your schedule. Margin is the space in which you plan realistically (so you don't have to speed to get to your appointments on time) and leave a bit of extra wiggle room for the unexpected (a train, a long line, your child forgetting their lunch). Virtual coach and author Michael Hyatt has a free ebook on  creating margin that is well worth the read.

3. Do whatever you can on your project no matter how small. 

When you come up to a day that's especially off the wall or a schedule you are struggling to reduce, don't lose hope. Remember that small incremental change can still completely change your life, begin daily writing practice, and produce a book. Be as kind to yourself as you would a friend and use that saved emotional energy for the writing.

Your writing deserves to have top billing in your daily schedule. You have a message, a story, or insights to share. You don't have to be leading the ideal time abundant life to make that happen. These few tweaks to your day and tommorow will be another story. And with practice and progess, next year even more so. Remember your top priorities. Don't let what's happening today determine if you will get to them. Make your top priorities your top priorities.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

5 ways to fit novel writing into your busy life

The most often asked question about writing a novel is how to fit it in around obligations and the busyness of life, not to mention the exhaustion that can strike at day's end. Doesn't it take a big act of discipline to sit down to work on your novel when you'd rather be vegging out in front of the TV? Yes and no.
The thing is, creativity is the fuel for the rest of life. 
Making time for it is a matter of self preservation, not self denial. 
That said, there are a few tricks for getting life in order enough to do that work you'd like to do. 
Here are my top 5:

1. Obligate yourself to your art 

When you have advertised a deadline, promised someone a completion date for a commissioned piece, or set a progress chart and a friend willing to be an accountability partner; you suddenly take your creative work a lot more seriously. This is a positive cycle that once you set up and execute according to plan, is a momentum machine. You, by virtue of practicing your craft with regularity, now feel more like a working artist. Holding your identity more securely, you are less likely to fall victim to writer's block or any other creative paralysis. You know, because you've done it repeatedly, you can show up and create and will be happier for it.

2. Make the rest of your life easier

Likely you do not have large blocks of time just sitting around waiting to be filled. You will have to carve out the time. Be on the lookout for time you can capture. For example, when one season ends and another is to start, examine what activities are still in line with your goals or which could move over to make room for your writing. Grouping things like completing your errands all on one afternoon a week, socializing in groups, and speeding through chores on a set day, all work to reduce the time your writing is interrupted. By making a few changes in schedule, you should be able to capture a few sessions in which to do your creative work. (if you have a particularly challenging schedule, you can submit your question on how to make this happen for you to the everyday writing coach at everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com)

3. Structure your creativity to increase your freedom

Before you begin work, decide on a timer, a word count, or a template to fill. Having the structure in place means you can focus on the project's content. If you are in the planning process and don't have a clearly mapped out idea about where your story is going to go, channel the doodler in you and give mind mapping a try. It may seem like a contradiction, but the more outlines and supporting documents you have in place, the more you are free to explore your story without wondering how much farther you need to take it before it arrives.

4. Build in stepping stones

Each project is built from individual parts. They may not be as clearly laid out as the table of contents format, but you'll have an idea of where you need to go in terms of plotline, character development, or word count. The components of your structure give you the stepping stones for your project. It works well to tackle a small piece and complete it rather than go back and forth setting up for the writing event only to stop a while later because you've run out of time. Working in small blocks on the larger work means you will be thinking about the project in between your sessions and essentially writing in your head. It will also increase your overall excitement about your project.

5. Determine to be flexible

You might find as the summer days get longer, you have more time in which to write. You could do it then. Unless you are hosting out of town guests. Then, you could decide to work on your project before they get up. Perhaps you work on your novel on your lunch break, but you have a lunch meeting coming up. That day you could record ideas on your coffee break or while prepping dinner. You may have one desired outcome in terms of finished product, but you can get there a number of ways. Don't sabatoge yourself by being married to your first plan. Megan Hyatt tells us wisely in her great article on achievement and goal setting , "The way to achieve our goals is to hold them tightly and our strategies loosely."

Having a plan and building in creative community will make your writing happen. Enjoy it and come back and share your strategies with the rest of us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Don't Underestimate What You can Get Done In Your Lunch Hour




The other day, on my way to work, I reworked the illness of my main character’s mother and ironed out all the details that would affect plot line following. Before I knew it, I was at my turn off. I counted it as writing time. Because I know that this pre-work is what makes sitting down to write in a structured early morning session work.
When I started writing novels, each chapter was a page and they were housed in duo-tangs. Because when you’re seven year old writer, that’s how you roll. The main difference between my writing then and now is in the keyboard practice and schedule.
Sometimes aspiring writers get hung up on the fact that living adult life takes a lot of time – the working & raising a family obligations that cannot be shoved aside for leisurely days of writing. But this is not a new thing.
At seven, you can’t write while you’re at school, but you can run home and write in your orange duo-tang instead of heading to the park.
When you are in the child rearing trenches, you can’t write while changing diapers; but at naptime, you can sit down and work on your story instead of scrubbing the house.
When you have a day job (or two), you can’t write while commuting, but you can give your writing your lunch-hour instead of meeting a friend for lunch or get up early and write before doing anything else.
I am thrilled to work a seven year old novelist into my summer writing project. I have fond memories of my own orange duo-tang.
If you want to connect with other writers or get feedback on your project, put the 2016 Writer’s Weekend on your calendar (Oct 21-23 in beautiful Hope, BC) For more information email michelle.vandepol@ufv.ca or everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Books You Jump Out of Bed For

 holiday is also good for getting thrifting in -- 75 cent hammered silver cup my latest find.

If you are the kind of reader to have several books on the go at the same time, you are likely the kind of writer to do the same with your novels in progress.

So even though I have a few books I really should finish, I had to jump out of bed and write out the newest that came to me in a big chunk while trying to fall asleep last night: title, plot, sub-plot, main character, and even cover design. Time off work is good for the creative soul.

What writing hot looks like this morning: one fourth of a chapter in 30 minutes. At that rate, it would take 1 work week to get to first draft. But given that most of my writing is done cold (making oneself sit down and get to fleshing out the next scene) it will likely occur within scheduled early morning sessions before my daily walk. Even at that optimistic production rate, this means 100 days until draft completion. I think I have my 2016 project before me.

If you have a writing question or want some feedback on your 2016 writing project, email me at everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com

Saturday, October 17, 2015

bliss


It's that weekend again.
Writing fires have been lit, both literally & figuratively.
We have camped out until it's time to come back to the real world.
But first we will have our notebooks, and laptops, and endless cups of tea...

Here's what the weekend is all about

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