Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tips, Tricks, Rituals - What's your methodology for writing?

If you've ever had to complete a writing assignment, you know there is nothing more daunting than a blank piece of paper or computer screen. But, if you've chosen writing as your profession, write you must. I've asked a few friends for tips and tricks they use to get the words out of their heads and into the world. They graciously provided some fantastic answers.

Mysti Guymon-Reutlinger (Thanksgiving365) says "I'm a stickler for routine. My best writing comes when there's no one awake or around me. I will wake at 4 am to get in three hours of solid writing time." Finding quiet time can be tough. In Mysti's case, with two adorable little boys to take care of, getting up early is a great way to make that time. When ideas come at inopportune moments, Mysti will "leave a notebook and pen on the counter to scribble my thoughts as they come!"

Adam Slade (EditingHat) and Annie Kelleher both use music when they write. Annie says "if I have a particular song that evokes the mood of the scene or the character's viewpoint, I put the song on." I'm sure there are songs that send you right back to your first kiss, so you know what Annie is talking about. Adam says "I used to need silence to write to, but if you can train yourself to write to music (I started with instrumentals... and worked up), it can help when you're somewhere noisy." I listen to instrumental music when I write, silence is absolutely deafening for me, sometimes.

A change of venue seems to help when the brain gets bogged down. Meghan Brunner says "if I get stuck I get up and make a mug of tea. Usually in the time it takes to brew, my brain has loosened a little." Walking away and taking a break works for Adam, as well, "If I get stuck, I take a long shower. Generally does the trick."

And speaking of tea, it seems that hydration is important. Jenn Greenleaf says "I feel off if I don't have my coffee next to me." I know without my cup of coffee, I'm lost, too. Whether coffee, tea, water or soda, every writer I know has some kind of glass or mug at their desk.

Taking your work seriously and respecting yourself are paramount. Laurie Jodoin Dalzell says "I used to write whenever I had time around everyone else's schedules and didn't make so much progress. In a fit of frustration one day, I realized that a writer, well, writes. Ever since, the first two hours of my day are mine for writing. Mug of tea, glass of orange juice, and my laptop. Every morning." And Karen Fisher Alaniz says "I get dressed to the make-up and shoes. There is no writer sitting in her pajamas pounding out brilliant prose in my house. I have to dress as if I am going to a job. I treat my writing like a job and I've learned that when I do this, when I take it THAT seriously, others (agents, editors etc) do too. Simple yet life-changing for me."

The tips most common to everyone I talked to are:
  • Just WRITE!
  • Make yourself comfortable.
  • Quiet, writer at work! (which really seems to translate to whatever gets you in, and keeps you in, the writing zone)
  • If you get stuck, MOVE! Step away, exercise, take a shower, anything to let the wheels turn in the back of your mind.
  • Catch 'em! The ideas slip away all too quickly if you don't write a quick note or record them on your cell phone.
  • Drink! A hydrated brain is a creative brain.
What do you do to keep the words flowing?


Unknown said...

Great post! Thank you for linking!

To further my response: I also feel off if my workspace isn't "just right" to write. I need myself surrounded by notebooks, my planner, a desk calendar, and a couple of binders (sometimes more) . . . what's around me depends on what I'm working on during the day. If it's not all out, though, I can't wrap my mind around the entire day.

Unknown said...

great post i loved reading everyone's tips and ideas! thanks for including mine!!!!

Adam said...

I'm internet famous! YAY! ;-)

Great post! :-)


Kelli Claypool said...

Great post, Mary. Because I tend to be analytical, I need structure and an outline of topics before I can sit down to write.

Once I know the topics and a few keywords, then my creativity comes through and I can write.

However, over the past few years, I've become extremely dependent upon my writers to do the creative writing for me.

Love the tips that you've shared as they can be applied to many aspects of our businesses.

J Buchanan said...

Good tips here, thanks