January is the time of new beginnings, new trials, new adventures, new pursuits. I’ve decided it’s time I approach my writing in a different way. It’s time to show it the respect it deserves.
When hit with an idea for a story, the best one I’ve ever had, the best one the world will ever read, I pull out my notebook and write feverishly. My fingers fail at keeping up with the prose that are oozing from my brain. This is creation at it’s prime: raw, energetic, and unplanned. Editing will take care of plot holes and flat characters later, right?
There is no plan, just creativity. Planning might squash this delicate flower instead of letting it bloom. Surely, creativity is the opposite of planning!
Somewhere along the way, the words slow down, an errand or chore suddenly needs to be done, and the characters I have created go off to do something boring.
And sometimes, I just have the overwhelming urge to take a nap.
I promise myself I will get back to it quickly, and somehow it just doesn’t happen well enough. I’ve lost the vigor for that paper world, and wonder why I was so excited in the first place.
Late last year, I came across author, Randy Ingermanson, and his Snowball Method technique. The book was a fast read and quite humorous. In those pages was a scientific method to planning and writing a novel with results.
Having a novel already in the works, I didn’t start with step one of his process, but I did take the time to work on other steps, such as character sketches, deciding the target audience and creating a map of timelines. Just using those three steps put my novel in a new exciting direction, with new scenes, characters and conflicts. Having a plan hasn’t squashed my creativity, it means that if the words do start to slow down, my plan reminds me why each scene is so vital to the overall story.
I’m a big advocate of Todoist. I have been using this program for years (I have reached Grandmaster status), but have just recently started using it for my writing as well. I have created a project for each piece that I am currently working on, and included list items with checkpoints, research that may need to be done, and due dates for word counts. Seeing my writing goals along side my daytime work goals helps remind me to push a bit harder to get everything completed, and ensures that I schedule time to do so.
During my scheduled writing time, sometimes Facebook or emails steal my attention, which is where using the Pomodoro technique works for me. There are a bunch of apps for this technique, but I recommend using one that actually stops you from using certain sites of apps while during productive interval. Using this method allows me to focus on my writing without distractions, and takes some pressure off, knowing that I have a break coming up in just 25 minutes. Usually when I use this app, I finish the first interval, grab a coffee during my first break, and by the second interval in, I have my writer’s groove on, and I don’t need to take a break for while. It really is something to motivate me to get started.
My last tip to give your writing strategy a jump start is to join a writing group. The writing group I belong to has monthly writing exercises, offers encouragement, has contests and events, all in the spirit of working on our craft. This writing group helped me move onto the path I am currently working on, as well as helped me learn new techniques and styles to try.
I’d be interested in hearing other methods writers use to get their projects off the ground. Please leave your own tips in the comment section!