I am pleased to be the guest of Lois Hoffman, aka the Happy Self-Publisher, today to discuss writing routines. Check out Writing in Increments.
In October, I participated in a workshop series at the Havre de Grace, MD, public library on preparing for NaNoWriMo. A month of intense writing with a high word count goal can’t be undertaken willy-nilly. My talk covered the range from psychological pep talks, the mid-month slump, and learning to love your crock pot.
Writing for an hour a day may not require the extremes of November, but if you are carving out a new hour in your day, your daily schedule will shift. If you have the hour available without much pain to the rest of your life, great. Either way, today’s post will address how to best use the hour once you’ve found it.
Who, What, When, Where, Why and How….Anyone who has ever worked for a news outlet is familiar with the 5 Ws and an H. My college training was in journalism, so I find myself looking for this familiar set of letters in news stories, and in fiction too. If you are a working writer planning out a story, addressing these six points of your plot is a good starting place.
Another good starting place is a new year. Three days into a cold and snowy 2014, and I am thinking about a new set of letters, and how they can help me address the various points of my working life.
For me, the letters are 4 Ws and an R.
WRITE – The most obvious, but sometimes the most difficult to schedule. Carving out a couple of hours a day for my own writing is a must for 2014, so I have taken my own Sacred Writing Time Pledge. But I also want to share my work so “Writing” also means submitting, being critiqued, reading at open mics. And more blogging, maybe?
WORK – My editing calendar is a colorful blast of penciled-in client names, online classes, speaking engagements, conferences. Thank you, world, for giving me this work I love to do! This year, I have a new notion or two to expand my work life and offer useful services to my writing friends and clients. Stay tuned.
WALK – Face it, without the daily walk, I’m grumpy. No one likes grumpy. Walking builds a stronger body, but I’m fortunate to have a Walking Friend who is a non-writer. I’ve already written about her value to me, and her patience with my sometimes skewed thinking. I wonder how many writers depend on physical activity to work out plot problems and/or explore story ideas? If you are lucky enough to have a reader friend who will listen to your writerly ramblings, hug him or her for me.
WORKSHOP – I love to teach! But I also love to be taught. If I (or you) ever begin to think I (or you) know all there is to know about writing, it’s time to retire, and maybe buy a few pounds of humility. Writers are generous with their knowledge and experience. Conferences are full of useful and practical courses, and if you can’t travel, the online workshop world is right at your keyboard. I take courses, too, and am always on the lookout for classes to take. Recommendations are welcomed!
READ – I write in the morning, edit all afternoon, and in the evening I like to chill out and rest my brain. But at bedtime, I still need that hour of reading. Is it possible to sleep without sliding into the zone without a story? Not for me. For 2014, I’ve dusted off my reading diary. How many books will I read for pleasure this year?
Write, Work, Walk, Workshop, and Read – my 4 Ws and an R.
What letters work for your life?
On New Year’s Day of 2012, I created and posted the Sacred Writing Time Pledge. I’d like to invite my writing friends and colleagues to take the pledge for the first time, or renew from last year.
Writers write. Writers who get published complete work and submit that work to agents and editors. It’s how it works. The way to write for publication is to commit to it. That means nothing–and no one–stands in the way of your writing goals. For 2013, consider taking – or renewing – the pledge below:
The Sacred Writing Time Pledge