Words on the Page

(I am currently still locked in battle with the scanner. It’s still too early to tell who will prevail. In the meantime, here’s a post I didn’t intent until next month so it’s not totally polished yet. A million apologies.)

This image is dedicated to my nerdy darling. Happy birthday, handsome!

This image is dedicated to my nerdy darling. Happy birthday, handsome!

Writers write. It’s actually pretty simple if you look at it like that. Writers put in the time and effort to make words on the page. It doesn’t matter if those words are good, bad, or ugly; their creator is still a writer- one who writes. If you really want to write, you will find a way. We always find time for the things that we love, whether that’s money, people, or entertainments. Making the effort to write, even when it’s hard (ESPECIALLY when it’s hard), is the mark of a dedicated writer.

But even dedicated writers need a few tips every now and then. Even if we really want to write, it can be hard to know the best way to go about it. And even those of us who have been at it for years still have room to improve our craft and the manner in which we produce it. These are a few methods I employ to encourage myself to get the words on the page.

Make time for writing. This one really should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. We’re all busy, but if you don’t have time to write, you aren’t a writer. Words on page = writer. There are all kinds of tactics for making time. Rigid scheduling. Sneaking words in on the bus or on lunch breaks. Furiously typing into your smart phone when the muse pays a surprise visit during a board meeting. Some writers need big blocks of time. Some writers do it in snatches. Some write at the same time every day. Some have more fluid timetables. I personally work best in clumps of at least an hour whenever the house is quiet, but it varies person to person. There are endless articles about making time for writing (including one here!), so I won’t go into detail now.

Know when your best writing time is. My best writing time is between one and four in the morning. That’s when I’m just bursting with ideas and experiences from the day and when distractions (read: children) are at a minimum. That’s also very unfortunate, given that my schedule doesn’t allow for sleeping in and my body doesn’t allow for such excesses in sleep deprivation. (Curse you, mortal frailties! Curse you!) But I can get pretty close by writing after the kids are in bed and at least getting close to being asleep, and then write like crazy until eleven or twelve.

Tell others you are a writer. Those of us who aren’t megafamous are sometimes a little embarrassed to tell people about our writing. Well, knock that off. If you expect to be taken seriously as a writer, you have to give others the opportunity to take you seriously as a writer. That means owning up to it. Be proud! The chief benefit of this practice is that it bolsters your motivation to write (and sometimes those psychological hurdles are the biggest roadblocks we have). If you know Aunt Ethel is going to ask about your book next time you talk to her, you’re more likely to make sure you have something to tell her.

Make writing friends. It just makes life more pleasant to have friends with similar tastes, hobbies, and problems. Your significant other might not understand why you keep calling your oldest child by your MC’s name (or even think you’re talking about a ‘master of ceremonies’ when you mention it), but your writing pals will totally get it. And, much like an über Aunt Ethel, they’ll check in with your writing projects AND help you slog through the sticky parts. (Extra win if you wordwar together!)

Treat yourself for a job well done. I allow myself a candy or a cookie when I get halfway through my daily word goal. And every day that I meet the full goal, I get to claim a Write Chain link (Learn more here!) and my alpha reader grants me ten minutes of babysitting credit. These small gifts may seem paltry, but they get me there. Your motivators don’t have to be huge to work. Small, simple rewards given at the achievement of small attainable goals are much more effective than something big and difficult.

There are tons of other tricks and tips to help you get that lazy muse off her toga’d butt. What’s YOUR best go-to method for getting words on the page? Please share in the comments below!

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