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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Article: How To Jump Start Your Writing

by Allie Boniface

I almost titled this article “101 Things to do Besides Work on your Novel/Article/Short Story,” but then I figured most people already had the skill of procrastination mastered. 

What do you do when you don’t want to write? I mean, most of us writers, published or not, newbies to writing or veterans, enjoy writing. We like to create, we like to make up stories, we like to develop characters and see what happens to them. 

Sometimes, though, we struggle with the actual process of writing. It’s hard work. It doesn’t always go smoothly. At times it’s downright frustrating, and we feel as though anything that comes out on the page is stupid and worthless. 

Well, here are some suggestions for jump-starting your writing. Some have worked for me; some I’ve stolen from friends who swear by them. Maybe you’ll find one that lights a fire under you as well! 

  • Set your alarm and write for 15 minutes. Sometimes, the hardest thing is actually sitting down and facing the next scene you have to write. So give yourself a very limited window in which to work on it. You might find that after 15 minutes, you’ll be on a roll and want to continue. Or, you can save your work, pack it away, and be done until your next 15 minutes.

  • Go outside. Find a place to write that’s different from the norm. Take your laptop, or notebook, onto the front porch. Or down to the corner park. Or to the sidelines of your child’s game. Especially now that the weather’s nicer in most places, being outside might inspire your writing.

  • Go to a different room. Instead of writing in your office, try the living room. Or the basement. Or the coffee shop downtown. Again, changing your setting might inspire change and progress in your writing.

  • Use a writing prompt. You can find them anywhere on the Internet by Googling “writing prompts.” Writing without the specific purpose of finishing a story or polishing a chapter can free up your creative juices.

  • Eat some chocolate. It’s proven to raise your endorphins, which in turn improves your mood, which might just make you want to tackle that next plot development.

  • And speaking of raising endorphins, get moving. Go outside and walk. Or take a kickboxing class at the gym. Or garden. Or play catch with your kids. Anything that gets the blood circulating perks up your attention, your mood, your energy level…

  • Keep a notebook and pen in your purse/car/pocket/next to your bed. This way, when inspiration strikes you at those odd moments, like sitting at a traffic light or at 3 am in bed or in line at the grocery store, you don’t have to try and remember it 4 hours later when you finally get to your keyboard.

  • Reward yourself. Set up a system where you can have a dish of ice cream if you write 1000 words. Or go shopping for a new pair of shoes when you finish the first half of your novel. Or rent that movie you’ve been dying to see when you revise your sagging middle chapter.

  • Comment on someone else’s work. No, I don’t mean tear it apart. But if you belong to a writers’ group, post some feedback for another member. Or write an Amazon review of a book you recently read. Taking a step back to objectively view someone else’s writing can steer you in a better direction when it comes to your own.

  • Read. Read a new book by a new author. Or a favorite book by a well-loved author. Or a book that’s outside the genre you normally choose. Remind yourself how you enjoy words on a page, words telling a story, words filling up the spaces in our world.

  • Finally, tape up something near your workspace to inspire you every day: maybe it’s a picture of your family, or a copy of the first positive email you received from an editor, or a postcard of a serene Monet painting you love, or a news article about your favorite author’s rags-to-riches story.
  •  Good luck!

    About the Author: Allie Boniface is a romance novelist and high school English teacher living with her husband in the northern New York City suburbs. She’s had a soft spot for love stories and happy endings since the time she could read, and she’s been caught scribbling story ideas on scrap paper (when she should have been paying attention to something else) too many times to count. When she’s not writing, shoveling snow, or grading papers, she’s traveling the United States and Europe in search of sunshine, back roads, and the perfect little pub. Visit Allie’s website to find out release dates and all the latest news, or hear what’s on her mind today at her blog.

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