As if typing and arranging 50k+ words isn’t challenging enough, writers must learn to face a variety of fears. Did I publish my best work? When will someone read it? What if readers feel inclined to write a review and they didn’t connect? For me, one fear rises above the rest:
I can’t imagine any writer hammering out a book without experiencing this feeling in the pit of her stomach. Life should be a balance between family, work, and finding that promise of fulfillment every living being searches for. For some of us, writing is an integral part of this fulfillment. Maybe not the most important part, but as long as a writer breathes, writing is part of her soul.
Some days it’s easy to crank out two thousand words. Some days I’m lucky to get one hundred. I’ve found a few key factors that help me meet my goals:
- Outline – When I write a book, I always have a basic outline. I know the main characters, many of their struggles, and most importantly, how it’s all going to end. Currently I’m writing a series. My first step was to write the ending of the last book. Many plotlines will change between now and then, but I take comfort in the fact I have a destination.
- Write from the Inside Out – So, I have the finish and I’ve likely got the start. What about the middle? Have patience. Write scenes one at a time. Don’t stress over ordering the scenes until later.
- Focus on What You Like – We’ve all heard the saying ‘write what you like.’ This is probably the best advice I’ve ever heard. I tend to focus on confrontations and juicy drama between the characters. When I get bored writing a scene, you can bet someone will get bored reading it. Change scenes. Write something else.
- Be Prepared to Deviate – We’ve all heard about the road less traveled. Having an outline provides a framework and a certain comfort to writing. Creativity brings success in the long term, but focus speeds up the process. Have a plan, but don’t be afraid to leave the pavement.
- Watch People – Listen when people speak. Watch how they act in uncomfortable situations. Do your characters react in a reasonable way?
- Make a Goal and Reward Structure – Set goals that are both attainable and measurable. If a goal doesn’t meet both, you’re spinning wheels. When you reach a goal, reward yourself. Start small. When you reach the stars, there will be no better feeling.
- Have a Support Network – Network with other writers. Fear together. Struggle together. Celebrate together.
I’ve found that my best ideas don’t magically appear in front of a computer screen. I keep a notebook with me at all times. During the day, I have a thought and write it down – this way I’m not stressed about remembering.
Like most other writers, I have a family and a full-time job. I’ve got a certain amount of time carved out each day to write. Having notes ready before sessions makes for an effective use of this time.
I keep playlists of music named after every mood. If I’m writing a dark scene, I choose a slow, melancholy tune. For a happy scene, it’s got to make me feel like dancing.
The biggest secret I’ve found is to help others, not just in writing but all aspects of life. Listen. Offer solutions. If the waitress drops your food and you must wait twenty extra minutes, take a moment to consider we’ve all had bad days. I once dropped an entire tray of food after the customers had waited almost an hour. I gave a heartfelt apology, they patiently waited, and I still received a tip. After fifteen years, I’ve never forgotten their understanding or generosity.
Good deeds won’t always come back to you, but it’s a great feeling when one comes back tenfold.