Writing is one of those pursuits that is just incredibly rewarding. You can put down ideas on the page (real or virtual) and explore characters and themes in new and interesting ways. It is also an art form that needs an investment from you, yes you reading this, you need to invest time into your work. Below are tips that I have found that help put me into the frame of mind to write and not just think about writing. As with anything, the more time you put into it, the more you will get out of it. You need to get into habits that lay a strong foundation for your foray into the written word. Here are some tips to get you well on the way… just saying.
Time of the day:
You know your routine best, when you are motivated to do something and more importantly when you are not. You need to work your writing into that routine. For me, I tend to work into the evenings. This might not work for you, if you finish a meal and have that immediate need to nap and sleep it off don’t do it then! Equally, you might have some of your best ideas in the morning, so make that a time you will stick to. Make sure that you carve out and put aside some time to do some actual writing.
Have A Space:
By this I mean a place that you can psychologically link to writing. I am fortunate enough to have an office at home that I can use in order to scribble and type away. However, you might not have that luxury, it might be a dining table, bed, sofa. Just make it somewhere that is comfortable for you to write at. When I shared a house, this was the dinner table and I very much had to consider the time of day that I wrote. It was that or have to try and work with some sporting event on in the background, not really conducive to getting anything done.
Focus and the Inevitable Distractions:
So, you have found time and space to write. You think to yourself, right, I have an hour and I am going to start writing my award winning (well whatever it is) piece. You are full of good intentions (I refer you to this quote from an earlier writing tips piece) that idea “sitting on a chaise longue, drinking something expensive and in sudden flourishes spinning a fountain pen across expensive paper.“ (Editing, Oh God the Editing). You are ready to go but wait, you will just check your phone. [Time wasted 15 min.] Now you need to find the perfect background music [Time wasted 27 min]. Right time to work… Oh wait, you heard your phone go off, and while you read that all important WhatsApp, wait you need to respond to this with the perfect meme [time wasted 36 min]. You get the picture, the time that you set aside is eaten up with other things. What you need is simple:
- Have a drink / snack to take with you
- Be ready to write
- If needed, select music before you start a session
- Turn off your phone and if using a laptop etc, just launch your writing software of choice
What to Write:
It really doesn’t matter what you write as long as you do so. It might just be sketching out the details of a plan, a poem, short story or novel. I’ll be honest you need to just get words on the page. Worry about the editing later, Getting the words down is the foundation stone to getting you motivated. If you work and write for an hour you will see the word count rise and rise and you will realise that you are doing it, you are writing and isn’t that what you are here for.
I am a big proponent of playing with your writing, have fun with it, try new things. I write short stories and publish them on my site (shameless plug here Short Stories – Magpie Stories). I use them to help with trialling ideas I can use in the writing of my first novel (currently a work in progress), I have dabbled in poetry and I use these writing tips to help with trying different narrative styles. Do the same, mess around have fun, try something new. Just pick up the f***ing pen!
I cannot emphasise this enough it’s so simple. Write on, in or using whatever you want. Just know this, you do not need a two thousand pound / dollar / euro (or equivalent currency for the country you currently live in) pc t o run word. By the way if you use Office.com you can get word basic for free as a starting off point.
But Magpie Stories, I hear you cry, what do you use? Well, I have no set way of writing, as a general rule I use one of two methods:
- Pen and a notebook, I have a shelf full of these
- Laptop and Microsoft Word (I will trial some other software down the line but for now it works for me)
THAT IS IT.
Throw Away Stuff You Don’t like 😊 NO KEEP EVERYTHING!
The simple thing is you should keep all your notes and plans. You would be amazed how much stuff you will look at years later and rekindle those ideas. I went through phases up until August of 2020 where I would scribble some notes, type some ideas and then leave them. I gave some of them the light of day here:
Do the same keep those files and notes, when you are genuinely stuck, perhaps your older self might be able to unlock something.
Bonus Tip – Why Do You Write?
This one is not frivolous; this one is really important. Think about why you write / want to write. This is not ‘to become famous’ etc. This is the reason why you decided to pick up a pen or have thought about doing so. Almost a moral purpose for your writing. I thought long and hard about this and this is my reason for writing:
I write because I want to build a community of readers and writers, to share ideas and spread a love of words to all those I can.
Sounds a bit silly I know but I go over this why on those days I feel I can’t be arsed with writing or the stock favourite for procrastinators. “I’ll do it later.” And it acts as motivation.