Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tips to Keep Writing When the Mood Disappears

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I love writing. And I love talking about writing.

Sitting around with other writers, discussing all things literary is one of my favorite things. It’s one of the reasons I love attending writing conferences.

But there are people we know who like talking about writing so much that’s all they do. They join writers groups, critique groups, even take classes.

The one thing they don’t do is write.

Unfortunately, this problem of avoidance can happen to any of us.
Writing is hard work.  Avoiding it is often easier than just sitting in the chair and banging out words. There comes a time though, when we have to just quit procrastinating, sit in the chair and write.

Today I’m going to share some things I do when I’m tempted to do anything but write. 
Be creative when you set goals.
  • Set a goal. I play games with my goals. Sometimes I’ll set a time goal—I’m going to write for an hour—no matter what. Sometimes I’ll set a word count goal—I’m not going to get up until I’ve written 1000 words.
  • Set a reward. I try to avoid food related goals, but truthfully, nothing helps the words flow like the promise of chocolate.
  • Break it into manageable pieces. Don’t tackle a hard goal all at once. Break it into small manageable bits. This will help you see the progress.
  • Turn on the music. For me, music (instrumental—no words) helps me get in the groove.
  • Change the scenery. When I hit a wall, it helps to go around it—literally. If I’m in my office, I may move to the dining room or even the back porch.
  • Turn off the Internet. Or at least log off your social media. It’s tempting to ask for support or commiseration on Facebook, but it can lead to conversation. And the only words you need are the ones that show up on the page.
Schedule a write-in.
  • Schedule a Write-in. Get a friend or two and hold each other accountable. If you can’t meet in person, get together online, through Skype or a Google Hangout.
  • Throw up on the page. NO, not literally. But I’ve found that sometimes I have to write junk before I can get to the good stuff. So go ahead and write crap, get it out of the way and keep going. Chances are there is something useable in it.
Now I’d like to hear from you. What tricks have you found to keep yourself in the chair banging out words when you'd rather be somewhere else?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,

Edie

TWEETABLES

24 comments:

  1. Great post for us procrastinators. I liked what Ribert Bensin said at the Florida Christian Writers Conference about talking about writing a book and actually writing a book. He said we can talk our book to death--literally. If all we've done is talk about it by the time we do the book is dead. We literally talked the book to death. As Rachel Haulk says, "put butt in chair and write.

    Getting up and changing my scenery helps jar my words into appearing on the screen. I sit for hours and a ten minute walk will revive my thoughts.

    I, too, like instrumental music playing soft in the background; otherwise I'm singing along with The Temptations.

    I'm learning to turn off the internet when writing because when I hear the ping I chase it to Facebook where I waste bunches of time.

    Thanks for the useful tips.

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  2. My fat fingers misspelled Robert Benson's name.

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    1. Sharron, I love what Robert said and Rachel's advice as well. And I'm learning to turn off the Internet! All good thoughts, Blessings, E

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  3. I like the, throw up on paper. It's true. I write junk before it turns into a polished piece. But at least it's on paper.

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    1. Randy, you are so right! At least it's on paper - no matter how messy it is. Blessings, E

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  4. Setting a timer helps me stay on task. I've never tried a write-in but I'm loving that idea (especially at Java Jolt! :) Once my time is set aside, instrumental music has a way of helping the words to flow. Thanks for the great tips, Edie.

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    1. Cathy, yes, a timer is a good idea. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

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  5. I discovered that I can't write a first draft in manuscript format. Setting my project up as a manuscript immediately turns on my picky ol' internal editor and I can't move ahead until everything's perfect...until every WORD is perfect. So my first draft is single spaced, telling (yes, telling!) what will happen, even if I don't know the how or why of it. I only write dialogue or description if it's so good I can't risk losing it. Wouldn't work for everyone, but it works for me! Thanks for all you do to encourage us, Edie!

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    1. Vonda, that's a great tip! Thanks so much for adding your suggestion, Blessings, E

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  6. Great tips! Love the idea of a write-in for accountability.

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    1. Tammy, it's also a ton of fun! Blessings, E

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  7. One thing that has worked for me, is change my tools. If the words don't come while I am sitting at the computer, I take the laptop outside and try again. If that doesn't work, I go to old fashioned pen and paper. There is something about it that never fails to get me started back up again.

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    1. Kate, that's a great suggestion! Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

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  8. This is so good, and so true. I think I am envious of the empty chair in that picture! I'm betting it was your chair, Edie, and how blessed you are to have it. That makes me all the more excited about coming to Blue Ridge soon. Just being around other writers gets me energized! Yay!

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    1. Sarah, we are incredibly blessed by our critique group and yes, that's my chair! Blessings, E

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  9. Thanks. I needed a reason to refuel! :)

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    1. Linda, thank you for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  10. I so needed this today. I've been in such a funk lately, thinking my stories to death but never getting down to the hard work of fixing plot problems and the rest. I keep saying I don't know if I can do it. Well, I can! And funny about using food. I always use food as a reward for putting in my time on the treadmill. I say all I have to do is __ time, then I can eat. Once into the rhythm of it I keep going and challenging my own minimum goal. I know this would work for writing too. Thanks for the new thoughts!

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    1. Kim, it's easy to get bogged down. I'm glad this post was able to help. Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

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  11. Great tips! When I don't want to write, I'll set a timer for 5 minutes, reasoning I can write for 5 minutes, and then I can quit. But I never do. I keep writing--once over a 1000 words before I quit.

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  12. Yes, "the promise of chocolate" --- that gave me a good chuckle. Thanks for the good words, Edie. I don't think any writer is ever immune to dry spells, but your advice is a clear way out of the slough of despond. And I confess I needed to hear this today! Thank you!

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  13. Thank you for your encouragement and support.

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  14. Thanks Edie. I work best when i write a To Do list. Also writing down on a calendar what I'm going to do keeps me on track.

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