Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Few Writing Tips

Writing is a job. It requires passion and dedication. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise I suggest you start questioning any other pieces of "wisdom" they've given you.

Unfortunately I am not at the point where I can make writing my full time job. Don't misunderstand, I love teaching and I will always want it to be part of my life, but I wouldn't mind focusing my teaching hours on creative writing classes. In the mean time, I am having fun working with teen parents.

While I would love to pursue my writing career with the dedicaton of full time hours, that isn't possible at the moment. Because of this reality (we all have something that makes writing complicated), my writing routinees are vital to my success.

To be perfectly honest, I constantly struggle to maintain a writing routinee. Work, family, and a variety of other obligations make demands on my time. Not to mention all the time wasters that are just so tempting. (Check out my post about Writing Serial Killers). Here are a few things that have helped me stay focused when I need to finish a project.

(1) Taking Classes

Early on, I realized that I just work better with deadlines, especially deadlines that have consequences behind them. That's the reason I started taking classes at the UCR and UCLA Extension Centers. It's also the reason I enrolled in an MFA program. I know myself. I know that without the pressure of a deadline, my other responsibilites and my favorite time wasters (television and reading) get in the way of a finished draft.

(2) Personal Writing Retreats

When I have the time, and the money, I pack up my car, check into a cabin or hotel, and hide away for a few days on my own personal writing retreat. I did this for the first time over spring break during the first year of my MFA program. I was exhausted and I needed a few days to myself. I needed to unwind and then I needed to get to work. I had a lot of writing to do.

It was the first time I'd ever gone on a "vacation" by myself and it was fantastic. I spent the first day reading, watching tv and going on walks. Then I got to work. I think I got fifty pages written during those four and a half days and I became even more committed to my thesis project.

I can't recommend this practice enough. Sometimes you just need to get away and spend some time with yourself.

(3) Finding a Productive Work Place

Writing is a choice, and for me that means making a choice about where to work. It's not possible to hide away on a writing retreat all the time. I also don't have a dedicated office for writing, and that's ok. Instead, I try to make appointments with myself to get writing done. Lately I've had success when I go sit in my local frozen yogurt shop. Sometimes a writing friend joins me. The point is that I am away from all of the distractions at home and I am focuing my attention on my writing.

If you haven't noticed already, all of these routinees have something in common. They all depended on my choices. I had to decide that I wanted to be a writer. I had to decide that I would dedicate my time and attention to my craft.

You can do the same thing. Experiment with your own routinees. When and where can you fit in time to work on your art form.

I would love to hear about your process. Leave a comment below and let me know how you fit writing (or whatever your passion is) into your day.

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