Writing Exercises: "Why it is Important to Write a Little Every Day"
For a writer, writing is like having a gym membership, you have to trim up and work out. As we all know however, the weekend warrior workout of Saturdays and Sundays never actually work out. Any personal trainer will tell you this, as well as any writer who has tried writing only once or twice a week. It is especially important if you are a writer who is just starting out, writing every day is crucial to getting your juices flowing, as well as getting into the practice of the ever crucial routine.
That's where the magic ten minutes can come back into the picture. So much can be done in ten minutes, whether that's outlining an entire story, writing a great writing prompt, even finishing off that chapter that's been bouncing around in the back of your head! Overall, the most important thing is having a daily commitment to your writing. Find a spot in your daily calendar that works for you, mine is directly after lunch during work every day or end of the day right when I clock out if the day was too busy. That time is about thirty minutes of my time a day and in that time I spend either updating this blog, taking up the challenge of a writing prompt, writing the next chapter of a story or drafting new story ideas all together. During the work week I don't have an hour, but I do have half of one to accomplish a lot. It all depends however on actually sitting down and taking the time to do it.
Let's go through some tips provided by Áine Greaney to make sitting down to your magic ten minutes even easier:
1. Make a date with yourself: Yes, yes your schedule is overloaded, I know. This however is where we reference an earlier lesson Greaney taught us about deserving to be a writer. This is how you earn it.
2. Right brain. Right Time: Every writer has their "buzz" time. "Buzz" time is when your brain is buzzing with creative ideas that are begging to be written down. Mine is in the morning, and oddly sometimes in the late afternoon around 3:00 pm. I always try to get a little writing done during these periods of time because they're like cravings, I just need to write. Start trying to find your "buzz" times and get into the habit of reacting to them.
3. A clean, well-lit place: Your workspace is crucial. Every writer knows this. As soon as I moved in with my fiancé to my new house, I ordered a lovely sunny yellow desk, a comfortable rolling chair and surrounded my workspace with objects that inspire me to write. I literally have my own writing station that keeps my creative juices flowing. It keeps me comfortable and happy, and more importantly it is distraction free. Now you don't have to have a workspace as elaborate as the one I've fortunately been able to come to, but whatever your workspace, you need it to reflect your creative you. By doing so, you keep your creative mind energized and ready to go. Your space should keep you happy and motivated.
4. Tell your family and friends: It is also equally crucial that you have your distraction free time. My fiancé knows that if I'm writing, he needs to be doing something else, I need my focus. The same should be true of your friends and family. This is an exciting and new schedule for you, but you need time that is distraction free. It also is the beginning of your new commitment as a writer, therefore in the time you're making sacrifices you'll need to make sure the family can acclimatize to your new way of life.
5. Same time. Same place: With your workspace set up: routine, routine, routine. You have your battle station ready, get writing. You're attitude towards approaching your work station should always be: "Oh, I'm here. Alright, then that means its time to write."
6. Switch off all electronic communications: No facebook, instagram, no phone, etc especially if you're starting out. Loosing that train of thought because of a phone chiming of those notorious facebook notifications is the absolute worst. All those messages will be there after you writing time, I swear on the grounds that it'll be years before the world no longer needs social media. You need this time for you, the electronics have to wait. You need your time to write.
7. Write naked: This phrasing reminds me of the ever popular saying "write drunk, edit sober" which is another mantra you'll need to learn as a writer. As for writing naked, if you want to do that literally that's your business but the point here is everyone has their own pre-writing habits. Mine tend to be to get my favorite playlists together, brew either coffee or tea and get comfortable at my desk. Then I get writing. I also have to do this routine to work (as I work from home) so it is incredibly important to have your pre-writing habits down.
8. Set a daily quota or word count: Some writers are savvy with word counts, some with chapter counts, others with completing entire drafts. Find which works individually for you. My personal quota is the "next chapter" quota. I'm terrible with word counts because I barely pay attention to how long or short my pieces are, as long as the subject of said chapter or piece are reached that's the accomplishment. Decide which is yours and meet it.
9. Praise! Alleluia! To do lists are amazing, I use them for work and writing. So one thing on my list can be: prepare staff notes, followed by give edited manuscript to boss, and then update blog (or write next story chapter). On my white board all this is written and throughout the day I "X" out each thing on my list. Completing a task list is an amazing feeling, and an accomplishing one.
10. Allow yourself to write badly: This is one of the most important lessons a writer needs to learn, and a sentence we constantly need to hear. Its ok to write badly, whether badly means our grammar is terrible or there are plot holes everywhere, our characters are still in the marry-sue phases, whatever. Its ok. Take a breath because in terms of many of these problems, that's what critique groups, workshops and editors are for. There's always a solution whether you figure it out on your own or need help. Its OK, because the truth is your favorite writers all wrote crappy drafts. Any writers who say otherwise about their first drafts are delusional or have fat egos that need deflating.
More importantly, don't let bad grammar or plot holes keep you pausing rather than finishing your chapters. The beauty of editing is that you come back when you finish. I literally have incomplete chapters in my manuscripts where you will see the following: "[plot hole, come back later]." And I literally skip a scene or reasoning and keep going. Its a great way to train my brain to not obsess over short comings in my writing because I've left a marker to remember where the problem was and I can just come back later. Don't let little incomplete thoughts make you stop writing, its a torturous thing that will hinder your writing.
With all these tips, get going on moving down this list and getting into your daily writing routine. Get your battle station up and running and start making it happen.