By Angela Booth
One of the most popular questions I receive concerns the writing process. It may be phrased as: “how do I write every day?”, or similarly. I always respond with another question: “what’s your goal?” Writing every day won’t help if you haven’t set any goals. So set some goals for your writing first.
Now let’s look at several tips for creating a writing process which helps you to make money, no matter what your writing goals happen to be.
What’s your current writing process?
To be able to change something, you need to know what it is that you want to change. Perhaps you procrastinate so that you write very little, or you feel that you don’t have enough time to write anything, or you’re frightened of writing because when you do write something you think that it’s rubbish… It doesn’t matter.
Grab a sheet of paper, or a sticky note (write on paper, so that you can paste the paper onto your car dashboard, or onto your bathroom mirror), and write down your current writing process in a sentence or two. Be honest. If you’re writing for ten minutes on a Sunday, or 20 minutes during your lunch hour at work, write that.
Try these tips…
1. WRITE ANYWAY. Because… Guess what? You’re probably never going to feel like writing every day
I love Mel Robbins’s book, Stop Saying You’re Fine: Discover a More Powerful You. She suggests that in any area of your life that you want to change, you must do the things that you don’t want to do.
Simple… But far from easy.
Whenever you don’t want to write for whatever reason — write anyway.
Over the past few months, I’ve moved myself and my business across the country, and I’ve found it very hard to write. I’m always suggesting DDT (do, don’t think) to my students, and it was time to put that into action myself.
Writing’s such a habit for me that I always write. However, without my comfy office, and a proper Internet connection, it was all too easy to convince myself that I had other things to do which were more important than writing. When I did get around to writing, instead of working on client projects, I amused myself by writing what I wanted to write (novels), rather than what I had to write.
Basically, I didn’t feel like writing, so I wrote for fewer hours than I normally do, and much less than I normally do. I had to remind my self to DDT, and to convince myself to write what I didn’t particularly want to write.
2. CREATE A WRITING SPACE, and close the door
If you don’t have a space that’s just for writing, choose one. Put some thought into it. This will be your “writing” space. You’ll train yourself that this space means writing to you, and nothing else.
Ensure that your chosen space has a lock on the door, good lighting, a comfortable chair, and a desk. You may not have these essentials (yet). Make do with what you have. Always go to your “writing” space when you want/ need to write.
If you’re easily distracted, turn off your Internet connection, so that you’re not tempted with Facebook, or online games, or whatever your favorite online activity happens to be.
Set up your space exactly the way you want it. Then, when it’s time to write, go to your space.
Perhaps you can only write during your lunch hour at work. In this situation, you’ll need to create a mental oasis. Imagine yourself in your perfect space: a large library, with lots of shelves, a huge desk…
3. MODEL A WRITER YOU ADMIRE: see yourself writing successfully
Which writers do you admire? Find a writing hero — someone who’s doing what you’d love to do, and then model that person. (To model someone is basically to do what they do.)
The Internet is amazing. Writers share their stories, and their processes, so you should be able to find any number of models who successfully write what you want to write.
Obviously, you can’t model your model’s successes. Your successes will be different from your hero’s successes. You’re modeling what your hero does.
Back to your sticky note…
Did you write your current writing process on your sticky note? If not, do that now.
Next, find your writing model. You may find that your model spends four hours every morning writing his books, and the afternoon hours reading and researching.
Don’t quit your day job to model this writer.
Instead, pay attention to the overall process: writing, reading, researching. If you follow that process, sooner or later you’ll get results.
Write “writing, reading, research” on your sticky note. All three (or however many elements there are with your model) are important. Include all the elements in your writing process.
When you don’t feel like writing, write anyway
It’s easy to become distracted — I’ve discovered that. If you find that you’re distracted, and you don’t feel like writing, sit down in your writing space, and write anyway. Within ten minutes, your mood will pass. On some days, it won’t pass. You’ll be very distracted — the same applies. Write anyway.
Over time, your writing space will have a Pavlovian effect on you. You’ll start writing as soon as you sit down and open your computer.
Your next step
Grab your sticky note, and choose a model. Then… write..
Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. But the secret to successfully getting a short story published is to add something special to your storytelling mix…something that captures the attention of editors and readers alike. While there are no hard and fast rules for creating a great short story, here are a few industry secrets that will help your writing stand out:
Identify The Heart Of Your Story. Explore your motivations, determine what you want your story to do, then stick to your core message. Considering that the most marketable short stories tend to be 3,500 words or less, you’ll need to make every sentence count. If you over-stuff your plot by including too many distractions, your story will feel overloaded and underdeveloped.
See Things Differently. Experiment with your short story’s POV. A unique, unexpected voice can provide the most compelling, focused experience of the central story. Just be careful that you don’t inadvertently give the story to a nonessential character. Narrating the story line through a character who’s not central to the action is a common mistake many new authors make, often with confusing or convoluted results.
Opposites Attract. Elements that work against your character’s central desire will keep the reader intrigued and prevent your story from getting stuck. You can also try approaching your core idea from an unusual direction. Dialogue, setting, and characterization are all areas that will benefit from an unexpected twist.
Craft A Strong Title. This can be one of the most difficult—but one of the most important—parts of writing your story. How do you find inspiration for a great title? Have friends read your story and note which words or phrases strike them or stand out. These excerpts from your text just might hold the perfect title. Try to stay away from one- or two-word titles, which can seem to editors as taking the easy way out.
Shorter Is Sweeter. Resist the urge to go on and on. With a shorter short story, you will have more markets available to you and thus a better chance of getting published. Here at Writer’s Relief, our submission strategists and clients have noticed that editors consistently prefer short stories that are under 3,500 words over longer ones.
Use these simple tips to polish your prose and assess any potential short story shortcomings. With these insider guidelines, you can increase the odds of your short story being selected for the pages of a literary journal. That’s the best ending any author could devise—or even better, a great beginning to your future success!
Like a mythical silver shadow,
she looks on, she is beautiful.
Her long straight hair, her infectious smile,
her cute lips, morning dew breath and stream lined figure.
My youth has not always been kind to me.
I run, I jump and skip, but I am me,
I feel alone, afraid and in need.
If only life was just, my existence would not have been plagued with so much pain, with so much hurt.
The fiery skies of shadows and torment, with parch earth, opens its mouth and releases confusion.