I can sum up what good writers do in three words, writers stay involved. This idea encompasses the main difference between being a good writer and one who struggles to write. Good writers write while struggling ones procrastinate about writing.
When it comes down to it, writing is a discipline you have to work at every day. With that said, there are so many ways to exercise this good habit.
If you simply make it a goal to stay involved, then that impending white space of doom will quickly turn into a fertile playground of creativity. And while there are probably countless ways to stay involved, I’ll highlight some of the main techniques that I use.
- Don’t think of your manuscript as a linear piece of work; rather, give yourself the freedom to pick and choose what part of your story you want to focus on. Who says you have to start at the beginning, if you’re stuck, jump to another spot. By putting the stuff you’re struggling with on the back burner, you allow your brain to work through problems that may be contributing to your writer’s block and all without you knowing it.
- Sometimes if I know what the problem is, I’ll write myself a note and demand my brain to figure it out. It sounds ridiculous, but I have yet to come across a situation that my subconscious can’t solve.
- If a particular chapter or a certain part of a chapter is giving you fits, cut and paste it to another word document. You might find this gives you total liberty to make drastic changes and try things you wouldn’t necessarily do if the chapter were still attached to your manuscript. Afterwards, if you’re not satisfied with the changes that you’ve made then you don’t have to implement them. But seldom do I ever find this to be the case. Somehow, working on a totally different white space does wonders and if at the end, I’m not swapping the chapter out, I’m using ideas I may have not thought of if I hadn’t done this exercise in the first place.
- Work on multiple projects. If you’re struggling with one piece, simply shift over to the other canvas. Even a small project will allow your writing mind to stay sharp. And the added benefit of this is that oftentimes this will (once again) allow your subconscious brain to work through “problems”.
- Research is another avenue I love that allows me to stay involved and while technically it’s not writing, it keeps me grounded to my work and often leads to other ideas, which leads me back to my office. If you like research as much as you like writing, then this may help you out as well.
- I also wouldn’t discount finding a place where you can write in peace. For good habits you need a good environment where you can create. This should be your temple. It’s sacred and the people around you need to understand this.
- And finally, have your work critiqued. Critiques point out major or minor flaws you tend to gloss over and they allow you to build that thick skin you need for rejections. Furthermore there’s nothing wrong with a healthy dosing of humble pie; I just had mine this weekend :).
How about you? What do you do to stay involved as a writer?