Category Archives: Productivity

Don’t Quit Your Day Job: How to Balance Work and Writing

Man Walking a Tightrope in Front of the Sun

If you have a full-time job, chances are that you’re so worn out at the end of the day that you don’t feel much like working on your novel. You don’t have enough time or energy. You’ll never do it. You know what? That’s crazy. You can do it. Here’s how.

Try the Nifty 350

I just read an amazing post by author Chuck Wendig that recommends writing at least 350 words every day. That’s it. 350. How easy it that? No matter how busy or tired you are, I’m sure you can manage to write 350 words. Keep that momentum and you’ll have drafted a novel within a year. The best part? That’s with weekends off!

Utilize Pauses

Men Taking a Break from Work to Sit Outside and Smoke

If you feel pressed for time, look for pockets of rest scattered throughout the day. Waiting rooms, lines, bathrooms, and children’s dance recitals (joking) are excellent places to work on your story. Make sure you have a notebook or smartphone with you to capture thoughts on the go.

Stop Making Excuses

When it comes down to it, if you really want to write a novel, you’ll make it a priority. You’ll move heaven and earth to get those ideas down on paper. Trust me on this one.

Alter Your Routine

Sunrise Over the Ocean Waves and Beach

Can you wake up earlier or stay up later? You might have to change your schedule if you’re serious about writing. Figure out what time works best for you and set and alarm or have a cup of coffee. You can do it.

Stay Motivated

Whether it’s by tracking your progress or rewarding your work, find a way to keep your spirits up so you’ll keep writing. You’re less likely to lose interest if you’re properly motivated.

Writing a novel while holding down a job isn’t easy, but it can be done. If you have drive, passion, and flexibility, you can make it happen. Got more tips for balancing work and writing? Have an idea for a post? Leave a comment below.

Social Media

Discussion: Do You Keep a Writer’s Notebook?

One of the first essays about creative writing I ever read was “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion. It’s one of the most influential pieces I’ve read. In the essay, Didion discusses how keeping a little notebook with her at all times has affected her writing life and overall creativity.

Discussion: Do You Keep a Writer's Notebook? Maybe you should think about it.

Your notebook, as a writer, is a private place where you can record novel ideas, snippets of conversation to recreate in dialogue, and wayward thoughts with no discernible shape that could come in handy some day. In Didion’s words: “We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker” (3-4). The notebook is for your own personal benefit. You don’t have to show it to anyone else.

What do you think of keeping a writer’s notebook? Do you have one? What do you put in it? How do you think it has helped you as a writer?

The Key to Finishing First Drafts

When it comes to finishing a first draft, the best way to succeed is to just get it written. Focus on getting the words on the page. In the words of author Anne Lamott: “The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.” Seems simple, doesn’t it?

The Key to Finishing First Drafts

Many writers struggle to finish their first drafts because they’re focused on perfection. They believe other authors craft pristine first drafts that are shipped off for publication right away. Lamott continues, “I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts.”

Here’s the secret: your first draft is going to be terrible. You’re going to feel like garbage if you read through what you’re writing. If you try to edit as you go along, you’ll only get discouraged.

Write as fast as you can. Pour your thoughts out on the paper without thought for what it sounds like. You can go through it later and fix everything. That’s what revision is for, after all.

When it comes to finishing first drafts, don’t get it right; get it written.

How do you keep yourself from editing as you go along? What are your tips for finishing first drafts?

Why You Should Use Wattpad

Photo credit:Twitter

Photo credit: Twitter

I just started using Wattpad and I already love it. I could kick myself for not signing up sooner. Like every other trend, I was reluctant to hop on the bandwagon for this site right away. I put it off for ages.

Finally, I joined.

“What is Wattpad?” you might ask. That’s a question I can answer. Wattpad lets you post poems, novels, short stories, fan fiction, and so much more. It’s a great place to upload your work, interact with other writers, and get feedback and advice about your pieces.

Once you start posting chapters or sections of your novel, people will read, review, and vote for it. This interest will motivate you to keep writing. If you want to maintain your following on Wattpad, you should try to update at least once every 3-7 days.

The coolest thing about Wattpad is that so many authors there have gotten book deals via the site. You never know what could happen! 😉

Seriously, though, Wattpad can be the key to staying motivated when working on something long-term, like a novel. If it sounds interesting, you should totally sign up! And feel free to follow me! 🙂

What do you think of Wattpad? Any other websites like it that you want to recommend?

Tweet tweet:

“@Wattpad is a free online resource more writers should be using,” says @thecollegenov. (Click to tweet)

Have you heard of @Wattpad? Writer @thecollegenov wants to tell you all about it. (Click to tweet)

Lovely Links 06.30.14 – 07.06.14

Photo credit: Berit Watkin on Flickr

Photo credit: Berit Watkin on Flickr

Happy July, everyone!

June felt like just a flash in the pan. Where did the time go?

Here are this month’s links:

You may have noticed that I’m giving you five more links than usual. From now on, I think I’m going to do ten! Isn’t that exciting?

What do you think of these links? What other articles or resources should I be aware of?

Tweet tweet:

Check out these lovely writing links via @thecollegenov. (Click to tweet)

Writing Quick Tips: How to Write Something Every Day

Photo credit: Jonathan Reyes on Flickr

Photo credit: Jonathan Reyes on Flickr

My last Quick Tips post was a hit, so I thought I’d try another.

Today’s tip has to do with writing something every day. I know I’ve mentioned the importance of daily writing several times before, but I’ll mention it again. Your writing will absolutely not improve unless you’re working at it every day.

With that in mind, however, sometimes it’s difficult to fit writing into our busy schedules. No matter how we try to carve out time to write, the day slips out from under us. We fall into bed without having written a single sentence.

Here’s the key to making sure you write something every day: Don’t go to bed until you’ve met your goal. Do not get under the covers or let your head hit the pillow until you are finished.

Let sleep serve as motivation to get through your session. You may be sleep-deprived, but you will do the work.

What do you think of this tip? What others would you like to see?

Tweet tweet:

Writer @thecollegenov has a quick tip to help you write something every single day. (Click to tweet)

Don’t Get It Right; Get It Written

Don't Get It Right Get It Written

When it comes to writing a first draft, the key is to avoid obsessing over each and every line.

If you feel your perfectionist tendencies kicking in, you need to be on high alert. The urge to rewrite every sentence you put down is a normal once; nevertheless, it should be closely monitored. If you focus on making your first draft sound perfect, you’re going to get discouraged and might feel like giving up.

Here’s the best advice that I can give you for finishing first drafts: Don’t get it right; get it written.

What am I talking about?

When it come to writing a first draft, avoid editing as you write. The focus shouldn’t be on making everything sound perfect–not yet, anyway–but on getting it all down so that you can fix it later, once you’ve moved on to the second draft.

You’ll never finish what you start if you obsess over every little detail that you’re putting down on paper. You want to finish that first draft? You need to get it down as soon as possible. Don’t worry too much about how it sounds–you can always fix that later.

That’s what second drafts are for.

Dump everything from your brain onto the page without hesitation. I promise you’ll be much happier when you’re not self-editing every step of the way.

Don’t get it right; get it written.

What do you think about editing while you write? What do your first drafts typically look like?

P.S. Getting Back into the Habit of Writing, How to Write a Novel in a Month (the Easy Way!), and NaNoWriMo Tips.