Tag Archives: write

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.

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How to Get Writing Done When You Can’t Shut the Door

In an ideal world we would all have spaces dedicated to writing. We’d have rooms or closets or storage spaces where would could close the door. We could physically separate ourselves from the world. Nothing would distract us from doing the work.

I’m writing this from the living room of my grandma’s house. It’s impossible to close myself off while I’m here. If I go into another room, someone follows and strikes up a conversation. Every single time. Without fail.

Sometimes it’s not possible to go somewhere and write, with a physical door between you and your surroundings. Like right now, for instance. I’m stuck in the living room. Luckily, I have a few tips to help you focus even when you can’t shut the door for some reason.

Use music as a form of “shutting the door.” If you can’t get somewhere private, turn on Pandora and plug in some headphones. Even if you’re not playing anything, most people will leave you alone if you’re wearing headphones. Turn the music up and you won’t hear anyone. It’ll be easier to get lost in your own little world.

Write when people are sleeping. I stayed up late last night to get some writing done. If you’re a morning person, try to rise before the sun. When the house is quiet, it’s easier to concentrate. The best part? No one else will be awake enough to bother you.

Communicate. Tell your friends and loved ones how much writing means to you. If they love you, they’ll understand when you tell them you need to set aside time for your work. You can even schedule time to hang out with them later so they know they’ll get to see you. Honesty and openness can get you a long way.

While all of these methods have worked for me before, I’ve found that nothing beats getting behind a closed door. Feel free to try some of these. If you don’t like them, move on. Find what works for you. What matters is that you write, not how you get the writing done.

What do you think?

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?

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?

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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?

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

Between vs. Among

Photo credit: Gwydion M. Williams on Flickr

Photo credit: Gwydion M. Williams on Flickr

I haven’t talked much about English grammar rules on this blog. It’s time for that to change,

As writers, good knowledge of grammar can only help you in your writing projects. I always assume that everyone has the same grasp of basic grammar rules as I do, but you know what they say about assuming things.

When I was in high school, a woman named Mrs. Landreth taught me everything I know about grammar. In fact, I still refer to the notebook I kept in her class. Not everyone has a Mrs. Landreth. I guess that’s where I come in.

One of the easiest grammar lessons I can teach you is the difference between (ha) the words between and among.

You should use the word between when referring to two subjects. For instance: Mr. Brown lives between Mr. Pink and Mrs. Gray.

In contrast, you should use the word among when three or more different subjects are concerned. For example: “Always shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Pretty simple, right?

What do you think of this little grammar lesson? What other grammar questions would you like to see answered?

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When should you use “between”? What about “among”? Writer @thecollegenov has the answer. (Click to tweet)

Writing Quick Tips: Remove Names from Dialogue

Photo credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr

Photo credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr

I see a lot of mistakes in writing when it comes to dialogue.

Since I’ve worked hard to improve the dialogue in my pieces, it’s easy for me to spot exchanges that don’t work in other people’s projects. For one reason or another, they just don’t gel. The writing doesn’t flow like actual conversation.

Luckily, there are several ways to keep dialogue from falling flat.

One of the quickest ways to improve your dialogue is to cut back on your usage of the characters’ names.

What do I mean?

Consider the following:

“Sarah,” Brad said, “don’t you think this is a good idea?”

“No, Brad,” Sarah said.

“Why not, Sarah?”

“Because, Brad, we’re both married. Besides, Brad, we’re first cousins. Think of the inbred children.”

While this example isn’t the best, it’s clear that the dialogue sounds terrible (inbred children aside). It’s unnatural. In real life, people don’t refer to each other by name if they’re addressing each other. When they do, it’s usually out of anger or because they’re speaking about something that is of the utmost importance.

Here’s the same exchange with most of the characters’ names cut out (the ones left in are left for emphasis):

“Sarah,” Brad said, “don’t you think this is a good idea?”

“No,” Sarah said.

“Why not?”

“Because, Brad, we’re both married. Besides, we’re first cousins. Think of the inbred children.”

If you’re looking for a quick way to improve your dialogue, cut out characters’ names in places where they don’t add value.

What do you think of this advice? Would you like to see more Writing Quick Tips?

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How to know when to use “between” or “among,” via @thecollegenov. (Click to tweet)