SEO copywriter and novelist
Learn how you can get in touch with your inner writer and overcome obstacles to producing your work.
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Entering the world of writing can be a bit daunting. I’ve met dozens of people who say, “I wish I could write a novel.” ”I’ve always wanted to write.” ”I could never write a book.”
My answer — you can, why don’t you and you should!
If you’re one of those folks who fancy themselves a writer but are put off by the writing barrier, here are 6 tips to get you moving on the path you were most likely born to tread:
Everyone Has A Story — Find Yours — My USC Masters thesis advisor S.I. Stebel is a genius at helping people find stories, clarify plots, understand characters and get organized. His book, Double Your Creative Power, is a really helpful handbook on getting your creative process started. In short he suggests keeping a journal by your bed and writing in it every morning for a few minutes before you get up.
Put everything that comes to mind on the pages but don’t read (or edit) those words for a week. After 7 days, you can browse your notes and look for words, phrases or concepts that leap out at you. Your subconscious will love this tool for bringing a host of ideas and solutions to the front of your mind.
Give Yourself Some Encouragement — When I was struggling to stay motivated during the writing of my novel, The Ghosted Bridge, I would often go into a library or bookstore to re-energize my passion and belief in myself. Whether visiting an independent bookstore such as Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis or your local library branch, take a moment to appreciate all those writers that came before you.
I’m pretty sure that 99% of them had doubts along the way, just like you and I. But they prevailed and so can you.
Take A Class – So you say you don’t know what a dramatic arc is and have no idea how to outline a plot? A writing class may be your perfect answer. For writers here in the Twin Cities, we’ve got an invaluable resource in The Loft Literary Center. Here you can find any number of classes for beginning to advanced writers.
If you’re not lucky enough to have access to The Loft, check your local college or university extension catalogs. You’re bound to find a class that will take your writing to the next level.
Invite A Writer To Your Book Club — Have you ever wondered how your favorite writer came up with the theme, characters or plot for their book? Interested in exploring how writing can fall into a daily routine? You can learn these details and more when you invite the author of your next selection to your book club meeting.
Understanding the background behind stories can get your own creative juices flowing, as well.
Form A Writer’s Group — My bet is you’ve got one or two pals who have also tossed around the writing idea. Get together for regular sessions where you encourage, share and give feedback. Remember, finding like-minded people can give you the shot of courage to start your writing career. It can also help you stay accountable to your goal.
Follow Your Favorite Writer — Chances are your favorite writer has a Facebook page, Twitter account or regular blog. If you want to get in the mind of a writer, spend some time following them. You’ll get a sense of what inspires them and if you want to write in the same genre, you’ll probably glean valuable information on what made them successful.
You’ll even have chances to comment, ask questions and tell them how much you like their writing — and that is something every writer, from James Patterson to JK Rowling to that budding local author you know really appreciates.
So carve out some time for yourself, create a playlist of your favorite tunes and give yourself the opportunity to create. You’ll likely discover that you do have a life’s theme you want to share, you have a story that needs to be told and you’ve really got the gumption to put it all together.
Learn how to create a new mindset and develop action steps for writing regularly.
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Don’t tell anyone but I’m playing hooky right now.
I should be creatively crafting social media messaging for a client but my untended blog has been tapping at my shoulder and so I’ve given in to writing a post I should have done a week (or so) ago.
I know I’m not alone when it comes to carving out time and discipline for my writing. Although my personal writing isn’t far from my profession of freelance writer in terms of skill, it is really different in the sense that my intimate words communicate my chosen story, through my voice.
Well that should motivate me to spend time writing every day, right? Well….
When I find myself veering off path of my established goals I need to go back to the basics of finding the time – and will – to write. Here are a few tips that have worked for me and might help you, too:
1. Put it on your calendar. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I make a commitment to be in one of my favorite places, my friend Mary Beth Hammerlund’s dance aerobics class. Look, I don’t profess to be any type of dancer but the energy, enthusiasm and camaraderie in MB’s class lifts me and feeds my spirit.
Just like writing does.
So it makes sense that I set aside those precious mornings for dancing and that I do the same for writing. You can, too. What works best? Morning? Quiet afternoons? Before bed? Choose the time when you are most connected to the inner voice who wants to be heard and then schedule a regular time to listen.
2. Create the perfect space. Maybe it’s your kitchen table or your study. For me coffee shops and libraries are great spaces to focus only on the writing. Getting out of the house is key for me because I tend to do any chore in the world (including polishing the silver) to avoid struggling through creatively-sapped moments.
To that end, I joined a collaborative workspace called The Commons, in Excelsior, Minnesota. It’s literally just steps away from my door but its far enough away from real life that I can relax and tune in to the characters in my head. Check your community for a workspace that might work for you.
3. Use music to call forth your inner writer. This is a big one for me. Just like having a playlist for working out, I have a collection of songs that soothe me and ignite my deep down desire to tell stories. Right now I’m listening to “Daylight” by Coldplay.
I’ve heard about studies done on workers’ production when listening to various forms of music. Researchers found that the rhythm and musical key had a slight effect on productivity. Whatever the reason, we’ve found that music does have an influence on setting a mood – just think of all those soundtrack scores that help us see the stories in our favorite movies!
4. Read writers that inspire you. My new favorite book is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This novel made such an impact that as soon as I was done I wanted to start reading it again. While you might not find many books that motivate you similarly, I bet there are some stories or writers who use language in a way that resonates with you that can be powerful writing boosters to the voice inside you. At the very least, you should always be reading something – to keep your imagination healthy.
If you have that desire to share your unique experiences or your take on the world through writing, then listen to the urging inside of you and give that person a voice.
You might become the ultra-disciplined writer who sets aside an hour a day. You might end up only writing a few hours a month. Whatever your schedule I urge you to follow the nudge to write. You won’t regret it!
Do you have a proven successful strategy for committing to writing in your life? Give us your suggestions here and we’ll share them.