Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Five Rules for Productive and Happy Writers

1. Don't fight. 
This is pretty basic, but it’s important to remember. If you’re like me, the perfect retort to a rude comment isn’t always at my tongue’s tip at the encounter. If you’re fuming and rummaging through your head trying to formulate the perfect stinging comeback, you won’t be in tune with your story It’s impossible, for me at least, to feel in sync with my characters if I’m too busy mentally constructing closing arguments. I’m not advocating being a pansy, I’m just saying learn to be a peacemaker. It’ll help you be not only a better writer but also a nicer person.

2. Have a leisurely morning routine. Sleep experts suggest that no one should make important decisions until they've been awake for 90 minutes. By allowing yourself time to exercise, shower and dress, and have a satisfying breakfast, you not only refuel and recharge for the day, you may also prevent yourself from writing your characters up a tree.

3. Take care of your body and listen to it as intently as you would a lover. Eat healthy food. Exercise. Bathe. Get proper rest. If you're writing for hours on end, make sure you periodically get up, move around, and drink water. You can read more about that here:  How to clear brain fuzz.

4. Don't let anyone or anything knock your blocks down. What do I mean by that? Organize your day into blocks of time and dedicate yourself to the hours you've committed to your writing. Be passionate and fiercely protective. Because writers typically work from home in their pajamas, it's easy for others to feel that you are there to be interrupted. But remember, you (and your writing) will only get the respect you expect.

5. Listen to your gut instinct. When I’m writing and I come to a plot point—occasionally I stop and ask myself how does this make me feel? If my plot twist sits well, I carry on. But sometimes it just doesn’t “feel” right. I can’t explain it any better than that. There is a literal physical ‘tingling’ when I recognize a good idea and, conversely, there is a physical ‘argh’ when I know something is just ….whatever it is….cliche…predictable…stereotypical…stupid.

There are many names for that feeling—gut reaction, muse, inner critic, spirit—but whatever name you choose to give to your inner voice, I really believe that its quiet tutoring is the difference between an argh and a tingle. The trick is to recognize, listen, and then try to capture it on paper (or the computer screen.)

And learning to listen your gut is a trick that will not only serve you well in your writing career, but in your life in general. (You can read more about that here and here.)

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