Sometimes every little bit is needed to help spark the writing juices, from spicing up the routine to creating healthy additions. Here are seven tips to do just that and even improve your writing routine — some of these you might already do, but with luck a few of these might be of use to you. They are in no particular order.
Tip One: Carry A Notepad/Notebook
Now this is something that every writer should do, and most probably already do. I know I have tons of notebooks littered across my house and in several different bags. I use mine for quickly jotting down ideas, sketching concept art, outlining, or even writing out short scenes.
Put notepads in areas where you need them: on your night table, in your purse/briefcase/backpack/messenger bag, on your desk, or even by your porcelain throne. No matter where you place it, or whether it’s a lined notepad or a sketchpad, use your multiple notepads to jot down ideas on the fly or write short scenes as they come to you.
Not high-tech enough for you? Use a tape recorder or an app on your smartphone to record your thoughts: It’s the new notepad.
Tip Two: Skip The Unhealthy Drinks
Before I start, I feel like I have to warn you, I’m a major lover of tea — if you hadn’t already gathered from the blog. I drink it everyday unsweetened, and for a while, I was only drinking tea, water, and lemonade — I’ve since fallen off that wagon … unfortunately.
Speaking as a fellow writer, who is constantly sitting while at work and at home, it is important to seek out healthier options than the normal can of pop or coffee/coffee drink that is laden with sugar, high corn fructose syrup, and other fattening additives. Tea, as long as you don’t doctor it up too much and get organic or loose leaf options, is extremely healthy; it can really clear up your mind and some types of tea actually have more caffeine than coffee. Of course, there are other healthy options out there; I’m just partial to tea! Do you have another favorite writing drink? Share it in the comment section!
Tip Three: Come Up With A Routine
Writers need to set times aside to write. Yes, life gets hectic, but writers need to write no matter if it is for an hour or 15 minutes. Look at your calendar and note what days of the week you usually have free time and cordon them off. Have a set space for yourself to write in during that time, and keep it neat: You don’t want to procrastinate clean. If you are family person, this routine is something that you will have to share and discuss with your family. Remember you don’t want to completely cut yourself of from them. Discuss what days and times you need to write so there is no confusion, maybe even place a cute sign, like above, to remind family members that today is the designated writing day and you are only to be disturbed if there is an emergency.
Tip Four: Have A Getaway Spot
Sometimes a change of scenery can make a world of a difference when it comes to improving creativity and just getting a ton of writing done. One of my favorite getaway locations is The Electric Brew, located downtown in Goshen, Ind. I haven’t been in for quite sometime, but when I was working on my short story and wrapping up my book, I would go on a weekly basis to get work done. At home there is so many distractions and chores to be done — not so at The Brew. However, I have to admit people who frequent the coffee shop can be annoying and distracting, though I’ve been fortunate to not have that happen too often, especially at its new location.
So what is your getaway destination? Find a nice quiet location near your home like a locally owned coffee shop or tea shop and visit it weekly, bi-weekly, or on a monthly basis. I bet you will see an increase in productivity, especially if you go with the mindset that you are there to work.
Tip Five: Create A Playlist For Your Book
I always have to have music playing when I write. Sometimes the music is just instrumental, other times it actually has lyrics. While writing Heritage Lost, I found Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen‘s instrumental soundtrack to be very helpful. I’ve never seen the films, but there was something about the songs that really helped me get into the scenes as I wrote them, particularly The Fallen,which I played when Katya, my main protagonist, climbs through a dead ship. For other books, I’ve found Nightwish, Blackmore’s Night, the King Arthur soundtrack, etc. helpful. And let me tell you sometimes your music choices won’t make any sense. For example, Alison Krauss’ Child of Mine helped me write a battle scene where one of my characters was getting his ass handed to him. I don’t know why but it just worked.
So no matter if it’s an epic soundtrack or Lady Gaga, find the music of your book that will push you to write from start to finish, and be prepared to change that soundtrack as your book progresses.
Tip Six: Take Breaks When Stuck
Hit a rough spot in your writing? Stand up out of your seat and do jumping jacks, sit ups or jog in place — you can always do all of three or your own favorite exercise routines, too. Exercise boosts your mood and energy levels, and in general improves your health — let’s face it, writers aren’t always the healthiest bunch since our profession entails sitting and more sitting. Once you’ve determined the routine you want to do, complete it in 15 to 20 minutes and then try to get back to writing.
Tip Seven: Don’t Forget To Live Your Life
This is perhaps the most important thing a writer can do: Don’t forget to live your life. If an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or even a mundane one, such as hanging with a friend or family member, presents itself, take it. Your book will always be there waiting, friends and family won’t be — you have no idea how long you will have them or they will have you, so embrace them and don’t look back.
11 thoughts on “Seven things every writer needs to do”
Some great advice here. I usually only drink water anyway but I definitely need to create a writing schedule.
Water is definitely a good choice; something that we all need to drink plenty of. Good luck on the writing schedule! It’s one of the hardest things to do; I’m currently fighting with one to find out what works and what doesn’t.
I recently created a schedule for all the other stuff I need to do which allows me plenty of spare time to write. We’ll see how that goes.
I love number seven most of all. Earlier this year I got really burned out with writing and just couldn’t. So I went out and LIVED. Every spare minute when I wasn’t at work I did something new: white water rafting, kayaking, hiking, spending time with the family, mini golf, hosted a murder mystery, etc. I filled my summer with experiences and when I got back to writing the words just flowed. Because you can’t breathe life into writing if you have no life.
Wow that sounds like a lot of fun! I meant to give kayaking a try this summer, but could never get anyone to go with me. But I’ve had a pretty fun summer, minus that; albeit not as fun as yours :-). Sometimes writers just need a break!
Great advice. I can check off #1. I’m a notebook hoarder. That last one is the hardest, but I’m starting to make time for others again and branch out from writing. It does help your writing when you live a little.
One can never have enough notebooks, lol, says the hoarder to the hoarder. I think number seven can often be the hardest; my issue is I never have anyone to do anything with so I end up missing out on life opportunities like when I wanted to see “Wicked” last year at the Civic: No one to go with … plus it should out like hotcakes.
Which civic center? If that ever happens again, call us
The one in South Bend. Will let you know, though I think Wicked being there was one of those one-time-only type of deals.
Awesome advice. I love number one especially. 🙂 Been doing that for years, and it really pays off. Number three is the one I struggle the most with. It’s so chaotic around here at times that I forget to take time just for me to spend on my writing. That’s definitely going to be a resolution of mine again this year. Perhaps a getaway spot as you suggested would help.
It’s a great goal for 2015 — gotta make time for the things you love to do!