Welcome to January - I Write, Therefore I Am
Jan 10, 2022 6:58 am
I write, therefore…I am?
Few people understand the importance of a ROUTINE when making a pittance...er, I meant a living...as a writer. Where do you work? How do you work? When do you work? These are all questions a selling writer fields with every interview.
Here is the usual answer: I work wherever I am, as diligently as possible, as often as possible. This is my job and I must treat it as such or I will end up eating nachos while watching The Great British Baking Show.
Honestly, this is the real answer: Whenever I can’t think of something else to do, including watching Star Trek Discovery., I sit and plot a new story. I begin with What if…then allow my mind to run rampant.
- What if, her bestie doesn’t show up for the wedding and hubby to be is going to lose everything… she goes in her places. (Maple Sundaes and Cider Donuts)
- What if a seasoned hitman gets waylaid by a cute ten-year-old who wraps him around her finger? (Blind Copy)
This is how I start. Next, I set a writing time, with definitive office hours. Therefore, in order to write, I must create a routine–so unforgiving that I have no choice but to write. Sucks, but it’s true. No one (except maybe people whom I despise) actually LOVE writing. I love thinking about writing. I love having written. But the act of putting words to paper is an exercise in creative brain manipulation.
Each night, before bed time, I go over the previous chapter, thinking hard on what should happen next. I leave my desk neat, and my notebook open at where I left off. When I return in the morning, I ready to go, to write, to create magical worlds where people fall in love.
Therefore, I must create an environment where a creative brain manipulation is BETTER than the alternatives. In this way, writing is much like exercise. I mean I like the results, but do I really want to lift weights or run on a treadmill? No, I need my brain to do the work for me. Creative brain manipulation comes to work, gets my creative juices all sweaty and worked up and we start to build up the lactic acid of romantic witty repartee. Here is the point where it gets interesting: I go grocery shopping in character.
I know right!
I can learn a great deal about my character in the market. Does she shop on the top shelf, eye level, or does she go for the items in the bottom shelf with store brands? Armed with this information, I got back to my desk and prepare to write for three weeks straight.
It takes three weeks to establish a habit. Therefore, the initial creation of aforementioned RUT begins with SET A DAILY TIME to create the groove. Write at the same time every day for three weeks. Could be for twenty minutes, could be for ten hours–whatever works for you.
Step two is to CREATE A DAILY GOAL. I choose a page count goal. I don’t get to nap or get a pedicure until I’ve written seven pages. One book it took me four months to have enough time for that spa visit. By the way, I recommend starting with a small daily goal then adding up. That’s much better than the way I did it of counting how many pages I need to write daily to make my contract. Panic also works wonders as an incentive, but I digress.
Many people set a timer for their daily goal–30 minutes, and 45 minutes is my sweet spot. I set the timer for 45 minutes and set to work. The timer doesn’t make it write pages but it does make me focus to get the words on the page. It doesn’t actually encourage written pages because there’s lovely distractions like e-mail and internet blogs. And that leads to the next step.
Step 3 – REMOVE DISTRACTIONS. I write in certain cafes specifically because they don’t have internet. I know people who have taken all games off their computer. Gasp! The alternative to this is to CREATE INCENTIVES. Bribery is alive and well in my creative brain manipulation world. Finish two pages and then do a load of clothes. I write some more and the next timer comes in the way of the washer. It beeps to let me know the clothes are ready for the dryer.
Then finally–CREATE A TRIGGER. You know that fabulous moment when the words flow and everything is right with your creative world? Well, me neither, but I swear we can prepare for those moments by creating a unique trigger to reinforce a writing zone. Scent is a powerful tool. During your three weeks, burn a Scorpion candle.
Pretty soon, peach scented candle wax will leap me into the creative zone. Not a candle fan or afraid you’ll accidentally set a contract on fire? Coffee works fabulous for me. Smell coffee, engage brain. Taste a soy latte–yes, I really do drink those–it’s time for serious writing!
The ugly fact is that a writer’s life must be filled with self-discipline. If you’re short on that, then either give up on having a paying career as a writer or find a way to mire yourself deep in the writing rut. And who knows, sniff some caffeine and you might just end up on the best seller’s list.
In the meantime, and in between time, I created my own fun little workbook where I can be my own creative juice extractor.
You Should be Writing
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The Guy in the Coffee Shop
Edition 1- January 2021
Feet which felt like leaden shoes, dragged Lola into the coffee shop on Jones Street. She toddled her way to the cash register, hoping the coffee master behind the counter wasn't too cheerful or too chipper, because no one wanted to deal with that nonsense before thier first cup of morning attitude adjustment. Half awake, partially drowsy, and unfit to be in public, Lola grumbled out her order, and waited with the other, barely lifelike automatons, for her morning jolt of "how you doing?" to get called out.
"Vente, caramel, double shot macchiato for Lola," the barista yelled out.
Arms extended like a infant taking her first steps toward daddy, she reached for her morning cup of howdy, which made a really good doody. The heady scent filled her nose as she lifted the cup to her lips. The foam, drizzled with bits of gooey caramel laid perfectly across the foam as she slurped, rolling the hot liquid in her mouth, trying not to burn her tongue. Her eyes physically rolled up into her head as she inhaled, pleased with herself for making it this far in her morning without growling at anyone.
"I know I make a good coffee, but you're about to make a man's head swell," a deep baritone voice said to her.
Lola looked up to see who dared speak to her before she'd finished at least half of her daily dose of happiness. She was ready to pounce. She was going to eat him alive and then smack him across the nose with a rolled up newspaper for trespassing in her coffee thoughts. However when she looked up and saw the man attached the voice, her morning, and eventually her life would be forever changed.
More to come next month. This is a serial for my newsletter only.