Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to School for Writers

There’s something about the fall, and the back-to-school mindset, that motives people to dive back into work – even people long out of school who no longer have schoolchildren themselves. With National Novel Writing Month coming up in November, these next few weeks are a great time for writers to try something new in order to look at their current projects with new eyes. Here are a few quick suggestions to get those juices flowing:

Read something outside your genre. Most writers have one or two favorite genres that they read and write in. And then there are a few genres we don’t go near. Are you a women’s fiction fan? Try heavy-duty sci-fi. Do you love fantasy? Read something from the non-fiction shelf. You may find a new genre to love, or confirm that it’s not for you… but it’ll take you out of your comfort zone.

Up your daily word count. If you find yourself easily breezing through the 1000 words you’ve committed to writing each day, it’s time to up it to 1500. In that respect, writing is like weight-lifting – if it’s too easy, increase the load. If you don’t have a daily word count …. For pete’s sake, set yourself a daily word goal!

Break out of your routine. Do you usually write first thing in the morning? See what you can come up with writing before bed. Afternoon scribbler? Try to write with your morning cup of coffee. If you have a day job and ordinarily write after work, can you write during your lunch break instead? Different times of day put writers in different moods, and might help you have a breakthrough.

Get rid of your “pants.” Pantsers, force yourself to make an outline. See what happens. Can you follow it? Planners, what happens if you just sit down and write? The best writing is a combination of both. Structure is important, but you don’t want to be so structured that you can’t let the magic happen.

Re-read your favorite book. Can you remember the book that made you want to be a writer? Do you know which books are the very best in your genre? Read them again… not just for pleasure, but for knowledge. Pick apart the way the writer sets a scene. Look at description and dialogue. Watch for pacing. Subconsciously, you may have absorbed a few of these lessons anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to do it deliberately.

Finally, treat yourself. Get out to Office Depot or Target and revel in the smell of their new school supplies. Buy yourself some new notebooks, pens, post-it notes, a white board. Next to a book store or library, there’s no happier place for a writer than an office supply store!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these tips! I'm currently in the revision process and have felt stuck. I'm usually very stringent with my routine, so getting outside of my comfort zone would be a great way to shake things up. Thanks again!