In my quite limited experience, I have found these things to be a huge help to me in my quality and quantity of writing. I haven’t been writing for years and years but I think my newness has brought a level of desire to make sure that I am making my time count, so I do a lot of research and thinking about ways to help myself grow as a wordsmith.
1. Find the time
It is so important to find time to write. If you claim to be a writer you have to actually write stuff, yes? So how are we going to make time for that in our busy schedules? As a mom of two young boys I understand how difficult it is to find time, uninterrupted. “Me time” involves taking a trip to the bathroom alone. Thank God I have a really awesome husband who sees the importance of me getting breaks and watches the boys for me every week so I can get out of the house by myself.
But honestly, once a week is not enough. I have to carve time out of my daily schedule to write things. So I started getting up earlier. I hate to get up early, but a quiet house and a hot cup of coffee go a long way to tempt me into crawling out of bed. It doesn’t have to be ground breaking stuff, just a little time to get words on paper. The good stuff will eventually flow out. (At least, I like to think so.)
2. Set realistic goals
I made a goal to hit my word count every day. I read this amazing blog post a while back about famous authors and their word count goals. You can check that out here.
So I decided to set myself a word count goal every day (to be honest it doesn’t happen daily, but on the days I do write I usually exceed my goal). Mine is 500.
I journal and I’m quite wordy so it’s pretty easy for me to reach that goal daily. Usually I get to about 200 and then I feel like I’ve gotten all of the crap out of my system and I can actually write something good. Something worth other people reading. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Start a journal
I really believe it’s a great thing to write about yourself and your insecurities, especially before diving into something you care about. We all have that nagging voice saying we can’t do it.
I’ve been reading “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldman. Seriously guys, amazing. The chapters are really short and to the point. She gives great advice on how to get more confident in yourself as a writer.
In one of those awesome chapters she talks about having a journal. It always makes me really excited to see that I’m already doing things that famous authors recommend you do…like writing in a journal to give voice to my insecurities. Because once they have a voice, that voice gets old and then (most of the time) you feel like you can move on and write something worthwhile.
4. Create a space you love
I just recently did this and I’m finding it to be really helpful. Usually my desk is the place in the house where all of the bills, junk mail and other paraphernalia lives. I felt guilty displacing them, they looked so comfy. But I had to be brutal and take back the desk for myself, and I’ve been loving it!
I have a clipboard with inspiring quotes on it, and a few tools to help me write, colored index cards, pens, notebooks and my laptop. Otherwise it’s pretty clutter-free. Which I need, because clutter stresses me out. You wouldn’t know it to look at my house though. I am actually trying to work on that issue, but that is a topic for another day.
5. Read, a lot!
This one used to be so easy for me. I could dust a 600-page novel in a day or two when I was in high school and college. Now, I’m lucky if I can get through a whole page without being interrupted. We’re working on family reading time, but to 3 and 1 year olds that is a little more difficult than I pictured before having kids. It’s a work in progress and I’m sure one day they will love reading as much as I do (they had better, or else! Mwahahahaha!).
The more I read though, the more my mind starts working with new ideas. I notice flaws in my writing style and discover ways to fix them. I see ideas on how to write dialogue (which I need SO much help with!). I feel inspired to write amazing, well-rounded stories with deep characters.
Also, did you know that people who read regularly are actually better at spelling than people who don’t? Why is that? Because they see the words being spelled accurately and used in proper context on a regular basis, so their minds naturally begin to do the same when you write them out! Pretty cool, huh!
So there they are. The things that I believe contribute to becoming a better writer. I hope these help you as much as they have helped me. Are there any other things that you do regularly that have helped you as a writer? Please share in the comments below!