|AUTHOR/EDITOR SANDRA D. BRICKER|
This is true of writing a novel as well.
How many New Year’s Eves have you resolved to get serious about writing in the new year? Promised yourself 80k+ solid words of genius by next December’s end? How many consecutive January 2nds have you greeted by plopping down in front of your computer with all your good intentions to fuel you forward … only to end up wasting several hours on Pinterest and Facebook?
Whether you’re trying to write full-time or – like me when I started out – you’re trying to balance some degree of creativity with a demanding day job, writing time is a precious commodity, and using it well is imperative. Here’s what I (finally) learned after too many good-intentioned New Year’s promises to myself: There’s only one hyper-focused resolution that will truly make a dent in the desired Big Picture outcome.
I resolve to overcome the blockages.
One important fact to wrap your brain around – despite the fact that you might not want to – is that writer’s block is often self-imposed.
I know. We don’t want to admit this, but writers very often talk themselves into believing they simply can’t find The Zone. And sharing this burden with others adds credence to the challenges of the creative life. “Woe is me. No matter how hard I try, the words just won’t come!”
But … Yes. THEY WILL.
If you believe Scripture the way I do, there’s an important key in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” So your first line of defense is already within you. Stop telling yourself (and others) that the words won’t come.
Speak and think LIFE to your writing goals instead of death.
Need more to get you started? Here’s a few additional tips. At first blush, you won’t like them. But it’s a new year with a whole new start. How about giving them a try, just for kicks?
Eliminate distractions. Don’t even open the browser that bridges the gap between your writing space and the internet. Think of yourself like an alcoholic avoiding the open door of the corner bar at all costs. When you sit down to write, open a Word document. Period. Don’t even access the online Thesaurus … Google, for the purposes of “research,” of course … Facebook, for a quick break from the very hard task before you … Gmail to check and see if that elusive publisher has finally come to their senses and offered a contract – on the book you haven’t yet written. All of those things can be done later. After you’ve spent sixty (or ninety!) uninterrupted minutes putting words on the page.
Edit later. Don’t worry about the perfection of each word, the effective turn of phrase, the sheer beauty of the language landscape you’re designing that will surely earn you accolades in the publishing community. Come to terms, instead, with Hemingway’s realization that “the first draft of anything is $#!+” and reminding yourself that no one ever has to see your initial draft except you. Just get the words on the page. In the same way an artist can’t rework a blank canvas before him or a musician can’t perfect the melody of what she hasn’t composed, we writers can’t raise the bar on what we haven’t actually written.
Choose your distractions. Now that you’ve sweated blood over that keyboard and completed a few pages or a chapter, it’s only human to require a change of pace, right? A reward for all the hard brainwork! Warning: Do NOT use that afterglow time to cruise the internet; that’s what early mornings and late nights are for. Instead, go for a walk; take a bath; listen to some favorite music; have lunch with a girlfriend. Do something that whisks you safely away from the computer and social media because – the secret they never tell you up front – that’s the sweet spot where your creativity will truly recharge.
[Note: This is not the time to retreat to your reading nook with something from your to-be-read pile. The danger there is the temptation for comparison. Save your TBR pile for in-between treats rewarding finished projects!]
So there you have it. As you begin your bright, shiny new year, try not to bog yourself down in pretty resolutions dressed in the bling of generalizations you have no real chance at mastering. After all, I resolve to finish my novel this year gives you a Grand Canyon of 52 weeks in which to procrastinate, delay, and craft surprisingly realistic excuses. However, I resolve to take daily steps toward finishing my novel this year fences you into actually sitting in the chair, firing up a Word document, and focusing on the actual telling of the story you’re compelled to tell.
Good luck! Here’s a sip of virtual champagne (non-alcoholic, of course) lifted high in a toast to the baby steps and to each chapter you complete through the tenacity and deliberate focus it takes to be called Writer.
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SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rear view mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of Live-Out-Loud fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and she was also recently named ACFW’s Editor of the Year for her work as managing editor of Bling!, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. As an ovarian cancer survivor, Sandie also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.
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