Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ten Things About Writing by Jana Kelley

“Put your fingers on the keyboard and your feet flat on the floor!”

Mrs. Cohen, my high school typing teacher, made herself famous with this phrase. And sometimes, that’s precisely how you get started.

You’ve got an idea: you’ve talked about it with others, you’ve read about it, dreamed about it, and envisioned your yet-unwritten-novel selling like hotcakes. At some point (how about today?), put your fingers on the keyboard and do it. That’s what I did four years ago, when I sat down to write my first novel. Did those initial pages make it into the published version? Thank goodness, no. But I would not be holding my published novel in my hands now if I hadn’t put my fingers on the keyboard and started.

That’s the first lesson I’ve learned: Just start already!

Here are nine more things I’ve learned about writing since that day that I took my typing teacher’s advice:

1. Set a goal. It can be a daily word count, or an amount of time you plan to set aside. If you don’t set a goal, you won’t get anything done.

2. Write before checking email and social media, which are rabbit holes. If you don’t, you’ll emerge hours later, dazed and wondering what happened to your morning. Write first, then you can go down all the rabbit holes you want.

3. Keep a notebook (or several). I have a small notebook in my purse for jotting down ideas that come to me when I am away from the computer. I keep a larger one for each writing project. Those hold notes from phone calls with my editor, diagrams, sketches, and lists of things I need to research or correct.

4. If you enjoy writing you won’t run out of ideas, you’ll just start seeing more things around you as potential subjects to write about. Annie Dillard says, “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”

5. Take time off. You write better after a break.

6. Let others read your work and offer their thoughts. Swallow your pride and listen to feedback. I like to have a professional editor but also beta-readers (regular folks who are willing to read my stuff and give me feedback).

7. Join groups (online or in person), competitions, clubs, or take a writing class. Be a learner.

8. Free-write. Choose a topic and then set a timer for ten minutes. Type about the topic until the timer beeps. No editing, rewriting, or stopping to think. Just type. You’ll be amazed what comes out of your head and lands on the computer screen when you give your mind and hands freedom. Try it! Free-writing is my favorite thing to do.

9. Back up your work. Back up in several places. It stinks to lose your work. Trust me.

What have you learned from your writing journey?


~~~~~~


Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they lived in a remote African town. After 13 years in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live. Jana is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a blogger, and a contributor to Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore (Books 1 &2). She is the author of two devotional books and three novels. Jana loves to connect with her readers. You can learn more about her at janakelley.com.

6 comments:

  1. Great advice, Jana! I love the whole list, but I'm glad to know there is someone else who carries a notebook. The fact I still use notebook and pencil over my Note5 drives my son bonkers. I can't explain it but something magical happens when my pencil touches paper. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gail! Yes I still love the "pen and paper" feel. I still journal with the same, even though I know typing would be faster. Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  2. One thing I have learned on my writing journey is that there is always more to learn. :-) I appreciate the wise words and encouragement from other writers. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melissa! Boy isn't that the truth?! Every time I hear from another writer or read an article about writing, I learn something new or get an idea that I haven't tried yet. Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  3. I like the free-writing idea, but I never seem to get to it. And I adore notebooks, I keep them all over!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sandra! Thank you for the honor of appearing on this blog. I have a hard time getting to the free write sometimes too, but I try to remind myself "it's only ten minutes!" I'm always glad I did it.

      Delete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!