New Years Resolutions

Normally I’m not a huge fan of making New Years resolutions. I’m really terrible about working toward general, long term goals when I don’t have specific perimeters or guidelines in mind. However, I have two vague goals that I’ve had in mind for a while–reading more broadly and writing more regularly–and since I haven’t managed to pursue these goals like I want to, I decided to set specific goals within these general ones.

28ac88647e7b7abd3a1faa0284636e4cReading more broadly:

I have pleasantly surprised myself with the variety of books I’ve picked up over Christmas Break so far. I saw this book list on pinterest recently and I hope to use it to continue this trend of reading outside of my comfort zone.

Writing more Regularly:

Unfortunately, in the crush of college classwork and all of the writing that comes with it, I’ve started neglecting writing for fun. I have some novel length projects that I’m in the editing stage of, but it’s really hard to establish a writing routine that has priority over classwork when I feel overwhelmed every time I sit down to work on editing. I’ve decided to write 200 words of whatever pops into my head every day for the month of January, and adding 50 words to the daily word goal every month in the hopes to slowly, but surely, establish a strong writing routine.

What New Years Resolutions are you planning on? Have New Years Resolutions ever been effective for you? What do you think of the reading list? Are there other things you would add to the list? Comment below!

Establishing a Daily Writing Routine: AKA the thing all the “experts” say you have to do

If you’ve read anything on how to become a better writer, how to publish a book, how to become an author, etc. you’ve most likely come across some form of the advice: “YOU NEED TO WRITE EVERY DAY!!!” And, you do. Well, kind of. More accurately, in order to produce enough content to learn how to write better and write something worth publishing, there isn’t some tip or piece of advice where you can wave a magic wand and suddenly your writing will be incredible and everyone will love it and you’ll be published and get awards yada yada yada. In the end, it all boils down to hard work, aka actually sitting down and writing. You learn by doing. So in order to learn how to be a better writer, you have to write. A lot. All the time. When you don’t feel like it. When you’re busy. When you’re bored and tired of writing. When you have “better” things to do.

But, that’s easier said than done. If all the experts say that you need to write daily, well, how do you write daily? Now, buckle up. Some of these numbered bullet points will be completely contradictory, and that’s okay. Everyone learns differently, and everyone writes differently. These are some suggestions to get you started, and I would encourage you to at least try most of them to see how they work for you, but remember that some of these WON’T work for you. That’s just how things are. But use these ideas to figure out how you best work and how to motivate yourself to become a better writer.

1. Establish a routine

Whether it’s an ambiguous, “I’m going to write five days a week,” “I’m going to writing in the morning,” or “I’m going to write at 7 am every morning,” tell yourself that you are going to write and do it!

2. Give yourself a goal or reward

Whether it is a short term goal like, write for at least 4 days this week and I’ll get a milkshake or watch the new episode of my favorite show, or a REALLY short term goal like, if I write for 30 minutes I can make a cup of tea, setting more tangible, immediately accessible goals than, if I write today, eventually I’ll publish a book, will help motivate you.

3. Start small

You aren’t going to be able to immediately start writing every single day for 2 hours at a time (unless you’re Superman or something). Start with a smaller goal of 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Or 45 minutes a day, 2 days a week. Whatever seems doable to you so that you won’t feel like you’re drowning if you miss a day’s writing.  (Side note: Also, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day! You want writing to be exciting, even though a lot of times it won’t be, and a surefire way to make yourself not want to write is to feel guilty about not writing the day before)

4. Avoid distractions

If you have a hard time getting things done with people all around you, vying for attention, get someplace where you don’t have those distractions while writing! Of course, it may be hard to get completely away from all distractions (its a little impractical to have to go someplace like the park or the library to write everyday unless they’re right across the street), but try staying away from main centers of your home while you write, or go into a room and put a sign on the door to let others know not to bother you.

5. Use distractions

However, sometimes staring at a blank, white screen while you’re sitting in a room with complete silence can make it pretty hard to write too. Again, it may be hard to go somewhere like a coffee shop everyday for the background noise of people talking around you, but not talking to you, but you can try writing in a part of the house off of one of the more trafficked rooms where you aren’t immediately apart of whatever is going on, but can still hear things going on. Another option is to go to a site like Coffitivity, and let it make some background noise for you! (music works too, but that’s a whole separate post!)

6. Use a timer

Deciding to work for a set amount of time can really help writing regularly seem much more manageable. Instead of working toward a word goal everyday which can be effective, but makes it hard to measure when you are working on editing or brainstorming, which are both perfectly legitimate uses of  your writing time, using a timer keeps you on task and focused for a fixed amount of time, helping you to make your writing time more efficient.

7. Work at your desk

Working at your desk tells your brain it’s time to get down to work. A clean desk holds much fewer distractions than trying to write in other places.

8. Don’t work at your desk

Working at a desk can also feel stifling. If you feel like you’re not able to get anything done when you sit down at a desk, find somewhere else to write!

 

J14

Attaining the Impossible

My adventures as a writer

There was this Disney Channel J14-Jamie's Journalsmovie I watched one time when I was younger called “Read It and Weep” about a girl who accidentally submits her personal diary for a writing contest at school and ends up having her book published. At this point in my life, I already wanted to be a novelist, so seeing her shelf of completed journals made my eyes bug out. I couldn’t imagine having so many notebooks on a shelf of my writing!

J14-JournalsWhen I saw the movie on Netflix recently I realized something absolutely mindboggling. My eyes flickered up to the floating shelf over my computer desk and I saw a shelf like hers! Though my notebooks aren’t personal journals, and only nine or ten of them –out of twenty-four–are significantly filled, they are filled with my words. I’ve become the writer I envied when I was younger!

Writing plays such a huge part of my life. I cannot explain how utterly excited I was at the beginning of this school year to start a dedicated writing blog. Writing is my passion and to get to share that with others? And get school credit for it?! It was like a dream come true and I haven’t been disappointed either. I hope to be able to continue updating and sharing my writing on this blog until I stop writing –which I assure you, won’t be soon.

NaNoWriMo

At the Stroke of Midnight…

It’s midnight and NaNoWriMo has officially begun! Here are my last minute tips for those of you out there who are embarking on this fantastic journey with me:

DO NOT EDIT. I don’t mean you can’t fix a misspelled word, but you have to remember that, like any first/rough draft, your story won’t be perfect the first time through.

Make sure you set aside time to write, whether it be getting up a little eariler, skipping out on TV, or writing right before bed. And take advantage of the little bits of time throughout the day, like in the waiting room at the doctor’s office!

Always have a notebook or piece of paper handy (otherwise you run the risk of having to write an epic fight scene on the back of a napkin).

I don’t plan my novel before hand, but something I’ve always found that helped is to take 10 or 15 minutes before you start writing for the day to get a general idea of what is going to happen next so that pesky villian Writer’s Block doesn’t slay you when you are on a roll.

The website, writeordie.com is great for getting ahead.

And don’t forget:

 

Good luck everyone!