Writing—of any kind—takes great commitment and self-discipline, and there may be times when you find it difficult to carve out the hours you need or to find the energy to devote to your writing. Here are some suggestions to keep you moving forward:
- Write every day, even if you only do one of the brief Creative Exercises in your text, or make an entry in your journal. Think in terms of output rather than time—set your goal at one page a day instead of one hour a day. That way, you have concrete evidence of your progress.
- Read as much as you possibly can—not just for pleasure, but as part of your continuing writing education. Mark passages you especially like or dislike and try to figure out why they make you feel the way you do. Pay attention to how your favorite authors combine dialogue and narration, to the words they choose and the way they put them together, to the pace and rhythm of the sentences and paragraphs and chapters.
- Set aside a particular time of day (or night) to write; make it a habit. Like any other learned skill, writing requires practice; you learn by doing. If you schedule your writing time—the way you would a piano lesson or a work-out at the gym—you’re giving your writing the priority it deserves.
How to Stretch a 24-hour Day
It’s hard to find time to write, you tell yourself. There are always a thousand other things that need to be done. The fact is, you probably won’t find the time to write; you’ll have to make it:
- Get up an hour early, set the coffee maker and get right to work
- Resist the urge to take a nap when you put the baby down for his
- Shut your office door and write through your lunch hour
- Decide that an hour of writing time is more important than an hour of television.
Remember, too, that thinking is an important part of the writing process. If you’ve established your regular daily writing time, as we suggested above, make the most of that time by preparing yourself mentally beforehand. Start thinking about the piece you want to work on so that, when you sit down at your computer, you’re ready to write. Even if you can’t set aside time to write every day, you should at least make thinking about writing a daily activity. By thinking about writing even when you aren’t doing it, you’ll make writing a natural and necessary part of your life.
In addition to your scheduled writing sessions, use odd bits of “down” time to write:
- your daily bus commute
- the half hour the cake needs to cool before you can ice it
- waiting for anything-a flight departure, the cable guy, your date to show up.
Always make sure you have something to write on (and with!), even if it means keeping a pen and small notebook in your fanny pack while jogging, or with your towel at the beach. You’ll be surprised how much you can actually accomplish in these short, otherwise unproductive periods.
A Place of Your Own
As important, perhaps, as a time to write is a place that you can lay claim to as your writing space—a place where you won’t be interrupted, where ideally you can leave your work out when you’re finished for the day. In addition to the space needed for your computer and printer, you should have plenty of desktop space to spread out your notes or any other materials you’re working with. A bulletin board where you can pin up inspirational quotes, pictures of settings or characters, deadlines, etc. is a great addition to your writing space. Make sure you have adequate lighting, a sturdy, comfortable chair and a handy shelf for your writing reference books. Whatever it takes, create a place that means writing to you—and to those around you—the minute you occupy it: your special place, your writing place.
The point is to make the most of whatever time and space you have. Writers work on subways, buses and commuter trains. Any place is a good place to write if you just recognize its possibilities. A quiet place is ideal, but—as anyone who has ever worked for a newspaper knows—it is possible to turn out good writing in the middle of utter chaos.
These tips came from the course Essentials of Mystery Writing
Do you read mysteries and think “I wish I could write that?” well, you can. Work with a published mystery writer to learn about the subtleties of the mystery genre, and begin working on your own page-turning mystery. By the conclusion of the workshop, you will have written 2500 and critiqued up to 2500 words of your mystery novel or short story.
You will learn:
- How to construct a compelling mystery plot
- How to conceal clues while still playing fair with your reader
- How to develop fascinating characters