"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tips for Increasing Your Writing Efficiency and Enjoyment

submitted by Carol Curtis Stilz

Over the past six months I have collected some tips from webinars, workshops, and reading. Many of these tips I shared with my students when I taught writing classes for teens and adults. Like my students, I needed to remind myself of what steps make my writing more efficient and enjoyable. Sometimes the enjoyment comes from meeting a goal or increasing my productivity or tackling a scene that I have put off writing. I’ve structured the remainder of this blog in steps. Don’t dismiss a suggestion until you have tried it at least once. These steps are not the ultimate “how to write” guide. They are intended to offer a buffet of possibilities to make writing for you more fun. Enjoy!

  • Begin with an idea you want to write.
  • Make a mind map around that idea.
  • Write or draw on Index cards for everything that pops into your head. No editing here. Yes, you can use Scrivener or another writing program that allows you to move each idea around, to add and delete ideas too.
  • Write one sentence that defines the story problem.
  • Determine a turning point where character makes a decision that puts him at highest risk.
  • Determine the crisis where the character’s actions seal his/her fate.
  • Determine the ending or resolution of story problem, unless you like to surprise yourself as you write.
  • Determine the beginning that sets up the story problem. You may choose to change the beginning.
  • Create structure by placing index cards in order, making a fishbone diagram, or your idea of outline. This helps avoid the dreaded muddy middle.
  • Remember to give backstory only when it is necessary to the reader or character now.
  • Establish a writing time and place. Once you have found what is best for you, don’t change it.
  • Set a writing goal for the day, number of minutes, number of pages, or completion of number of scenes.
  • Write first think after waking up. I have coffee and feed and pet my cat first.
  • On scratch paper, not your calendar, write things on your mind other than story. I call this monkey brain dump. Put it aside and look at it after you have written for the day. I do this step when sipping coffee.
  • Write in 15 or 25 or 55 minute sprints. Set a time. Hands on keys and write steadily. When time rings, take 5 minutes to stretch, drink water, get in some fit bit steps. Avoid leaving the room if possible, and do not make phone calls, text, email, etc. No outside human contact. Then resume process until you have made your goal in writing for the day, either minutes or pages or scenes. Give yourself permission to write the scene that comes to mind that morning. You don’t have to work in chronological order if that isn’t your style. I call this my “patchwork quilt” process.
  • No editing as you write. Edit after writing sprint, or later in the day, or next morning, or a time and place you set.

Choose the tips that work best for you. Enjoy the process and your success!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Carol. I enjoyed your lesson, and I love this recap. I really like the Monkey Brain Dump idea. It sure helps to get odds and ends off your mind.