Since my life pretty much revolves around writing and reading, it’s only natural that I see just about everything through that lens. So when I read blogger James Clear’s post last week about weightlifting, I quickly saw how his principles of slow, easy gains also apply to writing.
Most people focus on achievement over progress in the gym (and other areas of life), Clear says.
Clear’s blog post especially resonated with me because it came out at the same time my blogging partner Carol had been telling me about a video she watched in which Novelist and TV Writer/Producer Lowell Cauffiel advocated writing five pages a day max instead of large bursts of occasional writing. (She’ll be sharing more about this in an upcoming post.)
Clear says slow progress beats immediate achievement because slow progress adds up fast and is more sustainable. Read more
So much about writing is a mind game.
Successful writers have routines that alert the subconscious to bring forth the muse. It may be a specific Montblanc pen, Moleskine notebook, extra-hot cafe latte… or a certain piece of clothing.
Plenty of professions have uniforms that, in the mind of the wearers, may set a mood or tone with them and the people around them. Think: doctors and nurses and their patients.
It just may be that you go into writing mode more deeply if you have a “writing uniform.”
Maybe it’s a special jacket, a certain scarf you always wear, or a particular t-shirt that has meaning. (Some writers have been known to wear cozy pajamas and bunny slippers, while others wore nothing at all). But I digress.
For entertaining and informative insight about a concept called “enclothed cognition,” watch this 2-minute video, which as it turns out is also a great example of an effective book trailer for You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourselfby David McRaney.
You’ll learn how a particular uniform or piece of clothing can have symbolic meaning and how the psychological experience of wearing it could positively impact your writing practice.
What would your writing uniform be?
In a related post about routines, read How award-winning author Jonathan Franzen writes.
For more information about David McRaney, visit his blog.
Some of the most productive people I know get up early. I know that when I get up early, I get more done and feel happier because of it. When I was in graduate school and working full-time, I knew I had to get up extra early if I was going to meet my deadlines. I also wanted to write in my dream state.
So I started getting up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. It was hard at first but I was motivated, and I found that after a few days, I’d automatically wake up.
Writing early in the morning doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are most productive in the evening after their children go to sleep or even in the middle of the night. But if you’re thinking of getting up earlier, here’s what I’ve learned, including several tips that might help you.
1. Think about what you’ll work on first thing in the morning. Each night, I write down two or three topics for free writing exercises or questions that I want to answer in my writing. Regardless of what you work on, having a plan sets the stage and alerts your inner artist to be ready. Read more
Are you on a quest to write every day? No matter what your goal, writing or otherwise, periodic check-ins can help ensure you stay on track and maintain enthusiasm for your projects.
Blogger Amanda Martin committed to write daily in 2013. For her daily challenge, Martin is writing posts that cover how her writing ideas develop and how she approaches research. The second part of each post is a new section of her work in progress, a novel. In this post, you’ll find more background about her project.
In Martin’s January 11 post, she shares the side effects of her daily practice.
It’s never too late to start a daily writing routine. Try these tips. (Tweet them)
1. Establish a regular writing time. Morning, noon, or night, you have to figure out what works for your life. I like mornings because I can get some work done before anything else interrupts my schedule. Plus, I have the sentences buzzing in my brain the rest of the day. Nights can be perfect for others because the house is finally quiet. And there’s something to be said for “sleeping on your story.” When I write before bed, I often have an epiphany the moment I lay my head down. Bonus. Read more
Despite dire predictions that the world was going to end last week, I’ve been thinking ahead to how I’ll meet my writing goals in 2013. One reason I like to learn how successful writers work is to see if they have any rituals or routines that I can follow myself.
There’s no way around it: A regular writing routine is crucial to producing finished work. So I was intrigued when I read about the Don’t Break The Chain calendar idea attributed to comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
As the story goes, each January, Seinfeld hangs a year-at-a-glance calendar on a prominent wall of his office, and for every day that he writes new material, he gets to mark a big “X” over that date. After a few days, a chain of Xs begins to form. The annual goal is to write every day and not break the chain. Read more
Sometimes, getting into my writing groove is about as easy as slipping on my favorite pair of jeans from my freshman year in college. In other words, it’s impossible.
I have various tricks for when my muse needs to be conned into action: wearing headphones to help myself focus, doing a five minute timed write to warm up my writing muscles, or giving myself a reward when I reach my word quota for the day—maybe a small piece of chocolate (hmm…is this why I can’t fit into those jeans?).
Sometimes, I write to music to help myself stay focused. For my current project, I’m creating a playlist that so far includes Moonlight Sonata, Adagio for Violin, Bach, and Lorenna McKennitt. While writing my memoir, I listened mainly to Norah Jones and Brandi Carlile. Different books inspire different music and vice versa.
But sometimes other sounds can help me write too. Read more
I love it when I find another writer who has a ritual or a way of thinking about writing that I share. It’s one more way of feeling connected to a community. This week, I had one of those moments when I read an interview with writer John Reimringer.
In The Aroostook Review, the online literary journal at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Reimringer speaks about the practice of writing, how he got into it, and his routines and rituals. One especially struck me because it’s a ritual I’ve done in the past with working out and one I now do with my writing practice.
I give myself a star for each day I write.
I like to use a calendar that shows a month and has big enough squares for the stars. Something about seeing those stars pushes me forward. I like to look back and see my writing history at a glance. If you post your calendar in a place where you work, it can even become a conversation starter. I’ve influenced more than one person to start marking their writing progress with stars. (It’s actually a good way to mark any progress toward a goal, not just writing.)
Reimringer and his wife, poet Katrina Vandenberg, do something similar. Read more