Let’s face it, writing is tough! You engage in the written word because it’s your calling; thrusting yourself into manuscripts, op-eds, blog posts, and and anything else that moves you. That nagging voice rising from the back of your head screaming, “WRITE!”, is ever present. Sometimes the words flow out like a waterfall on steroids. Other times, Mmmm, not so much. Here, in no particular order, are 10 modern day commandments to inspire your heart and (maybe) settle your mind.
1. Write with abandon! There’s nothing wrong with a little “free writing” to help over come the blahs that we all experience from time to time. While the content is mostly unusable, the process can relieve you of distractions and help get you past the block you’ve recently been experiencing. Who know’s? Perhaps the idea, direction, or solution will surface after a writing purge!
2. “Pen It to Win It!” You veteran writers have a system in place, but for newbies, this is a must. Keep a small notebook or use the notes (or similar) app on your fave device. When an idea, scene, or bit of prose presents itself, you’ll be ready. As a result, that pulitzer prize winning thought will be at your fingertips when you sit down again to write!
3. Take breaks y’all! While life is a writing prompt, there are times when you should turn yourself off. Completely. Be sure to carve out some daily Me Time and schedule some strict, no-writing days for yourself. Try active work breaks by scheduling several 15 breaks throughout the day for a brisk walk, some at-your-desk-planks, or a simple coffee run.
4. Do your research. If you don’t know it, learn it. While it might seem a tedious task, you can’t write a medical mystery thriller if you don’t know the difference between thalamus and ophthalmologist.
5. EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. Remember, the spellcheck program on your computer is never enough! Writers are often quite emotionally attached to their work, and rightly so. After all, ink is but our own blood on a page, or so the saying goes. Once you’ve completed your own heavy editing, find a third party to proof your work. Hiring a professional might make your wallet cringe, but it’s worth it. Plus, there are a myriad of online resources to fit almost any budget.
6. Stay nourished and hydrated. How many times have you found yourself sitting at the computer only to look up and notice you’ve missed lunch by several hours? Writing exercises your brain and can be downright exhausting! Don’t starve your brain! Fun fact: your brain runs on carbohydrates, so choose whole, unrefined, unprocessed grains for optimal fuel. In addition, staying properly hydrated assists in maintaining the brain’s attention and memory functions. Together these can help keep you on task and consistent.
7. Know your audience…and write for them! Getting to know your fans is as important to your work as what you write. Engage with them by leveraging free social media channels, becoming a speaker, and attending book events. Also, don’t discount the value of your public library system or independent book sellers; two outlets who love to promote local talent.
9. Have Fun! Ever quite a job because you loved it? I didn’t think so. If you’re miserable, it will show in the quality and content of your writing. This can be a tough fix as it’s highly individualized. Your best bet? Get back to the basics! What is your passion? Why did you start writing in the first place?
10. Be a rebel. Poke a little fun at the grammar rules. Add the forbidden adverb or split an infinitive (or two, *gasp*) if it makes the writing sound better or roll off the tongue easier. Sprinkle a bit of slang into a conversation between characters as needed. Not every situation calls for formal writing.
Now it’s your turn! What other ideas or inspiration do you have to share with your fellow writers? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for stopping by!