Lucky charms for writers

I’ve heard much talk of goals lately:

  • things to accomplish before, say, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (that’s where I’ll be in two weeks! yay!)
  • character sketches to do and novels to outline/plan before NaNoWriMo begins (something I’m definitely not doing this year…but that’s a topic for another post)
  • daily/weekly/monthly goals we’re trying to be accountable for (yay for wipmadness, writing groups, and writing partners/slave-drivers)

luckycharms2It seems like a good time to dust off and re-post my secret lucky charms for writers — little things that can really help us reach our goals. (Lucky charms sounds so much more fun than rules or tips. And if they’re more fun, they probably work better, right?) These are things I’ve found work for me…maybe for you, too?

  1. Get off your butt. I know, I know, this goes totally against the butt-in-chair principle for getting things done. But I’m telling ya, when I’m stuck in screen-staring mode — unsure, unmotivated, uninspired — getting off my butt and going for a walk will almost always shake something loose, especially if I leave my iPod at home. I’ve untangled more plot threads walking around my neighbourhood than I ever have staring at my laptop screen.
  2. Go old-school. I’m talking pen and paper, bb. Write longhand instead of typing at your computer, and you may be amazed at the creativity that’s released. Quite a while back, I listened to a program on CBC radio that talked about how handwriting affects the brain (it’s HERE, if you’re interested), and I also came across THIS POST that talks about some of the great benefits of writing longhand.
  3. Grab some mood music. Create a playlist for your WIP. You might find one artist who really captures the mood and themes you’re going for, or you might come up with an eclectic collection, more like a soundtrack, with songs that invoke the right tone for certain scenes, or the right attitude for certain characters.
  4. Practise writer’s Feng Shui. Close the door — literally, but also metaphorically. Imagine you’re locking your Internal Editor on the other side of that door. If you can’t close the door (but srsly, how much trouble can toddlers get into if you lock yourself away for an hour or two? heh), then position yourself so no one can look over your shoulder at what you’re writing. Also, if clutter distracts you, throw everything in a file box (or, you know, an appliance box) and close the lid. If you need a peaceful ambiance, light a candle. Get comfy in an ergonomically-correct way and start writing.
  5. Employ threats and rewards. (They’re magically delicious.) I make deals with myself. Things like when I stop writing I have to clean the bathrooms. That would be a threat. Trust me, it works. Or I’ll say, when I finish this scene, I get to have a diet Coke. That would be a reward. (Doesn’t take much to make me happy.) Do what it takes.
  6. Stay off the freaking internet. Try one of those lock-out programs. Send the modem to work with your spouse. Make a schedule (say, Hour One = 45 minutes writing, 10 minutes social networking time, 5 minutes making tea and doing pushups or whatever to get ready for Hour Two). Designate surf-free zones (if you’re on the couch with your laptop, you can blog surf and social network to your heart’s content; if you’re at the desk/table, it’s work time). Rig up a robot arm thingie that will slap you upside the head every time you open Twitter. (You get the idea. As with threats & rewards, do what it takes.)

I hope you find a lucky charm or two to add to your cereal bowl writer’s toolbox, just in case times get tough. Happy writing!

Peace… :)

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8 thoughts on “Lucky charms for writers

  1. Great tips, Shari. Love the get off your butt. Nothing like a change of scenery to get those brain waves going in another direction. The last one, staying off the freaking internet, is one I need to employ. That can be such a time waster. Before I know it, I’ve done so little writing and a lot of surfing. Thanks for the reminders.

  2. I’ve just concluded a week offline (ignoring the few surprising opportunities that turned up) and can say with assurance that doing so is my most productive writing ‘lucky charm’. That, and establishing a habit or schedule of writing… every morning or evening, even if it’s only for a few minutes. It’s a little like piano practice in that the regularity encourages improved skill. :)

    • I think the internet is a big one for many writers! A schedule is a good idea, too, although with my shiftwork, I find it hard to get a routine going and tend to snatch writing time whenever/wherever. The piano practice analogy makes sense, though!

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