After going through a serious writing drought this winter and spring, I’m making myself write every day this month. My goal for each day is 500 words. So far, I’ve met or exceeded my goal every day except for one, and I’m proud to say I’ve reached 7,000 words this morning on my newest work in progress. This new project is a young adult novel told through two different perspectives (I like to say that I write really small – flash fiction – or really large – novels—but nothing in between). It’s realistic fiction…mostly. There is definitely a science fiction element going on, a little bit of weirdness and mystery that I’m pulling in. I don’t want to say too much just yet, since it is very fresh and still forming in my brain, but I am so excited to be starting on something new!*
Since I’ve been struggling with making time for my writing lately, and I’m sure others do, too, I wanted to share some techniques that have been working for me this month.
1. Achievable Writing Goals. 500 words a day is not too overwhelming. (This blog post will likely top out at 600 words...and 5 or 6 awkward gifs.) Picking a word count that I can easily handle (and complete in less than an hour, if needed) has been enormously helpful.
2. Writing in the Morning. I find that if I get my writing out as soon as possible (certainly before noon; before 10am if possible), I don’t struggle with as much writer’s block and I don’t forget to do it.
3. Double-timing Brainstorming. I spend a lot of time with my sons. I find that I can let my brain wander when building Hot Wheels race tracks for the hundredth time with my 3-year-old or while breastfeeding the baby. This helps me think through scenes, characters, and plot issues so that I can come to my laptop ready to let the words loose rather than stumbling through these brainstorming elements during my writing time.
4. Scheduling that Works for Me. I’m not sure if this is a legitimate diagnosis, but I swear my brain is more creative during the summer and early fall. I do my best writing and lesson planning during these times. Attempting a writing challenge at a time like this works best for me. (As opposed to, say, April, when I’m burned out, or November, when I’m super busy —I know, I know, NaNoWriMo, I love you, but your timing is flawed for my teaching schedule.)
5. Playing Games. I like to play little writing games with myself. For instance, I’ll set a timer to ten minutes and make myself write that entire time without any breaks. I might put down some bizarre or low quality writing on the page, but at least the words are out there: it’s a start. Or I’ll tell myself that I need to finish a certain scene today; regardless of where it is in the novel, I’ll only work on that scene. Outside of my writing time, I try to take my sons to new places or try out new games and adventures as a family, hoping that it will spike that summertime creativity I mentioned above.
I’m taking my writing challenge one day at a time, and I’m hoping to have a ton of beautifully-crafted prose by the time I’m done. Just kidding! I anticipate at least a pile of decent, re-workable stuff with some quality nuggets to build off of. First and foremost, I love writing, and I needed something to get me back into it after a busy school year. I’m hopeful these techniques will make June a fun and fulfilling month of writing.
*A note about my Northwoods Barista Mystery Series: Jordy fans, don’t worry—I’m not giving up on the series yet! The third book is in progress—right now, it’s a rough collection of an outline, notes on the suspects and crimes, and about 10,000 words of the typical sarcastic comments, over-caffeinated thoughts, and questionable detective skills that are a trademark of my narrator Jordan Nimsby. It’s coming together, and I will definitely spend some of my June challenge with Jordy, too. I hope to have the next book ready for release in Spring of 2019, if not sooner. I will keep everyone updated on this blog.