PART 1 Establish your Setting
with a Writing Routine
A few incidents this week led me to realize the need for review of how to write more and complete your book, chapter by chapter, your story, or even your poem. Write more words; write more frequently; reach your goals! How is the “setting” for your writing both creative and productive?
We write a lot around our house. Last night my husband, Evert, was in the throes of inspiration, hammering away letter by letter on the keyboard, writing an article for the Dutch publication, Platenblaad(Vinyl). I halted his index finger in midair by asking, “Isn’t it dark in here? Can you check the light bulbs in the kitchen?”
The tall man shook his head all the while he checked the fixture. “One of the lifetime bulbs has expired,” he grimly reported. After checking our box of assorted lightbulbs, Evert added, “Nothing fits. I’ll get it tomorrow.” I went back to my cooking and he went gamely back to his composition. But the rapid-firing peck-peck did not resume. Alas, it’s so easy to kill creativity.
Perhaps Evert brings this on himself, writing at the kitchen table. Would I be as likely to interrupt if he were in his home office, with the door shut? No. But the spacious table, painted by Norris Hall (designer of the jazz cat and fish license plates benefitting the arts in Tennessee) is where Evert gets inspired.
Last week I questioned a group of participants in the Memoir Writing class I was teaching at The Blakeford Senior University about their writing routines. Like most of us, they hadn’t really thought about it. “Our days are not filled with routines,” said one, “unlike younger people, so we can write whenever we want.” What an opportunity! Yet, without self-discipline, how much writing does one accomplish on those larger projects like books?
Knowing oneself, using that self-knowledge to set a routine, will get more writing done.
TO WRITE MORE, ASK YOURSELF:
When do I feel most creative and inspired, most ready to write?
Where do I like to write?
What tools do I like to use when writing?
What distractions can I remove while writing?
Will art on the wall inspire your writing? (Illustration is from a Pinterest board by Nelly Van Hemert.) Once you have answered these questions, use this information to write more. Design your space and time and you will visit it more often. Even if what you have is a lap desk and comfy chair—angle that chair toward a window or wall or door, deciding which works better for your concentration. If you have the luxury of a whole desk or room, or are confined to a chair at the kitchen table, design what works for you. Does a clear desk mean room for more ideas to you? Or do you agree with Albert Einstein, who asked,
If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?
Your writing routine is as individual as you and your writing. But knowledge of it, and establishing it, will help you write more and complete your book—or whatever you are writing. As a writer, you’re creative. Get creative with your real-life writing setting, the where and when you write.
Goal-setting is another road to success for some writers. Like any goal, it’s easy to say the long-term, but success means “chunking it”. Break the big goal into small ones. Finish one chapter a week. Write 500 words a day, five times a week. Query a publisher this week.
Working on the goal model, there is a non-profit encouraging writers in a serious challenge. “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page,” declares their mission statement. With its light-hearted approach and inclusive attitude, NaNoWriMo has been successful at establishing November as Novel-Writing Month with particpants all over the world. There are over 5,000 writers registered as participants in Nashville, Tennessee! “On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” Writers, chunk that into smaller goals and you’ve got 1666.666… words to write daily! Many writers meet this goal, others are well on the way to finishing their goals. You can find out more about the challenge, register for the helpful routine tools, and read some from the previous winners at https://nanowrimo.org, the website. With help from NaNoWriMo, maybe this is the year I will jump start the pirate novel I conceived and researched in the 1970s. About time.
Realistically, all who attempt writing are winners. It comes from the heart. As every rule has an exception, so does routine. More about that on Part 2!