list, writing, how to

How To effectively get off your ass and write, write, write

For as long as I can remember, I've always enjoyed writing.  From the many well-kept notes I had in school (my classmates all wanted to photocopy my immaculate study materials come exam week) and the many blogs I started to the numerous features and literary pieces I wrote while I was active in the college paper and the still-existing list of blogs under my name, we can pretty much conclude that yeah, I live and breathe the written word.

I love writing, but sometimes I write about stuff I don't particularly love, and that's okay to a certain degree.  I say that based on experience--these days, I have found myself more frequently reaching that degree and I almost always feel stuck.

So the question is, how do I wriggle myself out of being stuck?  How do I create time to write about stuff that I actually love and give a damn about?

I chanced upon a link on Twitter that led me to a list of tips that will help you make room in your otherwise busy schedule (hey, playing Angry Birds, Facebooking, and watching Glee replays count as activities, too!) for some writing to be done.  I shall simply re-iterate tricks mentioned by editor Victoria Mixon in her site and add my interpretation, not only to get you lazy bums back into your writing groove, but also to slap me in the face in greeting every time I attempt to go off-course.

1. Unhook.
  Basically don't even launch Google Chrome (or whatever browser you prefer) that automatically loads your Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Youtube, Reddit or other social networking account that causes you to be a mindless drone who unknowingly puts a pin through your balloon of motivation every goddam time.  DON'T. DO. IT. NO. MATTER. HOW. BORED. YOU. ARE.

Your notifications and @replies will all still be there a few hours from now.  Sure, Google Reader might go apeshit and stack up to 100 or so unread items, but that's the beauty of the "Mark As All Read" button (you can hit it, I won't tell), that's why entries can be sorted into topics.  So you can skip the ones you only subscribed to just to fil up your reader and read it when you've got nothing else to do.  While you're on a quest to exercise your writing chops, do yourself a favor and rearrange your daily routine by putting "getting some writing done" on top of the list.

2. Close your mouth.  A kinder way of saying, shut the eff up.  Wait for your empty brain to reboot and start filling up with words, thoughts, ideas, the whole shebang.  Have a pen and notebook (I like Sharpies and unruled paper) handy, or open Notepad and begin writing down whatever comes to your mind.  It doesn't have to make sense right away.  Writing in bullets can sometimes be a great way to organize brain content later on.

3. Plug your ears.  Or if you share your workspace with your incredibly hot boyfriend like I do, stop yourself from looking behind you to check him out--you can have all the hankypanky time you want later.  Earphones help if you are the type who can concentrate with music playing in the background.  Otherwise, you can invest in a couple of ear plugs or just master the art of zen and drown out everything that surrounds you.  It's hard though, especially if there's a damn construction site next door.  If you can successfully drown that out, you're awesomesauce.

4. Watch the clock.  In my case, I use Google Calendar to create my task list and Qlock for alarms.  Make sure to work on a schedule and try your damdest to stick to it.  Don't be cruel to yourself though by scheduling unrealistic time frames.  Squeeze in a couple of breaks so you have time to unwind.  If to you unwinding means Facebook and Twitter though, think twice before you schedule those in between writing might be risking loss of momentum.  Take breaks for snacks, a quick walk, maybe even a power nap.  Reserve Internet surfing for after you finish all your work.  Trust me, I've made that mistake quite a few times already, and I always end up having to cram my work a few hours before my deadlines.  I always finish and I always convince myself that I work better under pressure, but a loud voice in my head goes, "HAH!" every time I pull that excuse out of my ass.

5. Take advice.  The list says to get a great book about writing, letting it fall open randomly and start reading.  I have a couple of great books I can try this with.  It sounds like a great tip.  Mine are more about screenwriting and story development though, which is probably a good start.  If you don't have books on writing readily available and you have great self-control, you can try Google searching writing tips AND ONLY writing tips.  If you feel like you're losing it, don't be afraid to copy paste content quickly into Notepad and shut that web browser down.  Nope, minimizing won't work.  If you really want to do it, do it right. 

6. Doodle a name.  Write it, type it.  If you feel like you've immersed yourself too much into reading writing tips, write down random names you'd like to give your characters. If you're not specifically writing a story, then doodle your crush's name.  Doodle a song lyric.  Allow the words to evolve into something completely different and work your way from there.

7. Drink tea.  If you dislike the leafy aftertaste of tea like I do, try adding milk and ice.  Oh wait, list says "something warm and comforting".  Maybe warm milk?  Hot cocoa?  As long as you have a nice, go-to drink to keep you energized that's not a plateful of bacon (unless you're dead hungry, but eat light meals!), an espresso, or booze, you're good to go.

8. Zonk out.  Don't feel bad for taking a nap.  That loud ringing in your ears or those throbbing temples are your brain's way of telling you to time out, ease up a bit and take things slow.  Maybe dream a little while you're at it.  Sometimes stories resume in our sleep.

9. Disappear for a week up a river or a mountain, break a leg, and get snowed in.  If nothing works, swap your setting for something else.  Change your environment if the walls feel like they're closing in on you.  Assign yourself a temporary new work place.

Here's to wishing you (and myself) a heartfelt good luck with your next writing expedition.