This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
1. Turn your writing area into a happy place, whatever that means to you. Writing is hard enough. You’re allowed to pamper yourself while you’re doing it. I keep a lavender-scented room spray on my desk. I always get very cold from sitting still for so long, so I bought one of those little electric blankets that old ladies use and I love using it as I write. Even when I had no money, I invested in a good chair and the largest monitor I could afford, plus an ergonomic keyboard and mouse pad, because I didn’t want to destroy my body by all of the hours I spend at my desk. I also play soothing music to calm myself when the inevitable conviction hits that I am working on the absolute worst piece of rubbish ever. Cats are also good too, if you like them. Just about everything I’ve ever written, I’ve done while trying to peer past a cat trying to block my view of the screen. (We love this picture!)
2. Don’t beat yourself up for not writing. I often have periods like that too. I may be thinking about a sentence, hearing bits of a character’s voice, wondering what will happen to them, but somehow I’m not ready to write yet. I believe that the actual setting of words on the page is the last part of a long creative process. We are not machines and the act of writing is both magical and mysterious. However, at the same time, don’t let yourself off the hook entirely – keep thinking and dreaming, keep pushing against the cloud of your idea until you do feel ready to write.
3. Fix it after it’s on the page. Once I start writing, I often get so obsessed with the problems of a sentence or story in my mind that I can’t write a single word down. I’ve learned to force myself to just put it on the page, accept that it’s incredibly terrible and fix it later. Once it’s been written, it’s so much easier to manage.
4. Once you know you are ready to write and are in the writing phase of your creative process, set a word limit rather than a time limit for yourself each day. I am personally capable of frittering away entire days and months. If I know I have to write a certain number of words, I’m much more likely to get it done. When I’m not under deadline pressure, I try to do about 1200 words a day. However, when I have people waiting for a draft, that number shoots way up. That’s pretty painful, though, and I swear each time that I’ll make sure I won’t need to do that again. Oh well.
5. Be completely open to criticism but guard the beating heart of your writing. When I hear any type of criticism, my first instinct is almost always, “No, no, no, no, no.” Of course, I know better but that’s how I feel. I’ve learned to relax, give it a night’s sleep, then really try to hear what the person said with an open mind. Many times, they've been right, even if the suggested changes were dramatic, and helped me improve my book tremendously. However, be careful. Your writing is alive to you for deeply personal, sometimes inexplicable reasons. Remember that in the end, it is always better to create a vital, passionate, deeply flawed beast than a perfectly proportioned corpse on the page. Trust yourself.