Tag Archives: writing routines

Just 50 words

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

For months my friend, Jackie, and I had been struggling to find a slice time and significant energy to write between teaching during the day and various commitments in the evening. So we decided to “coach” each other along. Our idea was simple: keep each other motivated by sharing our weekly progress. Since this past November, we have emailed whatever we’ve written that week, knowing that nothing we send is clean or polished. Regardless, we use the opportunity to give each other informal feedback and notes. Some weeks we send 1000+ words, others maybe 200. For me, knowing that she is expecting something in her box by Friday afternoon, and I in mine, keeps me writing each day.

But feelings of motivation can fade and we get worn out, even with the best intentions. One night, Jackie emailed that she was just too tired to write. To which I replied: Try 50 words. And than reward yourself with a whole lot of chocolate. It has become our mantra whenever either of us makes an excuse: Just 50 words.

If you’re still going full throttle, awesome! If your momentum is slowing, do not be discouraged. Give yourself a doable goal, one that feels absolutely surpassable. And if you can find someone who will act as a coach, all the better.

And, of course, there’s no shame in a chocolate reward.

 

4 Tips for Waking Up Early to Write

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

My goal for our Write by Midnight challenge has been to wake up early and get an extra thirty minutes of writing time a day. I am not naturally a morning person, so this has really been a challenge, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to write every morning for the past week. I feel like I need some sort of early bird pin to proudly display my achievement.

If you’re hoping to work in some early morning writing time, too, here are a few of the techniques that have made it work for me.

1. Tell people.
There’s no motivation like the shame of having to admit that you were a lazy slug who burrowed under the covers instead of getting up to accomplish the writing goal you have announced is so important to you. I told you on this blog, announced it to Twitter, and told the friends and family members I see every day. So I basically have to get up.

2. Remind yourself.
In the wee hours, when it’s still dark outside and my bed is so cozy, I often have no idea why I set my alarm so early. So I hit snooze without waking properly and then kick myself when I’m finally awake enough to remember, “Oh, yeah, I really want to finish my novel.” My solution? I simply title the alarm on my cell phone “Finish this draft by X date” or “It’s time to Write by Midnight.” That last one has been especially effective this month because it reintroduces the shame motivator of #1 (see above).

3. Go to bed on time.
Sleep deprivation is bad for you. If you’re going to get up earlier, you have to go to sleep earlier. You can get by on coffee and determination for a while, but eventually, you will burn out. We’re trying to establish a sustainable habit. So sustain yourself with adequate sleep. And write.

4. Use a gradual wakeup pre-alarm.
Five minutes before I actually want to get up, I set an alarm that plays soothing music. It’s fairly loud, so it wakes me up, but it’s soothing, so I don’t feel the need to turn it off, and I get to experience the lovely feeling of snuggling down under the covers and knowing it’s not time to get up yet. By the time my real alarm goes off, I’m awake enough to remember why I wanted to get up at this terrible hour to begin with, so I actually get up. There are also various apps that monitor your sleep and wake you at the best time, but this approach works for me.

In case you’re wondering, my musical selection is “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy. It’s starts soft but builds to a climax just as I’m needing to get up. It was also part of the soundtrack at the end of the movie Ocean’s 11, when they’ve successfully stolen millions and are basking in their accomplishment while gazing at the fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It’s nice to bask.

What are your tricks for waking up early to write?

A Side Note on “the Blank”

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

One of my favorite quotes comes from Peter Turchi’s book Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer In it, he writes:

We start with a blank: a world of possibility

I have mentioned this quote before and I wanted to return to this idea as a reminder of the awesome gift we are given as writers. We get to begin with nothing, and fill that space with infinite possibilities. That’s wickedly cool!

So today as you write, I encourage you to think of your story as a journey you’re mapping; allow yourself to write as if you are discovering something for the first time. While you may have a goal for the scene/chapter you’re working on today, keep your mind open to other possible journeys for your character and plot. I confess that some of my favorite plot developments have occurred when I looked at the page as “a blank” and followed the lead of my pen rather than trying to direct it.

Success in the Face of Sabotage

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

It’s Day Two of the Write by Midnight challenge, and so far I’m off to a good start. My goal for the month is to incorporate thirty minutes of writing time into my mornings before the hectic day gets started. As a result, my challenge actually started on January 31 when I needed to get in bed thirty minutes earlier in order to avoid sleep deprivation. Remember, we’re creating sustainable habits here, not running a month-long marathon only to collapse at the end of it. As an habitual night owl, going to bed earlier is hard for me, but I made it in bed by 10:30. Success!

I was all geared up for a good night’s sleep followed by a productive writing session until midnight when the thumping of little feet running from a nightmare sounded down the hall. Wake up, offer comfort, go back to sleep. Until 4 a.m. when the thumping of little feet running from a nightmare sounded down the hall. Again. Sabotage!

I did not get a long and restful night’s sleep, but the peer pressure of knowing I’d have to confess how I did with my goals to all of you forced me out of bed anyway. Overall, I’m calling it a win. Now to do the same thing every day for the next month. Fingers crossed that tonight’s sleep will at least be uninterrupted.

Write by Midnight Starts Today!

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

Today’s the day! Write by Midnight starts today. Are you excited? Are you ready to write every day this month and establish a regular writing habit? We are! Join us on our quest to meet our writing goals. If you get something down by midnight, that day counts as a win.

Throughout the month, we’ll be posting and tweeting status updates, tips and encouragement. Follow us on this blog and @WriteOwls on Twitter. Be sure to post your comments here and with the #WriteByMidnight on Twitter so we can follow your progress.

We wish you luck. Now, go write!