January Kick in the Writerly Pants

martial-arts-225397_640It’s that slumpy time of year. The holidays are over. Resolutions have hit the wall like a crash-test dummy on steroids. It’s Mars-cold outside and really…who’s got time to write when you’re working every conceivable hour to pay off the mongo credit card bill that’ll hit your mailbox at the end of the month?

Now that we’ve got all the whining out of the way, it’s time to buck up, little writing mongrels. Park your rear in a chair, stick your shnoz on the writerly grindstone, and get down to business by using a few of the following tips.


#1. Kick your internal editor to the curb.

Newsflash: in order to up your daily word count, you have to actually write the words. If you muss and fuss over each one, you’ll end up with a total of about twenty-five words by the time the sun sets. At that rate, it will take you a bajillion years to finish your manuscript. So whip out some duct tape, slap it on your internal editor’s mouth, and pound away at the keyboard until your fingers are stubby little nubs. You can—and will—edit those words later.

#2. Pull up your pants.

At heart, I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. I don’t like to know what’s coming because hey, writing should be as much fun as reading, right? Nope. Not if you want to succeed at finishing a novel in a timely manner. If you come to your WIP without a clue of what you’re going to write, you will spend time thinking of what to write. Savvy? Map out your story. Write a general outline. And always make sure to end your writing time with a sentence or two of how you will pick up the plot when you return to it the next day.

#3. Put first things first.

Write in the morning, whether you’re a night owl or not. Psychologically, it’s a mental game of beat the clock. In the morning, you’ve got hours and hours ahead of you. If you wait until late at night, you’re more likely to nod off and give in to the siren call of Pillowland. Starting out your day by writing means you get to pass Go and collect $200.

#4. Write all day.

Before you start the tomato throwing and Hey-Princess-I-Have-A-Real-Job snarkiness, hear me. I understand. Life is all up in my business as well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t snatch and grab snippets of time throughout the day. Pound out a few words during your lunch break. Traffic jams sucking up minutes? Voice note a plot idea on your phone. Waiting for an appointment? Jot down a character trait you’ve been meaning to add in.

#5. Be a track star.

Mapping out a schedule sounds like a whopping nerd of a plan, but dude, it works, kind of like a food journal keeps you on track for a diet. Shoehorn in writing time on every day of your calendar for the next month and you’ll feel like a legit writer. Setting a goal on paper (or cyberly via keyboard) will keep you accountable.

There you have it. Tools for your writerly workbox. Which one will you put into practice today?

16 Replies to “January Kick in the Writerly Pants”

  1. “who’s got time to write when you’re working every conceivable hour to pay off the mongo credit card bill that’ll hit your mailbox at the end of the month?” To that I say.. preach.

  2. Great post, Michelle–love the attitude–AND the writerly foot-to-the pants! So here I go: “kick, pull, put, write, be”. I’ll be in the ‘write and be’ mode today. Thanks so much for the real-world encouragement!

  3. Tell it, sister! I love your suggestion to write a sentence or two for picking up the plot the next day – I started doing this a few months ago with the manuscript I’m finishing today (hurray!!) and it has made a huge difference in keeping the writing flowing. I also type in notes of things to revise later or a cool idea I want to incorporate somewhere ahead in the mss. It makes my WIP look messy, but I love having it all in one place instead of scattered in different notes and files. Cheers for a productive 2014 for us all!

  4. Thank you for this! the “slumps” are here, along w/ a sick toddler and a bad cold (myself) and just… no motivation. But i am learning that this writer gig does not get fueled only by motivation, but discipline and structure. thanks for the good reminder!

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