There is one thing that you always have to keep in mind as a dedicated writer. And that is… creating the story in your head, no matter how detailed that marvelous vision of yours may be… it’s going to be a completely different animal once you’re forced to sit down and actually put this great literature on paper. (Or on the screen, in this case) That part is a LOT harder. And it takes a LOT more time. We’re not talking notes and thoughts and scattered ideas here. We’re talking a long, often frustrating, process that will get what’s in your head out there where other people can absorb it. And while many, many people are AWESOME at the creation part of the process… the execution can be a bother and a chore to most. If you want to write, that’s something that you just have to overcome.
Consider this the beginning of literary boot camp! Hehehe! Because it won’t be easy. Half of you will start, and give up within a week. No worries, though. You can always start again later.
There are three stages involved when it comes to training yourself to write consistently. I’ll be putting them here, and hopefully this will help you guys get into a groove that will help you produce more material and more often than normal.
#1 – Make it a Hobby.
The first thing to remember is that writing is supposed to be FUN for you. Now… let me tell you… the writing itself… is NOT fun! LOL! I know that sounds crazy, especially after reading what I JUST said a few sentences ago! But it’s the truth. It can be long and monotonous and you need privacy and have to be away from all of your friends and family and sit at a keyboard until your back hurts, your fingers ache, your wrists are sore, your eyes are burning, your shoulders are tightened up with tension and your butt has been flattened out into a pancake! Hehehe, no… writing is ‘work’. Believe me. However… that’s not where the real ‘fun’ comes from.
The fun comes from you finding that perfect selection of words placed in just the right order to describe what you’re feeling. From being able to truly put yourself into a certain moment, and completely let go. It comes from being completely honest with what you want to say, in a world that you’ve created just for you. Feel free to wallow in that feeling. Know that your personal truth is being put into words, and it has the potential to be broadcasted to anyone and everyone who lays eyes on it. It’s as if you were painting a room in your house, or building something special out in the backyard. It takes a lot of sweat and time and hard work… but the more you build it up and the more complete it becomes, you begin taking a few steps back to look at what you made with a smile. And soon it starts to take shape and color, and you get energized because you can’t WAIT to see what the finished product is gonna look like when it’s done. Writing isn’t all that different.
The first step is to have FUN. Start small. Start by keeping something similar to a “Billy Chase” journal. Come home from school or from work, and ‘talk’ to the screen. What happened during your day? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What do you remember? What do you look forward to? And be honest. Be more honest than you’ve ever been before in your entire life. Let the blank screen be your sigh of relief for all of the pressures from your day. These don’t have to become full stories if you don’t want them to. A few paragraphs a day is fine. Just get used to speaking your mind and putting your feelings into actual words. Practice is everything. And there’s no pressure to ‘perform’ or worry about how it will go over with other people. Just keep writing, and save them to use as guides whenever you need inspiration. These thoughts, dreams, and desires, are the materials with which you will begin to build stories of your own. Many of them! Every day of your life has a story all its own. Use them. And make it fun. Writing should be natural and comfortable. The people reading will be able to tell if you’re forcing it. So make it a hobby, and let your audience know that you’re enjoying yourself.
Do it whenever you have the urge. Whenever you feel like it. Don’t tell anybody, “Hey, I’m writing a story!” because then you’ll be pressured to hurry up and put it out. Just relax at first. Take some notes, gather your ideas, and play around with certain ways to phrase things, describe your feelings, and get a feel for the kind of story that you would want to tell. Which should be easy, because you already have an idea of what kind of story you would like to see. If no one else is doing it, this is your chance to be the first. Enjoy that.
#2 – Make it a Habit.
Let’s say you have some really great ideas for a story, and you’ve gone past the random writer ‘hobby’ stage. You think to yourself, “Hey! I think I can actually write this story and do it my way! If a big dummy like Comsie can do it, how hard can it be?” Hehehe! And this is when you stop taking your writing as lightly as you did before. These aren’t just notes and vague ideas anymore. You want to develop characters and create plots and storylines with the direct intention of showing your work to an audience. And that’s an AMAZING feeling! It is! But this is where writing starts to feel like a chore again. Only briefly, but you’ll have to get through it.
At this stage… you want to pick a particular story that you want to tell, get all of your notes together, and focus. The HARDEST part is getting started! Those first few sentences are like pulling teeth with a greased pair of pliers! But if you sit down, you focus, and you trust your instincts… you can do it. Don’t keep putting it off. Tell yourself, “I’m going to sit down tonight, and I’m going to write the first few paragraphs of my story. And STICK to that, no matter what. It’s important.
I, personally, write every single day. Now, not everybody has to do that. But if you want to move from ‘hobby’ to ‘habit’, you should force yourself to write at LEAST three or four times a week. At LEAST. Occasionally, you might be busy, or lazy, or just uninspired. But if you skip a day, make SURE that you go back and make up for it as soon as possible. Because once you let it ‘cool off’ for a while… you won’t go back to it. This isn’t play time anymore. You need to commit to it. Sit down, fire up whatever program you’re using, and make it happen. Even if you only write a little bit, that’s fine. But dedicate some time to it. Get into the mindset that this is something that you want to do. A part of your normal day. ‘Go to work, come home, eat dinner, rest your feet for a while, watch “The Walking Dead” on AMC, then go to my computer and write’. 😛 All of these things should share equal importance.
It may come off like a big groan for the first two weeks or so, but trust me… once you get in the habit of doing it, you won’t be able to go 48 hours without it. The idea is to make writing almost involuntary. This is where you develop the urge to write down your thoughts. You can train your mind in such a way that even when you’re nowhere near a computer, you’re still thinking about what you’ll write later on when you get home. It’ll happen. Give it time.
#3 – Make it a Discipline.
Ok, so these are the big leagues now. Stage 3 isn’t going to take no for an answer. At this point, you may have started a story, and have been posting chapters for people to read and enjoy. You’re moving from ‘habit’ to ‘discipline’. DON’T just get bored or stop updating your story once you’ve got people hooked. It’s RUDE! Hehehe! Even when I’m working my hardest to put out new stuff, this is the one thing that people scream and shout and scratch and claw at me about. Because they think everything that isn’t being updated every two or three weeks has been abandoned, and I’m to blame for that. So you have to step up now. This means being dedicated to writing as long and as often as humanly possible. It can still be fun, but there will be times when you’ll have to sit yourself down and say, “Write, dammit!” Because if you’re looking for a reason to put it off… guess what? There is ALWAYS a reason to put it off! There are a billion reasons to put it off. Pick seven of them, and you’ll be a week behind in no time. Hehehe!
Set goals for yourself. Don’t just say, “I’ll try to write three times a week if I have the time.” Say, “I’m going to write Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for 90 minutes each, and I’m going to try to get at least 500-1000 words added to every chapter. And even if it takes me a bit longer, I’m not going to stop until I meet that goal.” Be specific. And even if you wiggle and squirm and grunt and your mind wanders… stick to it, and get it done.
This is where you start thinking about having a finished project. You’re trying to put your best foot forward, get from beginning to end, all while creating something that you and your readers can be really proud of. And that might mean writing at times when you really don’t want to write. Remember, we’re not just having fun for fun’s sake anymore. We’re trying to get something done. Think of this more like you were adding a new bedroom onto your house. You can’t just tear out a wall and go back to work on it when you feel like it anymore. Hehehe, the place is a disaster, the house has a giant hole in the side of it, wolves keep sneaking in through the plastic covering, and your angry boyfriend is standing there with his arms folded… wondering why you’re watching TV instead of fixing up this inexcusable mess! 😛
Get it done.
Plan for two hours of writing… and realize that only ONE of those hours will be used for actual writing. Trust me on this. When it comes down to sitting in front of that keyboard, it’s like your senses for distraction become superhuman. You will get uncomfortable, you will get hungry, you will get thirsty, you’ll decide to pick that particular moment to fix the squeak in your computer chair, and you’ll wonder if you forgot to take out the trash, did you feed the dog, did you pay this bill or that… it’s endless. You phone will ring, your neighbor will come knocking for a cup of sugar, that leaky faucet in the kitchen will drive you insane. And after you get through all of that, you still have that five minute stare at a blank screen… trying to come up with the first few words to get you started. HANG IN THERE! It happens to me all the time. It’s practically a part of my daily routine. It’s like my brain’s way of ‘opening’ itself up and clearing out the excess noise in my head so I can concentrate. So don’t let it bully you out of your discipline. Easier said than done, I know. I think I get more stuff done around the house just 20 minutes before I start writing than I do during any other time of the day. So get used to it.
Once you struggle through the distractions and settle in, just focus on getting those first two or three sentences out. They don’t have to be perfect. You can always go back and edit them later if you want. The idea is to get a momentum going. Three sentences can go a long way. You’d be surprised how fast those first few pages fly by once you let go and just start letting your feelings take over and speak for themselves. If you can keep that up a few days a week, every week… congratulations! You’re a writer!
Having the ‘Hobby’ makes it fun and keeps it honest and close to your heart. Having the ‘Habit’ makes it automatic and inspires you to use words as a normal and constant part of your emotional expression. Having the ‘Discipline’ makes it a deliberate practice that creates the craving for a satisfying and completed project. So now that you know, let’s fire up those engines, get warmed up, crack your knuckles… and let’s see what ya got! The world is waiting. Nobody can write your story but you. So you’d better not cheat us!
This has been ‘Comsie Talks’! And I hope this helps!