Tag Archives: advice

Ho-Ho-Hope You’re Writing! 5 Writing Tips from Santa Himself

santa claus
credit: Eric Lanning

Seasons’ greetings, fellow writers.  It’s that time of year where the eggnog starts pouring and the coloured lights are a twinklin’.

The busyness of the last few weeks of the year can leave very little time for writing, but it bears saying:  write anyways.   Whether it’s just 15 minutes, 500 words, whatever your method for squeezing in some writing time, do it.

While the expertise of Father Christmas lies in the industry of distribution and holiday cheer, there are a few things we can learn from his gift giving strategy when it comes to the picking up that pen, or committing to some keyboard clatter:

 

1.  Not everyone will believe in you.

Let’s rip this bandage off quickly.  There are probably people in your life who don’t believe you are a writer, or don’t believe that the effort in pursuing the craft is worth your time.  These people might be bitter and malicious or they might be very well meaning.

You are still a writer.

 Don’t waste time feeling like you have to convince them otherwise.  Just because they aren’t putting out the writer’s equivalent of milk and cookies for you, doesn’t mean you don’t have a sack full of plot lines and protagonists in your sleigh– which brings us to our second tip:

2.  Deliver.  

Don’t be an aspiring writer.  Be a writer.  Write often, write purposefully, and write until you’ve finished something.  That big velvet bag full of description and literary devices that you’ve been telling people about?  You need wrap them up nicely so people can open up their browser,fire up their tablet, or crack open those pages and read them.

3.  Santa has a workshop.

Good ol’ St Nick has his work space well established, and while you don’t necessarily need an area the size of the north pole for writing, you do need a designated writing zone.    Someplace  to sit, or stand, something to support your writing devices (a computer, paper pad and or pen), and somewhere you can focus with relatively few distractions.

4.  Practice and Perfect.  

I don’t mean “practice makes perfect”. Santa has been doing this a long time, and we’ve heard enough wacky tales about his misadventures delivering goodies to know that he still hasn’t got it completely right.  But Santa sticks to it, even after the set backs.

Santa also evolves.  He’s tried new things for better results, and you can too!  Just think: what if one foggy Christmas eve, Santa didn’t add another reindeer to his team?

5.  Santa knows what’s up… and so should you.

Santa does his research.  He knows what his audience is looking for, though his means of acquiring such data is potentially questionable (He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…?).  Do you know who your audience is?  Do you know what they want to read about, or how to present it to them?

So here it is: Santa doesn’t execute his one night flight of gift giving with out a little bit of planning. He makes a list, and he checks it twice, so review this list: do you follow his advice?

10 Reasons Not to Write (And How to Get Past Them)

Photo Credit:  Ben Timney

Sometimes the idea of writing is daunting.

The thought alone of stationing yourself in front of your Macbook or Lenovo IdeaPad (for you Franzen fans) can leave you feeling defeated.  The voice in the back of your head is echoing the chastising sentiment of countless blogs and best-selling authors: “why do you want to be a writer if you don’t want to write?”.

To make matters worse, most of us don’t have countless spare hours to spend bleeding ideas on to a typewriter.  We have jobs.  Family.  Social commitments.  The need to cook, clean, run errands, volunteer, and, oh yes, sleep.  It’s okay that we don’t always want to write, right?

Below are ten completely acceptable and realistic reasons to put off writing… but how you can get past them and write anyways.

1. You’re too tired (or sick, or emotional, or worse, apathetic).

November brings us colds and flus, an influx of social obligations, and for many of us… a disgusting amount of mud, slush and snow to clean up after.  The technical term for what your feeling after all this is “blaaahhhhhhh”.  The cure? A hot cup of tea, a Snuggie (or normal blanket) and a simple writing exercise:  Stream of consciousness.

Instead of racking your brain for something edgy and exciting, just spill your brain into your note book.  You’ll either find a gem in that mess, or the strength to keep writing.

2. Your parents are visiting in an hour.  

Dinner to make?  Cushions to fluff?  Dog to walk?  Tylenol to find?   Take ten minutes to write the anticipated dialogue of the night ahead.  Consider it an opportunity to see the humour in your absolutely normal chaos of family stopping by.  Plus, you can later adapt it for your novel.  You could even stretch that into 40 minutes of writing, because really, your parents have seen your messy room before.

3.  Because, the Internet.

Have you heard of Emergency Kittens?  Recipe blogs? Pinterest?  The Facebook? Margaret Atwood on Twitter??  Memes!?!?  Yes, the internet is a magically delicious, disturbing and distracting place.  I have five words for you:  Pens.  Paper.  Pretend power outage.   Get to it!

4.  Because, kids.

Sorry, I can’t help you here.

I have cats, not kids, and they are not the same.  For this reason, I wont pretend that  I have a plan to keep your two year old from putting her socks in your teacup, but hey, consider it inspiration for when they finally fall asleep, and you’re writing stream of consciousness.

5.  You are out of ideas.

FREEBEE WRITER PROMPT: Name 10 insensitive things people say to their friends who just broke up with (or was dumped by) their significant other.  If you’re not crying by the end of it, this exercise should stir up some conflict for your character’s social life.  If you are crying… that was a terrible writing prompt for you.

I am so sorry.

6.  You don’t want to suck. 

You can’t suck at something if you don’t do it, right?  Drop that line of reasoning write-ahem-right now!  You are a writer.  That is the person you want to be and that is the person your dog believes you are too!  He thinks you are the BEST. WRITER. EVER.

If you don’t have a dog, don’t fret: you write better than any dog ever has!  Now take that inspiration and get to scribbling.

7. You miss seeing people.  

Ah, human interaction.  We all need it, even if it’s just in small doses.  Hop over to a crowded local coffee shop, make some small talk with the barista, and get to eavesdropping on patrons beside you.  Whether you’re next to two suits discussing how ridiculous the afternoon’s Powerpoint was, or bachelorette party planners, you have got your healthy serving of socializing and incredible fodder for your story.

Don’t forget your notebook.

8.  You’re just not in the mood.  

Sometimes the candles wont be lit and the lightbulbs need replacing.  Sometimes, instead of rose petals, you’re surrounded by left over pizza crusts. Write anyways, because the desire to write grows with writing.

9.  It feels like work.  

Well, it is.

Fanciful notions of a bohemian or aristocratic lifestyle where you spend a few hours writing on a sunlit balcony (after a night of bumping shoulders and sharing witty banter with other elite artists) are not constructive.

Writing is work.  You won’t always want to do it, and you won’t always be in the mood, but to be a writer, you have to push through it.  Anything worthwhile WILL take a little bit of work.

10.  You’re too busy kicking yourself for not writing sooner.

Okay, I lied.  This is not an acceptable reason for not writing, but it’s one so many writers  fall back on consistently.  We punish ourselves sulking over the time we spent re-watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and now that’s two hours gone that we could have spent writing.

Take a breath, forgive yourself and take advantage of the time you do have to write, right now.  It’s that easy.

What other acceptable reasons for avoiding writing to you fall back on?  How do you push through them? Leave a comment below or tell us on twitter, #writeanyways.