How many of you have “shiny syndrome?” You know, when you start writing a novel but are derailed the second a new idea blooms in your brain. Or you become hobbled by the dreaded “isuckitis” as your Internal Editor yammers on about how terrible your writing is. (I hate that guy myself. I say shove IE into a room full of virtual clowns to shut him up!)
Starting and finishing a novel is a Herculean task, so today mystery author Kelly Miller is giving us some great tips on how to stick with it, no matter what!
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With the world running at warp speed, it’s easy to get distracted from our writing projects. Away from them too long and we might find ourselves blocked. Sometimes we need to find new strategies to jump start our creative juices. Remember, writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to create good habits if we’re going to make it across the finish line with a completed novel.
- Just Keep Swimming – To avoid getting stuck in the middle of your story, stop looking back. Accept that your first draft will be crap. It’s meant to be; it’s inevitable. If you keep going back trying to perfect your earlier chapters, you’ll lose the flow of where your story is headed.
- Talk it Out – Find another writer to discuss your story ideas with. This person can be extremely helpful as a sounding board if you’re stuck. Sometimes just saying the words out loud can help the ideas to start flowing again. Two great places to start connecting with other authors online is World Literary Cafe and Writing Forums.
- Pick a Writing Time and Stick to it – If you want to summon your “muse on demand,” create a consistent writing time. Even if you only knock out a page a day, your brain will get used to the time you’ve allotted to writing and your muse will be more likely to show up on a regular basis.
- To Outline or Not to Outline – There’s a never ending debate between the plotter and the pantster. No matter what side of the fence you fall on, try adopting the opposite strategy. If you’re a panster and get stuck, outlining could help alleviate your problem. On the flip side, if you’re a plotter try winging it for a while. Maybe writing without restriction will ignite your creativity. Find some benefits to writing outlines in K.M. Weiland’s article “The Secret To Creating Story Structure.”
- Don’t Run Yourself Ragged – With our hectic lives, sometimes it’s difficult to clear our minds enough to focus on writing. If that’s your problem, give yourself permission to clear some space in your schedule. Try carpooling with a friend so that you don’t have to take junior to baseball practice every day. If you have more than one child, sometimes the number of activities can be staggering. It’s okay to tell the kids “no.” Limit their extracurricular activities and make time for yourself. Recharge by rewarding yourself for all your accomplishments. (When I searched on “gifts for mystery authors,” I found this great mug on Amazon.)
- Set a Goal – If you’re a person who feels validated by achieving a goal, set a daily word count and write until you hit it. Start low at 500 words and if you blow that out of the water, adjust it. If you don’t want to feel trapped by having to write a certain amount of words in a day, change your goal and set the egg timer. Don’t get on your social networking sites, don’t answer the phone, just hide away from all distractions until your time limit is up. Need more inspiration? Check out Write or Die. It’s a computer application that works to eliminate writer’s block by using a reward and consequence system.
- Read a Favorite Book – As a writer, I’m sure you know there’s nothing better than getting sucked into a really good book. If your creative juices aren’t flowing, try reading one of your favorite titles. Not only will you be reading for enjoyment but you’ll find yourself stopping along the way to appreciate the author’s word choice, sentence structure, character development, etc. All of this can spark ideas in your own writing.
Speaking of finding inspiration through reading, Kelly Miller has a new mystery novel out! Building on the success of the award-winning first book in the Detective Kate Springer Series, Dead Like Me, Kelly Miller brings you the second installment, Deadly Fantasies.
A ringing phone at 1:17 am is never a good thing, but Homicide Detective Kate Springer doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring the call. On the other end of the line, a confessor admits to murdering her husband. Dr. Nina Grace needs help, and Kate knows it’s time to repay a debt.
No matter the consequences, Kate must fight to keep the investigation from solely focusing on her friend. But will Kate’s blind loyalty be her downfall?
AND…did I mention you can win a signed paperback of both Dead Like Me AND Deadly Fantasies? Just follow THIS LINK!
What do you do to keep yourself going to the finish line? Do you use motivation strategies, rewards or get strength from the support of your writing group? Let me know in the comments!