It’s March and we’ve long forgotten our New Year’s Resolutions. The fervor with which we planned the success of this year in January is probably frozen solid…we’ve certainly had the weather for that here in Michigan. (FYI – It was 14 below zero this morning…a temp so common now that school wasn’t cancelled despite the fact that it was when the temps were 10 below zero in January.)
Shake off those March doldrums, pour a glass of something you normally drink in the summer, and roll up your sleeves. It’s time to gear up and resurrect the goals for this year.
Speaking personally, this means that the novel I thought I could wrap up in December needs to be complete by the end of this month. I set an unrealistic deadline for myself during the Christmas season. It happens.
To keep myself on track, I did this for the month of February:
A Plan: Create an editorial calendar for the next month. Write down 5-10 things you want to accomplish and schedule time to complete those takes on a calendar. At the end of the month, be honest with yourself and reflect on how you did. What worked? What didn’t? Repeat for the next month.
Writing Time isn’t always spent writing. Much of the time, I stare out the window as I need to first visualize a scene before I can write it. Although I appear to be day dreaming…well, that’s exactly what I’m doing, except I do need to come back to my desk to write down my day dreams. That’s where a plan is handy.
In February, I did well planning my journaling and blogging, but novel writing took a back seat. I’m going to work on that this month by spending my Wednesday writing time making notes for scenes. Thursday is my big writing day. Thursday is the day my husband is home in the afternoon, giving me from 1:00 – 9:00 PM to write. I do take breaks, but I’ve set a goal to have close to 3,000 well-written words every Thursday. Lofty, I know.
I’ve taken this exercise a step further and I encourage you do to the same. We’ve all heard that if we want to be a writer, we must write every day. It’s common sense that holds true for anything a person might want to accomplish: runners must run, athletes must practice, students must go to school. My obstacle has always been finding balance with my writing and my family. The solution that is working (for now) is to focus on one thing each day based on how much time I can devote to writing and reading.
Here’s the breakdown:
Mondays are the days I crank out my blog posts for the week. I don’t publish them all on that Monday, but schedule them for later in the week. Each day, I return to the posts to re-read, edit and revise them. By the time they are published, my posts have improved. In order to keep the blog posts as fresh as possible, I keep a notebook on my dining room table to collect ideas.
Tuesdays are reading days. No writing except in the form of notes, comments, and ideas that stem from what I’ve read.
Wednesday are scene plot days in prep for…
Thursdays. As I mentioned, this is my big day each week when I really make progress.
Fridays are too crazy with homeschooling groups to even think about writing. It’s my “Day of Rest”.
Weekends must be spent with families, but I coordinate with my husband to set aside a few hours a weekend to read or write.
A Pro: Spend time reading Joel Friedlander’s blog/website.
Joel’s website is a treasure trove of information. Set the timer, otherwise your entire day will be spent on his blog and you’ll starve.
A Genre-Mash: Just for fun, re-imagine your novel as a picture book - or your picture book as a novel. Write a few scenes and see what happens.
I’ve done this a few times during my weekend writing hours. It’s refreshing to simply puzzle out a story in a different format. Writing styles, patterns, and techniques mature with exercises like this. What may seem a simple exercise will soon become your power yoga.
Because my favorite children’s books have quirky characters, surprising plot elements, and very often, rhythmic & rhyming verse. Stretching my thinking muscles to write in such a different format allows me the time to play with words. Instead of formatting sentences and paragraphs to show the story, I can pattern the story into rhythm patterns. Not much I do with this exercise is publishing-quality work – but that’s not the point. Trying something new…that is.
It’s very easy to feel that the success a writer creates is determined by the number of words written. That’s a trap. Don’t fall in! Writing success rides on the back of every unpublished word. The stories that don’t hold up, the sentences that fail, the characters so flat that they can slide under a door – those are the obstacles in writing we must overcome before we publish.
Writing exercises that specifically work on something we have no intention (or pressure) to polish and publish are necessary.
Enjoy the writing fun! Please let me know how these exercises work out for you.
Other Writing Exercises: