by Christine Sine
Yesterday I sent the first draft of my manuscript off to the publisher. Did a happy dance and now have my fingers crossed now that they like it. The photo above gives an idea of how I feel today and I am off to have some fun.
It reminded me though that I needed to get the last few posts on writing a book up for those that are interested (and it seems to be quite a few of you). So before I head off for the day here is post #3…..
Step Six: Create an enjoyable process for writing.
- Create a fun way to record your ideas and developing thoughts. I write fairly organically and have found that my blog is a great way to gather thoughts and ideas for future writing projects. When I start on a new project I begin by gathering all the blog posts that I think are relevant. It is fun to look back over these, see the ways that God has inspired me in the past and allow the Holy Spirit to use these to develop an outline.
- Keep a notebook with you. When I am working on a writing project I may not write for more than a few hours a day but I live and breathe my project. Ideas come to me in the middle of the night, when I am walking or talking to friends. I find it helps to carry a notebook with me to record these ideas, otherwise I end up with a motley pile of notes written on envelopes, note cards and scrap pieces of paper. I have also used the note app on my phone but that is not as appealing to me.
- Create a fun exercise to begin your writing time. Know what stirs your imagination and inspires you to write effectively. Consider beginning each writing session with a short 3-5 minute meditation exercise that stir your creativity and help you focus. Doodling, meditation, coloring and writing in longhand are some of the tools you might like to experiment with. For my upcoming writing project I have started a special journal providing myself with opportunities to colour lettering, create pictures, highlight important ideas and images that impact and inspire me, as well as providing a place for me to develop new thoughts as I write and imagine.
Walking finger labyrinths can also be helpful when you have questions you need answers to or thoughts that have not gelled properly. Start with a deep breath and your finger or stylus raised ready to begin the path. Ask your question or imagine your idea. “Walk” into the centre. Re-ask the question or reimagine the idea then walk out again. It is surprising how often this stirs our brains to respond with solutions.
My friend Kim Balke, who is an expressive arts therapist suggested another intriguing exercise that is also highly effective to stir imagination in a writing project. Here is how she explained it to me:
From my point of view as one who works with children most of the time, I wanted to suggest another exercise to help free your soul based on Jesus’ words, “Unless we become as children we cannot enter the kingdom of God “(the most creative dimension I know of!). Here it is: take some time to enjoy a few picture books for children, some from your earliest childhood memories, some contemporary. They may help foster a heart posture of openness, curiosity and wonder. Here are my suggestions:
Visiting Feelings, by Lauren Rubenstein
I Dreamt, A book about Hope, by Gabriela Olmos
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed A neighborhood, by F. Isabel Campoy
The Night Gardener, by The Fan Brothers
Daniel Finds a Poem, by Micha Archer
What Do you do with and Idea? by Kobi Yamada
Always Remember, by Cece Meng (about grief,loss)
My Blue Is Happy ( I forget the author)
Dreamboats (I forget the author)
After reading a story, respond with a doodle, drawing, poem or even keep a few rhythm instruments handy and discover the sounds that hold something that stood out for you in the story…a page of illustration you are drawn to, perhaps.
- Use software you are familiar and comfortable with. I have a Mac computer and like using the Pages word processing software on it. I have also recently started using Skrivener, a shareware software that helps organize files. It is a great tool for drawing together your research into one place. Pinterest is another useful tool for this. As I research on the web I paste links into Pinterest so that I can easily find them again.
- Use software that allows you to edit easily and make changes without wasting a lot of time. Both pages and scrivener help with this. Also, you’ll eventually want to send your manuscript to be edited and formatted, and it’s much easier and less expensive if you’re able to send it in a format your editor can easily edit.
- Reward yourself when you are done. Fun time, down time, self care time are essential. What are some fun activities that you could incorporate into your daily schedule as a reward for the good work you have accomplished? These could be anything from time in the garden to playing with your kids or going for a walk. Rewarding ourselves for what we have accomplished is an excellent way to keep the energy and enthusiasm alive for your project. I find that these fun times often provide creative inspiration for the next stage of my writing project too.
Different people have different writing styles. I find that writing for 2-3 hours in a morning works well for me. I then need a break, a walk and a change of pace. I also like to limit my writing to 3 mornings a week. I might schedule other project related activities like meetings with advisors or practitioners on another morning however. I also find that reviewing blog posts I have written over the last few months or years can help my writing. Sometimes I even cut and paste blog posts into my draft and then adapt them to fit in with the rest of my writing.
My husband likes to work in much larger blocks and can even sit for up to 10 hours in a day for several days in a row. He intersperses meetings and phone calls to collaborators in with his writing. He also does a huge amount of research for any book project, ripping and tearing from newspapers, collecting web articles and reading books that are relevant.
If this is your first writing project, start small with a goal of writing 200 words each day for the first week. Then increase the number of words until you reach 1000-1500 words a day. If you are an experienced writer you probably already know how many words a day are comfortable for you. Make that your goal and stick to it.
This is part of a 4 part series.