Is This a Breakthrough?

I haven’t wanted to write since last November. In fact, I felt so disconnected from the craft that I decided to give up on it. However, I’m involved in an anthology and the story to be included in that [strong]must[/strong] be edited.

Last weekend, I sat in front of my computer – on one screen was my manuscript awaiting changes, on another was the document the editor had sent me. I spent the better part of an hour switching between the two, but not actually doing anything. Then I decided that it had been a long time since I wrote the short story and I no longer had a clear understanding of what was happening, so I read it (yes, I should have done that at the beginning, I know).

Having read the story, I felt a bit better. I now remembered the issues I had with the story and reading through the editor’s comments I could tell those issues were a problem for her too. Surprisingly, I decided to rewrite the beginning. I say “surprisingly” because this is the last thing I expected to do. I really wanted to make the required changes quickly and email the thing back to the editor. You know, get rid of it and the responsibility. But…here I was thinking about what was wrong with the story and wanting to make it better. This doesn’t sound like a non-writer to me.

I think it took me four days to write eight double spaced pages. I admit that it was extremely hard – almost like trying to pull my own teeth out. I had to force myself to sit down and open the document. I found it hard to concentrate. I worried about the quality of my words. However, I did it because to [strong]not[/strong] do so would have let so many other writers down. I didn’t want that.

Once the beginning had been rewritten, I continued on with the rest of the story. It has been very slow going, but I’m getting there. Last night, I made myself open the document, I procrastinated for a while and did everything and anything else for about half an hour (mainly listening to some music; thankfully, the computer is not connected to the internet) and then I turned my mind to the edit. At first, my mind stubbornly groaned and grunted at every word I looked at or tried to write, but then something extraordinary happened…I lost myself in the story!

That hasn’t happened to me for so long.

When someone knocked on the door, pulling me out of the scene I was working on, I felt two things – joy at the fact that I didn’t even know what had happened or how much time had passed, and, disappointment that it was over. For the first time in a very long time, I was willing to sit in that chair and work quietly into the wee hours of the night.

It was late and I had to get up early to go to work, so I went to bed. I slept soundly for four hours. Then I woke up and found myself thinking about the story, the characters and the scene I was working on. And then, I actually thought about getting out of bed and turning on the computer. At 3.30am! I didn’t do it, but I can’t believe I even gave it a serious thought.

Now that is what writing should be like. It’s something that has been missing for me. I hope this isn’t an isolated incident.

Three Easy Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write

by Will Kalif

Writing is a wonderful, yet sometimes, very hard thing to do. Often it is very easy to not “make the time” to write and nobody is going to motivate you. You have to motivate yourself. Here are three techniques that will get you writing.

Technique 1: Modify Your Internal Dialogue

The biggest reason why a person doesn’t write is the internal dialogue that is run when making the attempt to write. It usually takes the shape of unreasonable questions like “What should I write? Or What if my writing doesn’t make any sense? Or What if my dream of writing is just silly?” These questions become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you hear yourself asking these questions you should immediately interrupt this pattern by replacing it with new questions like: “What kind of fun things are going to happen in my fictional world today or what challenges will my main character overcome today?” This shifts the focus from you to the world you are writing about. This is extremely effective in that it erases the thoughts of doubt you are having and starts a train of thought about the writing.

Technique 2: The Carrot

There are common tools used to motivate people in all sorts of ways and there is no reason why you can’t use these tools on yourself. I keep a pint of my favorite ice cream in the freezer with a note on it: “Did you write?” It is as simple as that. If I don’t write I don’t get the reward. You can set yourself a word or page count goal and then establish a reward for achieving it. And with writing it is very important to establish a time line too! You have to say something like: “If I write a page every day this week I am taking myself out to dinner on Saturday to celebrate.” And make sure you stick with it. No writing and no ice cream.

Technique 3: The Stick

As funny as it sounds this is a technique that really works on two different levels. Assign yourself an unpleasant task like cleaning the bathroom or organizing the garage. If you don’t make your writing goal then this will be your penalty. I have used this technique and it is really effective. And the interesting thing about how this technique works for me is that while I am doing the chore I assigned myself I am thinking up new ideas, scenarios and plots for my writing. For me, simple tasks that take a few hours seem to clear my mind and free me to think. So even if I lose the challenge I still win.

Writing is an extraordinarily rewarding pursuit. Yet sometimes it can be a very hard thing to do. It is just putting words down on paper and you have been doing this since the age of four. So don’t worry about anything and just write. The only way to get good at it, as with anything else, is to actually do it.

About the Author:
Will Kalif is the author of two epic fantasy novels. He is currently working on his third novel in that genre and his fourth novel in the genre of horror. You can check out his writing and his other interesting projects on his website – http://www.stormthecastle.com

The Lure of a New Project

If you visit a lot of writers’ websites, you’ll soon find a large majority of them openly admit to starting more stories than they finish. There are several reasons for this, but I’m going to talk about only one of those reasons today – the lure of a new project.

Yesterday, after a strong fight against it, I allowed the lure of a new project to take hold of me. I must say that the feeling is quite overwhelming and I can attest that the excitement of working on something new and fresh is what forces writers to stray from their current project. The writer has not stopped loving the old project; they just need a complete change of scenery. We do this all the time in everyday life. We change jobs when we start feeling bored and depressed with the old one. We seem to change partners at the drop of a hat these days. So why can’t a writer change projects too?

We spend many long months, even years, planning and writing a project (this is especially true when writing a series). Is it any wonder that we grow a little tired of the … well, same old, same old? To me, it’s not surprising at all. New ideas are always surfacing. We might write the idea down, but we will usually return to the job at hand. However, as the months tick by, the lure is more tempting and then…before we realise what’s happening, we have strayed.

Be warned, if you allow the lure to take you too often, then you will be one of the writers who openly admit to starting more stories than they finish. Do you want to fall into that category? I believe none of us do.

A serious writer will discipline themselves against the lure. They will set up guards to force the enemy back. They will build traps to stop the evilness from approaching their sanctuary. They will do whatever it takes to see their current project completed and submitted. That’s how a writer becomes an author. They submit completed manuscripts for publication, which is something you cannot do if you never finish a manuscript.

So, take this as a warning. The lure of a new project feels great. It’s exciting. It’s even inspiring and motivational. But if you give in to this weakness too often, you’ll never finish a project…and you’ll never become a published author.