Last night I had an awesome time at the Sweet Branch Library as The Author in the House. Chris Chambers and his crew had lights and candles and tea and crumpets and, as my friend Gretta said, it's like I was attending my own wedding again.
Speaking of Gretta, I'm posting these suggestions I gave for all of us writers to keep us focused.
1. You will never have enough time to write, so don't put off writing the thing you want to write. It never gets easier.
2. Negotiate on a daily basis when, where, and how much you'll write. When I'm struggling, I write to a word limit. 500 words is doable for me.
3. Remember that slow but steady will get you to the finish line--just like it got the tortoise there before the hare. If you write 500 words a day, 5 days a week, you'll have a book-length manuscript by the end of the year.
4. You don't have to start at the beginning. Start wherever your energy takes you--even if it's in the middle or the ending. You can fill in the necessary details (such as a beginning, for example) later on.
5. In other words, give yourself permission as Anne LaMott suggests, to write a shitty first draft.
6. Stop writing before you write yourself out during any given period. That way you'll have an easier time getting started the next time you sit down.
7. Try writing the old-fashioned way sometimes--with paper and pencil. Martine Levitt suggests that when you write by hand, you slow down the process just enough to make better word choices.
8. Read like a writer. When you find yourself marveling at something an author has done, ask yourself how she/he did that.
9. But don't forget to read like a reader. Sometimes writers become so aware of craft that they stop reading for fun. READ FOR FUN, YOU GUYS!
10. Remember that if you write, then you're a writer. You're a real writer. Too many people think that you're only a real writer if you've been published. And too many people think that getting published is the only reason for writing. Write because you want to. Because you need to. Because writing helps you make sense of your life and the world around you. And while you're at it, create a writer's life for yourself. Do a reading! Join a writers' group! Go on writers' retreats with writer friends! No matter where you are on your writing journey, you can do any of these things. Just remember to write.