Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.
This is a blog post I wrote in the spring for the Go Teen Writers blog tour, so you may have seen it already. With school having started up and many of us feeling our time get crunched, it seemed like a good time to publish it here as well:
Most writers want to be published. For whatever reason, we feel it's important to get our stories into the hands of people. It feels as though something about our journey will be complete if we can accomplish this.
But the reality for many is that we're far from this, and we often live in seasons of life where we aren't making noticeable progress on this dream. Maybe we aren't even getting to write. Even published novelists go through that during seasons of marketing and book promotion.
While I don't know your unique situation, here are five ideas to help you pursue your dream of writing wherever you are today:
Some seasons of life simply are not conducive to writing. Like your first semester of college, when you're having your wisdom teeth taken out, or when softball and play practice overlap for a few weeks. There are times in life that are better for story gathering than story writing. Even if you can't be writing, try to tune in to the details of your life to save them for later.
If you're fighting with your brother, take note of how your body is reacting. Pounding heart? Clenched fists? You can use that later in a story.
Or if you're in the middle of a cross-country move, try to right down the mood swings you might be experiencing. The excitement of boarding a plane for the first time, mixed with depression over leaving your friends, anger with your parents, and anxiety over the new school.
Save up those life experiences to draw on later, and you'll find your stories coming to life like never before.
Write 50 to 100 words a day.
If you can find ten minutes a day to write, you can make more progress than you think with your novel. 100 words is basically a paragraph, and if you can do it everyday for 100 days, you'll have at least 10,000 words in a few months. If you can't commit to 100 words for 100 days, go smaller. Try 50 words for 50 days.
You won't be able to make much progress in your writing if you aren't writing. So even though it may not feel like much, the discipline and rhythm of writing regularly can do a lot for you.
Look for one thing you could cut.
I received a crash course in prioritizing when I had my daughter, McKenna. Before she was born, I was living the writing dream. I could sit at my computer all day every day and write if I wanted to. Most of the time I wrote in the morning and read in the afternoons. Bliss.
And then came McKenna. Who was beautiful and who I loved like crazy ... but I also had this agent who wanted to see revisions for Me, Just Different. And then, a few short months later, I had an editor buy the book and ask me to write two more. A call I received as I changed my baby girl's diaper after a too-short morning nap.
Pursuing writing - pursuing anything you want in life - will require giving up other things. When pressed for time, I had to make the call about what mattered most. I chose my husband and daughter, followed by writing. This meant saying no to lunch with friends. It meant telling myself no when I wanted to read or take a nap in the afternoon. It meant choosing to write or edit when I felt more like watching The Daily Show.
If you're wanting to get serious about your writing, look at your schedule and see if there's one thing you can cut or trim back to make time for writing. This might involve asking a friend or parent to help you.
Give yourself brainstorming assignments.
This is something Jill Williamson has taught me to do. If I'm getting ready to wash dishes or shower or go on a road trip, I give my brain an assignment. I'll remind myself that I still need to figure out how my main character is going to get from point A to point B, and then I let my mind wander around possible solutions. Often times my mind has wandered away from my current book when the right idea strikes and I have to yank off my dish gloves to get the idea written down. This means that when I'm back at my computer after the kids are in bed, I'm able to use my time well.
Read books ... especially ones on writing!
If I'm feeling stale or like my writing has plateaued, I often pull out my favorite craft books to peruse or reread. It's an activity that refuels me and gets me thinking creatively about my story. For brainstorming, I like ones with exercises in them, like Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass or Deep and Wide by Susan May Warren.
What's a step that you've taken to pursue writing right now?