Friday, November 5, 2010

Fifteen Rules for Writing

I've had three little storage boxes full of 3 1/2 inch floppy discs that I can't read with my current computer, but there was valuable information that I needed to save. Our computers at the Family History Center all have the 3 1/2 inch floppy drive so if I don't have any patrons, I've been reading the discs and saving what I need (or can decipher because they don't all convert) or just toss them if the information is outdated.

This is one I was able to save and since it has some great ideas, I thought I'd pass it on. I need it now that I am writing again to keep me motivated. Maybe it will help you in your current project.

How to Write Prolifically by Karen King

1. Take yourself seriously as a writer.
2. Write every day. Make it a habit.
3. Set small goals: so many pages a day, rather than finish the novel by next month.
4. Push yourself to go past your goals. Give yourself pats on the back when you meet or exceed your daily goals.
5. Wipe the slate clean each day. In other words, don't flog yourself with guilt if you fail to meet your goals. (And don't try to carry over yesterday's page count and add it to today's goal.)
6. Don't edit or revise until you finish a first draft. (Oh, that is a hard one for me. I edit what I wrote yesterday at the start of each new writing day to get me back into the story!)
7. Don't critique too early.
8. Do whatever works for you, get up early, stay up late, use a tape recorder, write in the bathtub, but don't get the computer wet. :)
9. Remember if you were not around, your husband and kids would not starve to death, and Pizza Hut delivers. Demand respect and time for your writing.
10. Play your stories in your head, like a movie. Rehearse scenes you've already written and let your characters run on with the next scene. I like to do this while falling asleep or waiting in line. Doing it while driving can be dangerous. The next scene will flow onto the paper.
11. Write through brick walls. When you feel stymied, just write. If it is slop, you can edit it out later. You may be pleasantly surprised by the quality.
12. Identify your problem spots and avoid them. Never leave your writing at the end of a chapter; start the next one. If you reread what you've written frequently, turn off the computer screen. If you backspace and respell too often, turn off spellchecker. If you're not sure of a word, or a piece of research, flag it and check it later. If you watch too much TV and don't write, make yourself give it up for two weeks. (Anything good will be back in reruns for the next twenty decades.) Play too many video games? Make it a reward for meeting your writing goals. Read too many books? (Don't we all!) Glut yourself as a reward for finishing a novel. (Finish writing a new one, that is.)
13. Don't start a new project until you finish the first. Use the energy from the next project that begs to be written to complete the one you are on. You'd be surprised how anxious you are to finish when you don't allow yourself to commit your next story to paper. (Not even a synopsis. A story idea worth writing won't disappear and one that won't hang around probably isn't good enough.)
14. Remember how far you've come and not how far you have to go. Then dig in and start the next one.
15. Never forget rule number one.
Happy writing!

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