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View Full Version : How Do You Get in the Habit?



mada
08-28-2010, 09:51 PM
I've decided to start writing again after almost a 2 year break. You would think that writing would be like riding a bike, but I'm finding it much harder to get back to writing without feeling like everything sucks.

Does anyone have any advice for getting back into the habit? Are there any sites that would be good to try to write for that take those without much experience? I feel like I do much better if I am writing for a reason.

Thanks!

alleycat
08-28-2010, 10:27 PM
An offhand comment . . .

It sounds like you need motivation more than anything else. One suggestion: create your own motivation--one that you have complete control over (no room for excuses). If you can create a reward for yourself, so much the better. I don't know what kind of writing you do, so I can't suggest anything specific to you. An example: if you write freelance articles, set a goal of writing and submitting X number of articles in the next three months. The X being whatever number of articles is reasonable and doable for you.

If you find yourself blocked for whatever reason, step back and ask why you're not completing your goal (a common excuse might be "I don't know where to submit"), then look for a solution to that particular roadblock (for the example of not knowing where to submit, the solution might be to do some research at your local library, online, or in something like Writer's Market). Of course, this is just a crude example.

Maryn
08-28-2010, 10:30 PM
You'll probably see a lot of people here espousing the BIC system.

That's your butt in chair for a set amount of time every day, minimum 30 minutes. (An hour or more is better. You want to write or not?) During BIC time you have two options, and only two. You may write, or you may not write. You can't be online, have the TV on in the background, play a computer game, do writing-related research, read what you've already written, text or IM, adjust your outline, eat, smoke, drink, or anything else. Write or don't, period.

Most days, you'll write. On the best days, you'll 'catch fire' and go beyond your assigned time, which is great. However, you can't amass credit. The next day, you still owe the same amount of BIC time as every other day.

If you can work BIC into your routine, either daily or five days a week, you'll be way, way ahead of where you are right this moment.

Teaching yourself to write even when it doesn't come easily or you don't feel like it is part of the road to being a professional writer, or an amateur whose dreams are not out of the question.

Maryn, sometime-BIC-er

KTC
08-28-2010, 10:32 PM
I've decided to start writing again after almost a 2 year break. You would think that writing would be like riding a bike, but I'm finding it much harder to get back to writing without feeling like everything sucks.

Does anyone have any advice for getting back into the habit? Are there any sites that would be good to try to write for that take those without much experience? I feel like I do much better if I am writing for a reason.

Thanks!

There's no reason to look solely at 'sites'. When I first decided to try writing I queried local newspapers and magazines. I was regularly accepted. My very first submission anywhere was accepted by a national newspaper. You DO NOT NEED experience to get gigs. Don't limit yourself to 'sites' that will pay you next to nothing for your work. Just start by putting your best foot forward locally.

mada
08-28-2010, 10:38 PM
An offhand comment . . .

It sounds like you need motivation more than anything else.

This one sentence is bouncing around inside my head right now! I think it is the kick in the pants I needed. Thanks!

whimsical rabbit
08-28-2010, 10:44 PM
What everybody else said.

And my two cents:

I've been actively participating in AW for a good month now, and found that reading the tips of professionals, and brainstorming with others to provide solutions to our fellow writers' problems, actually gave me new energy to put my butt down and work. It's going to sound a bit ridiculous, but it did help me take myself and my work seriously after an eternity of procrastination.

Just be careful not to end up spending your entire day here, because it certainly becomes addictive. ;)

alleycat
08-28-2010, 10:44 PM
You'll probably get a lot of ideas and suggestions. Write down the ones that seem more usable to you and create your own action plan.

Shadow_Ferret
08-28-2010, 10:48 PM
How to get back in the habit?

Just do it.

Terie
08-28-2010, 11:16 PM
During BIC time you have two options, and only two. You may write, or you may not write. You can't be online, have the TV on in the background, play a computer game, do writing-related research, read what you've already written, text or IM, adjust your outline, eat, smoke, drink, or anything else.

With two exceptions: blood and fire.

I'm single and have no kids, so this hasn't been an issue for me, but I have writer friends who have used this to create their BIC time: there's a signal (such as a closed office door, or a flag, or what-have-you) that means 'it's mom/dad's BIC time...no interruptions except for blood or fire.' A bleeding child or burning house is actually a good reason to interrupt your writing. :D

The Lonely One
08-29-2010, 12:10 AM
Well personally I don't espouse the idea of submitting work that isn't your best effort to publications that will take any old thing--though I'm not sure that's what you're suggesting.

Either way, I would imagine writing after a 2-year break would be difficult, though it is very doable. If it were me, I would just expect to be writing crud for a while until I settled into a new groove.

I also advocate BIC.

mada
08-29-2010, 05:56 AM
Well personally I don't espouse the idea of submitting work that isn't your best effort to publications that will take any old thing--though I'm not sure that's what you're suggesting.

Either way, I would imagine writing after a 2-year break would be difficult, though it is very doable. If it were me, I would just expect to be writing crud for a while until I settled into a new groove.

I also advocate BIC.

I'm not saying I want to submit work that isn't my best effort but I know that my best effort now may not be the same as it was 2 years ago and I hope it's not the same as it will be down the road.

What I meant is that many places seem to be hard to get into unless you have an outstanding sample and a resume behind you. Right now, I have neither.

Terie
08-29-2010, 11:19 AM
What I meant is that many places seem to be hard to get into unless you have an outstanding sample and a resume behind you. Right now, I have neither.

It's true that you have to have outstanding writing to get an acceptance letter. It always has been and always will be. That hasn't changed one bit.

It's NOT true that you need a resume to get an acceptance letter. It never has been and never will be. That hasn't changed one bit.

Your writing muscles might be a bit rusty right now, but much like a physical activity (such as bicycling, running, playing basketball, and so on), it'll take less time to get back to where you were than it took to get there in the first place.

But don't buy into the lie that it's harder now to get a deal than it used to be (especially only two years ago). If you write an outstanding manuscript, your chances of selling it are very good; OTOH, if you don't write an outstanding manuscript, your chances of selling it are virtually nil. All you have to do is write an outstanding manuscript. That, of course, is the challenge each of us faces every day. :)

Jamesaritchie
08-29-2010, 05:55 PM
Every habit forms exactly the same way, whether it's the smoking habit, the drinking habit, or the writing habit. Do the same thing over and over, day in and day out, and it becomes a habit. Most habits take only twenty-one days to form.

Of course, you don't need to form a habit if writing is something you love to do. But if you want to be a writer, rather than loving to write, you're in trouble.

Looking for sites that want inexperienced writers is the worst possible thing you can do. You don't learn anything by aiming at such sites. You learn by aiming at the very best publications out there, getting rejected, taking your lumps, and writing continually until you're good enough to get into the best.

If you aim at the bottom, you'll never hit the top.

The Lonely One
08-30-2010, 12:51 AM
I'm not saying I want to submit work that isn't my best effort but I know that my best effort now may not be the same as it was 2 years ago and I hope it's not the same as it will be down the road.

What I meant is that many places seem to be hard to get into unless you have an outstanding sample and a resume behind you. Right now, I have neither.

As JAR was saying, I think rejects from difficult markets are more useful as a motivator than acceptances that might come back to haunt you. It may not be that way for you, but it certainly is for me.

Smaller zines might give you feedback on a rejection, which is ultra useful, but even if they're small I'd say it's better to aim at those accepting quality work.

A lot of small zines seem to have this policy of "we don't give a shit about your pub credits; don't bother sending them along," which might be perfect for you. I happen to love that policy. Although I don't think big markets let an author's resume trump the quality of work, they might be more accommodating to someone with a proven track record or who has published multiple times with them, whereas small markets may really be aiming to get a larger number of "new" authors (at least, that's the way I've heard it--could be wrong).

Either way, don't give up! I find rejections keep me submitting, and keep me on my game.

I think, this didn't work for them. Why? Then I go back and make sure the reason isn't sloppy editing, loose plotting, boring scenes or characters, cliche situations or phrases, or anything else I can prevent. If it just didn't work for them, fine. Can't change that. But I want to be MY best.

I practice editing as much as I practice writing, which to me is key.