11 tips to jumpstart your writing habit

RebeccaBramsNote from Jenna: This guest post is from one of the many talented writers in my online Writer’s Circle program, Rebecca Brams. Rebecca knows first-hand about the many challenges of writing while being a mom to two young boys, but it doesn’t stop her from getting her writing done. She shares here some brilliant-yet-simple techniques she uses to jumpstart her writing on a regular basis, even as a busy parent.

As you read these tips, look for ideas you can use for yourself — and let us know in the comments which one you’ll be putting into action.

My personal favorite is #5. :)


11 Tips: How I Get (& Keep) Myself Writing

by Rebecca Brams

We all have days when sitting down to write sounds about as fun as scrubbing the toilet. When the Muse is ignoring my pleas and Resistance is strong as steel, I turn to these tips and tricks to get words on the page.

1. Write longhand and keep my hand moving

It’s classic advice for a reason. When I’m stuck, I break out the old-fashioned tools: paper and pen. I start by describing what’s around me: the room I’m in, the clothes I’m wearing, the way the clouds are moving out my window. I add in some other senses – the smell of the old coffee in my mug, the sound of the washing machine whirring – and presto, I’ve tricked myself into writing!

2. Use a timer

Before joining the Writer’s Circle with Jenna, I had mainly done timed writing when responding to prompts in writing groups, but now setting a timer is a critical part of my daily writing habit. I love using Freedom, an Internet-blocking software which temporarily disables my computer’s access to the Internet and blocks new emails from coming in. It keeps me away from online distractions while also giving me a clear “time’s up!” message right on my laptop screen.

3. Write before I’m awake

I’m not a morning person, but there’s something about 6:30 a.m. writing that allows me to sneak past that critical “editor” voice that can make each word a struggle. At night before I go to sleep, I set the scene: pen and notebook on the kitchen counter, splayed open to a fresh page. If my husband’s away, I prop my laptop against the wall by my bed, where it charges silently, waiting for morning when I pull it into bed for the indulgence of writing while still snug under the covers.

4. Bribe myself

On days when Resistance is mighty, I give myself a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, but only allow myself to eat it once I’m at my desk, I’ve set my timer, and the document is open. Some of my other favorite rewards are: a walk around the block, People magazine online, or a few minutes rocking in my hammock, thinking about how glad I am that the writing is done.

5. Suffer the consequences

Here’s the idea I keep in my back pocket for days when I feel powerless to stop avoiding my writing. I tell my husband, “Either I write today, or I have to spend those 15 minutes cleaning the toilet.” I’m pretty sure I know how that one will turn out, and it won’t be with a sparkling toilet.

6. Write in an unusual place

I write in my car, parked on a street where I’ve never before driven. I write in crowded cafes. I write in the yard under the Japanese maple. I write in the bathtub. But I do observe the cardinal rule: no laptops hovering over water.

7. Set a teeny tiny goal

10 minutes. 5 minutes. 2.3 minutes. When the timer goes off, I ask myself, “Can I keep going?” If the answer is yes, I set it for another tiny goal. I think in bite-sized pieces.

8. Write a numbered list

It could be a list of “Reasons I Can’t Write Today.” Or something supremely creative like “Things I Remember.” Eventually my timer will go off, or I’ll veer in some new, unexpected direction, perhaps even stumbling upon what I didn’t realize I was meaning to write about all along.

9. Use the phrase “What I really want to say is…”

Courtesy of writing teacher Laurie Wagner, this powerhouse phrase can make a piece of writing fizz and pop like Alka-Seltzer dropped into water.

10. Release the need to know where I’m headed

Sometimes I’m steaming along, words pouring out as fast as my fingers can type, and sometimes I hit dead stop, no idea of how to move forward. That’s when I remind myself that all I need to do is inch the story along. It doesn’t matter which current I tap into; I just need to move into the flow. Once I’m in motion, I can always change course.

11. Change my mindset

Instead of saying “I have to write now,” I tell myself: “Now I get to write.” What felt like suffering a moment ago might turn out to be my favorite part of the day.


diamonds2 Rebecca Brams is a novelist, blogger, grant writer and mama to two young boys in Berkeley, California. You can find Rebecca online at www.thismamawrites.com.

In her copious spare time, she likes Zumba, nature, and hot tubs.


Thanks for reading!

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.






Time To Wake Up: Inspirations from a Creative, Visionary Muse

It’s time for the next installment of my Creative Visionaries Interview Series.

This week we’ll talk to Giulietta Nardone, an Inspirational Rebel and Fearless Branding guide who helps people take back their lives and step into their greatness.

Her vision is to wake up the world, one person at a time.

Her mantra: “Wake up, you’re alive!”

Giulietta describes herself as a visionary and a muse: Someone who inspires people to have fun, be alive, and be human.

Spending time with Giulietta is like swimming in a sea of beautiful, inspirational ideas. Her vision is to wake up as many people as possible before she leaves the planet, with her musings sessions, her “life shops,” her fearless branding and graphic design work, and her local civics group.

She sees so many people around her who are asleep with their eyes wide open, and she’s determined to change that.

The way Giulietta characterizes the epidemic we face is this: We are sleepwalking through life. We’ve been socially anesthetized, buying junk, overspending — it’s like we’ve become “modern day indentured servants to credit card companies.”  We’re passionless drones going through the motions, not even remembering to care what we’re doing or why we’re doing it.

Giulietta woke up to her life when her local historic town hall was slated for demolition and she was the only one in opposition to the project. Her passion to preserve the building inspired an entire group to the project and the historic building has now become the gem of her town. Since then, she’s never stopped waking people up to their own lives.

Here are some tips I gleaned from my conversation with Giulietta about how to wake up to your own life and to your own greatness:

1. Be a “power participant” in your life. Stop sleepwalking. If you aren’t filled with enthusiasm and passion for something you’re considering, don’t do it. Immerse yourself in what you love.

2. Find your life purpose. Suffering and misery come from not knowing your purpose — mobilize yourself to find it, now. (If you need help with this, check out my upcoming workshop.)

3. Be who you are. Instead of having a “work” face and a “play” face, be who you are. Why would you bother doing anything different?

4. Get into uncharted territory so you can feel how alive and vital you really are. Giulietta loves the feeling that all her “senses are sparking” when she’s traveling.

5. Read.

6. Ask questions. Lots of them. Be curious. Follow your curiosity. Ask, “What can I learn today?” Ask the questions other people are afraid to ask.

7. Ignore the naysayers and keep going toward whatever holds your interest. It’s only because of their own fears that they want to hold you back. Don’t be willing to go along with other people’s programs. What do you want to do?

8. Think outside the “societal mindset” that if you just collect enough things you’ll finally achieve nirvana.

9. Get outside. We’ve become an artifical indoor society, which is dehumanizing. You need to be in nature to feel alive and connected and real.

10. Spark a movement. If people say no to something you’re passionate about, keep going until you find someone who says Yes.

11. Band together with others who are awake or waking up. You are not alone.

You can find Giulietta at http://giuliettathemuse.com and http://www.fearless-design.com.

Listen to our full interview here:


What did this article spark for you? Please share your comments on the blog below.


What’s Jenna Up To?

~> November 5th. Virtual Workshop: 5 Steps To Get You Back On Track With What You Were Put Here To Do. Early registration is now available online here only through October 15th at Midnight Eastern Time.

~> November 12th and 13th. In-Person Workshop in Berkeley, California: Give Voice to Your Inner Vision Mastermind Retreat. Clarify your unique vision to implement your Life Purpose in a specific, step-by-step plan. I will not be extensively promoting this program, so if you’re interested, please contact my team to request a private consultation with me to determine if this is the right event for you.