Ask the Coach: Superstitious About Writing Time? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month I’m addressing a question about being superstitious about writing:

“Do you ever feel superstitious about your writing time? Like you have to write in the same place, at the same time, after eating the same thing, to recapture the same success of a particular writing day that went well? Or do you find yourself giving up on a day’s writing because you weren’t able to do those things?”

This is an intriguing set of questions because whether or not a writer considers themselves superstitious about their writing practice, it speaks to underlying strategies and challenges around having a consistent writing practice, which is something I recommend for most writers. Let’s discuss. [more…]

 
Create a routine or container for your writing practice, but don’t be afraid to experiment and refine. Being a creature of habit is useful for writers, but we don’t have to be locked in.
 
 
Read the article on Script Mag: 
Ask the Coach: Superstitious About Writing Time?

 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Black ice from Pexels

How to Write All Year Round, The Pandemic Edition (+ Tuesday’s the Last Day to Join!)

This is the third and final article in our “new year to write” series! This article is about some of the lessons we learned in 2020 about writing all year round even in the most difficult and unexpected circumstances. 

In our Called to Write community, it feels like we’ve been through it all together — it’s always an incredible place for learning and growing in a powerful way. 2020 really put our collective writing mettle to the test and I’m grateful for all we’ve learned. 

Here’s what we learned at Called to Write in 2020 about how to keep writing year-round, even in the middle of a pandemic, to bring forward with us into 2021.

Writing with others helps TREMENDOUSLY.

Isolation has been a terrible problem for so many people during the pandemic. And since writers struggle with feeling isolated too? Double whammy. What we’ve found at Called to Write is that having a tight-knit community of writers committed to the cause of writing — even on the days when it just, well, flat out sucks — really helps us see it through. And the thing is, the bad days are so much less important when they’re surrounded by better days. Writing regularly in the company of other writers ends that sense of isolation.

Between our online writing sprints and our weekly, organized Zoom meetings, we have a sense of being in it together. Thank goodness. 

Tip: Find, create, or join a community of writers to help you stay motivated to write. (Hint: Join us!)

Creating MORE structure around writing helps with the timelessness we’ve been experiencing.

Yes, some of us believed having tons of enforced time at home under lockdown would result in equally epic tons of writing time (King Lear, anyone?), but quickly found that was NOT the case.

If anything, we struggled with a disorientation of time and place that felt impossible to manage. Whether you were home alone on your own or in a house filled with unexpected constant companions, making a regular writing schedule happen was Just. Not. Working. 

Oddly enough, in our community, we quickly learned that adding MORE structure for our writing than we usually use was what solved this problem. We added extra writing sprints (we went from one per day to four per day). We shifted to weekly meetings instead of twice monthly, and switched over to Zoom so we could see each other’s faces. We added Progress Journals to track our work and create extra accountability. And what we found is that adding extra structure and support for our writing made it easier to rebuild and maintain our writing momentum.

Tip: Set up designated writing time and lots of extra structure, support, and accountability to help you see it through (as much as you need).

Your “lights out” and wake times really matter.

Getting enough sleep is so important. But so is getting up early to write. These pandemic days are blurry. They squidge together in the most unpleasant way. Grabbing each workday by the horns and showing up to write, usually early, makes it far less important if the rest of the day goes off the rails with distance learning, weird shopping challenges, or other issues.

This is one reason why we ran our Morning Writing Challenge even in the middle of election week. We knew it was likely to be stressful, incredibly distracting, and possibly upsetting, but at the same time, I was determined not to let the state of our republic stop me from writing. And the big way I’ve been doing that — election week and otherwise — is getting up earlier and earlier to write, and going to bed earlier and earlier as a result. 

Here’s the big reason why: Early in the morning, we’re far less likely to get sucked into news, drama, or Other People’s Stuff. Putting your focus on your own work (keeping your eyes on your own paper, so to speak), keeps your writing moving forward, regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world. 

Tip: Figure out how much sleep you need, and design your schedule around it.

Bonus: Get up early to write and reap the rewards of quiet writing time. 

Small increments of writing (still) work.

Something we’ve always taught about at Called to Write is the power of working in small increments of writing time, as a way to build or reboot a regular writing practice. And, as Vizzini from The Princess Bride says, when something goes wrong, you go back to the beginning. Well, some things went wrong this year. So we go back to the beginning. 

If you got off track with your writing in 2020, use the tool of working in small increments of time — even 5 to 15 minutes — to rebuild your writing practice. You can also experiment with working with small sections of your book or project too, if you’re revising, for example, which doesn’t lend itself as well to small increments of time. I jump-started my script revision by focusing on 15 page chunks; far less overwhelming than imagining tackling the whole thing in one go. It’s just a Jedi mind trick but it works, so I’ll take it. :) 

Tip: Use small increments of writing as a tool to help get yourself going again. 

Remember why you’re writing.

This has been a rough year. I know I’m not the only writer who wondered whether it was even worth it to keep writing in the face of the massive challenges we’ve been dealing with globally. It’s impossible not to question our actions when faced with life-and-death circumstances, oppression, and political crisis. What’s important? How should we be spending our time? Will our writing even have a place to end up? What will readers, viewers, publishers, and producers even want, after all this?

My perspective is that all writing is needed and has a place (I’ll make an exception for hate speech). As creators, we entertain, heal, inform, and grow through writing, and we do the same for our readers and viewers. And it doesn’t matter what we’re writing. Fiction entertains, comedy lightens hearts, feel-good movies lift spirits. Serious pieces offer food for thought. Non-fiction teaches. Our writing has a place and a purpose, and if we’re called to write, we simply have to trust the muse and seek to fulfill that calling.

Tip: Remind yourself why you’re writing and what’s important to you about it.

 

It’s a New Year to Write!

Let’s design our 2021 writing vision and goals together.

Even if you haven’t had the successes you wanted in 2020, it’s the perfect time to think ahead to what comes next and how you’ll get there. 

When you join Called to Write, you’ll have access to the Make This Your Year to Write course materials and our live course events, including two Zoom gatherings and one live chat event to help you work through the steps and refine and share your writing vision and goals. You’ll have all the support, camaraderie, and accountability you need to help you work through the course materials and design an actionable vision and goal plan for your writing in 2021. 

Our events start on January 5th!

Here are the steps we’ll be working through together:

  • Step One: Reflect On Your Writing Life & Career So Far (this lesson today, which we’ll review and discuss together on January 5th)
  • Step Two: Notice Your Writing Patterns, Challenges, & Lessons
  • Step Three: Tune Into Your Vision For Your Writing Career and Life
  • Step Four: Tap Into What You Want For Your Daily Writing Life
  • Step Five: Examine the Gap In Your Writing Life
  • Step Six: Set Goals for Your Writing Year
  • Step Seven: Design Your Writing Plan
  • Step Eight: Create Your Support System

Ready to join us? Find out more and register here: https://calledtowrite.mn.co/

Tuesday’s the last day to join in time for the kickoff Zoom event. 
 
 
First photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels
Second photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash