A little shout out to all of the Fiction bloggers that I follow: You all really, really, REALLY know what you’re talking about when it comes to the craft of writing. I’ve read so many great writing tips, strategies and ideas in the past few months that I wonder how I managed to even get words on paper back in the day (you know, last Spring) before I entered the blogosphere.
When I got my book deal last February, I was, well, let’s just call it naive when it came to writing a book. I had spent five years working as a writer and editor for Nickelodoen (I recently moved on to work for WeAreTeachers, a career move that I’m really excited about), so I had lots of web writing experience. But, web writing and book writing are very different animals. I had absolutely no clue how to actually write a book.
Of course, I had to figure it out really quickly. I told you a few weeks ago that I had a little over two months between the day I got my book deal and the day I had to turn in a draft of my manuscript to my publisher. That wasn’t a lot of time. I didn’t have time to order writing books on Amazon or even search through the aforementioned writing blogs that have been so helpful to me lately. I didn’t have time to spend a few weeks getting my thoughts together or brainstorm or ask a critique group for suggestions. I had to write.
My best tips for writing when you have a deadline:
1. Force yourself to write. Even if your dog chewed up your favorite shoes and your kid is throwing major temper tantrums and your husband is stressed at work– you need to put everything out of your mind for a certain amount of time each day and just write. For me, my goal was to write ten pages every day. Those pages didn’t have to be edited or perfect or funny or anything…just written. I made a rule that I couldn’t go to bed until I had ten pages on paper. I admit it, there were days that I was up until 1 am getting those ten pages on paper. There were mornings I woke up and tossed all ten pages in the trash because they were worthless. But, I wrote ten pages every day.
2. Get out of the house. I canNOT write at home. Okay, I can, but I find myself writing for fifteen minutes, then getting up to fold a load of laundry. Then writing for ten more, then making myself a cup of coffee. Then writing some more, then running upstairs “just to check on something.” And that’s when the kids aren’t home. When my kids are home, there is absolutely no way I can manage to get a thought on paper. So, if you have a deadline, get away from the house. I spend many Saturday mornings camped out at the coffee shop down the road. I let my husband (thanks Cam!) take care of the Saturday morning waffles and spend two or three hours writing. It’s wonderful. And, perhaps the ultimate writer’s indulgence: When I was getting down the the wire on my book, my husband booked me a room for an entire weekend at the local Holiday Inn. I hung out in my sweats for two days– just me and my computer and the weak motel coffee– and wrote and wrote and wrote.
3. Give yourself a sugar high. I try to eat pretty healthy most of the time (okay, aside from the occasional Dove chocolate and an all-too-powerful addiction to caffeine)– but when I’m writing under a deadline, I allow myself some treats. Why? Because I’m so much wittier on paper when I have a sugar high. I swear. Any drink that involves a combination of coffee and sugar is a guaranteed tonic for writer’s block or (worse!) boring writing.
4. Exercise. Let me get one thing straight right away: I am not a sporty girl. I rarely (if ever) exercise– unless my friend Hildi drags me to the gym and entices me with dinner out afterwards. However, when I’m writing and at a loss for ideas, sometimes the best anecdote is a brisk walk. For some reason, once I get outside and get moving, the ideas start flowing and I get back home and can start writing. (Note: If you tend to forget the ideas before you get home, bring a tape recorder.)
Question for you: What are your best writing with a deadline tips?