Writing Exercise: Close Your Eyes and Imagine…

I get distracted by visuals. The room around me screams for attention. Watermarks on the kitchen table, the half emptied dishwasher. Even the computer screen distracts me when I’m trying to write. Double spaced or single. How does that sentence look? Does it spill onto the next line? The next page? Punctuation needs to be perfect, so of course I have to go back and fix that mistake. Pretty soon, I’m no longer writing a story. All that’s coming out is proper grammar and punctuation, all the little scribbles that look nice on the page. My imagination has been invaded by visual stimulus.

Stop. 

Just stop.

Does this happen to you too? 

Close your eyes and ignore the space around you. Imagine the scene that you’re writing and the space your characters are in. What color are the walls? Are there watermarks on their table? What is the mood? 

Lift you hands to the keyboard and type with your eyes still closed. Don’t go back for misspelled words—as long as they’re recognizable, they’ll be fine. Plus, muscle memory will seriously kick in. Punctuation? Don’t worry about it. Free your imagination from all distractions and go. Just go. 

This is a good way to beat writer’s block, and to focus on your work when life is pulling you in a million directions. Try it out.

Does it work for you? How’s that scene coming?

Discipline: Essential and Elusive (Part 2)

Soooo… I wrote last week! I plunked myself down and forced myself to have “butt in chair” writing time. None of my usual flitting about organize this or clean that (I can’t stand having a messy house).

It was great! I skimmed through the first chapter again, because I’m planning on sending it off with a grad school application. And then I moved on to the second chapter, which is closer than ever to being finished. I’ll sum it up this week, and then start on number three. 

Tea of the week: Milk tea. Infused with either rose, or star anise. I just learned how to make it, and it’s amazing. (So wonderfully amazingly amazing. And easy to make.)

How’s your writing coming? Anything exciting?

Discipline: So Essential, yet So Elusive

Tonight, I had a revelation.

It’s same revelation I have every once in a while, and it goes like this: I should schedule my writing time so that I move forward at a respectable pace and build discipline. 

Does it ever happen? If I’m honest with myself—rarely. 

I think I’ll try it out this week though. I’ll write one hour per day, from Monday through Friday, and update you at the end. I’m sure I’ll drink twice as much tea as usual. Maybe some iced milk tea. Mmmmm, yum. 

Can you think of any personal challenges that you need face? How do you build discipline?

Writing for the Reader [Part Two]

My student was finally able to read my seven pages (fourteen, I suppose, if I double space it). She passed it around to another student, who skimmed through it pretty quickly. 

When I asked them about it, she was very enthusiastic and sweet—I’m very glad that she liked it. The other student told me that he skimmed just to examine my sentences. So I asked him what he found. He said, reluctantly, that it was good. The stinker 😉

It makes me laugh. He probably was trying to see if I ever said it is at the beginning of my sentences, because when I grade, I circle those in red all the time. Or maybe he was looking for the word thing. That’s another word that I generally disapprove of in academic writing. It gets circled too. Lots of red ink. Everywhere. It’s for their own good and they know it. (Yes, I know I said it is at the beginning of that sentence. This is a blog for crying out loud, not a term paper.)

In summation, I’m glad that I gave it to her and I’m looking forward to editing more so that I can give them the next part of the story. Writing tip of the day? Get an audience—preferably of the age range that you are trying to reach. Having people enjoy your work is fantastic, and having people critique your work is incredibly helpful. Try to gather both sides of the equation. One will encourage you to move forward, and the other will challenge you to write well.