There are plenty of personal writing tips floating around online, but that doesn’t mean I can’t throw my hat into the ring. It’s an old, brown suede cabby hat, so at least it’s unique. Without further ado, order, rhyme or reason, here are my favorite personal writing tips.
Find Your Writing Beverage
Let’s start with something fun: writing drinks. In my experience, writing drinks tend to be hot. I’m not sure why. Maybe because the temperature enforces a time limit that forces you to be productive. Strike while the iron is hot and type before the tea goes cold. It primes you to write and helps your muse develop a Pavlovian response to your beverage of choice.
My default writing drink is black tea. Coffee, herbal tea, green tea, etc. all work just as well. If you live somewhere warm, you may flip the script and use a cold drink that you have to finish before it gets warm.
Sometimes having a suitable drink on hand can get you in the mood. Flavors let you travel all around the world without leaving your desk. Have some chai when your character visits India, try an old fashioned cream soda while your hero charges around 1950’s Brooklyn. Your plot heading down south? Break out the lemonade and sweet tea!
Sometimes writing sucks. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, that this project is doomed, or that you’ve done anything wrong. View writing challenges as you would a hill on a long hike. There’s nothing good or bad about the hill. It’s just there. It may take a bit more effort to overcome, but you’ll feel better for climbing it, and you won’t believe the view when you reach the top.
Have a Side Project (or Three)
I get very anxious about writing. My inner editor and I have some very serious beef that always turns up when it’s story time. The best way I’ve found to deal with that beef is to work on multiple projects. There is no single make or break project. If something fails, it isn’t a failure of my entire writing career. Working on a side project with low stakes is also a great way to warm up, cool down, or just blow off steam. These projects remind me that writing is fun and help me stay connected to my joy.
Exercise Your Library Card
I love libraries. They’re quiet, they’re free, and – most importantly – they’re full of books! If you need a place to write, a place to research, or you need help brainstorming, your local library is the place to go. Yes, yes, it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Unlike coffee shops (which I also love), libraries don’t charge you to sit at a table and spend some quality time with your laptop. If your computer is in for repairs, you can use the library terminals to do some online research or work on and online document (all hail Google). You’ll also find the best possible research tools in the library proper and through the library’s online tools. Free + books + work space + online resources = ultimate win.
Take Yourself on a Long Walk
Most great writers have the same advice for colleagues who get stuck: go for a walk. Your brain processes ideas differently when you’re in motion, walking reduces stress, and at the very least, you’ll make your doctor happy. Writer’s block happens to the best of us, and I’ve never gotten over it as quickly as I do on a walk, or doing some other mindless physical labor. Getting away from the desk also shuts up my inner editor, who is personally responsible for no less than 90% of my writer’s block episodes.
Now you’ve heard my tips, and the ball’s in your court. So, go for a walk, sit down with a nice cup of tea, and get started on a bevy of projects! Your library is waiting with open doors, and the next challenge is just an opportunity to grow.