As Hall of Fame football receiver Don Hutson once said, For every catch I make in a game, I’ve made a thousand catches in practice. Tim McCarver (Tim McCarver’s Baseball for Brain Surgeons, and Other Fans,)
It’s not that practice makes perfect, but it does improve your chances for success. When I was at one of the Hackmatack events for my book Winds of L’Acadie, I met a lot of amazing authors. This was my first book. I was anxious to know about the routines of other authors. Authors who had written a lot of books. One picture book author told me she writes every day. Wow. I hadn’t realized that. I was teaching full time and writing on weekends. She went on to say, “Once I took a week off for a holiday and at the end of the week, I had no ideas. If I don’t write, the ideas go away. It took too long to get the ideas back, so now I write every day. And every day, I have lots of ideas.” Over the years, I have often thought of how right she was! You really do have to show up. And it’s not as easy as it sounds!
- Set aside a time each day that you can do your writing. Show up at your notebook or computer whether you have anything to say or not.
- Acknowledge the interruptions to your schedule as part of life. Part of being a family member, or friend. Make every effort to stick to your commitment to yourself., but don’t beat yourself when life takes over.
- Give yourself positive messages as to what you have accomplished. Praise your efforts, even when the outcome didn’t go in the direction you wanted, or you didn’t complete your goal for the day/week/month.
- Stick to it. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. All writing, whether or not it goes into your finished manuscript is useful. Helpful. It’s not a waste of time. It’s all practice.
- Make the workspace inviting. For years I underestimated the value of having an enjoyable space in which to work. It was amazing how inspirational my office became once I cleared away the clutter and surrounded myself with my favourite things. Now, it’s a pleasure to spend time there. It is a place where the Muse welcomes me as I shut out the rest of the world.
- Start small. Build on your successes one tiny step at a time. Congratulate yourself on writing for fifteen minutes without interruptions and distractions and then try to build on that the next day. Make your daily goals easy to achieve. When I found websites of authors who wrote 1,000 words a day, I found it really daunting. Then I took on the NaNoWriMo one year and wrote 1667 words a day steady for almost a whole month, until a family crisis took me away. After that, 1,000 words a day seemed very doable.
- Get to know yourself as a writer and as a person. Write a one page biography about yourself as though you were someone else. How does that other person see you? Tell about your personality. Your lifestyle. What strengths do they notice? What accomplishments have impressed her?
- Write about someone you know who is very creative. Tell a bit about that person’s personality. Habits. Why is he creative? What creative projects has he accomplished? What effect did these accomplishments have on your life?
- Write about someone famous who you admire. Write what you know about that person’s life. What is it you admire about that person? What makes her/him special? How did that person become successful? Is ther something you can learn about your own creative practice from this person?
PRACTICE! AND DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN!