1. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    The little tricks that get you to keep writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Birmingham, Mar 4, 2013.

    In the past I've raised here the issue of things one can do to keep writing, to keep having the motivation, etc. The question I posed was what you do to keep yourself in line, and most people gave the answer of "just do it", just sit and force yourself to write.

    I'm sure it's an honest answer, but it doesn't lead anywhere. It's an obvious answer (sort of like saying "use google" when I ask about search engines and websites for specific subjects).

    So I figured it would be cute to have a little thread with pointers aside from the obvious. I'm not talking necessarily about what YOU do, but maybe what you know that others do. I'll give you an example:

    Greg Gutfeld said in an interview that he doesn't have a lot of time to write, and that he's very tired (with "The Five", "Red Eye", etc) and when he gets home he has about 3 hours before he has to go to bed. So he uses that time to write his books. His attitude to life is take something that's a chore, and marry it to something you actually enjoy. So he always writes with a glass of wine next to him. He likes wine, and whenever he writes a line he's happy about, a line he thinks is exceptionally witty, he takes a sip. So gradually writing turns from a chore, into something he actually looks forward to.

    Do you have similar stories about yourselves? About others?
     
  2. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Rewards like that are helpful. Not necessarily alcohol, but cookies, TV time or video games. For a while, I only played an hour of video games if I had written for an hour, etc. That didn't work too well, because I kept just playing videogames anyway, haha. I had a friend who would only drink on the weekend if he had practiced his clarinet enough during the week. He said he wrote a contract for himself (signed it and everything) and that helped him make it official.

    What's worked BEST for me is setting a word-count goal and keeping track of my progress. I want my next draft to be 80k, and I want to finish it by April 1st. I planned it so I would only have to write 3 pages (750 words) a day, and if I kept up at it I'd reach my goal. I also keep track of my word count in excel, and it makes a line and bar graph for me so I can easily see my progress. If I skip a few days, the line graph goes flat and the bar graph is empty for the day, so I can really see that.
     
  3. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I just remember what my 'dream' is. If I don't write, then I'll never achieve it. Simple.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why would anyone write if they had to bribe themselves to do it?
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    good question :D

    Me? I just tell myself, "It's a choice." You become paralysed when you think your writing or the quality of your writing is dependent on your whim/mood/muse. Even if you write crap and end up deleting everything, I've never found the process unproductive - either it's alerted me to what I actually need to write, or given me ideas to expand on into a better scene, or if nothing else, it's definitely good practice for writing well. It's always a choice. Even with writer's block - I have someone on FB who cries about writer's block, gets so angry when people say it doesn't exist and all, but I've seen the guy write and he's good and he writes quite a lot. He claims it's because just 500 words took him 10 hours - but who cares? WHO CARES that it took 10 hours - you have 500 good words, don't you? And that's writing and that's one step toward your goal of finishing. So sure, it's more difficult for him, but when he chose to write, he wrote, didn't he? Speed is not paramount - actually getting good words down on a page is.

    Otherwise - I give myself deadlines. They're arbitrary, for example to finish my MS by March - it doesn't matter if I miss the deadline, but I'll work harder if I know I am aiming for a date.

    Develop a voice in your head - I did, and it constantly nags me "Write write write write"

    Realise that writing is actually hard work, then you won't be as put off by it when it gets hard :)

    Read a good book, or write something fun - remind yourself why writing is a joy rather than a pain.

    Delete (but back it up first) whatever you've written that you hate and start again - always helps me get unstuck.

    Motivation - it's really nothing else other than sheer will power of not letting yourself give up. There's no magic about it. It's a choice. When I first started, I was afraid, "What if I don't finish?" And then I told myself, "I will finish, because it is my choice whether I write or not. Therefore I WILL finish. There's no choice about it, I just will."

    You see, the trick is: it's a choice to write, but don't give yourself the choice of giving up. Giving up is not a choice, it's not an option.

    And guess what, I finished a few days ago :D I'm gonna start submitting about a month or so from now! And truth is, I know I'd never have finished if I hadn't simply decided "I will finish" before I even started. That's the other trick - decide that you will finish before you even start. It's a commitment to yourself.
     
  6. johann77
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    johann77 Member

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    Not writing some times can cause you to keep writing.
     
  7. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    Many others use tricks to help them write, they generally don't work for me.
    The only thing I have found that works is to actually not push it. I do my best writing when the mood takes me, the more I write when the mood takes me, the more often it does. Win Win!!
     
  8. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    You don't HAVE to bribe yourself, it's just a trick that helps. Writing can sometimes feel more like a chore than a hobby, and little rewards like this can make it seem less arduous. Anything that improves morale.
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't have any tricks. I don't need them.
     
  10. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I don't have any tricks to help keep me writing i just have a certain schedule for my writings. For example i have a health treatment that takes to hours every night so i use that time to write. I do my editing and revising work on the weekends because there is nothing that i like to watch on t.v. during the weekend, everything that i like to watch is on during the week.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's no trick to developing solid work habits.
     
  12. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Luckily for me, writing is just a hobby so I write when inspiration strikes. I still look for inspiration wherever I can find it, though. The writing contest usually gets me motivated.
     
  13. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I've been writing since I was 7 years old so if I stop writing it would piss me off

    And to be perfectly honest I enact the scenes I'm writing with full voice work and motion, its a thrill !
     
  14. Talmay
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    Talmay Member

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    I write when I'm inspired. It's a hobby for me, so its never been much of an issue. When I force myself to write nothing but crap comes out.
     
  15. ChristianGrey
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    ChristianGrey New Member

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    Usually if I overthink something too much I come up with a new separate idea. Always good to have a notepad/pen close by. A lot of my ideas and such generally make their way into the notes app on my phone.

    If I get stuck on something I come back to it later. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder lol
     
  16. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    funkybass:

    The difference between what you've written and what Gutfeld has done is that you're talking about writing, and then doing something else, and then writing, and then doing something else. With Gutfeld, the glass is with him as he writes.

    I see that most people here have decided that since they don't do what Gutfeld does, nobody else should. I guess that nobody then ever has to trick him/herself to eat right and exercise, because the human urge is to run to the gym and avoid all fatty foods.

    I suppose that something is wrong with Gutfeld too. It seems to me that after working in two different shows, his urge as he comes home is to rest his mind from the politics and comedy he's involved in, and NOT to sit in front of a screen. You guys seem so bitter about the fact that he does NOT always have fun writing, and about the fact that he found a way to make it fun by throwing in a non-writing-related activity. Good grief, someone arrest the man and burn the books he had written!

    I already KNOW many of you don't use any "tricks" and don't support them. Fine, I get it. Good for you. I've started this thread in an attempt to have an interesting conversation about those of us who ARE interested in that stuff.

    Have you never been too tired to do something you love? Have you never been too tired to do something that you KNEW would satisfy you? Are you somehow offended or disgusted by the fact that sometimes writing or researching do NOT feel like the most natural thing in the world for me, and yet I dare to write? Do you feel I cheapen the art of writing by joining your ranks?

    Gee, the narrow-mindedness of those who devote themselves to explore diverse and complex points of view. Life is so paradoxical.
     
  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's an interesting concept, rewarding yourself physically for writing...

    Forgive me if I say something ignorant, but doesn't the brain reward you with dopamine boosts every time (or sometimes) you solve an issue, create, or achieve. Writing a line might be a chore, until you get to, "Boy George, I got it!". At that point, your brain is rewarding itself.
     
  18. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Shadow walker, you asked a reasonable question in a respectful manner. I don't want the answer to get lost in my latest rant. Basically even if there are things that you like, and enjoy doing them, or enjoy them after you're done (gym can be fun, but it can also be torture, and you feel refreshed only AFTER your session) you need to give yourself a light boost. Not something major, just a little nudge. Gutfeld would have written his stuff even without wine. He didn't NEED the wine. And I don't need the little things I do. They just turn something fun into a bit more fun (like listening to talk radio or an audiobook while at the gym).
     
  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    That I can understand and accept. :)
     
  20. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    That's true, but the experience is tiny compared to the delicious endorphine rush of chocolate :D (I gave it up for lent. Easer is going to be insane)
     
  21. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    So what you're saying is that when the guy who wrote "X Man: First Class" had to research about death camps and worry about deadlines, he enjoyed it. You're saying that when Scott Sigler wrote Contagious (a fun novel to read) he enjoyed that. Funny, because he had tons of deadlines and he said that writing it sucked.

    You're saying that every single student who studies a subject he/she enjoys and has deadlines, is not gonna become jaded because they enjoy it.

    I'm taking a break right now from a morning of research, research into some terrible stuff that I need for a story. I will probably use 1% of it, if not less, and yet, it's important to me to go through that. You tell me you wouldn't rather go read an awesome novel that someone else wrote and researched.

    I write because I like doing it, but sometimes it's not fun. If writing would be something that is only done in fun, many great novels wouldn't have been written. I advise you to read Infected, and the sequel, Contagious. You can get them both online for free as audio podcasts, and maybe even on PDF. Legally, I might add.

    Also, I remember once talking to a novelist online, and he told me about how he has to wake up early in the morning to meet with some senior people in some corporation, for his research about such companies. You think that's fun? And yet, I'm thankful he did that.

    Imagine spending the whole morning talking to these people, and then having to go write specifically about THEM.

    The world isn't black and white, dear friends. It is not divided between those who enjoy every second of writing and research and write great novels on the one hand, and people who get tired or jaded for a minute and should therefore leave the writing profession and be banned from ever writing again. Life doesn't work that way.
     
  22. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Totally agree.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your post makes perfect sense. It's also entirely unrelated to mine.

    Someone here mentioned using wine to reward yourself for writing. I simply suggested that the brain chemically rewards you for the same efforts. Wine, dopamine release, and waking up at 6 am in the morning to do research have little to do with each other.

    What did you did was assume because I made a statement that seemed to advocate writing for the sake of writing, that that was how I actually felt, but, life is not that simple, bud :)
     

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