Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Power Writing: Strategies to Help You Reach Your Goals and Watch More Bravo TV by Karen Rock


Okay. It’s 9:10. I’ve got fifty minutes before bedtime to write this blog. Have I procrastinated? Possibly- if watching The Bachelor on TiVo counts- which it so doesn’t. It’s practically research for a romance writer. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) So what happened to the rest of my day? Like some writers, I also work a second job. In my case, I’m blessed to be a teacher. My work day starts at 7:45 a.m. and by the time essays are graded, the dinner dishes are in the washer, I’ve finished my post-holiday-weight-gain work out, and satisfied my addiction to all things on the BRAVO network for at least thirty minutes (a girl’s got to have a little fun), it’s usually around seven p.m. before I can write. That’s three hours of uninterrupted power writing time… unless my daughter needs help with homework, there’s a pet clean-up on Aisle One, or my husband needs me to answer questionable credit card charges to Amazon. It seems like a short amount of time, but it’s amazing how many words you can pack in when you’re in the zone. Here are some of my tips for power writing:

1.       Hide. Seriously. Find a spot in the house where you won’t be located, sniffed out, or hollered to. I’ve even written in the backseat of my garage-parked car during NFL playoffs.

2.       Give yourself incentives. At the end of every page, I treat myself to some M&Ms (see also my post-holiday weight gain which may have started prior to said holidays- ahem)

3.       Wear comfy clothes. A power writing session is no time for control top panty hose. Plus, they just make me crabby. (And yes, I’ve noticed the direct connection between the M&M incentive and my need for an elastic waist band- but I’m no Carrie Bradshaw *sigh*)  

4.       Turn off your iPhone. I know. It’s hard. Like leaving your puppy outside in the rain. But take a few deep yoga breaths or a handful of M&Ms, put it down and walk away slowly. You must or it will bark at you the entire time you need to focus.

5.       Spend your non-writing time formulating a plan if you don’t already have a chapter outline. So what if you’re at the copier mumbling potential dialogue under your breath? That’s called multi-tasking. Now if you were wearing a tin foil hat to keep the aliens from talking back to you… that would be a WHOLE other story.

6.       As the legend that is Kenny Rogers sang: you have to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em. If the writing muse has gone off in a sulk, let her go. She’ll be back when she’s hungry. Patience wins the day as does gratuitous candy bribing.

7.       Give yourself permission to write terribly. Really. Stink up the page. No one’s going to judge you. Certainly not that blank white page. I mean- what has it ever done but tried to torment writers through the ages? Well don’t let it. Don’t forget. You have a shredder.

8.       Whatever you do- don’t look back. Just keep writing until you’ve hit that word count goal. As Scarlett O’Hara, the greatest Romance heroine of all time once said, “Tomorrow is another day.” And that day is revision.

9.       Keep a notepad handy at all times… even by your bed. It’s amazing how the most tightly knotted plot issue will completely unravel when you aren’t trying to fix it, or the craziest dream will be the seed from which sprouts your next novel; it worked for Stephenie Meyer (You might have heard of a little thing called the Twilight saga…) J

10.   Drum roll… It’s just as important to stop as it is to start. The wind might be in your sails, the muse singing in your ears, your supped up laptop cruising along at sixty words a minute… but hit the brakes! You’re out of gas and are running on a sugar-fueled adrenalin rush. You just won’t know it until you wake-up with your face pressed to your keyboard, the letters S, D, F, and G branded into your cheek. Not a good look. And what’s more. You’ll have to do it all over again. So remember to rest when you’ve hit that goal. You earned it. And learn from Scarlett. Tomorrow is another day.

I hope you enjoyed my tips on power writing. What are yours? I would love to hear them. Enter them in the comments section of this post to win a $25 gift card to Beauty.Com. After all that power writing, you deserve it! Check on my author facebook www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters where I will announce the winner and ask for mailing information. Happy power writing!!
 

60 comments:

  1. Great tips! Will try the M&M one ASAP!

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    1. I've tried Reeses Pieces but it's just not the same... lol :) Thanks so much for the positive feedback!

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  2. Very good tips! I love 'daydreaming' my plots and scenes when I'm otherwise occupied, say with a vacuum cleaner (okay, that's once in a blue moon... Let's say, doing the dishes. Something 'inspiring' about the sound of flowing water and the softness of soap suds *grin*) Resolved many a snitch this way.

    My other tip - find a time that works for you, and stick to it. Mine is between 10 AM- 1PM, when my kids are at school. It's my sacred writing time and nothing's allowed to impinge on that, not even the 1000+ emails flooding my inbox.

    Discipline is key, though. You gotta want it enough. :)

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    1. Thanks for the great tips, Zee! I agree that it is great to find a time that works for you. On the weekends, I start my writing day in the morning because until noon, no on is up. Thanks for your kind and helpful comments!

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    2. I love how calling plotting "daydreaming" suddenly makes it more fun and less pressure! Good ideas, Zee :-).

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    3. I like the old school BIC-HOK idea for Power Writing- Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard! Waiting for the Muse to show up requires patience and sitting still. But the reward of that discipline is seeing the words start to flow and the story taking shape... definitely worth waiting for!

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    4. I agree, Joanne! It's such a great feeling when you get in that flow and let the current of the story take you so to speak :)

      Thanks for commenting, Joanne and Zee! Zee, I love your blog. Definitely a great place to visit at http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com/

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    5. Thanks for the lovely words about my blog, Karen. I try to make it a fun-filled little place that somewhat reflects a part of me. :)

      Joanne, of course, it's daydreaming! I 'daydream' all my scenes, sometimes complete with dialogue. It's like having my characters acting out their story in my mind (and me blissfully looking like an in-the-clouds airhead, lol!)

      Yep, too - patience is needed, and sometimes, wait for the fickle muse to show up everyday. Just power on and write. You can edit nonsense that you've written down, but you can't edit a blank page.

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    6. Oh- I love that, Zee!!! <> Well said :)

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  3. great tips & inspiration for those of whose resolutions included increasing daily word counts!

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    1. Thanks so much :) My resolution this new year included daily word counts too!

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  4. Wow! Am impressed with how well you know your stuff, and how well you write about it!

    My best tip is that most people are unaware that your backside and your brain become truly connected (yeah, yeah -reckless thing to say with all the possible jokes) but when sitting down to write becomes a habit - preferably same time every day - your brain comes to know that as its signal to get to work. Truly, sitting down will turn it on.

    And if the page is bad, if the chapter doesn't work, if the book doesn't sell - you haven't failed until you stop trying.

    (What are we doing up at this hour?)

    Have a great day, everybody!

    Muriel

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    1. Haha Muriel! What was I up doing at that hour? I found out that to have a post uploaded for the Jan 10th date I had to wait until midnight or have to do it all while geting myself and my daughter ready for school. I agree with you about the habit-forming effect of writing. My friend, Kate Messner (a children's author) called is Butt Glue lol.

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  5. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for sharing this with us, I love your tips very inspiring and great advise for writers!

    I cannot chatter away about writing as I am only a very avid and addicted reader. But I do like reading about various tips from authors and yours were particularly fun to read!
    Desere

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    1. Thank you, Desere! Your love of reading is evident in the excellent reviews you write which I adore and trust! romancebookhaven.blogspot.com
      is my one of the best romance blogs to visit for an insightful look at our genre!

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    2. Thank you truly so very much Karen.

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    3. You're welcome :-) And I'm a huge fan!

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  6. These are terrific! *sharing*
    I especially love the M&Ms idea ... I've ... um ... actually already had them here (except I use chocolate chips), I just haven't used them as a reward ... That sounds more reasonable than just helping myself when I'm bored!
    Comfy clothes? Definitely. If I could, I'd be in my pjs all day ... but that's not exactly popular when I have students come over ... lol
    Notepad by the bed ... I do that - and I use it to the point that my hubby bought me a "light up" pen for those 3am feedings of the muse.
    Thanks again! I'm on my way over to like your fb page now. :)

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    1. Hi Genevieve! A light up pen!!! Why didn't I think of that?! What a thoughtful hubbie :) I think CCs would work for me too. Thanks so much for heading over to my facebook page for the "Like". It's much appreciated.

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  7. Wonderful tips. However, I am the queen of procrastination!
    Oooh look a squirrel

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    1. HAHA! I so get that! Steps to not procrastinating:

      Step One

      LOL

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  8. Lol loved the back seat one, you should use the bath tub. Cleaning, ask a kid/ hubby to help scrub down a entire bathroom.......you got 2 -3 hours to urself. Due to mold (wink)

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    1. Ah- of course- the dreaded invisible mold... only a writer could think of that one!!! (hehe) Thanks for the suggestion!

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  9. You had me cracking up.
    I write from 5 to 7 in the morning. My seven year old knows to come find me in my office when he wakes up. Then, I hit save and I'm beginning my day, much the same as you: teaching, grading essays, etc.

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    1. WOW Pam! You are so inspiring... wish I was that much of a morning person. And how cool to go into work and say, "Guess what your teacher wrote today kids... 2,000 wds." :D

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  11. I love your writing tips, Karen! When I was in university I used to compete with a close friend to see who could reach a certain word count first. That got me through a lot of writing blocks. And revising all of those crazy pages into something decent probably put me on the road to becoming an editor. ;-)

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    1. What a great story! My daughter wants to be an editor someday because she loves sharing her opinion with me on my work :) Now I see where that interest begins. And having a friend to push you forward is so helpful! Thanks, Laura :)

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  12. Great tips! I'm a plotter so I know that I can't write until my book is all planned out, which also then allows me to know each day what I'm writing. I read over that, then go back and read the chapter before it for flow and to get in the zone, and then I go to town. I think an important thing is knowing what your writing quirks are and nothing be ashamed or afraid of them. I edit as I go. I need to or I get blocked. But once I know the chapter I just finished is as good as I can get it, that's when I feel as though I can move on to the next (and my critique partners are often reading/editing it while I'm writing the next one). Knowing that the direction I'm going in is the right one frees up my muse to play and have fun. I've tried doing that whole "don't look back" thing so many times and I just lock up. Oh well, embrace my own brand of craziness, right? :)

    Hugs!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! Those were great tips :) And you are so right that everyone needs to follow their own writing path. And what a great shout out you gave to your critque partners! It's wonderful to have people in your life that are so helpful. I loved your YA romance MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY. To me it is exactly the kind of funny, smart, intelligent romance I want my daughter to read and I absolutely loved it too! You are so talented.

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  13. I love these tips. Hiding is definitely a challenge with a four-year-old, but I might try the car. :) I've learned I'm pretty worthless at night--so I try to write in the morning before work. It's not always fun getting up at 5am, but it's worth it.

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    1. Wow! A four-year-old and a five a.m. writing schedule... Julie, you are a saint! That is dedication to your craft.

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  14. Thanks for these great tips, Karen! I especially love the Scarlett O'Hara quote (such a huge Gone with the Wind fangirl). My schedule is almost exactly like yours, with school and club meetings or an ahour and two of TV/homework, I really don't start writing until the evening, which is best for me since I'm quite the night owl.

    For me whenever I'm not writing I'm always thinking of story ideas, often the muttering I do while walking to and from class has helped me to flesh out entire scenes (I'm currently crossing my fingers I get some revelation on the middle of my current WIP sometime soon).

    Thanks again!

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    1. I'm a GONE WITH THE WIND fangirl too!! WWSD- What Would Scarlett Do? is my motto... :) I'm glad to know I'm not the only one muttering to myself as I'm doing other things. Thanks for sharing, Patrice :)

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  15. Rock on with your awesomeness. I also recommend taking the occasional break by dancing to the soundtrack for "Xanadu."

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    2. Rocking out to "Xanadu"! That song is infectious! Love it :D Thanks for the fun tip, Cyn!

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  16. I think that #3 works best for me (but I also wear items that encourage me or make me feel confident)

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    1. Hi Shaunie :) That's such a good point. Comfort and style can definitely work! And looking good can impact your mood. Thanks for your great comment.

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  17. Gosh you are a great juggler. You do a lot of work in a day. Hats off to you.

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    1. Thanks, Maria! Funny that I never feel like I'm doing enough- like those dusty bunnies playing under my dining room hutch- I should wrangle those critters one of these days- lol. But you made me feel like SuperWoman :) Thanks.

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  18. Great and inspiring tips! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much for your positive feedback :) We decided to tackle the issue of our writing habits this week on our Heartwarming Blog and I thought, "Uh-Oh... mine are kind of weird." But then I took a deep breath and went for it. So glad you liked it!!

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  19. Karen, Thank you so much for all your tips. They aren't only helpful but inspiring. And quite entertaining. I've never had a word count per day, I just sit down and write. And lately I haven't been doing very well at making headway in writing as I find myself overwhelmed with emails, FB, marketing, etc.. But after reading your tips and all the great comments and feedback, I feel like someone just hit me over my head. I am going to start every morning sitting down and reaching my word count goal before all the other time-consuming stuff. I'm hoping this will work for me. Thanks so much for recharging me. If you and the commenters can be as disciplined as you sound, then by God I can too. Wishing you the best.

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    1. Hi Beverly! Your post just made my day :) I'm so glad that it inspired and recharged you. Reading everyone's wonderful comments has inspired me too. Writing can be a solitary occupation at times but it's great to connect with each other in this way and know that many of us are going through the same things and are there to support one another! Wishing you the best as well.

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  20. Karen, those are great tips. I really agree with not wearing control top panty hose while writing.

    Also, I agree with #5. I spend a lot of my non-writing time thinking about writing. It helps me so much when I do finally get a chance to sit down and write. I'd also suggest music to help when writing certain parts that need emotion.

    Thanks for sharing your tips.

    Steady,
    Marquin Parks

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    1. Music!!! I knew there was an eleventh tip :) Thanks for sharing that all important strategy. Sometimes I use it to pump me up before I write and sometimes I play something that matches the mood of the piece. Very excited by your comment! Thank you so much :)

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    2. Very Great tips...... I need to start on these ASAP..... Most of the time, I only have time to write in the studio, but I really need to set aside some time for me.... How will I ever know How good I can be if I don't.... Now I need to come up with some really good incentives.... :-)

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    4. Thanks, Swade!! Listening to your awesome track, Daydream, is a great incentive :) Interesting that so many of us writers are talking about how important it is to daydream... it's such a creative outlet! I love your track and encourage anyone to listen-it is MOTIVATION put to music! http://swadedaphoenix.bandcamp.com/track/daydream

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  21. Well, I'm late in checking in, and wow I'm impressed with all of your tips. I was guesting today on another blog site: RidingWithTheTopDown, along with trying to organize information for my taxes. Ugh! I can't believe how many visitors you have, so I know you didn't miss me. I can see I must get more active on Facebook and Twitter---which I really have signed up but have only ever tweeted once. Sigh! Roz

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    1. Roz- you are awesome!! Of course I missed you... kept checking in hopes you'd stop by to chat :)Heartwarming is such a family now that it feels great when we come on and support each other! So YAY for your blog visits that included me and a boo to the taxes. That is a big UGH!I'm going to look for you on Twitter to follow!

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  22. This was really inspiring, Karen!

    Here's how I get my word count in: I set a timer for 15 minutes and write like crazy. When the timer goes off, I stop no matter where I am, press save then set the timer for another 15 minutes. Then I do laundry, wash dishes, check Facebook, something, anything other than writing. The timer goes off, I set it for another 15 minutes and pick up where I left off. The pressure of a timer means I'm not sitting there trying to think of something to write. And the 15 minute break is away from the computer, but I'm still thinking about what I wrote and solving any issues or brainstorming what happens next while doing menial jobs. This approach doesn't work for everyone, but it really helps me when I'm in the writing stage.

    Thanks for the advice, Karen!

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    1. Hi Syndi! It's so interesting to hear how well you organize your day between regular vs. creative work. The timer would work for me because I'm always afraid of hearing that buzzer... Plus without the M&Ms I wouldn't need to fit in Zumba- hmmmmmm am reassessing my habits based on all these great tips today :)

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  23. Love the tips,Karen.And you're right about keeping your notepad at all times part.Most of my ideas come to me when I'm trying to sleep at night.

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  24. Thanks, Nobonita! Your advice was great as well. It is so important to carry that notepad (or the iPhone version :) because ideas have a way of finding us even when we aren't looking for them.

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  25. And the winner of the Beauty.Com gift certificate is (drum roll :) ZEE MONODEE! Zee, please go to www.karenrock.com and send your addy info to me through my contact form. Congratulations!

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    1. Woo hoo! Congratulations, Zee!!!

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    2. Awesome! Thanks, ladies! However, I'm gonna have to decline coz I'm not in the US and it'd cost a bomb to ship anything to me. Karen, better you gift it to someone who can get the goodies over there. *sad, but someone else would benefit more than me* Big hugs! The elation of winning is already fab :)

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    3. That's so sweet! Zee, I'm very happy to ship overseas. In fact, I insist on it- especially given your graciousness :) Please send your information to my contact form on www.karenrock.com. If not, I will find you... lol.

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