"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why Some of My Greatest "Writing" Days Don't Involve Writing...

Conventional wisdom contends that in order to be a "successful," prolific writer, you MUST write everyday.
Not true. Not always.

As a scribe who has produced over 700 articles, columns, feature pieces, interviews and poems, (for more than a decade), I can assure you that this ritual is not required for everyone.

As a matter of reference, I admit that I don't feel compelled to put pen to paper 24/7.
Even the Lord took a break on the 7th day, we are told. :-)
Some days, I find that my time is better spent doing research or reading. Other times, I may go blog hopping to see what's up with you guys. I also try to have enough activity, variety and interaction that would create a life interesting enough for folks to want to read about. Hello!

From an analytical perspective, here's what I have found to be true about my creative process. See if you agree, based upon your experience or mindset...

1. Anything that feels "forced" tends to be more draining than productive.
In other words, trying to write when I am physically fatigued, or when I'm not thinking clearly, or when the computer is driving me mad with glitches, pop-ups, and slow speeds can be a bit counter-productive. To allow for these "off days" I always make sure to work ahead of any deadlines I may have with editors and clients, so I don't feel any added pressures. You should too.

2. Hanging out with other creative artists should be a part of every writer's creative process.
I find that my mind is elevated and my soul is fed when I spend time with other poets and writers. Rarely is gossip on the menu when we get together. Instead these brilliant individuals allow me to connect, converse about important social issues, deal with the blows of editors' rejections, and kick back, laugh, eat, drink and celebrate life.  Whether it's through meet-ups at your local coffee shop, attending book signings, or having a wine and cheese party at your place, make sure to spend time with other artists to broaden your horizons. To quote Joel Osteen's sermon this morning, "Go where you're celebrated, not tolerated."

3. All writing with no marketing efforts will make for "a broke" writer.
Let's face it: for many writers, having to get on the phone to cold call, or doing the many other tasks that support our writing business can be a bit boring. Still, every savvy scribe knows that it must be factored in to the success equation. Though I don't relish marketing for myself, (I'd rather do it for my clients), I am always tickled pink when it results in a new business relationship. A day devoted to marketing is a must.

4. Watching movies allows me to relax and inspires my muse.
At least once a week, (typically on weekends), I like to unwind to a good movie or two.
This activity actually helps me to examine plot, dialogue, characterization, and discover the many tools and techniques needed to engage an audience. Not to mention, many times it results in a movie review, (with pay). Which is a great bonus for my leisurely efforts.

Keep in mind that each writer must establish consistent, diligent habits to go the distance and make a difference.
But this doesn't mean that great writing days have to always involve writing.

What do you say? Thoughts here?

Image: SPFF

15 comments:

  1. Jennifer--

    Amen! Your wisdom is heartening. Sometime the hardest part of taking breaks or doing nonwriting activities is forgiving ourselves for not writing! The maxim "Slow is fast" applies too. The goal may not always be 1,000 words a day. As you indicate, we need to give our subconscious room to percolate.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 5, 2012 at 8:02 AM

      Noelle,

      "Great minds think alike." Lovely hearing from you on this. Thanks for your time.:-)

      Delete
  2. I agree, Jen! I agree with Noelle too, that the hardest part sometimes is allowing ourselves the guilt free time way from actual writing. And really, if you think about it, as writers, we are always doing something that contributes to the writing process whether gathering info, pondering, brainstorming or just living. It all adds up to who we are and what we do as writers. Good post, and good stuff to help the muse. :)

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 5, 2012 at 8:05 AM

      Karen,

      Glad you agree! With the holidays coming up soon, it serves as a needed reminder. :-) Have a great week ahead, filled with interesting things to write about!

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  3. Yes, that's exactly what my Footstep Fiction, and - Rock Star Writing - is all about. (as I wrote about in a reply on your previous post.)

    While I hadn't written any new Short Stories lately, I recently re-read a bookreview about a book titled: 'The Zen in the Art of Writing' by (the late) Ray Bradbury, and about the importance of - Relaxing -

    Talking about Relaxing, on my Short Story page, you can Turbo-charge your Inspiration with a Video Interview from Ray (walking along his (Relaxing) swimming pool) telling you about how he begun writing.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 5, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      H.P.,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and resources. :-)

      Delete
  4. Jen,

    Great post as usual. Since I signed up for the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge this year, for the very first time in my life, I am forced to now write at least every day in order to complete the 50,000 word novel by the end of November! I agree with you that it is probably a good idea to have breaks in between writing projects for some renewal, as well as to focus on marketing strategies, etc. I just love your Joel Osteen quote: "Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated." It is going to be my new mantra.

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  5. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 5, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Hi Yasmin,

    How cool that you are participating in NANOWRIMO! Good luck with it. Yep, I love Joel's quote too. :-) Thanks for adding to the mix here.

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  6. Noelle, I love it! "Slow is fast." And Jen, you and I are definitely on the same page about writing every day. Three days power writing? Often. Brilliant stroke of genius at 10 p.m.? Sometimes. Break on Sundays, usually. You can't drain the brain without time to re-charge. Doesn't work well. Love this post.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 5, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Thanks, Sue. This post was prompted by a particularly challenging "writing" day where Murphy's Law was in full operation! :-) Good to have you stop by today.

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  7. I agree. I waste more time trying to force it. Marketing and networking will allow you to continue writing in the future. Burnout is inevitable if we don't do anything but write all day every day. I too like movies. My mom and I have started a weekend ritual where we go to the movies and buy all the expensive theater food, just to splurge and let go for a couple of hours. I also like to play with my 8 month old nephew. That's inspiration!

    Good post.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 8, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      Sarah,

      Sounds like a fun way to end the week with your mom. Kids are indeed a great way to unwind, and to come up with creative ideas too. Thanks for sharing this.

      Delete
  8. Hi Jennifer,

    Great post! I exhaled because I constantly put pressure on myself to write daily but I do not and cannot. However, I do make time for movie watching, walks in nature, and other activities. I really like your point about connecting with other writers. I recently joined a meet-up group for writers. It's definitely all about finding a balance.

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  9. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 9, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Hi Andrea,

    Welcome! Thanks so much for adding to our "chat". You're right; balance is key. And I firmly believe that writers and poets are the coolest people!

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  10. I do believe that with a little more relaxing it's easier to also look at the Bigger Picture, looking at things from a distance, thinking about possible improvements I could make...,

    Than for example I might possibly be able to get some more Inspiration & Ideas and can think about how I could set up my blog better, and I might for example discover a possibly to write more Story telling-based posts that people can better relate to etc. etc.

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