The Writing Mindset


FYI, new ABCs of Fiction Writing article is up: Emotion – Feel the Love!

I have dreamed of being a writer since 2003, when I realized that I could tell stories that way.  My sister and I had (have?) very active imaginations, and we create entire worlds and tell each other stories all the time.  I had no idea what being a writer entailed, though.  I simply knew that I loved creating.

Then I discovered fan fiction (I wrote Lord of the Rings fanfic, for any who are curious), and through that I discovered National Novel Writing Month.  Those two things gave me a small glimpse into what the writing life is, but I had no idea what was yet in store.  2003 was the first year I competed in NaNoWriMo, and I quit the first week with about 5000 words, but in my defense my younger brother had only just started what would turn out to be a 6-month-long hospital stay that was nightmarish to say the least.  I’m very proud of those 5000 words!  I competed off and on for the next several years (except 2007, since I was getting married in January of 2008), and never won until 2009.  That was the year that everything fell into place.

In 2009, I had already started taking writing classes at a local community college, and had completed Freshman Composition 1 and 2, and a short story class.  I easily passed them all, and it was especially rewarding when I turned in my final short story portfolio to my professor.  She left a note with my final grade, telling me that I had started the class with my talent already developed, but that I was no equipped to understand and explain the technical side of fiction writing.

I came away from the class with a different lesson, though, but I feel it is much more valuable than anything I have mentioned so far.

That lesson was that the writing life IS discipline.  It means sitting down every day in front of my computer, when I’d much rather be at the pool (maybe the pool not opening yet is a good thing for me?), and actually doing something other than surfing the internet.  All the ‘research’ in the world doesn’t matter if I never write anything about it.

Discipline is difficult, I won’t lie.  I’d much rather be baking cookies right now, or working out.  It’s too hot outside to go running, though, so I’m stuck inside writing blog posts and articles.  Until I go meet a friend for lunch in an hour :).

The problem I have is how do I get myself in the writing mindset for at least a while every single day?  Sometimes it’s that looming deadline for an article, which is why I almost always have at least one assignment for Y!CN that I’ve taken on, and it’s even better if it’s one I get paid for right away!  If I’m feeling really un-inspired, I’ll listen to Writing Excuses (there is a link to this podcast in the sidebar) while I do housework.  There is one thing I can do that almost always gets me at least a little bit in the writing mood – sitting in my writing corner.  That’s going to be a different post later this week, though.

Writing throughout the year and writing during National Novel Writing Month are two completely different experiences for me, though.  During the year I’m much less disciplined, but I feel like my work is better quality.  In November, it’s come hell or high water this novel WILL get written.  For some reason, November is the only time of year when I can use music to tune out everything else so I can write.  During the rest of the year, music distracts me.  TV is always a distraction, no matter what time of year it is.  There’s a reason I always sit with my back to the TV at the Wendy’s write-ins we have in November.

One thing I know that doesn’t work, though, is waiting until the evening to write.  Then my husband is home from work, and he demands all of my attention (not that it’s a bad thing), but when it comes to choosing between hubby and writing, hubby will always win.

What tricks do you use to get yourself in the writing mood?

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