How I Get My Writing Groove On – Part 1

by jenn on April 13, 2010

in Writing

Keep on writing, writing, writing

At the beginning of the month, I turned in the manuscript for my book The Right-Brain Business Plan. I’ve had some people ask me how I got through all that writing. Mostly, it was a little bit at a time.

And even though everyone’s writing process is different, I thought I’d share some of the simple ways I got my writing groove on during the past six months, in case it helps spark some ideas for you.

Part 1 includes some practical actions and Part 2 will offer some suggested tools and resources.

  • Schedule time: I blocked off entire days to write. I stacked all of my coaching calls and meetings on Mondays and Thursdays and left the rest of the week open for writing. It was easier for me to have focused “book” time than to juggle between different activities. I’ll continue blocking off some writing time because it really worked for me.
  • Say No to say YES: I scaled back big-time during October through March. I stopped taking new coaching clients. I said no to pretty much any social activities. I drew strong boundaries and fiercely protected my energy. It was tough, but I knew it was temporary. While my boundaries won’t be as extreme as they were during that period, I did learn a lot about what I want to yes to and no to going forward.
  • Set accountability: I always get more done when I have a call scheduled with my book coach. Even if it means writing until 1 in the morning right before, at least I send something in!
  • Brain dump: I find it helpful to get all my random thoughts out of my head and on to paper. Sometimes I opened up a Word doc and rambled away mostly just making notes to myself. Other times I busted out Post-it Notes and wrote different concepts on each one and moved them around until I found the flow for a chapter. I mind mapped. I scribbled in a small notebook in my purse when I was on the go. I captured fleeting ideas in the journal on my nightstand during the wee hours. I e-mailed messages to myself. All this became fodder for my next action: repurpose.
  • Repurpose: Rather than suffer writer’s block from staring at a blank page, I would first scour through my existing material for things I could possibly build off of. I pulled stuff from my blog posts, workshop outlines and handouts, old e-mails, my journals and notebooks, podcasts, and scribbles on scraps of paper. Even if it was just a few sentences from here and there, once I consolidated everything together, I was surprised and relieved by how much I already had to work with. I bet you would be, too!
  • Put placeholders: There were many times when I sort of knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t quite know how to say it or I didn’t have enough information yet to detail it out. So instead of getting frustrated or stopping I would just write something like “Here is where I’ll write an example about how someone used this exercise successfully” or “Say something here about creativity and why it’s important in business” or I’d just list out a bunch of words in no particular order. Even though I’d feel silly making those notes to myself right smack in the middle of my manuscript, it was a way for me to just keep moving forward and they served as prompts for me to respond to when I would circle back later.
  • Go where there’s flow: I worked on whatever section I felt called to do at that moment. By first knocking out the things that felt easier, my word count increased little by little and I slowly gained confidence to tackle the parts that felt more difficult. And when I wasn’t feeling the flow of a chapter, I found other ways to just exercise my writing muscle: I made notes about other book-related things like artwork, resources, etc., I worked on my newsletter, whipped up a post for my e-course, tweeted, journaled. Just the act of typing or moving my pen helped me find the flow again to return to writing the book.
  • Trust: In the end, it comes down to simply trusting. Trusting that I have something to say. Trusting that I can say it. Trusting that what I have to say will have a positive impact (even if just on me).  In fact the first line of my writer wo-manifesto that I created in SARK’s Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper workshop reads, “May I trust in my own voice – that I have something to share and say that needs to be read/heard/experienced by myself and others.” How will you remember to trust your own voice and creative process?

These practical actions can be applied to any creative project you’re working on, writing or otherwise. It’s a matter of making time and making things real.

What do you do to get your writing/creative groove on? I’d love to hear! And stay tuned for Part 2 coming next week.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Silky Hart April 13, 2010 at 11:12 am

I really enjoyed and appreciated reading about your writing process.

I found myself nodding quite a bit as I have similar approaches. I’m in the midst of creating an e-course called Necessary Fire. I’ve read through so many old workshop agendas, files, workshop notes, books, etc… making notes. I carry a little notebook around with me just for my Necessary Fire ideas.

Across my dining table, I have several sheets of big pieces of paper with headings on them such as Main Concepts, Copy Ideas, Creative Activities, Quotes and Journal Prompts.

I also work better when I know I have a big stretch of time that won’t be interupted. It is such pretty weather here in Texas, so I’ve been talking lots of walks. This process reminds me of choreographing a dance, using all of these elements as a launching off place to be combined in a brand new way.

Congrats on completing your book!!! How did you celebrate this wonderful accomplishment?

Rebecca Stees April 13, 2010 at 11:54 am

Thanks for your clarity and vision for this post.
It has been very helpful to me.

You mentioned accountability (with your book coach) —
it’s probably implied that you had deadlines, too (Oct through Mar)

Roxanne April 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Thank you for sharing these great tips! I have gotten so much more done since I started scheduling writing time and learned to say, ‘No!’. Even when that means locking myself in my office and not hanging with my guys.

Accountability helps me a lot, too. I am part of an online writing group. Setting expectations, sharing accountability and seeing the success of others in the group has helped increase my production immensely.

Linda Kennedy April 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm

While I am not writing a book, I loved reading your tips and about your process. I do a lot of planning for my creative projects like the collages and the cut paper paintings. I sketch, photograph, make lots of notes…everywhere, too! on note pads, sketchbooks, post-its and any old scrap of paper when necessary.
Thanks for making is all seem relatively sane!
Big hugs…Linda

Kate Robertson April 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I thought these were excellent suggestions. I’ll be printing them out to refer to when I am in the thick of writing my book. I am still in the research faze. Thanks,

Kate

Katrina April 15, 2010 at 9:49 am

I’m so thrilled to have found your site today through Kristin Fischer! I am about to embark on book-writing myself and this is a very timely post to read. I look forward to clicking around your site more!

Cynthia Morris April 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Awesome, Jenn! So excited for your book. Thanks for sharing your process with us.

Cynthia Morris April 17, 2010 at 8:09 am

I love how focusing on a project like that becomes a retreat, a sort of special place and time in your life where you devoted yourself to this one, precious thing.

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