Where Teens Write is closing its doors as a teen writing community, but the “how to write” blog posts will be up for another few weeks.
I’m happy to announce that you can post your stories and get feedback over at Teen Author’s Journal. Like WTW, it’s a smaller community where you can build relationships with others and hone your writing skills.
It’s been a great few years with all of you, but it’s time to close the doors to this community. If you did post stories here that you didn’t save anywhere else, and you’d like them, you may contact me using the contact page, and I’ll get you your story. Thank you for participating.
All the best,
4 Strategies to (re)Find your Writing Zone
I’m not sure why writing, one of the things I love the most, is the first to go when life gets crazy busy, but it is. It’s a problem when life gets to be so much that one of the things that helps you get through the craziness is the first to go.
As summer begins, the challenge is to find the writing zone and start writing again after a long break.
Thankfully, this is a “figure-out-able” challenge. I can start writing again. We all can, we just have to get back in the zone.
I have stacks of half done pieces, some half-baked new ideas, but not a lot of inspiration – an ugly place to be as a writer, so I’ve been spending some time getting back into my writing zone. These strategies can help you too, especially if you’ve just finished finals and a busy semester at school.
1) Take a complete break to refresh
If you’ve been trying to write and haven’t been able to, give yourself permission to take a creativity break. Maybe you haven’t written because you’ve been busy, but now, extend your break to do something that fulfills you in another way, like reading, painting or taking walks.
Your creative zone might be telling you it needs some time to refill and refresh. This is a tough one because it can feel counter-intuitive, but it can be super helpful.
Creativity goes in cycles (or at least it does in my life) and sometimes, it’s important to rest, live life, read books, and refresh without feeling any guilt.
After the super busy last few months, this past week, I went on vacation. I didn’t write a word, not even in my journal or notebook which is super unusual for me. Instead, I read two novels. I traveled. I sat on streets and in airports and watched people, making up little stories about them in my head. To me, watching people is fun and is a surprisingly creative activity. They all have stories. I probably won’t remember many of my random musings, but maybe I will, maybe one of the “characters” I found will find their way into a story.
I went to places I’d never been and ate food I’d never tried before (rabbit anyone?).
Living life and enjoying it is like adding to the compost heap of ideas. We need to pile some experiences in, so we can then draw on them when we do sit down to write.
2) Go back to something that needs some love
If you’re not feeling inspired by a grand new idea but you are wanting to write, a good place to start is with something that needs some work.
My novel that needs revising is one I haven’t touched since last fall. It’s been good to put it away and then get back to it. I can see what my writing group meant when they didn’t like the main character so much at the beginning. I couldn’t see it then. Now I can.
It’s been a challenge to re-envision a character I really liked, but in re-reading my manuscript, I’ve learned that there’s a fine line between a character that’s a little bit sassy and one that’s a jerk. Unfortunately I crossed the line a bit (not a ton) but enough. That needs to change, and after my week off, I’m looking forward to getting back to him because even if he had a bad week in the life of my story, that can be fixed.
3) (Re)read your Writing Notebooks
This has actually been kind of fun. Before I left on vacation, I started perusing some past writer’s notebooks and marking them all up. I’ve found some ideas that might have some value, and I’ve also found some laughably terrible ideas that somehow sounded good at the time.
The overall result of this exercise has been that I’ve renewed my belief in my creative ideas. Even when I haven’t been writing fiction regularly, I realize I still have ideas.
While this strategy is the most obvious, it’s also the most difficult. It’s like running or working out when you haven’t been for awhile. It hurts. You might stop and walk, berating yourself for not keeping up your pace. Same thing happens when you first start writing again. You might pause, stare out the window, check social media, clean off your desk, and then write a phrase or maybe a whole sentence before pausing again. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up.
It takes awhile to get going, to build up that stamina where you can sit down and bang out 500 or 1000 words in a sitting, where you can get in that zone where your characters tell you what they’re saying, and you can hear their voices.
I love that place and really, the only way to get there, is to go there no matter how painful.
For me, the summer time is a time to write since I’m not teaching full time and have hours each day to devote to stories. The writing zone awaits, and I can’t wait to get there, to start writing again everyday. I hope you’ll join me.
What are your favorite strategies for getting into the writing zone?2 Love This Post