Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Have you taken the time to WRITE today?

Okay, it's summer time, and the living is easy. Just today I enjoyed a sun-filled day on the boat. Plus there's grilling with family and friends. There's bonfires and the deliciousness of s'mores. There's swimming and sand-castle making.

Who has time to write??

Um, hello, YOU! That's right. You heard me (I'm writing in my "teacher voice" right now). A few of my friends have commented on how they are "too busy" to write. No, no, no...that is an incorrect answer.

A few years back Laurie Halse Anderson came to our fall Michigan conference. I remember her opening speech, and how she hammered the nail on the head about giving yourself permission to write. Things take up our time. Work, family, get-togethers. I'm not advocating throwing all that out the window. But life is too short for you (or I) to keep proscratinating. That book isn't going to get finished...or revised...or critiqued...if it sits in your head gathering dust. Another speaker at a more recent conference I attended was agent Jennie Dunham. She hosted an early-morning journal session. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed that! She didn't say it had to be specifically your creative piece, but I have been "journaling" my novels since that conference.

Whatever your excuse, throw it in the garbage. I don't want to hear it. Carve out some time. But get something on paper (or computer). I have a set of goals that I have used for the last year or two. These goals work!

Here are some goals of mine (feel free to use them, tweak them, laugh at them, or use them for dart practice) :)

  • Write at least five times a week. Do not stop until three pages have been written. (and I give myself permission to write garbage.)

  • Participate in a critique group once a month (via e-mail or meeting in person). This helps me check over my work, as well as letting me see others' creative processes. Plus critiquing others helps me turn a critical eye on my own work.

  • Read a young adult or middle grade novel at least once every other month. During the summer, I read about two a month, but that's because I'm a teacher. Yay, teachers!

  • And this summer, I have a big goal: finish the novel I'm working on!!! (I'm really good at starting cool novels, but then they sit and wait for awhile...

These goals are not set in stone, but I try to make writing a priority. Even during the school year, I try to "journal" my story ideas, or continue story ideas as much as possible. My friend told me about the book, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, and one of the chapters is about people who are extremely successful follow the "10,000 hours" rule. In summation, it's where a person is dedicated enough to spend 10,000 hours learning/practicing whatever it is they are passionate about. That's when they start seeing success take place. (And I'm so sorry to the author(s) if I flubbed on that summation.) The point is that in order for us to be successful, we need to pursue writing passionately and diligently.

So what are you waiting for? Get writing!



P.S. Hopefully, this post inspired you. I wasn't really trying to be all "teacherish" on you!


  1. I so agree. I'm off to write for at least 20-30 minutes now. I claw my time out of my hectic schedule and am looking for ways to claw out more. Because I realize I'll never get done if I don't sit down and write.

  2. I can't wait to read more of your work, Natalie! :)
    How's your fantasy novel going?