6 Common Sense Tools To Aid Your Writing Life

Writers talking about writing and our writing process can either put people to sleep or fascinate us. I’m in the fascination group: I love to know what people do to get their words down.THE SHUSH. DECONSTRUCTED. (A Chickspeak Post)

 

A number of you have asked me to share my writing life, and I have over the past month during my Broken Pieces Orangeberry Book Tour (click here for more). Rather than make this all about me and risk losing you all to a nap, I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve gleaned along the way from others, as well as a few of my own tips.

 

1) Clear the clutter. This sounds so very, very basic, but wearing many hats (mom, wife, businessperson, and writer) can make our nice, clean desks one big ole mess. Quickly. I remember reading an article about authors in TIME magazine, and they mentioned that author Jonathan Franzen has nothing on his desk but his computer. That’s IT. No phone, no pads, no paper, no books. Nothing.

2) Turn off social media. The age-old issue for any author is ‘how can I sell more books if I don’t market? How can I market if I haven’t written more books?’ and it’s a valid one. There is no easy answer (though I share multiple time-saving tips and tricks at BadRedheadMedia.com). But if we go back to basics, we wouldn’t be authors if we didn’t publish. So make time for your writing.

At one point, I was part of a promo group of writers and one of the founders used to hound me about creating a strict writing schedule and sticking to it. She harangued me for having ‘excuses’ (kids, house to clean, errands, doctor’s appointment), which frankly pissed me off. But in a way, she was right: if we want to be published, we have to create. And I didn’t have a strict schedule, because I was building my following, writing blog posts, and living a life. I had to create a schedule for my writing — though I remain flexible based on my kids’ schedule or client work.

Shutting off social (no pings) is a crucial part of each day for me now — but it takes planning. Because my business is also social media, I can’t be totally unavailable — but I can shut off the noise!

3) Walk Away. Sometimes it just doesn’t flow — for whatever reason. I hesitate to call it ‘writer’s block’ because for me, it’s just a break. You couldn’t possibly do any one thing 24/7, so when you’re unable to write well, relax. Walk away. Usually my break consists of cleaning my kitchen (ya know, where I burn stuff), or taking the kids somewhere. Do whatever works for you. And if all else fails, go for a martini. (Or Nutella, if you’re not a drinker.)

Of course, you can always look at Pinterest shots of Ryan’s abs, too.

4) Share. This is probably the most difficult task for any new author — finding people we trust who are honest enough to give us a good critique. Connecting with other authors is critical and I love social media for that. I’ve become part of a few thriving author communities and would we lost without them. But it took me awhile to find my way. I had people in my life who constantly put me down, and that was unhealthy. Learn to draw the line between an honest critique and total B.S.

This is useful because sitting alone in our offices talking to ourselves and looking at pictures of Ryan Reynold’s abs will only take us so far.

5) Sustenance. Sounds kinda dumb, but many of us (including me) tend to get right into the work and forget to eat or drink. I go for coffee and then it’s five hours later and I’m beyond starving. Keep water on your desk. Nuts or fruit. If you’re involved and don’t want to walk away, you won’t have to.

6) Stretch. When I met author Dani Shapiro at a reading in 2010, she discussed the importance of stretching. She’s really into yoga, so she writes for the morning,does yoga, and then heads back to it.

I’ve had my share of neck, shoulder, and back problems (yes, even though I’m only 29 *ahem*), and bending over a screen can only exacerbate already existing issues and even create more. I’ve got a small space in my office where I can sit on the floor, stretch, lie down for a moment, do a yoga pose, whatever. I rarely want to lose the flow, so I find that staying in the same area doesn’t break my mood, yet allows for a slight reprieve.

 

None of these suggestions are earthshatteringly brilliant, but I’ve found them incredibly helpful for me.

What do you do to aid in your writing? Please share below!

 

Check out my books on Amazon: A Walk In The Snark (free today through Wednesday!)Mancode: Exposed, and my latest, Broken Pieces. Find me on Twitter at @RachelintheOC or my business@BadRedheadMedia. Look up the same names on G+, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I’m everywhere!
Broken Pieces left me in tears. It left me raw – the wounds still chafe, but it left me astounded at the courage Rachel Thompson had shown in writing this book, in breaking taboos, in speaking out and in refusing to use her pain and hurt as excuses to hide behind for the rest of her life.
This is a book about rising above; about becoming more than you can possibly believe you ever will be at those terribly low points of your life. It is about surviving, thriving and living and I recommend it more than any other book I have read.’ ~ from Tracy Riva, Top Amazon Reviewer. 

 

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About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat and an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Comments

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  16. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in taking a break — sometimes a very long break, like ten or twelve years.

    Love,
    Janie

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  30. Great article, Rachel! Thanks for sharing these tips.

    One thing that helps me is that when I go to bed at night, I visualize the first scene I’m going to write the next day. I run through it like a movie, and watch how the characters react, what they do, and what they say. If I’m writing a multiple POV novel, I may run it through several times from various characters’ POV, to see who has the most at stake. Then the next day, I write that scene from their perspective. It’s enough to get me off to a good start, and from there the writing generally just flows.

    Thanks for all the great information you share here on the blog. I’m glad we met!

    Carole

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  45. Turning off social media is a big one for me. The main problem is that I write using a computer and do a lot of my research on the internet. For that reason, walking away usually helps – especially getting outside and doing something different.
    Great post!

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