Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Dec 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

New Year’s Resolution: Write Your Book in 2012

ae typewriterKiss procrastination goodbye; say hello to pen and paper

If the old adage is true, that each of us has a book inside ourselves, then the trick for most people is getting the words from the inside transcribed to pages on the outside.

The problem for many would-be writers is that the idea of having written is far more attractive than the grueling task of writing itself. Yet if you harbor a secret dream of penning the next American novel—or even a breathtaking bodice ripper—one thing is certain: you must sit down and write.

 “The primary characteristic of a successful writer is that they write,” says Laurie R. King, local Santa Cruz author who has written dozens of books, including the popular Mary Russell series of historical mystery fiction. She adds, “You’re ruthless with your free time and you find the time to write.”

It seems obvious that writers must write, yet aspiring authors can make a career of avoiding the act of writing. Writer’s block is not usually something that occurs while sitting down staring at a blank page or screen. More frequently, writer’s block is what is occurring while a would-be writer is washing the dishes, organizing the hall closet, tuning in to a late-night TV show—or doing anything rather than sitting down and facing that fear of the blank page.

“A lot of people find it hard to sit down and write,” says best-selling novelist Walter Mosley, author of more than 34 critically acclaimed books, including the Easy Rawlins and Fearless Jones mysteries. “There are so many reasons ... It might be unconscious fears, or some people might have such high expectations of themselves that they feel like what they’re doing is not up to task.”

ae featLiving writeThe “Time to Write” series by licensed professional counselor and author Kelly L. Stone offers aspiring authors a number of ways to overcome the psychological blocks that keep them from the chair. In “Living Write,” the third book in the series, Stone explains that the avoidance of writing is a self-sabotaging gesture that is related to self-doubt and fear—both fear of failure and fear of success. And the most effective way to break free from this avoidance cycle is simply to sit down and write, she says.

“The way you build [a positive writer] self-image is to set a goal, then carry out that goal,” Stone explains. “Every day that you fulfill your goal it builds self-esteem, self-confidence and your self-image as a writer.”

And she stresses that you don’t have to be a published author to view yourself as a writer: “If you’re writing, you’re a writer.”

ae featThinking WriteSo the first step is to take yourself seriously as a writer and make the practice of writing a priority in your life. King agrees, explaining, “You have to take your writing seriously because nobody else will if you don’t. The primary requirement is that you convince yourself that you have the right to do this. Especially people that have demands from family, your life comes after everyone else’s and you feel like you don’t have the right to prioritize writing. That’s wrong. You do have the right to do it. You have the need to do it. After that, you just have to figure out how to do it: Sit on chair, fingers on laptop.”

Once you decide to take your writing seriously, the vital next step is making a writing schedule—and then arranging your life around it. For Mosley, who started writing at the age of 34 and has rarely skipped a day since, the act of writing every day is crucial. In his slim yet pithy book “This Year You Write Your Novel,” he emphasizes the importance of daily writing for two reasons: getting the work done as well as keeping the story connected with your unconscious mind.

“All art is a big part of the unconscious or the imagination, which are things we’ve forgotten or never knew we knew,” explains Mosley. “What you have to do during writing is free-associate. Then you go away, and you find that in the hours you aren’t writing, the ideas you had (will continue) working in another part of your mind that was unattainable. So the next time you sit down to write, you go forward. The only way to access those unconscious thoughts is to write every day.”

He cautions that if you miss a day, you will begin to lose the unconscious thread—and if you skip three days, it will be gone.

Though Stone agrees that writing every day is the ideal schedule for aspiring writers to maintain, she recognizes that people who are not writing for their primary career may have difficulty finding the time to sit down every day amidst the demands of daily life. Rather than feeling like the writing life is unobtainable, she suggests that these people find whatever schedule works for them—and then guard their writing time like they would their first-born baby.

“If you can’t write every day, commit to a schedule,” she recommends. “Setting a writing schedule—and keeping it—is the key. You don’t just leave it to chance. If you do, that chance to write will never come around.”

ae featThis Year You Write Your NovelIn “Time to Write,” Stone lays out seven different writing schedules to fit different lifestyles. These include “The Early-Morning Writer,” “The After-Hours Writer,” “The Commuting Writer” and “The Miniblocks-of-Time Writer.”

While King is a morning writer, she also stresses the importance of each writer finding their own particular schedule to get them writing regularly and keeping the story flowing in their unconscious mind. She wishes someone had given her this advice when she first started: “You have to invent your own wheel. The way you do it is the right one.”

Once you make the time to fit writing in your life, Stone suggests that you commit to writing goals that you can work toward. “When you sit down, you’ve got to have a plan,” she explains. “It can either be to write a scene, a chapter, or to write up to a certain word count. But to capitalize on your valuable time, you’ve got to know what you want to do.”

She recommends that in addition to setting daily goals, you should lay out your goals for the entire year and then break them into monthly and weekly milestones. Much like the subconscious mind is responsible for the creativity that goes into writing a story, it also dictates the thought processes that determine whether you will be a blocked writer or an accomplished writer. Stone explains that by setting goals, you give your subconscious mind something to fix its energy on.

ae featTime To Write2“You can write down your goals, tape them above your computer, think about them all the time,” Stone urges. “Your subconscious mind will begin to aid you in accomplishing your goals. When you have that goal and you see the pages stacking up, that gives you motivation to keep going.”

Resources: “This Year You Write Your Novel” by Walter Mosley is a slim yet pithy guide with simple advice to get you started on a draft that you can complete within a year. Kelly L. Stone’s “Time to Write” series includes “Time to Write,” “Thinking Write” and “Living Write.” These books and their accompanying CDs are filled with practical strategies on how to set writing goals, maintain a writing schedule, access your unconscious mind and overcome psychological blocks that keep you from achieving success. Laurie R. King’s forthcoming “The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing,” co-authored with mystery writer Michelle Spring, will touch on the craft of writing itself as well as the nuts and bolts of writing crime fiction.

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by Dyane Harwood, January 09, 2012
This is an excellent and inspiring article. Thank you for writing it. Well done!
...
written by Peg Nichols, January 08, 2012
I knit something simple, like anklewarmers, and write in longhand in pencil. While I'm thinking of what I want to write, the needles are flying. When the sentence, or paragraph, forms in my head, I drop the knitting and take up the notepad. I've tried to combine other activities with writing (like cleaning house) but nothing is quite so conducive to a productive writing day than knitting.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire