Writing is sacred, or at least, the power of words is sacred. We need to respect the word, the writing, and the process. While I believe there are no real rules to writing, here are 15 rules I use in my own writing life as well as with my clients and students.
Feel free to break any as necessary, as long as you're always respecting the creative process.
1. Prepare your environment. Maybe you can write everywhere, or maybe you need to go somewhere different. Alternatively, make an environment as conducive to writing as possible.
2. Get rid of the idea that your beginning has to be perfect… that you have to hook them with the right starting sentence.
3. There is no place for the "I don't want to have to do too much editing" mindset. Editing is a huge (one of the three) component of the writing process.
4. Don't edit when you're trying to create. It's the biggest danger to getting started (and to writing in general). The more thoroughly you brainstorm and idea generate, the sooner your material will sort itself out.
5. Give it time. Play with your idea, let it sit, and come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind. You'll be surprised at the revelations and connections you make.
6. Don't force it. It will eventually come.
7. Follow your energy. If you feel like going down Path B instead of Path A, do it. Your writing will be stronger, and you will be more productive.
8. Celebrate the advances you have made. As I was writing one day, I realized that I had done a lot of pre-work already. While the big picture could tell me that I haven't written a thing, the REAL bigger picture told me that the last few months involved me gathering information, which was necessary to get to the place where I was writing.
9. Pay attention to the world around you as well as to openings of movies, tv shows, articles, blog posts, novels, short stories…. What appeals to you? What do you like?
10. When you're writing, no email.
11. No phone either.
12. No social media! (Uh, yes, that means Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+.)
13. Commit to doing it badly. If you try to write it perfectly straight out the gate, then your inner critic gremlin gets in the way of the creation.
14. Respect the process. If you're flowing between the various steps of the writing process (creating, writing, editing), then give yourself a break. Get up and walk around. Shift your seat. Change the music.
15. Take projects in chunks instead of trying to look at entire project. How can you break your project down into smaller steps (write one blog post, do research on ____, etc.)?
16. If you're having trouble getting started, free write. It gets your mind uncluttered, and helps you focus.
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