Here are 10 tips:
Thursday, May 15, 2014
I pin the colored fabric as though savoring a mango, this slice of time so sweet, and the sounds of children splashing in the pool. And all I want is to rest. To open wide this moment and step into it, to sit on a beach chair and hold my babies and breathe in their skin, and funny how, once you get what you want, all you can think about is the other.
But I am learning to write, in spite of myself.
Because I want to honor the call.
But I also don’t want to miss out on my children. Nor the man I made them with.
So how do we do it? How do we balance the laptop with the laundry and the liturgy?
Here are 10 tips:
1. Write when you feel most alive. (be it morning, before the kids wake up, or in the evening, after they’ve gone to bed, snag those seconds, those minutes, and let those fingers fly)
2. Don’t over-think it. Just write. Edit later. Stephen King has some good stuff to say about this in his book, On Writing. I don’t read his fiction, but my husband does, and says the guy knows what he’s talking about.
3. Don’t read the same kind of genre you’re writing in, or you’ll get your own writing voice mixed up with someone else’s. So if you’re writing fiction, read non-fiction, and vice-versa.
4. Drink or eat something while you’re writing. I drink coffee in the mornings and snack on raisins or chocolate throughout the day. This fuels the mind and keeps the stomach happy.
5. Give yourself rewards. For example, write for 15 minutes, and then go hug your babies. Or write for 15 minutes and then spend 5 minutes doing something restful or invigorating.
6. Surround yourself with inspiration. My friend constantly mails me encouraging quotes and artwork; if you’ll notice in this photo, I have posted these quotes and pieces of art above my desk to provide visual stimulation.
7. Work in a quiet place. Find yourself a haven, even if it’s a closet, and close the door and write. I wouldn’t use music, because silence allows you to “hear” the characters, or God’s spirit directing the words you need to say.
8. Choose a certain number of words per day, and stick to that word count. You will feel so productive when you’re done. Just focus on getting down 500 words, or 1,000, or 2,000, and then quit for the day, and enjoy the outdoors.
9. When you’re done, choose a varied team to share your work with: friends who you know will encourage you, friends who will offer constructive criticism, friends with a sharp eye, and then those who are just acquaintances and can offer some sort of un-biased perspective.
10. Pray as you write, as you edit, as you rest. Pray through it all. Because God is the Word. He gave you this calling. So trust him to work through you, even on days when the pool and the sunlight and the birds are calling. For in the end, it’s all about him. And if he doesn’t write our books, we write in vain.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped
― Anne Lamott, Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of four books including the novel, , releasing April 15 with Abingdon Press. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit . Find her on or .
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