Just Write

Twelve Steps to Successful Writing

Are you the type of person who needs to clear your desk before getting down to the business of writing?  Me, too. I have to pay the bills, sort, organize, stack things on my desk.  Satisfied, but not ready to get to writing, I look around. Oh, I really need to do the laundry, clean the bathroom, clean the floor, check the refrigerator, look outside, get a drink of water. Sometimes it seems I’ll do everything except write.

One year I participated in NaNoWriMo for the month of November. I loved it. This year I’m going to participate in Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN), founded by Nina Amir. But I know I’ll only be successful if I plan ahead.

Here are Twelve Steps to get to that writing we so want to do.

1. For the next two weeks, get caught up. Get organized, file those pieces of paper that clutter your desk, your counter, your life.

2. For the next two weeks, spend extra time crossing things off your actual or mental to-do list. Whatever you’ve been putting off doing. . . do it now.

3. Plan ahead. What do you usually do in November that you can do now? Put all the Thanksgiving and holiday items in a box (tablecloth, napkins, decorations, plates, etc).

4. Get a box ready for all the incoming stuff. . . mail and paperwork that can wait until December.

5. Get another box for important, don’t-want-to-forget items. As things arrive, put them here. Then, once a week in November, take care of business. . . spend as little time as possible. Just get this stuff done so you can get back to writing.

6. Plan snacks. Make a list of perishable snacks you want to have on hand, so you don’t have to think when the time comes to purchase the snacks. Just take your list to the store. Then get back to writing.

7. Plan meals. Same as above. Keep meals really easy. Soup and sandwiches. Simple salads.

8. Purchase whatever you can now for your food needs/wants/cravings. Yes, you will have cravings. Plan for them. Don’t agonize over this. Keep your mind deep in the Land of Writing. But you will need motivation to keep going, not a reason to sneak off for ice cream.  Fill freezer, pantry and cupboards with food stuff you know you will want.

9. Tell your friends and family whatever you want. . . you have a contagious disease, you have laryngitis, you’re on deadline (you are) . . . but you aren’t accessible to babysit, carpool, lend an ear or a shoulder. This is Your Time to write.

10. Have everything lined up that you will need . . . paper, pens, ink cartridges, list of writing prompts as daily warm-ups, ashtray (just kidding, unless you really do smoke), water, snacks.

11.  Turn your phone off, do not look at Facebook until the end of the day, do not get distracted with tweeting, twittering, looking, sneaking, freaking, or any of the many things that will tempt you to distraction.

12.  Set up your good luck charms, talismans, touchstones, candles, lucky rabbit’s foot . . . whatever it takes to remind you . . . for the month of November. . . You Are A Writer.

Write that on a post-it note. Post it prominently. Look at it. Remember it. Believe it. You Are A Writer.

What helps you to keep focused on your writing? What steps would you add to being a successful writer?


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