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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spurt Writing

I sometimes find that I don't spend the time writing that I ought to. A day will go by and then two. Then a week, three weeks, a month. Yikes. Maybe the rest of you aren't slackers like I am, but time can easy float by without any writing accomplishments. Why is this? I want to write. I like to write. How can I let so much time pass without writing? There are a couple of simple answers.

1- Life is busy. Shocker! It doesn't feel like I have enough time to make meaningful progress on my WIP. I am a slow reader and a slow writer and I need a significant period of time to commit. I can't sit down for 20 minutes and knock out a page on my WIP and then get back to my other activities. It just doesn't work for me.

2- I lose focus and get out of practice. Then I start procrastinating because I know it will take even longer to get into the flow of writing my scene.

3- I don't feel creative. Maybe my creative energies are spread too thin. My well is only so deep and I have already depleted my creative juices at work, church, family etc. Do you ever feel this way?

What can we do about it?

Spurt Writing- short writing periods of 5-10 minutes. What are the benefits of Spurt Writing?

1- It is easy to find 5-10 minutes as opposed to a 2 or 3 hour block of time to write. If I don't have enough time to spend on my WIP then I can spend a shorter period of time writing something else. Anything else.

2- It allows me to stay fresh and in practice in organizing my thoughts by observing and describing what I see or feel. Short spurts help me to avoid long writing haituses. Instead of writing on my WIP I can spend 5 minutes describing how to fold a paper airplane out of the brochure on my desk. I can describe the taste of a sour Skittle. I can describe the smell of the berry hand sanitizer that glopped onto my shirt.

3- Writing helps me generate creativity. I often start writing with no clue whatsoever what I want to write. Once I start writing the scene or character takes on a life of its own. If you don't know where to start, begin with a "what if?" senario and see what happens.

As writers we must organize our thoughts and find interesting ways to describe the world we are creating. We can practice this even when we can't write. If there is no keyboard around and you don't want to waste your time scribbling something down because you know you won't be able to read it later, and you haven't had a chance to write today, spend 5 minutes describing OUT LOUD the way your body feels as you're working out. Describe the pain, exhaustian, exhiliration. Describe out loud the way the leaves flutter in the wind or the muggy dampness of the air you're breathing. Speaking often helps me find the proper rhythm.

If you find you are not spending the amount of time writing you would like, start with the short spurt. Take 5 minutes and describe simple things at your home, or in your garden, or thoughts that pop into your mind as you hear a verdict in a high profile murder case, or the emotions you feel when a driver cuts you off in traffic. It can be anything.

For me, this helps. Fine, I don't have time to write a chapter today, or even this week. There's no use beating myself up about it. But maybe something I describe in my Spurt Writing will spark some creativity and find its way into a later work.

5 comments:

michaelknudsenauthor.com said...

Sounds like a great technique, Steve. I am just as much of a slacker sometimes, so I'll try this.

Caledonia Lass said...

I'm the same way! I let so much time go between writings that I begin to procrastinate whether I know it or not.

I like this idea of spurt writing. I think I have been doing something akin to that already when I sit down to hammer out some writing while dinner is cooking.

Excellent post. :D

Steve Westover said...

Slackers UNITE!

We're not really slackers, just busy, and that's okay. Just like we learned in What About Bob, baby steps can be the means to accomplishing great things.

Thanks Caledonia and Michael

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh my gosh. This is SO what I needed to hear today! I've been slacking, too. Well, not slacking EXACTLY, just spending all my time getting my last manuscript ready to query, writing queries, researching agents... all the stuff that HAS to happen.

But at the same time, I've not been writing anything new. Because it's too hard to find THAT much time. Because I've lost focus and am out of practice. And because I don't feel creative. I'm totally going to take your advice!

Steve Westover said...

Thanks Peggy. I hope it works for you. It's so easy to get caught up in the other stuff that we lose focus of what we really want to do...write.