September 28, 2012

Your Writing Desk Is Where Magic Happens

My desk is where magic happens. Every time I sit down, I escape into an unknown world and write the whisperings of my heart. 

I spend most of my days at my desk where I live, breathe, and thrive, as do many writers, as do many of you. Our desks are sources of power. We work at our desks. We create at our desks. Therefore, our desks should reflect that.

However, writing often leads to neglect, like postponing your lunch break to finish writing (which reminds me, I need to eat my lunch!), forgetting to wash the dishes, or feed a pet. Very often, a desk can become dusty, cluttered, and unorganized due to a writing frenzy. Well, no more!

Here are five easy steps that you can do right now to organize your desk for success:

1. Gather all of your runaway pens, pencils, and highlighters and slip them into a pencil caddy. If you don’t have a pencil caddy, you can make one, like I did, with an aluminum can. Go to your kitchen and make yourself a nice bowl of soup. After you enjoy the warm comfort, clean out the can, and decorate the outside with paper, fabric, or whatever craft materials you have lying around. Then slip all of your pens and pencils inside. Tada! Now you have a neat pencil compartment and you helped the environment by reusing an aluminum can! I’ve also used cups and glasses for this same purpose.

2. Make a junk drawer in your desk. Instead of junk, though, you will fill it with writing essentials like erasers, whiteout, and small memo notepads. Include other tools you use at your desk, too, such as a stapler and calculator, but just because this is a junk drawer doesn’t mean it has to be messy! Keep it neat by putting loose paperclips and rubber bands in a Ziploc bag and clipping small notes together. Create a special drawer for computer paper, envelopes, and printer ink as well.

If you don’t have drawers, get a box with a lid and make it your writing junk box.

3. Put all of your printed articles, short stories, poems, songs, etc. in folders. This keeps your documents organized and safe. Then put all the folders in a three-ring binder and use dividers for easy access. This strategy is also a great way to keep your publishing records orderly. Create a divider for agents and editors that you’ve submitted work to, want to send work to next, or the agencies you have to research. This will help you to stay stress-free in your pursuit of publication.

4. If you have limited drawers and not much desktop space, leave the notebooks, binders, and books that you use multiple times a week at your desk. All the rest you can store inside a plastic container or a backpack as I do. Place the container or backpack by your desk so whenever you need something inside it, it is within reach.

5. Lastly, clean your desktop. No, not your desk (although, you should perhaps dust it). I am talking about your computer. Delete those files that have been taking up space on your computer for years that you’ve probably forgotten were there. If you are afraid you may need it in the future, print it out and put it in a folder for safekeeping or email it to yourself and save it in an email folder. Use programs like Disk Clean Up and Disk Defragment to clear up any system clutter that may be slowing down your computer.

Now that your desk is organized for success, you can add a few decorative pieces for inspiration.

My writing career begins at my desk, where I am sitting right now, because this is where I can bring my dreams to life. The entire world is at my fingertips here, which is why I always keep it organized.

Your desk is just as magical. Every time you sit down to write, you give it power and it gives power back to you. Clean and organize your desk regularly to keep that power flowing.

 There is a saying, “Knowledge is Power.” I believe organization is power, too.

QUESTIONS: Do you have a messy or clean desk? If you have a clean desk, how do you keep it organized?

September 21, 2012

Writing Quotes

Quotes are a great way to find inspiration, wisdom, and motivation so I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes on writing. I hope they bring you insight as they have brought me.
"If you go deep enough in writing, it will take you everyplace." -Dainin Katagiri Roshi

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekhov

“You must not write about what people like, but you must write so well that people will like what you write.” -Unknown
“Anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life.” -Flannery O’Connor

"To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author." -Charles Caleb Colton

"It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write."  -Sinclair Lewis

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” -William Wordsworth
“Of course, there will always be more you could do, but you have to remind yourself that perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” -Anne Lamott

“If every time you sat down, you expected something great, writing would always be a great disappointment.” –Natalie Goldberg

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts and never hope more than you work.” -Rita Mae Brown

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.” -Jessamyn West

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.” -Gloria Steinem

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it.” -Anais Nin

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” -Isaac Asimov

"Usually, when people get to the end of a chapter, they close the book and go to sleep. I deliberately write my books so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she must turn one more page. When people tell me I've kept them up all night, I feel like I've succeeded!" -Sidney Sheldon

QUESTION: What is your favorite writing quote?

September 14, 2012

What To Do If You Struggle With Writing

There is no sure-fire way to break out of writer's block, but here are ten tactics that have helped me:

1. Read the last chapter or two that you wrote. Sometimes going over your work will get you back into the groove of your book and will motivate you to continue from where you left off.

2. Write a song or poem for a specific part in your book to help you tap into the emotion you need to write it. In the end, you may be able to use whole verses from the song or poem you created in your book. That’s a double bonus!

3. If you are good with a pencil, draw a picture to help your creative juices flow. This technique is great to help release an image trapped within your mind. Once you get it down on paper in one form, you can do it again in another.

4. Listen to music. Find songs that hold the same emotion and have the same theme as the event in your book. Then plug in your headphones and let the music call to your muse.

5. Watch a movie with scenes similar to what you have to write.

6. Read a book (or five) in the same genre as yours.

7. Discuss your book with a trusted person to bounce your ideas off him/her. You may be surprised at how helpful a second party can be. My mom actually helped me come up with a couple of details for the battle at the end of the third book in my unpublished series.

8. Motivate yourself. Say, “I don’t have writer’s block. Nothing can stop me from writing right now! I can do it!!” 

9. Step away from your book for a while:

· Take a nap
· Go for a walk or run
· Work in the garden
· Take a long bath
· Wash the dishes
  Then go back to your book when you’re done and try again.

10. If all else fails, skip the part you are struggling with and start writing a different chapter/event instead. Just don’t forget to go back to it later!


Don't give yourself too much to work on. Writing a book is a big job, but if you keep looking at it as writing three hundred pages or so, you will shut down. Whenever you sit down to write, don't focus on writing your entire book. Worry about the next paragraph that you have to write, not the next chapter. Don't aim to fill the whole white page. Go sentence by sentence. Or as Anne Lamott would say, "Take it bird by bird."

QUESTION: Do you have a method that helps you battle writers block? Share it!

September 07, 2012

Uh-Oh! Writer's Block!

Writer's Block - a condition in which a writer loses the ability to write new work.
Causes of Writer's Block:

· Creative problems within the work.
· Lack of inspiration
· Distraction/procrastination
· The project is too big for the writer.
· Physical illness
· Depression
· Stress (of any kind)
· Pressure to write or create a best-seller.
· Feeling of failure

All of these things can make it difficult for someone to write. Personally, I have dealt with a few of them. When I was seventeen and stopped writing completely, I had thought it was because my muse had run away. In reality, I was having creative problems within my series. I had matured greatly during the process of writing the original series and because of that I felt disconnected from all of my previous work. So, I developed a battle plan to fight the writer's block that threatened to end my writing for good.

Another form of writer’s block that I experienced was due to physical illness after I had spine surgery. For several months my writing was paralyzed while I recovered. To this day, whenever I have an illness, even if it is just a simple cold, I can’t produce any writing until I am feeling better.

The two most common causes of writer’s block that I experience are due to distraction/procrastination and stress. If something stressful occurs in my life, such as an explosive fight, then I am plagued with writer's block for the rest of the day.

I've procrastinated about writing more than I like to admit. When I realize that's what I am doing, I force myself to write and the end result is often a gigantic writer's block that lasts anywhere from a day to weeks.

Even if I am on a roll and in the midst of an action-packed scene, I’ll get up and walk away from the computer, as if I’m searching for a distraction. I yell at myself every time I do this.

I will say this about writer's block though:

If you have a detailed plan of what you need to write in your book and if you can write something else, anything else (such as a song, poem, article, short story, or even a list of things you love) then are you really blocked?

#1: What forms of writer's block have plagued you?

#2: How do you cope with writer's block?