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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What to do while waiting for your GH results

So, you’ve mailed in your GH entry and you’ve taken that deep breath you promised yourself. Some of the more driven among you have already started on their next project. You’re probably not on a deadline unless it’s a self-imposed one, so now’s the time to shake things up a bit and work out the kinks of any part of your process that isn’t providing you with complete creative satisfaction.

If you can’t quite put your finger on the problem, try these suggestions:

1. Change your writing routine

If you’re one of those people who gets up at 4:00 a.m. to write before work, more power to you. If you’re a night owl and tend to lose track of time the later it gets, I salute you with a yawn. If you’re fortunate enough to write full time, but have a certain time of day when you tend to fade, this is for you, too, because a period of time when you don’t have a deadline is the best time to make a change.

I’m one of those nightowls who gets home from work between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. and barely makes it to the keyboard by 8:00. If my muse is in the house, I can go until the wee hours without looking up. Things go better, though, and promise a pre-midnight bedtime if I write during the noon hour at work. I print out the last three pages I write each night and put it with my AlphaSmart and pull them out the next day after a quick lunch. One hundred lines on the Alphie add three pages to my manuscript when I finally get to the computer. On days that are nice, I sit outside and write. If it’s gloomy, I put on a Beatles cd and can’t help smiling as I write.

You know your routine best, and I’m sure there are things about it that can be changed. If you’re stymied, ask a writer friend what she does, or put the question on a loop. You’ll be amazed at the things busy writers do to get more done each day. Author April Kilstrom has dozens of suggestions on her website for using just about any length of time, from minutes to hours, to write.

2. Establish an exercise program

Pick an exercise you’d like to try and like the Nike ads, Just DO IT. It takes 21 days to develop a habit, but only 7 days to break one, so this is an important step for any writer who wants to remain healthy and at the keyboard during times busy and slack.

If you’re not currently taking a multivitamin and are medically able to do so, put the bottle on the credenza behind your desk and make that part of your daily pre-writing routine. It’s so important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of all the other things in your life. But I bet you knew that, didn’t you?

3. Renovate your work space

Ask yourself: is my work space feng shui or dung shui? Is it a mess, or a place that invites you to plant your fanny in the chair and caress those keys like you were Ray Charles tickling the ivories on his baby grand?

If you’re in the feng shui corner, congratulations. You get a gold star for the day. If not, you’ve got some work to do, and thankfully, the time to do it.

Clean everything off your desk (dump it in a box if you have to) and re-situate the computer if necessary. If you’ve been cricking your neck to see the monitor, now’s the time to adjust it or relocate it altogether. If your hands and shoulders hurt, your chair may need to be raised (or lowered) or you may need an adjustable keyboard tray or a new, fluffier wrist rest. If you regularly bang you knee on the CPU under your desk, now’s the time to move it. A narrow sofa table can serve as a fill-in credenza behind your desk if you need one for all the bits and pieces that tend to pile up on a work surface-—the pen and pencil cup, the box of blank cds or floppy disks or the safe place where you keep your flash drives, a candle, a clock (see what I mean about the stuff that piles up?). When there is nothing there to distract you, you’re ready to write.

Remember, clutter causes stress. If there’s no where to park your elbow while you rest your chin on your hand to think, you’re in trouble—-not desperate trouble, but think about it. If you’re not comfortable at your writing desk, where are you going to write?

Take a look at the walls. Is what you see pleasing to the eye? The art, the paint color? Have you displayed all the certificates you’ve gathered in your writing career? That picture of you with (insert favorite writer’s name here)? A bulletin board with “photos” of your characters and the towns where they live? You get the idea. Your writing space is your world. Make it a welcoming one. You deserve it.

4. Stretch your comfort zone

If you’ve never used writing props to jump-start your writing, try a few just for kicks. If you write traditionals, knock out a few paragraphs of the hottest kiss you can imagine. If historicals are your thing, describe a character from the year 2512. Write about what you see out the window, your ideal mate, the perfect pet. Keep those creative juices flowing in as many directions as possible.

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful to you. Most important above all is to keep your current project foremost in your mind. Think about it, talk about, write about it. Then you’ll be ready when you get the “call.”

How are you spending this post-deadline period? Any suggestions for the rest of us?


At 11:19 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

These are flippin' brilliant! (Although the one about exercise-sigh-isn't my favorite, which means I probably need it the most)

My desk area is a nightmare, because the paperwork of my normal life has invaded the paperwork of my writing. So I'm going to designate an area for the "other stuff". I'm going to bring in another bookshelf as well, because I don't have enough places to spread out the research books I want open and around me when I write. I like to see pictures of landscapes, dresses, etc.

Once it's in the mail, I'm going to begin doing some firm research for my next book, and put aside this GH entry until January, because all these revisions are making my head spin. It's time for a break from it, I believe.

And I'm going to make sure I keep writing something--anything--at least an hour a day. I've taken breaks before, when researching, but if I don't write at all it's so hard for me to get back into a rhythm.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I like these ideas, Karen. I definitely need to renovate my work space, put a few contest certificates on the wall, etc. I definitely want to try a mini collage for my WIP.

I do have an alpha smart that I haven't been using much. One hundred lines equals 3 pages, huh? I like that. You've inspired me to shove that in the car and pull that out while I'm waiting for my daughter at school or dance. Thanks!

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Gillian, I agree that if you take too long of a break it's hard to get back into the swing of things. And good idea to put the book aside for now and work on something else. I like to shoot for having a new book done or almost done before every GH deadline comes around. It doesn't always happen...

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

I always knew the 21 day part of that rule but never the 7-day part. So that's what happened! LOL! After a couple of weeks off the exercise wagon, it's no wonder I can barely walk up the stairs!

Nice list.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

After a deadline, I always pick up my book room. I can't call it an office, because no human being can sit in there, but it does house all my books. Well, most of my books. I have another couple of shelves in the spare bedroom with lots of my paperbacks.

And where I sit to write (on the couch in the den) I am in full view of my RITA!

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Karen said...

Diane, I still have my chocolate Rita from the Anaheim conference, so that's going to have to do me for now. Or perhaps we could work out a loan (yeah, sure).

Gillian, it's hard when you have two jobs in one place. I tend to do my "work" work at the table in the kitchen. The chairs are not comfortable enough for long-term projects, so I don't linger. I try to set aside half an hour every Sunday morning to plan the coming week, then it's off to the study to spend time with my characters!

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I start on my next project. I'm pretty new to writing, so every project is a big learning experience for me. I do something to help cement what I learned the last go-round; I'm afraid if I stop or give myself a "break" then I'll forget something and make the same big mistakes twice.

That said, when I ship my GH I'm spending a couple of days in major housecleaning. I'm going to go through every closet, drawer, and cupboard in my house and send a truckload of stuff to the landfill or the Goodwill. I find physical housecleaning to result in lots of mental space!

Margaret M

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Margaret M, that is such a smart thing to do, to clean out your environment. I do it on a mini-scale, but my environment is in dire need of such a cleaning.

Karen, I'm sorry but I didn't save my chocolate RITA so I can't trade....

At 9:23 PM, Blogger JeanneD said...

Hi All - I also take time to go through my books and donate the ones I've read to the library or our local RWA chapter. Share the joy!

At 9:24 PM, Blogger JeanneD said...

I take time to go through my books and donate the ones I've read to the libary or our local RWA chapter. Share the joy!


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