The Most Difficult Things Writers Have to Explain to Non-Writers, Part 2

blog11132

One big difference between people who write and people who don’t is that people who write get what it means to be a writer … and people who don’t write … don’t.

While we’d love to say writing is all fun all the time, the reality is, it isn’t. Which can be frustrating when there are friends and family always going on and on about how easy we have it, getting to write for a living (or trying to).

Our first post on this topic covered a few literary phenomenons most people don’t understand, like characters taking over stories. This post talks more about writing as a process, which is also something nearly impossible to understand if you don’t basically write to live.

Difficult Thing #4: Writing is hard

“You’re a writer! Wow! You have, like, the easiest job ever!”

Ha. HAHAHAHAHA. Ha.

Enlighten me. Where in the world did this one come from?

Introduce me to a writer who can look me straight in the eye and tell me they have an easy job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a novelist or a journalist or a PR intern or whatever your official title is. Writing is hard. There are days words just do not come together to form coherent sentences. But most of the time, you have to write anyway, because there are deadlines and people counting on you and expecting you to get your work done. Always.

Sure, maybe some days words come easily and you can write ten 500-word articles in an eight-hour work day. But you’re not just a writer. You’re a reader, a re-reader, a proofreader, an editor, people tell you to rewrite, and re-rewrite, because a first draft is never perfect, and sometimes, a final product has to come pretty darn close.

It’s not that writers don’t love what they do. But to them, writing is work. If you want to be a writer because you think it will be easy, you should probably start looking into different professions.

Difficult Thing #5: Writing is not always fun

“You’re a writer? I’ve always wished I was a writer, it sounds like so much fun!”

Sure … writing can be fun. Sometimes. But it’s a huge misconception that being a writer is the most fun job you could have. For one thing, writing is hard (see above). Just because you might be able to sit down and write a story that makes you laugh and is entertaining to write doesn’t mean it’s entertaining to edit, revise, rewrite, etcetera.

And writers don’t just get to write fiction all the time. It depends on individual disciplines, but there’s always professional writing involved, too. Proposals, query letters, emails, marketing materials, articles, blog posts, all the technical stuff that allows writing to even be considered a profession at all.

Because many writers literally write to live (it’s their job), they write all day, and then end up sometimes writing even more, on their own, just for fun. That’s not easy on the brain after awhile.

Difficult Thing #6: Writing is literally as important as eating food regularly

How many times have people asked you, when they find out you’re a writer, “Do you write a lot [frequently]?” Probably, well, a lot (frequently).

For non-writers, the idea of writing daily is basically a foreign concept. It’s different when you’re so used to writing every day it becomes almost an involuntary activity.

To the dedicated, disciplined, experienced writer, writing isn’t just something that happens during free time, like playing video games or chatting with friends on social media. In one form or another, writing, like eating food, is a daily necessity. Without it, everything else seems to fall to pieces. Whether it’s a few minutes of journaling, writing an email or working on a blog post, article or story, words need to be written at some point throughout the day.

So if you’re not a writer, and you usually roll your eyes when your friend says she’ll meet you in five minutes – she has to finish writing – give her 10 minutes instead. She’ll be much more pleasant to hang around when she’s done and has it crossed off her to-do list.

Writing is a process. The difficulties that come along with it, while rewarding when it’s all said and done, are often hard to navigate through. Send this post to your non-writing friends. Remind them that you’re a hard worker just like anyone else. Progress isn’t always instantaneously detectable. You’re a writer, not a magician.

Give your writing friends a pat on the back. And some chocolate. And a hug. They need it.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

My Biggest Fears As an Aspiring Writer

blog1115

Being a writer has its ups and downs. This has been a down week for me. I’ve written a lot, though not as much as usual, but honestly, some days I just wrote to get it done and move on to something else.

It’s been a tough week all over the world, non-writing related, and I get emotional about this stuff, I really do. I REALLY CARE ABOUT PEOPLE!! I just want to take a second to say that. I am thinking about what has happened and, even if I haven’t written about it (yet), I do care, I am heartbroken and if you are in any way affected personally by the events of the past few days, I am thinking of you constantly.

Being in this kind of emotional state brings up a lot of things I’ve gotten pretty good at suppressing, mainly so I can get my work done and write what I need to write. A lot of it has to do with fear. I used to be afraid to show people what I wrote. I’m way past that now, obviously, but my writing-related fears have over time sort of morphed into insecurities, and to keep myself from stopping, I have to ignore them and write anyway, which is hard! Some days are much harder than others.

I wanted to share my biggest writing-related fears with you all today. Starting off the week on a high note, I guess. But in all seriousness, I want this to be a good thing. Fear stops a lot of us from doing what we want to do, and in being open and honest about what we’re afraid of, I think we can learn to overcome these fears, or at least make peace with them.

So before I invite you to share yours, here are mine.

What if my words don’t actually mean anything?

I write a lot, for both exposure and to refine my own skills. A lot of times I sit back after finishing an article or post and wonder if what I just spent 45 minutes writing even means anything. Am I really helping anyone with this advice? Would it even make a difference if I never hit publish?

I put as much effort as I can into everything I write, I really do, because I write for other people, to help other people any way I can. Sometimes I just don’t know if I’m always accomplishing that goal.

Will writing always just be a volunteer effort?

As I said above, I write a lot, but I don’t get paid for it. That’s not me complaining, either. Most publications that let you publish once a week don’t compensate you for it. They’re doing a favor by helping you get your name out there: exposure is your payment. I get that and I actually really appreciate it. But it just can’t be this way forever.

Many times I’m afraid that one day I’ll have to settle for a career that allows me to support myself and either keep writing as a volunteer side gig or put writing to the side forever. I don’t want to do that. I’m fairly new to this whole adulting thing, you know. I worry too much about a future I can’t see, but it’s one of my biggest fears as a writer, and I know I’m not the only one.

Am I just like every other writer out there?

Nobody wants to be anonymous. That’s why so many people blog and try to write for every publication that will let them. I love to write, I love sharing my words with my readers (greetings to all my newbies!) and as you’ll read in a second, I wouldn’t mind if I never became “successful.”

But I don’t want to fall into the trap of writing about something because everyone else is doing it. I don’t want this blog or my articles or the magazine I manage to be the exact same as everything else that’s already out there. I’m still learning how to be unique. I’m afraid I’m not, or that I never will be. Some days that makes it really hard to get a post up for all of you, but I do it. Every day.

But here’s what I’m not afraid of …

I’m not afraid of promoting my work. It’s out there for those who are interested, but if they’re not, or they don’t like it, that’s out of my control and I’m okay with that.

I’m not afraid of never being successful. I don’t ever expect to be and that’s not why I write. Of course I want my words to matter and I would love to be able to turn writing into a career, but so does everyone else. I’m probably never going to be a “big deal” and that is completely fine with me. I’m just going to keep on writing anyway.

I’m not afraid of being rejected. I’ve been given a “no” enough times to finally have come to terms with it just being a part of life no matter what you’re trying to do. It’s nothing personal. I’m not going to be a good fit for every job or every publisher or even every audience. No one is. The more I learn to brush it off and keep trying, the better off I am in all areas of my life, not just in my writing.

None of these fears have anything to do with me personally. I love what I do regardless of whether anyone reads it or likes it or shares it, I’m not in any of this for any of that. I’m just a small-town writer living in a big word-filled world and it’s terrifying and amazing all at the same time.

What do you fear? How do you keep writing, even when these fears try and stand in the way of making progress on your latest project? Are we just imagining these fears? Do they exist to motivate us to keep writing anyway?

Keep writing. Make this week count.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Solution Saturday: Every Time I Stop Writing, I Can’t Start Up Again

NRSS18

Well, it happened again. You took a writing break, because you really felt like you needed one. Time away from your story to recharge and think about where you wanted to go with it next.

Except, every time you’ve tried to go back to that story and start again, you haven’t been able to.

Almost like, the minute you set your story aside, all your ideas, all your motivation to keep working on it, vanished.

It’s important to take breaks while writing—days, even weeks. But how do you do that without throwing yourself completely off track?

Here are a few possible solutions. 

Solution 1: Be honest with yourself: why did you stop in the first place? 

Did you lose interest in the story? Get distracted by a new project? Did life just become a volcanic eruption of busyness that forced you to abandon your writing for more pressing matters?

Identifying why you stopped, and why you have stopped in the past if it has happened more than once, might be able to help you figure out how to keep yourself going next time. If you’re trying to do too much, maybe some rearranging of your priorities is in order. Maybe you’re not taking the right kinds of “creativity breaks.” 

Solution 2: Give yourself an incentive to restart, and take it slow

Saying, “I’ll start again tomorrow” isn’t going to get you very far on the productivity track. It’s hard to go a long period of time without writing and then trying to jump back into it. Maybe you need an incentive, something to motivate you to return to your craft even when you don’t want to.

Tell yourself you’re not allowed to do [insert thing that distracts you the most here] until you spend some time writing. Or plan a longer-term reward for the upcoming weekend, if it’s Monday and you want to spend the week easing yourself slowly back into the groove. If you can’t jump right in right away, don’t panic. It’s like running for the first time in six months. It’s not going to be quite as easy the first few tries. 

Solution 3: Write daily in very small “doses” 

If you stopped writing because you burned yourself out and needed a break, you might be doing it wrong. As simple and impossible as it might initially sound, the best defense against stopping and not being able to start again is to never stop.

You do still need to take breaks from writing, or you’re going to mentally drain yourself. Try writing a set amount of words per day, then treat the rest of that day as your “break.” When you wake up the next day, having given your creative brain a rest, you’ll be much more likely to feel recharged and able to do the same thing again—and again, and again.

Don’t forget: if a story is really important to you, even if it takes awhile, it will come back to you. Don’t worry too much and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you have to just start writing, even if it’s not the best, you’ll find your way back to where you were before you stopped.

Take care of yourself, and go write some words tonight.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Solution Saturday: I Have a New Idea, But I’m Still Writing an Old Story

NRSS16

It happens to the best of us: we’re just minding our own business, typing away, and BOOM: new idea. It’s a good one. And we really want to forget about whatever we’re working on and give all our attention to this new thing in our heads.

Take a deep breath. You don’t have to abandon what you’re working on for the sake of one new idea. Try these solutions to your latest #writerproblem before you decide the best way to handle this.

Solution 1: Write down new ideas as they come, then leave them alone

Sometimes we’re overwhelmed by new ideas simply because we can’t get them out of our head. Just because you have a new idea doesn’t mean your old one has any less worth, and if you’re still motivated to finish it, there’s a way to hold onto that new idea without investing your full time and energy into it right away.

As bits and pieces of a new story come to you, jot down those idea fragments, maybe on a note in your phone or on a Post-It note, and then go back to whatever you’re working on right now. Leave them to sit for awhile. You won’t forget them, and when you’re ready to bring them to life, they’ll already be there waiting. 

Solution 2: Use your new idea as motivation to finish your current project 

Maybe you’ve been working on your current book, short story or other project for what feels like forever. Your eagerness to jump into the first new idea that comes along is a completely normal temptation. That new idea seems really good to you right now. It’s bright and shiny and YOU WANT IT.

Instead of abandoning your work for something different, use the promise of a brand-new project to get you through finishing the current one. Just think: not only will you be able to celebrate your accomplishment (it’s finally done!), but you’ll also be able to dive straight into the next thing right away.

Solution 3: Try dividing your time between both stories 

If you really don’t think you can wait until your first project is done before starting the second one (try the above solutions first before you decide you can’t handle the waiting), do an experiment. See what happens when you try working on both at the same time.

This requires a lot of discipline. You’ll need to figure out how to schedule out your writing time so you’re giving equal attention to both projects. It can work, but only if absolutely necessary. You might find that working on two projects at the same time actually makes you more productive. Who knows? Give it a try and tell us how it goes.

New ideas are just that: new ideas. They might seem really great at first, and eventually they might turn out to be even better than you imagined. But they might not. If you’ve already put a lot of work into something, finish that first, if you can. You’ll feel much better when you do.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

I’m Getting Closer (Midweek Novel Update #15)

NRmidnovelupdate.8.26.15

So if you haven’t heard, I’m writing a book.

You already knew that, if you’ve been keeping up with me for awhile (to those who followed this blog before 2015, kudos). But for those who haven’t heard, I’m over three years into an idea-turned-almost-sort-of-a-novel-type-thing, and soon enough, it’s going to pay off.

And by that, of course, I mean I’m going to finish it and do my happy dance and drink a celebratory pot of coffee and then sleep for a year.

Yes, you read that right. I AM GOING TO FINISH IT. Soon, Like, at the rate I’m going, possibly within the next month or so. That kind of soon.

I’m freaking out.

This story has not turned out the way I planned, as is usually the case. And I’m finding now that, the closer I get to filling in all the gaps and calling it done, the more freely I’m willing to move things around, change wording, delete pieces of scenes I don’t need anymore. Which I never do, unless I have a pretty good idea of where the story is heading.

The thing is, I haven’t finished writing a book in years. YEARS. Life just got busy. I’d start projects for Wrimos and never got around to finishing most of them. Actually, the last book I started and finished, I wrote during the summer after my freshman year of college. Unfortunately, looking back, that was sort of a long time ago, now that I keep having these crazy things called birthdays every four seconds.

I remember how it feels to be so attached, and then have to let go.

I’m not ready.

I always like to say writing a book is like raising a kid. I don’t actually know what that’s like from personal experience, but it’s exactly what I imagine parenthood is going to be like for me someday. Sometimes it’s too exhilarating to be able to look away. Sometimes you just want to squish your face into a pillow and scream.

But as the story develops, so do you. You learn so much about yourself and about the idea growing and changing right before your eyes.

And then all of a sudden that tiny little idea is all grown up, packing its bags for college, not really needing you the way it used to.

Actual parents, don’t yell at me if I’m generalizing too much. Personifying the novel-writing process just makes it easier to describe to people who have never been through it before, and after years of trying, I just can’t seem to come up with a better analogy.

I don’t want to finish writing this book. It is my life. My world. When I’m not physically working on it, I’m thinking about it. All the time. Which might seem a little obsessive, if you’ve never been through this before.

But that’s what gets me through it. I set a goal to write 1,000 words a day, to keep myself on some kind of schedule even though I don’t really have a solid routine going right now. Sometimes I fly past that mark, but usually I hit it and have to move onto something else. That’s life. But it’s always on my mind. Characters randomly whisper their lines in my head. Especially when I’m trying to sleep.

I know it’s about time to say goodbye. Since April, when I started this project over basically from scratch, I’ve worried over it constantly. I know it can never be perfect, and at this stage in my life, that doesn’t disappoint me. I just wonder what’s going to happen when I finish this one, when it’s finally over.

Yet I know, deep down, exactly what will happen. I’ll close it out and file it away and return to it for editing only when I feel ready.

I need a break. I am exhausted. This story keeps wanting to branch off into a million directions, and that can’t happen. There’s only so much I can cram into one book. And there’s only so much, out of that, I even should.

I’m about to hit the 65,000-word mark, and while I know there’s probably a lot more to come, there isn’t much. I’m further from the midpoint than I realized. I’m going to guess that I really am less than a month away.

How did this happen?

I hope this feeling is normal, because it’s terrifying.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink. Follow Meg on Twitter. 

Solution Saturday: Which Genre Am I Writing In?

NRSS9

So you’re writing this book, right? It’s going pretty well. There’s a good cast of characters, a few good plot twists, some suspense and a lot of action—it’s definitely something you would read, and hopefully that means someone else might want to read it someday, too.

It’s a great spot to be in, as a writer. But there’s just one problem: in searching for literary agents here and there, you’re not sure who might be good candidates to send queries to. Each agent typically accepts queries about books from certain genres, and well … you don’t exactly know where yours belongs.

You have problems. We have solutions. Writing is hard. Let’s make it a little easier to navigate, shall we?

Solution 1: Determine whom you’re trying to reach

Within each genre are a plethora of sub-genres, but in order to figure out where your story or book belongs, take a few steps back and focus on one thing: who do you picture sitting down to read your work?

Some themes are universal for all age groups, but the age bracket of your characters, the situations you put them in and the range of their development from start to finish can at least help you figure out whether it’s more suited for younger audiences, young adults or strictly adults, as a starting point. This can at least help you determine where your story doesn’t belong, and can help you narrow down where it might fit best. 

Solution 2: Assess what you’re reading

Often the genres we read most frequently are the ones we end up writing in. Mostly because, well, if we’re spending all that time reading this genre or that, it’s probably because we like it. Over time it can become the genre we know best, and therefore, has the potential to become our go-to genre when we turn around and write our own stories.

Perhaps the easiest way to do a genre hunt is to figure out which authors you enjoy, and do a search on them. “So-and-so is a [genre] author who has written …” will usually pop up without too much digging. John Green is a young adult author. It’s not guaranteed or required, but is much more likely, that if you read a lot of John Green novels, your stories will take on more young adult themes. Sort of like a you are what you eat philosophy, except, you write what you read. Maybe.

Solution 3: Keep checking back all month

We’re keeping things fairly general in this post, but as the month goes on, we’re going to take you on a virtual literary genre expedition. GET EXCITED!

We’ll dive deeper into the different types of genres you might be writing in, or might have written in previously and never even knew it. Genres like young adult fiction, for example, have so many sub-genres it can seem impossible to narrow down where your YA book fits. We’re going to make the search a little easier for you.

We hope these solutions can help you at least start to narrow down some possibilities, and if you’re still stuck, we hope you’ll come back and visit soon, for a more in-depth look at what genres are out there, and where you and your stories best belong.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Solution Saturday: I’m Bored Writing This But I Don’t Want to Give Up

NRSS6

Sigh.

Check Facebook.

Switch back over whichever program houses your current writing project.

Stare blankly at white space.

Sigh.

Repeat.

You’re trying to get work done. Write, which to you, is work. But you can’t.

You’re just … bored.

We’re here to help you find the boredom cure that’s right for you. Stay awake, now. (We saw you yawn. Don’t try to hide it.)

Solution 1: Take a break

There’s no secret writing law that says taking a break isn’t allowed. The general fear is that stopping one project, either to work on something different for a while or just to take a total writing hiatus, will lead to quitting, or at least never being able to go back and finish what you started.

Don’t think of breaks as giving up. Think of them as valuable time for your brain to recover from intense use. Give your ideas time to untangle themselves. Give yourself time to get out and do something else—spend time with friends, do something fun, anything besides writing—before letting yourself sit down to write again. Giving yourself permission will gradually dissolve that initial hesitation and guilt. 

Solution 2: Toss in a sudden plot twist 

Because—why not? Just like there’s no law demanding you keep writing even when you literally can’t even, there’s nothing that says you have to always and consistently stick to something realistic or previously planned out.

If you’re bored, for goodness sake, it’s your story. Throw in your own curve ball. Make your characters do something even you wouldn’t have predicted. Take your original plot line and go completely the other direction. Basically, just shove caution off the page and go for it (whatever “it” is). It might turn out to be a completely useless tangent later. It might inspire you to go back and keep working from your original outline. Or you might actually like the new storyline. Whatever it takes to pull you out of the boredom chair. 

Solution 3: Remember there are no rules

As far as your literary universe is concerned, you are a god. You decide what happens, when, why, how. If you’re just tired of working on the same thing you’ve been plowing through for months, you have options, but really, no one, not even your own conscience, can tell you what to do.

You can change up the story. You can change up the place you write in. You can switch from Mac Pages to paper to dry erase board and back. You can, and should, do whatever it takes to keep yourself going without giving up. You’re not wasting time; you’re giving yourself a new angle. A different goal to work toward. If you’re bored, your creativity just needs a new outlet for a little while. That’s fine. Normal. DO IT.

Giving your work a rest is healthy.

Letting yourself have a little spontaneous fun with words—it’s like a dream come true.

No rules? You’ve been waiting forever for this moment to arrive.

It’s your story.

Do with it what you will. Especially when you’re bored.

Do you have a “writer problem” that you can’t seem to find a solution to? Leave a comment or tweet @MegDowell with the hashtag #NRSaturdaySolutions and we might help you solve your problem in next week’s post!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Solution Saturday: I’m Not a Good Enough Writer

NRSS3

We all have those days when we just don’t feel like what we’re writing is good enough. It’s a natural part of the writing process; a little bit of doubt here and there helps us remember we’re not perfect, and we still have a lot to learn.

But when that doubt stretches on too long, it can make us want to quit. Do not save changes. Delete.

Here are three solutions to slowly building up your confidence and reigniting your love for writing—which is why you started writing in the first place.

Solution 1: Read More Books

If you’re already a writer, it’s pretty likely you’re a reader, too. Reading successful authors’ work, over and over again, might have been what started this confidence drought in the first place. “They’re so good at writing! Why can’t I be that good?”

Don’t forget even your favorite authors have agents and editors who help them take their rough drafts to the next level. They have help; you don’t. All you have is your brain and your hands and finished books as inspiration. Let those books motivate you to keep refining your skills, not the opposite. 

Solution 2: Write More Words

Wait, that doesn’t make sense. I SAID I’M NOT A GOOD ENOUGH WRITER. Why should I keep writing?

Because the only thing that makes anyone not as good at something as they want to be is to stop trying to be better. If you’re not where you want to be in your own personal writing game, the worst thing you can do is take a break. Even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever written, try.

Over time you’ll learn to catch and fix your own mistakes. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. You’ll learn how to write more captivating prose—as long as you keep writing.

Solution 3: Find a Writing Community

Sometimes you just can’t do it alone. Writing itself is an individual activity, but if you feel you need moral support from other writers, that’s not only one hundred percent acceptable, it could help you identify your own weak points and what about your writing isn’t sitting well with you.

There are plenty of ways to find others. If you’re on WordPress, follow other ‘writing bloggers’ and comment on their posts. Wrimos are also a great way to meet writers who might have similar struggles to yours. A good old-fashioned Google search (okay, not that old-fashioned) can give you even more options to virtually connect and find the literary support you need.

As you grow as a writer, you’ll learn how to avoid comparing your work to others’. The truth is, no writer with enough dedication to keep trying is better than another. Everyone has their own voice, their own unique insight. Embrace that. If your writing isn’t just like someone else’s, trust us—that’s a good thing.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Solution Saturday: I Have a Story Idea, but Lack the Discipline to Write It

Screen shot 2015-06-06 at 10.16.23 AM

At least, that’s what you think.

Welcome to our first Solution Saturday, your chance to find solutions to the “writer problems” keeping you from achieving your literary ambitions.

There are a lot of people wandering around the globe with amazing ideas in their heads. For some reason, humans are really good at coming up with stories. We’ve been telling them for centuries. We’re constantly seeking out new stories to read, when it feels like we’ve run out of our own to tell.

Some writers are really good at transferring their ideas from head to hand. They can get an idea and start working on it instantly, if they want to. Some writers have a little bit more difficulty, as we like to say here, putting their ideas into words.

If the latter describes you, you’re in the right place.

Does this “writer problem” make you a bad writer? Of course not. Anyone with an idea can turn that idea into something real.

Let’s say you have this great story idea. You’ve had it in your head for a long time. You keep meaning to work it out, to start writing it even in small bits and pieces. But it seems you just don’t have the “discipline” to make any progress.

So. How do you change that?

Here are a few solutions to help you turn your idea into a real, physical piece of writing.

Solution 1: Talk About It

This isn’t necessarily a suggestion to drag your closest friend into a secluded corner of the nearest coffee shop and spilling your idea out on the table for them. But if that’s what you think might help you—if you’re one of those people who has to “talk out” their problems—go for it. Just ask them if it’s okay first. If they’re willing to listen, both of you might end up benefitting from the experience.

If you’re not comfortable telling other people about your ideas, this is where a journal, private blog, unlisted video blog or imaginary friend/stuffed animal/God can come in handy (if applicable?). Talk to yourself, for what it’s worth. The simple act of speaking or writing aimlessly about your thoughts might help you get a better grasp on what you want to do with the idea next.

Solution 2: Outline It

Okay, so you might not be a huge fan of outlining. Years of forced outlining for a grade in English class may have turned you off to the process a long time ago. But this is your idea, your work. You don’t have to do it in any specific format. You don’t have to explain your thoughts in detail, if you’re not ready to. It doesn’t even have to make sense.

Start by jotting down anything you think of when your idea comes to mind—in a Word document, on the back of a napkin, whatever works for you (just don’t accidentally thorw away the napkin). A place? A problem? A character’s name or a vague description of a made-up historical event? Think of the fragmented shards of information you may or may not have told someone else. It doesn’t matter how organized (or not) you present it. Sometimes, just getting it out of your head is the first of many triumphant steps.

Solution 3: Schedule It 

If your biggest struggle is finding the time to sit down and crank out a few hundred words here and there, you have to make it work to fit your lifestyle. If you work full-time and have evening obligations, you might only have time for 10 minutes of writing before bed. Ten minutes is better than zero, but the key here is to make the process part of your routine as soon as possible.

Five minutes of your lunch break, the commute home (unless you drive—please don’t write and drive!), between classes, while you’re waiting for your mocha Frapp at Starbucks—whatever works. It doesn’t have to take large chunks out of your day. Once you get better at keeping up with it, you can work toward dedicating more time to each scribble session. 

June already? Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us! Check out our tips for making time to write when you don’t have any.

Don’t get discouraged if you’re still having trouble getting your ideas out. It’s a skill, just like learning to read. No one is going to steal your idea. And if they do, well, they’re dumb. You thought of it first.

Give it time, and be patient. You are a writer with an idea. You are more powerful, and capable, than you know.

Do you have a “writer problem” that you can’t seem to find a solution to? Leave a comment or tweet @MegDowell with the hashtag #NRSaturdaySolutions and we might help you solve your problem in next week’s post!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.