Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ten Things

by Elizabeth

I'm not the world's best housekeeper, and I've come to terms with that. "But I have other lovely qualities," is the line I've settled on, and since if the clothes are clean and the bed sans mites is good enough for me, I'm okay with it. I do admit to feeling better when the house sparkles (which is one reason visitors are a welcome thing around here), but not enough to transform myself into June Cleaver. Nor my kids, for that matter: take a look at my son's computer area:

 Not to mention my daughter's bedroom:

When the mess in there gets so awful I can't stand it, I often get her to get started by picking up ten things. This is something I do for myself, as well. Just ten things, off the bathroom counter (and yes, putting the mascara away counts as one, as does throwing the toothbrush package in the trash, as does tucking the hairdryer back into the drawer, and look! we're already at three!), out of the family room, back to the bookshelf. Just ten things, and the difference is visible. I've just ten-thinged my entire house clean more than once (just ask my visitors).

Hey, Elizabeth? Isn't this a blog about writing? Hang in there.

One reason we live with a certain amount of clutter is that life gets in the way. School, after-school stuff, work, fun. Laziness. That can happen to our writing, too, especially for those of us who don't yet have deadlines and contracts. Life can get in the way, and sometimes we might find that days (ahem, weeks?) have gone by and the clutter of ideas is stacked only in our heads and nowhere near paper.

So ten things can come in handy. Just do ten things. Ten words might not do the job, true, and ten pages might be overly ambitious, but there are surely ten things we can do to get us back on track, right? Like

10. Write a letter from your main character to his/her antagonist. Or even an email.
9. Write one paragraph on your WIP. Just one. Bet more will follow, though.
8. Open up your WIP and read a random page and see whether it sings. If it doesn't, make it. Just the one page.
7. Eat something tasty. Then write about a character in your book eating the same thing. Include all the senses. Because that tasty thing is surely cake, and we all need more cake.
6. Write a blog post. Maybe about writing. (And if you don't have a blog, well, send it to us for a guest post.)
5. Check with your critique partners and see if there's anything anyone needs a read on. Getting back into the frame of mind with others' work sometimes gets us reinvigorated about our own.
4. Take a writing walk, and use the time to figure out a problem you might be having with plot or character.
3. Suck it up, and actually write the whole two thousand words that taskmaster Stephen King said you should. Just sit down and hammer them out until you have the whole 2K. Even if they're lousy.
2. Write a 100 word short short story that has nothing to do with your manuscript. Just for, you know, fun.
1. Write a three sentence synopsis of your WIP, just to get the idea reaffirmed in your head (plus, this is useful for the elevator pitch later. Clarity and brevity!)

Notice that more than half those things to do begin with "write"? Funny that.

And here's the great thing. There's a good chance your standstill with your writing is not as dire as the condition of my house. Meaning, I can do ten things a dozen times, but you might do one or two and find your writing house is already back in order.

Like my kitchen, ten things later.

1 comment:

  1. Good advice, Elizabeth. I especially like numbers one and ten. I think I will attempt number ten tonight before turning in!


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