Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spicing Up Your Writing Schedule

Training to be a writer is kind of like training for a triathlon. You need to spend hours every day writing, editing, reading, and then actually experiencing life to make sure you continue to be inspired. It’s easy to turn your favorite pastime into something that feels like work. So how do you get around this?

One thing I like to do is change up projects for a while and write something different. If you’re on your tenth rewrite of a novel, go try starting another manuscript you had in mind. Maybe just write a chapter or two. Or perhaps you’re tiring of a specific genre…try some short-stories in something you typically don’t write. It’s fun, inspiring, and risk-free!

So how do you spice up your writing schedule? What tricks keep you writing, but also fresh? How do you keep it fun?  


  1. Mark, we are so similiar. I too work on something else when I am bogged down with rewrites and edits. I more often than not start a short story or write a chapter from another book before I tackle the older MS again.

    My previous post on How Critiquing has improved my own writing skills is a silent dedication to you. The open dedication will come later. My rewrites are going excellent, thanks to you.

    Btw...why does my current post surprise you. I hope you had not pegged me as a lazy, grim faced couch potato ;)

  2. I need a little spice in my writing schedual, but mostly I need more dedication!

  3. Variety is indeed the spice of life....and perhaps for writing too. There is nothing so inspiring as the everyday, but one has to really look to see.

  4. I also like the idea of working on a different form, like the short story. Makes the head feel less clogged.

  5. If I finish a 3rd rewrite and am still not happy with it, that's when I know to put it away and start something else. Glad I did that. Otherwise I'd still have 3 books instead of 7.

    A break in the routine helps me, usually by doing some neglected chore. When that feeling of accomplishment fills in the gaps, it's easier to return to your MS with renewed fervor. Great thoughts, Mark! :)

  6. I like the "get out and enjoy life" philosophy. I don't mind taking a break from writing to go get some life experience. It recharges the batteries like nothing else for me. I probably won't write anything new in the novel for the next three weeks, but I know that after my trip my hands won't be able to type fast enough to keep up with all the new ideas. :)

    **and I probably just lied about not writing for the next three weeks. I'll no doubt have a notebook with me that I'll jot things down in as they occur to me.

  7. Fortunately I haven't written enough to get stuck in a rut yet. But when it gets slow, I resort to music, usually playing my guitar.

  8. I love this idea! Sometimes a little spicy makes one want to take their writing up a notch. Thanks for this post.

  9. I'm a great believer in having more than one iron in the fire. You need that, to stay inspired. If you are only working on one thing and it's getting stale or you get discouraged, and that's your only frame of reference.... I have a WIP that seems to be taking forever, and to cheer myself up, I review stories, flash fictions, and poems, polish them up and send them out. It makes me feel so much better when I go back to work on the main WIP. And when one of them gets accepted, it's a real booster.

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  11. Blogging the storylines as a way of practicing and keeping the juices flowing is just what I have been doing. I plan to continue challenging myself in that way until I decide to start another novel.

  12. Switching projects becomes distracting for me. I get invested too easily then can't go back.

    However, it's this hyper focus that keeps my writing life interesting. I become enthralled.

  13. Sometimes I just give myself a day to think. To have conversations in my head with my characters, think about the plot, think about 'what ifs' for my story. I'll hit on something really interesting and new and then I'll be ready to go. :)

  14. I am a write-in-the-moment kind of writer. (that could be right-in-the-moment, too)
    It seems, events around me inspire my creativity.
    I am an orator...not professionally, but I love talking to, and reading to, people of all ages. I do this often. These "chats" inspire much of my writing.

    I am blessed with an overactive "kid zone" in my head where I run, jump, flip and twist my way through the many worlds that occupy the space where an adult brain might otherwise be housed. Hmmm...I'm getting an idea...must go!

    Wonderful post - great questions! I enjoyed dropping by.

    Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

  15. Switching between genres helps me. It can be difficult. I'm at the cusp of switching between humourous fantasy and horror, and I've forgotten how to do horror.

    To my anthology collection. That usually sorts me out.

  16. This is exactly what I do, I've lost count of how many ideas I have, sketched out with a few notes, that were used just until I went back to the 'real' stuff.

  17. Great advice. If it's been a while since I've done some journal writing I'll dive back into that too. I think it's wise to mix it up.
    ~ Wendy

  18. By the way, you asked a question about drinking coffee in your comment on my blog that I've answered.

  19. I used to jump around a lot between works. No more. I'm doing my best to finish one thing at a time: stay with it till it's done. But, if you're really burnt out on something or stuck, maybe turning to something else for a while is the thing to do.

  20. Excellent advice, sir. I forced myself to finish my last novel-length WiP instead of waiting for inspiration, and I suffered some major burn-out in the weeks that followed. I think I'm still recovering. Trying something new is just what I needed -- even if it was just writing a few haiku.

  21. I think I needed this post, as I'm trying to figure out what to work on next. A little spice would be good. :)

  22. Ha, this is a great post. I sometimes do that and break loose with a different type of writing. I like challenging myself with a different genre when I write short stories too.

  23. Rachna – A silent dedication...luv it;) And no, I did not peg you as a couch potato;)

    J.A. – I find that the two go hand in hand. Good luck!

    Jane/Lance – I believe Shelley called it “lifting the veil,” but you are dead on. That’s the very essence, the very spice of life itself.

    Hektor – It does indeed. Short-story writing has helped improve my novels for sure.

    David – That’s a really good plan. I might stick to a similar regimen myself. Thanks for the advice!

    L.G. – I’m pretty much the same myself. Although that’s great that you’ll be on a trip soon. Lots of inspiration coming your way I’m sure.

    Alex – Wow, good for you:)

    Clarissa – Glad to help in any small way that I can.

    Elizabeth – Yeah, I need those differing irons (so to speak) in order to keep my creative juices fresh.

    Michael – That’s a great point about how blogging helps. Sometimes it can be a distraction too, but also a useful tool. Good point!

    McKenzie – I understand the distraction aspect of it, and like everything balance is required. I think it depends upon your personality type and what works best for you.

    Kelley – I like you attitude! Time to think instead of just rushing in…which is something I’m frequently guilty of.

    Pearson – Thanks for the comments. Neat that you orate. It’d be neat to learn more about the line of artistic endeavors…very classical:)

    Deborah – Switching genres for fun is very fun. I mostly write historical fiction for novels, contemporary for short-stories, and occasionally SciFi just for kicks. It all adds up to a good time. Oh yeah, a bit of Fantasy too when I feel like it.

    Sarah – Yup, I totally have notebooks full in my closet from ideas I simply needed to scratch out on paper. Gotta luv it!

    Wendy – Journal writing rocks! My wife is much better at it than I am, but I love doing it whilst traveling.

    Richard – That’s also a good strategy and one I try to stick to, but I get distracted…happily so:)

    Milo – I know exactly what you mean. I’ve felt the same burnout trying to rewrite something over and over to make it perfect without taking a break. Haikus are a good release.

    Eagle – Good for you! Hope the Muse starts speaking to you:)

    Lynda – It can be really fun, enjoy!