If you'd like to see older WWFC strips, please check the Will Write For Chocolate archives or start from the beginning. You can also follow WWFC on Facebook, Pinterest and Google+. Thanks so much for your continuing support! -- Debbie
I'll be posting something about online communities in a future column, so you still have time to put in a good word for your favorite online community or communities for writers!
As I posted in a recent Blathering recently, I've been keeping a daily time sheet ever since I got back from my trip, and I've found that it's greatly helped increase my productivity. I created a template in MS-Word and print a weeks' worth of pages out at a time, keep them in a clipboard on my desk. After a week, I archive them in a binder.
At the top of each day, I have a place to write the date as well as my goals, both work goals and non-work goals. Examples of daily work goals: "Novel: 1200 words" and "Research markets for Italy articles." Examples of daily non-work goals: "Buy stamps at post office" and "Call back Stats Canada." Below that I have a chart where each line has a space for Start Time, End Time, Work Activity and Non-Work Activity.
I'm not suggesting you do this longterm, but I found that after two weeks' worth of detailed records of how I spend my time, I'm already learning how easy it is to feel Busy and Productive when I'm not really being productive at all, or at least not productive in terms of my writing goals. Just forcing myself to be more aware of exactly how I'm spending my time is making me readjust my work habits. The daily log keeps me focused on longterm goals as well as daily goals.
I also don't feel as guilty when I do take a break because I know that I deserve it.
I've started updating Inkygirl again, by the way. Inkygirl is an online resource for writers who work from home.
Have a good writing week, everyone!
In my last column, I asked how the rest of you found creative inspiration. Some of your responses:
"...Generally I go between reading something, playing games, or just switching projects for a while. Simply mixing things up usually does the trick for me. Failing that, I grab my girlfriends and harass them with brainstorming for a while. They always seem to come up with ideas that don’t work, but usually tips me into finding something that does."
"Definitely exercise. That really gets me motivated, especially if I’ve hit a wall in my writing. I pull on my shoes and head out the door. More often than not when I sit back at the computer 20 minutes later, I can do my Rambo thing on the wall, keep going, and clean the mess up later. (I think it’s ‘cause of all the blood rushing to my head
Also a fan of the journal, but I use mine just as a daily diary– what’s been happening in my life and thoughts about that, etcetera. It’s only on occasion that I’ll write story lines. But either way, I find the non-editing extremely freeing (if a little embarassing on the re-read!)"
"Inspiration – I found this book really helpful: “http://writingfast.com/
I do mind-mapping to get inspiration - I have a big drawing pad that is covered in related words and freewriting. I also use photography books as a kick start.
From Clair Ching:
"After writing my reflections on my journal, I get inspired to write poems and stories again. Although I haven’t finished much since I started going into more web content development work.
Aside from that, listening to good music and having conversations with my closest friends inspire me to write some more. :-)"
"Exercise is a great way to jog a few brain cells around. And you’re right: it’s the perfect time to listen to yourself think. Before you know it, you’ve come up with some great ideas you wouldn’t have had if you sat hopelessly in front of your computer. :-) I personally prefer writing everything in a notebook first before launching into any writing job. Ideas seem to flow much more easily that way. And when I need to start typing it all up, I look at what I’ve written and get even MORE ideas from that."
Back from Italy! You can see my report starting here. I opted not to bring my laptop on the trip but kept up my writing journal.
I started my writing journal after reading Julia Cameron's The Right To Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. I found this book incredibly inspirational, as I did Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Whenever I'm feeling unmotivated and restless in terms of my writing, I reread one of these books and always feel re-energized.
Keeping a writing journal also keeps me from getting in a rut. My current writing journal is a medium-sized Moleskine. It has more space to write than the pocket-size but is more convenient to carry around than the full-size Moleskines. I'm a huge Moleskine fan, if you haven't already guessed. :-)
Anyway, I try to write at least one page a day. Writing manually rather than typing is more laborious, but it gives me the freedom to take my notebook everywhere. It also discourages me from trying to do too much self-editing as I write. I allow myself to scribble out whatever I'd like, of course, but mostly I force myself to keep writing. ANYTHING, even if it's stream-of-consciousness babbling. Sometimes I end up with nonsensical fragments, bits of potential poetry. Other times I write snatches of dialogue, or character descriptions, perhaps a scene from a non-existent story or novel. The important thing is to commit something to paper.
This felt really awkward at first, but over time it's become easier and easier. And every once in a while, I write something I actually like and want to use.
Another activity I find that helps: exercise. I almost always feel re-energized after a good workout. Also when I'm out walking or running, I'll sometimes purposely leave the iPod behind and not listen to anything but my inner thoughts. This especially helps if I've reached a tough spot in my writing; I've found that getting AWAY from the keyboard is sometimes the best thing.
A survey: How do YOU get re-energized creatively? What books or activities help you, for instance?
Here some useful online resources, in case any of you ever feel the same, or are suddenly overcome by a need to fix a dangling or misplaced modifier:
DailyGrammar.com: Check out the archives for a list of topics already covered.
Webgrammar.com: Includes a list of common mistakes. See the Writing Center list of topics for other useful grammar-related information.
Guide To Grammar and Style: By Jack Lynch, whose site has been on the Web for as long as I can remember. Frequently updated.
Common Errors in English: By Paul Brians. "The concept of language errors is a fuzzy one. I’ll leave to linguists the technical definitions. Here we’re concerned only with deviations from the standard use of English as judged by sophisticated users such as professional writers, editors, teachers, and literate executives and personnel officers. The aim of this site is to help you avoid low grades, lost employment opportunities, lost business, and titters of amusement at the way you write or speak."
Good Grammar, Good Style: More than 100 pages of useful articles and frequently asked questions. Search the archive with keywords.
Guide to Grammar and Writing: Includes a useful useful FAQ.
The Slot: This has been one of my favourite grammar sites, though it's not really meant to be a reference site like the ones above. The Slot is a copy editing site by the highly opinionated Bill Walsh. Do check out his Sharp Point columns.
If you know of other useful grammar-related resources, feel free to suggest them below! Please note that I'll be offline for the next while, so will not be able to approve held comments until I get back.