Some Writing Lessons I Learned This Month

The month is not quite over and already I feel like I just want to start it all over again. I tried making too many changes at the same time and then school became hectic and I lost my way. But no matter how many times I miss my goal, I keep trying in one form or another, and I’m never low on inspiration.

First, as promised, a photo of my preferred tools of the trade. I use Mead Five Star college ruled notebooks. These are both 5-subject notebooks. The big one is 8.5 by 11 inches and the small one is 6 by 9.5. The spirals are sturdy, and I like the pockets between each subject. Although I love pens and buy them in many colors and varieties, I normally use Bic Round Stic pens in blue. The ink doesn’t bleed through the paper, and I bought a box of 60 for only $7.99.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

One change I made this month for which I had high hopes but didn’t work out at all was waking up earlier to write before going to work. I have never been a morning person. It’s not even because I dread going to work every day; I’m just a slow starter. Even on the days that I could force myself out of bed at 5:30, I sat around not know exactly what to do or where to start. I wasn’t awake enough to be able to make any kind of creative decisions. I started going to bed earlier too, but I stressed out over having to fall asleep so that I could wake up earlier that I didn’t write much at night like I used to, either.

That said, I want to create a writing routine for myself. I would like to be able to sit down at my desk at the same time every day and know that it’s time to write. To be able to accomplish this, I need a balance with my school work as well, so that I don’t spend hours rushing to finish assignments on the night they’re due. Not only is that an added amount of stress that I don’t need, but it precludes me from doing any writing those days. Once I’ve put writing off for one day, it’s easier to put it off the next day as well.

Next lesson, I love writing by hand, but I can’t rewrite by hand. When writing the first draft, I’m creating something out of nothing, and I can see it grow and build upon itself. It has no form it needs to take. When revising, all I can see is the amount of words I already have down and how much work that translates to. I feel overwhelmed, the fun is gone, and I end up putting it off to the future and never making progress.

I can’t set out to make a particular product (like a short story vs. a novella vs. a novel). I may have an idea of what form it will take, but I need to play around with the characters and setting and events to figure out the shape, structure, and length.

Finally, pens, pencils, markers, notebooks, binders, index cards, sticky notes, etc. are fun. I love back to school season when I can check out all the amazing school and office supplies, but I hoard what I buy and try to save everything for some unknown future project that will somehow be worthy of these new materials. This is how I ended up with enough notebooks to last me more than 20 years. This is my mission: To use up, cover to cover, every notebook I own. I have no idea how long that will actually take.

I seriously got off track this month, not only with writing but with school work as well. I even missed the deadline on a project (which I have done only once). I have up to a week to turn it in with a 10% penalty, and I figured a 10% late penalty was better than the larger amount of points I would miss if I rushed to turn something in on time that was not my best work. I hope this serves as enough of a wake-up call for me that I’ll finally get my act together. Like I said earlier, I’m never low on inspiration. Motivation, however, is sometimes another story.