We’ve touched on this before, but we’ll say it again. A comfortable and well set up workspace can make your writing career happier and longer. I’m loving the new desk. The thing is, I’m a smaller person. Desks and chairs are designed for someone bigger than me. My chair is not bad, it’s a small task chair, but it’s too high.
Instant solution? Foot rest. It’s way easier than making a desk, I promise. You can buy foot rests from office supply stores, and probably Walmart, but I have time, wood, and know how to use a saw. I still have supplies left over from making the desk, too. I found some simple plans and used them as a template, adapting them for the wood and materials I had on hand.
I was starting to get sore legs, so I needed to do something immediately. This one works really well, but I will be making my proper one very soon with some adjustments. I like less slope and more height, so I’ll be raising the front an extra half inch. I’ll also be sanding mine, staining it to match the desk, and using the protective coating.
This one works well for now, and will keep me comfortable as I work, until my new one is ready. When my new one replaces this one, this one will go to my guy for his office in another room. He would benefit from the better position the footstool will offer him, and he can finish it however he likes, if he even bothers.
So, for free basically, I will have a couple of footstools for us both to keep us happier and healthier while we work. Such a simple solution to my current ergonomic predicatment!
As writers, we tend to have favoured ways to write. Maybe it’s a certain voice, like first or third person, or maybe it’s a genre we love. Maybe it’s certain kinds of characters. It’s good to have a favourite style or form. Sometimes that can ground us and help us be creative.
It’s also a good thing to push past our comfort zone and try new things, too. Try a different genre, or something unique for character. Maybe try writing on a whole different planet, one you make up from scratch.
This doesn’t have to be something you ever show anyone else. It’s for your own benefit, mostly. My personal stories look very different from what I’m preparing for publishing, simply because I write my personal stories for different reasons.
My latest writing challenge is writing a letter. I’ll be sending it to an actual person. Someone I only met once, though we have written a letter each recently. The challenge is deciding how much to say and how to say it, just like with a novel. The difference is, this time, I know exactly who my audience is. I know that with my other novels, too, but this time it’s someone I don’t know as well. I’m interested in how this has presented a greater challenge than any writing exercise I’ve ever done.
Maybe it’s because we tend to be our own worst critics. I care about the person I’m writing to, even though I don’t know him well, and I do want to make a good impression, while still being myself and being honest. With a story, I have as many times as I need to get it right. Now I have been working on the letter for almost a week, again because I want to get it right.
I message some people online daily, and don’t have this challenge. That’s okay, I do enjoy a challenge. It’s interesting how some things are harder than others for us. I don’t she from hard. I embrace it, usually.
Challenge yourself. You’ll thank yourself!
Some days you get up and everything just works well. The writing seems to pour out of you and you have a scene all lined up, as well as getting ideas for other scenes. This is where being able to make notes is invaluable. I tend to do this within Word, as I have my own personal outlining system set up.
I use the Heading 1 settings for Chapters and major breaks in action that I want to go to quickly. Really important scenes may have this heading if I want to jump back at them quickly. By starting with the headings from the Save the Cat method, I ensure I get what I need in each location. Initially this may only be notes or single sentences with thoughts on what may happen. These may change, depending on where the story goes, and sometimes scenes may move headings completely.
Heading 2 is for notes, like scenes within the larger framework I still need to write or want to edit. By keeping the navigation bar open on the left of my screen, I know at a glance how many heading 2 styles are left that I want to work on. I can fill them in and finish my story as I am ready, deleting them as I go. When they are gone after my first draft, I know I’m ready for editing.
On days when the writing flows, I’ll write as much as I can anywhere I want in the story, making notes in other places as I need. I may get a couple thousand words out in just over an hour when I’m in a flow state, then typically I’ll repeat that on my second story as well. By being able to jump around with the headings, I can keep it clear where I am and what I should be writing about.
Sort out what works best for you, and get writing!
There are going to be days where we just don’t feel well. Days where, maybe you can write, but you just aren’t up to editing. Days where maybe even writing isn’t happening. Maybe you can write, but only free writing and not working on an active story.
Accept those days as part of the process. If you work on an active story, don’t force yourself to write more than you can. Maybe you’ll only write a few scenes that link other scenes, or finish up a part here and there. If it’s only now and then, that’s perfectly fine. Honour where you’re at and be kind to yourself. We writers are already our own worst critics.
If you just can’t work on an active story, write something from a prompt, or write a few scenes or short story, just to stay in practice. Maybe write about a character, or do some dialogue, or something different that you feel interested in. It can be stuff that fills out your story, even if it never makes it in the book, or something random just because you can. We write because we have a story to tell.
If you find these days happening with more frequency, then maybe you need a change of scenery or pace, or should reconsider if writing is for you. Some people write better in a set location, but when they get stuck then moving to a new location helps a lot. Sometimes I take my lap desk and go outside to write, just to feel the sun on my skin and the breeze in my face. It can be enough to give me new inspiration.
If you’re having an off day, maybe you’re ill or tired after being up all night with a loved one or something else, then get up. Go through your morning routine. Write what you can and then you can stop there. Maybe you’ll have a nap later and want to write more, and maybe you won’t. Both are fine. Look after yourself and go at it again tomorrow. Take a little more time for meditation, maybe, or relax with a good book.
I don’t actually know. I know I need to, though. Not a day goes by when I don’t write something, whether it’s one of my novels or a personal short (sometimes) story. It feels like I have worlds inside me and they need to come out.
I write to share ideas. Sometimes they’re deep and meaningful and sometimes just playful. Sometimes it’s to entertain.
Sometimes I write because I’ve fallen in love. I create a character and just fall in love with them. I want them to live fully and abundantly. That means experiencing the good and the bad of life, letting them have it all. They get to grow and face their fears. They overcome challenges, sometimes successfully, sometimes they need help or fail.
I write because I want to be there, too. There’s a big piece of me in every book I write, usually as part of one or more of the characters. I want to be in there and experiencing the dangers, thrills, excitement, and challenges.
Basically, I write because something has come to life in my imagination and it wants out. By putting it on the page, it becomes real. Others can share it if I want them to see it. It’s a form of creation that I feel I must do. I write because I can’t do anything else. I have to write.
It seems that each stage of writing brings its own challenges for a writer. Every writer will be challenged by different things anyways, so there’s no one handy checklist that applies to everyone. Still, I’m now far enough along in my writing that I have my own list. So, here it goes:
1. Being mid way through or close to finished one project, and another one is screaming for my attention already, tempting me to shift mid-project. DON’T DO IT!
2. Having a file of story ideas ready to go, and needing to finish my current projects first
3. Having personal stories that I work on outside my professional writing time, and sometimes those stories want to steal my focus. DON’T LET THEM!
4. Sitting down to write, getting my first hundred or so words down, and then needing the bathroom. Seriously?
5. There’s always that one family member that interrupts writing time, and they never understand how disruptive it is. Especially frustrating when it’s not anything important!
6. Having to stop and make a sandwich with protein rich foods during my tea break, so I can make it through my second writing session.
7. Being tempted to check my email during my sandwich break. DON’T DO IT. Writing time is the priority!
8. My career as a writer isn’t real to me yet, despite having now been working at it for a couple of months, and having two projects well underway. I still wonder what I’m doing and how I’ll ever manage this...
9. Being at the Editing stage of the first book already, and still needing to research the actual publishing process and make decisions...
What are your writing challenges?
Some days, especially like today when I’m recovering from a cold, I have less energy. On these days it’s most important to eat well and eat enough to fuel my body. When I get ill and tired I still tend to eat well, but not the same variety that keeps me feeling my best.
One of my favourite snacks is simply cutting up some broccoli and carrots and frying them in olive oil. This gives me the healthy fats I need and both fibre, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to good health. For flavouring, because I’m Canadian, I put maple syrup drizzled overtop. Maple syrup adds sweetness and also gives me minerals and nutrition, instead of the empty calories of sugar.
My favourite fat sources are olive and coconut oils. I also love almond butter. That can be enjoyed in both baking and sandwiches, giving me a boost of nutrients and energy without spiking my blood sugar. Other favourites are avocados. Who doesn’t love guacamole?
Mandarin oranges are a great snack for me, especially paired with other fruits. I also like nuts and goat cheese for a protein boost. I don’t digest cow dairy well, but goat and I get along just fine. There are even local goat dairies that produce some fabulous cheeses for us to enjoy.
On days like today, where I feel like I’m dragging my backside and having trouble getting going, eating well can give me the extra pick-me-up I need to thrive, and not just make it through the day. My treats? Dark chocolate with almonds in it. Enough sweetness to satisfy and more nutrients my body can use.
Round out the meals with herbal teas for more benefits. Green teas and berry teas are a favourite. I only tend to drink caffeine in the mornings when I write, and almost always as green tea. Oolong is an occasional treat, but that’s as caffeinated as I get.
Go have a healthy snack, then get writing!
I’ve been experimenting with rewriting my next draft, instead of just going through and editing the document. I have a second monitor set up so I can work with the documents side by side more easily.
I’m finding the story itself hasn’t changed, as I was happy with the storyline I made, but how I tell it has changed a lot. In some cases whole paragraphs are rewritten or left out altogether, and the information is condensed and made clearer.
I’m also writing with more sensory information, placing the reader there instead of telling the tale around a campfire. I’m showing with greater detail how she’s feeling and processing her world, while still sharing the most important thoughts and wants she expresses.
When I was editing within the document itself, I was more likely to let paragraphs through that I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about. By rewriting everything, I have total freedom to refresh all the language that I want. It’ll take longer, but I’ll have less editing on my next draft as well, so I’ll save time down the road.
I also have my new space set up! It’s very comfortable to work in and I have room for the second monitor now, where I didn’t before. I look forward to writing in my new space in a way I didn’t on my old desk.
So, new space, new skills, and soon a new story as well. I’m having fun rewriting the YA novel and getting it out the way I imagined it, instead of in first/second draft form. I don’t know how many rewrites I will need, but it’s getting closer to done each day.
Find an idea that excites you and get writing.
I was researching writing skills and techniques and came across a new one I’m going to try. They recommended that after the initial draft, instead of editing within the document itself, go split screen and open a brand new document. Rewrite your story, using the language you want, and get it out fresh.
I began editing this story yesterday and worked on it a little today, but I decided to try this technique. I can see how completely rewording paragraphs can actually be of benefit, as I’m not tempted to leave sentences that I’m feeling iffy about. I can get the ideas out in new words and really focus on the language and feelings I want to convey.
In the first/second drafts I was just getting the story out. Those two drafts blended together for me. Now that I’m doing the third draft, I want to add in the sensual elements, so the reader feels like they’re sitting around the campfire with the characters, smelling the food cooking and feeling the warmth of the fire.
To get that kind of freshness in the writing, I can see how completely rewriting the story will be beneficial. I write at a high rate of speed, even going back as I correct spelling and grammar mistakes, so I feel this will be time well spent.
It will also be easier if I use two monitors. I’m used to working that way from my practice learning programming, so I can quickly and easily change my attention between the documents, having both visible to me at once in a large enough size to read with one on each screen. He’s getting me a second monitor today, as the others are already in use, so I can begin tomorrow!
Don’t be afraid to learn and try things. You never know what might be a hit for you. I’ve learned so many useful tips already, and each one adds to my writing and my abilities.
The hardest part about writing stories I find is figuring out what to call them. Sometimes the stories have an obvious general idea about them, or the title triggers the story. For the most part, for me at least, the stories come to me and they don’t have a title.
I’m beginning to consider titles for my books, at least in passing. I have lots of time to decide, as I’m only starting to seriously edit the one and am still writing the other. Ideas are floating through my mind. None have stuck yet, and that’s okay. When the right one comes to me, it’ll hang around and not let go.
Like the other aspects of book creation, titling, cover creation, and marketing are skills I will be learning. I’m going to take time to learn as well as I can. I have time to set aside for these skills, and the desire to know how to do them.
Each step is a new opportunity to learn more skills. I love books and am fascinated by all things book creation. In the age of the internet, access to information is easier than ever. I can find courses run by actual experts that I’d never meet in person and glean their knowledge. One more adventure in the book writing process. It may not be as glamorous as slaying dragons, but not everything will be.
Go learn, try something new, and grow as a person.
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.