You’ll see me say this over and over again: the more you write, the more you’ll improve. I encourage writing every day because writing is a lot like working out, eating healthy, or self-care: Consistency is key. As long you can get to your computer to write every day, even for five minutes, you’ll be helping your writing by leaps and bounds.
But I get it. Writing every single day can be really hard, especially when you have vacations, balancing schedules of kids and spouses, seeing family and friends, and other commitments to balance. Finding five minutes to brush your teeth can be hard!
But the rule still applies: consistency is key.
So you can’t write every day. Can you write five days a week? Three days? Four hours every Saturday?
That’s still golden! You’re still writing, getting yourself in front of your stories, and making yourself a better writer as you go along.
However, even if you don’t write every day, it’s imperative that you still engage with your writing every single day, even if you don’t write or edit.
Today, I’m going into a few ways you can still engage with your writing, your technique, and your creativity every day, even if you can’t sit down in front of your computer.
Duh. I don’t need to tell you this but here it is. Because aside from writing, this is the most important thing you can do. The more you read, the better your writing will be. The better your stories will flow, the more depth your characters will possess, the more dynamic and alive your setting will feel. Because you’ll be taking in someone else’s understanding of words, you’ll be broadening your own.
Get off your phone! Put it in your pocket or purse and just listen to what’s happening around you. Whether you’re waiting to pick up your kids, waiting to meet a friend at a coffee shop, waiting in line at the doctor’s office, don’t just zone out on Candy Crush. Listen to conversations, sounds the espresso machine makes, the click and clack of heels on linoleum. Listen and file those sounds away. You’re writing will flourish once you can add in that additional sensory piece of what your characters are hearing as they move through their story.
Carry a Notebook With You
I say this a lot too because I can’t stress its importance enough. Carry a notebook with you everywhere. I have a few different ones: on my nightstand, in my purse, on my desk at work. They don’t need to be big, I just use these little composition notebooks and just leave them wherever I think I might need them. Whenever inspiration strikes, I can write it down, rather than forgetting it. Whenever I hear something that I have to include in my next story, I write it down. Whenever I see something or taste something or experience something that I know needs to appear in a story, I’ll write it down.
Seriously. Get thyself some notebooks.
Get Back to Daydreaming
When was the last time you sat and let your mind wander? I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve let myself do this since this year, but every time I do it’s so so so good. By letting your brain daydream, you’re opening yourself up to ideas and stories, even if all you’re imagining is that your boss comes into your office and miraculously grants you a raise. They’ll still help your brain work its creative muscles which will come in handy when you sit down to write.
Think About Your Story…A Lot
Let yourself think about your WIP often. You don’t need to go writing anything down the minute it pops into your brain and you don’t need to restrict yourself to thinking about it only when you’re ready to write. Let yourself dwell on your story, your characters, their motivations, their journey’s. Think about what it must feel like to live where they live, see what they see, eat what they eat. The more you think about it, the more it’ll flow from your fingers when you sit down to write.
Keep Your Inspiration Close By
What inspired you to write this story in the first place? Was it a piece of artwork? A prompt? Something you overheard in conversation? A personal experience? A photograph?
Whatever it is that inspired you, keep it close. Right now I’m writing a story based on a piece of artwork so I have that art piece propped up next to my computer and saved as a lock screen on my phone. I see it all.the.time. It helps me remember why I’m writing this story in the first place, why I love it, and it automatically allows me to take a quick two-second jaunt into the world of my story so my brain can keep the story gears turning.
Observe Stories in Your Daily Life
Whether it’s in books, newspapers, magazines, tv shows, movies, even pamphlets, there are stories everywhere and we engage with them every single day. Begin to notice how the authors tell those stories. What information do they withhold from the very end? What do they tell the reader right off the bat? What are the characters like? How does the story become believable and beloved? Become a student of good stories and your writing will automatically get better.
I hope these tips help! You can still improve your writing even if you don’t physically write every single day. Take heart and know your story will always be waiting for you, even if you can only meet it once a week.