Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Applying Yourself as a Writer

Here at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, we will be taking part in the April A-Z Challenge. We will be posting short writing tips Mondays to Saturdays corresponding to the letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to see the list of participants or join in on the fun, click HERE.

As writers, we need to Apply ourselves to be able to run the distance required for successful publication—whether it’s traditional publication or self-publication. It doesn’t just happen. While there may be a small element of luck, 99.9% will be made up of hard work and dedication to the craft of writing.

Applying yourself means:
  • Writing when you don’t feel inspired;
  • Giving yourself achievable goals;
  • If you like structure, then setting up workable schedules to write. If you don’t, then aiming to write every day;
  • Training your family so they know not to disturb you during your precious writing time;
  • Sticking to those goals, schedules and self-made deadlines;
  • Not putting your writing last on your already long list of commitments;
  • Championing your stories;
  • Learning the craft, and continuing to learn the craft;
  • Pushing yourself to do better;
  • Attending conferences, meeting other writers;
  • Sharing your work with critique partners;
  • Sending your work to editors/agents/publishers;
  • Looking after yourself, which includes eating properly and exercising regularly;
  • Continuing to write despite the doubts, rejections and other setbacks;
  • Never giving up.

What do you do to apply yourself as a writer?

The IWSG Facebook Group during the A-Z: If you are taking part in the A-Z Challenge and are a member of the IWSG Facebook group, then we'd love you to share your A-Z post there. Just link it in the daily thread we will make available for each letter during the month. We just ask you don’t link any A-Z posts outside the threads provided. We're looking forward to seeing you there.

Lynda R Young


Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

Great post, thank you.
I like the NaNoWriMo technique and I have created a spreadsheet that does the same thing as their word count widget so I can use it outside of Nov. I find seeing the count go up and working towards a goal very motivating.
Tasha's Thinkings

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynda and IWSG group .. thanks for the reminder about exercising too .. keep the finger joints working for the C for comments ..

Cheers and Applying oneself diligently - an essential in all things .. Hilary

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Natasha, yes, watching the word count works wonders. Wow...that was a lot of 'w's in my comment ;)

Hilary, must keep the fingers limber for the challenge!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great post Lyn, with lots of wonderful tips. I plan to write everyday even on the days when inspiration deserts me. Else my current WIP will never get completed.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That writing time has to happen, so I just make it a habit.
Now if I could just write faster...

Veronica Sicoe said...

Great list, Lynda. I try my best to do all the things you mentioned, but sometimes writing just falls short due to other duties and commitments.

I guess the most important one for me is to not give up, to continue writing through the drought times and the hard times and the exhaustion. :)

- Vero

S.A. Larsenッ said...

#1 is vital, yet it can be one of the toughest to muddle through. Great list!

Sheri at Writer's Alley

Home of Rebel Writer CREED 2014
Mighty Minion Bureau Team #atozchallenge

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This is a perfect list. I sometimes don't to the take care of myself part.

Heather Musk said...

I think I'm managing to achieve about half of these things at the moment. Must make a note to work on the other half.

As always, thanks for the advice!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's a good list. Applying yourself as a writer means treating it serious and as if it's a job.

Birgit said...

I love your tips and many people can use them to help them with their writing. I just tell everyone to leave me alone:)

Crystal Collier said...

What do I do? Goodness, I work every day, come rain or shine. Oh, and I read every day because I feel our reading is just as vital to our writing.

Brandon Ax said...

I think the first one is the most important. You can actual train yourself to write, but it means pushing through those moments.

Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

Anonymous said...

Great tips, though, any thoughts on how to train cats to leave me alone with I'm writing ;)


Dragon Tails and Scales said...

I am a free spirit so if I had a list it would just burn up in the fire.
But then I am a dragon...
I write and sleep write and sleep

Cheers for another A to Z challenge
A Plus!

Pat Hatt said...

I unplug everything, but computer, and away I go. Just stay ahead of the 8 ball and all is fine

Christine Rains said...

Excellent post! I'm good at pushing myself, but I do best when I have a quiet house to myself. Not very often that happens!

debi o'neille said...

Other than the month of A-Z commitments, I try to schedule my writing time first and squeeze in the rest of the to-do list as time permits. Often, time doesn't permit, but I haven't had to resort to hiding dirty dishes in the oven yet.
Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

Laura S. said...

Hi, Lynda. I make a schedule with daily, weekly, and monthly goals and stick to it!

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Unknown said...

I do almost all of those tips, although I'm not so good with deadlines. Everything always takes longer than I think it will. *sigh* Thanks for the post! :)

Anonymous said...

I've learned the hard work aspect over the last few months. It's so true.

2014 A to Z Challenge
Nicole’s #atozchallenge Mighty Minion

Bish Denham said...

Excellent list! Sometimes I have to push myself, make myself sit down and work, particularly during the revision process. Even though I don't like it, I'm always surprised at how much I can get done, and hey... it wasn't so bad after all.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I think sticking to all these goals is vital and will surely result in a happier writer.

Charity Bradford said...

Amen! Another A word. I've been trying to apply these very points. Some come easier, but I can say I do more of them now than I did two years ago. Progress is good!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

No kidding, eh? I need to print this out and paste it on my FOREHEAD. Bah...

Looking forward to all your tips in A to Z... I NEED 'EM!

Robin said...

I have been doing a lousy job of applying myself since I finished my rough draft. I think the thrill of just getting it done followed by the horror of reading the first few chapters threw my mojo out. Very similar to throwing your back out... with the same sort of results.

I need to get back on that horse!

Michelle Wallace said...

I'm really applying myself and know I'll progress... but there are some areas where I'm lacking!
It's a slow process...

Anonymous said...

the hardest part is getting the family to cooperate...

SK Anthony said...

Definitely tips to live by. They're all so important, but I have to keep at the back of my mind to never give up. It pushes me to work on the other ones ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Applying Yourself for A is perfect! Every writer should apply him/her self completely to their story, dream, and any goal they have. Never giving up is the key to success. :)

Mark said...

Great post, Amen to applying oneself and remaining determined to accomplish their goals:)

Anonymous said...

I'm still working on training my hubby. He still likes to interrupt me when I'm writing. Although, not so much lately because I had to set writing aside to focus on my well being.

Yolanda Renée said...

Goals and word counts always help but waking up in the middle of the night with a plot answer is still my favorite!

Murderous Imaginings

Ida Thought said...

I try and listen and learn what works for other people and try and apply some of it to myself - otherwise I am completely the opposite of almost everything on that list Reflex Reactions

Anonymous said...

Great writing tips!

Donna B. McNicol said...

Lots of great tips...really glad I joined the A-Z this year!

Simply Sarah said...

Great tips! I especially like the write even when not feeling inspired one. Hard yet so important.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Lynda...

SO glad you mentioned eating right and excessing. It is a KEY element to progress smoothly as a writer. My first two years of writing I didm't ANYTHING BUT write. BIG mistake... I had gained over fifty pounds!

I realized it was consuming all of my life and then I took my life back...

Now I write when I can and my writing is strong and concise. You can still write in your head while exercising. You can work out plots, characters, and settings while your body is moving...

Sylvia Ney said...

Never give up, and keep writing what YOU want!

Unknown said...

Inspiring! I read that and feel little icy stabs of guilt at some of those points... Thanks for cracking the whip!

I've actually just this week started up on my next novel and have begun setting goals. It feels good to be back in action.

Ally James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ally James said...

Very good tips. Keep writing when the words are hard to get out on the page.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Rachna, writing everyday makes a big difference, including completing our projects.

Alex, it would be nice to write super fast.

Veronica, yep, sometimes that happens. I call it times to take a break and let life inspire ;)

Sheri, I agree

Susan, Taking care of yourself should be at the top of the list. This is something I'm learning.

Heather, half is good. The rest will follow.

Diane, exactly right.

Birgit, hahaha, yep, and I love it when that works ;)

Crystal, yes, I totally agree. I should've added that one to the list.

Brandon, and if we train ourselves, then we won't have to wait for our fickle muses.

Scruffy, can't help you with cats. I have the same problem with mine ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Dragon, I image you need to make many backups of your writing then ;)

Pat, a smart plan

Christine, I LOVE a quiet house to myself!!

Debi, sounds like you have it under control...dirty dishes don't go in the oven? ;)

Laura, brilliant!

Lexa, yep, I can relate with everything taking longer than I first think.

Sydney, a great lesson to learn. It's something I have to keep re-learning.

Bish, ha, yeah. It's never so bad as we first think. Which is a relief.

Joylene, exactly. Happy and sane.

Charity, progress is excellent.

Cathy, nah, paste it on the back of your hands where you'll be able to see it ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Robin, That's a common feeling after finishing a first draft. The only way to break through is to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.

Michelle, I think everything about writing is a slow process.

Susan, yep, they need to be trained...without them knowing they are being trained ;)

SK, never giving up is crucial

Chrys, never giving up and always moving forward.

Mark, I'll second that amen.

Patricia, well being always comes first.

Yolanda, it's it the best!!!

Ida, it's good to try different techniques, but you have to find what works for you.

Loebick, thanks

Donna, the A-Z is a whole lot of fun.

Sarah, definitely not always easy.

Michael, I think too many writers don't look after themselves.

Sylvia, great point! I think that's important to understand the market, but write the stories inside us, and not try to write what we think other people will want to read. The story comes first.

JD, brilliant! Best wishes for your new novel.

Ally, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! I will work on applying myself as a writer. I seem to apply myself all over the place, I hope I can remove myself from some things in the future!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent post. A must share for sure!

Joyce said...

I love your theme, and follow some bloggers already who participate in the IWSG. Thanks for stopping by my blog today Michelle! Great tips for writers, and those aspiring!

Unknown said...

Wow, I love the list. Particularly the first one. It's really important to make yourself write even when you aren't inspired.

Unknown said...

My favorite one: "train your family" :-)

Unknown said...

Fantastic! Looking forward to more! =)
~Jamie, from A-Z Challenge.


G. B. Miller said...

Fortunately, I now do my writing exclusively on my old XP, which is thoroughly and permanently disattached from the Internet.

A-Z Challenge at Father Nature's Corner

Nicole said...

I tend to have lofty goals that reach beyond the scope of my abilities and this, I understand the importance of setting achievable goals...and have to work on doing that more. I've never attended a conference and am honestly less likely to do so unless I have a sponsor of some sort, because, I just cant afford it. I already have one pursuit that's sucking funds right out of me without providing much return, so I surely don't need another. Or else, I'll be living on the street with the curbside bench as my sleeping bed. I do, however, understand the value that conferences can have for writers who are looking to be published -- whether through traditional or non-traditional means.

#atozchallenge Co-Host
The Madlab Post

Unknown said...

Really great advice. Thanks for putting together that list.

KC @ The Occasional Adventures of a Hermit

Unknown said...

I do like the "train your Family" part. The thing is sometimes your Family trains you! My 7 year old will get mad, and run to her room. She has trained me not to bother her till she calms down.

Chuck Allen said...

Excellent reminders. The one about "Not putting your writing last on your already long list of commitments" really resonates with me.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Great post! A woman I know recently tweeted this comment: "You say your priority is X. What did you do today to demonstrate that?"

So true. How many of us say we want to be novelists, but often put that part of our lives last? I know I've been guilty many, many times.

Whole Foods Living said...

Wonderful tips and reminders! I love the note about always trying to do better. Once you settle, you're never improving upon your craft! Write on! (Following your blog now too!) ~ Angela, A to Z participant from Web Writing Advice (http://www.webwritingadvice.com/) and Whole Foods Living (http://wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/)

Yvonne Ventresca said...

I like your advice about not putting writing last. Great tips!


Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Melanie, it takes practice.

Elizabeth, thanks

Joyce, thanks. There's a few of us who post here. Michelle will be posting later in the week.

Kim, not always easy, but certainly important.

EE, hehe, mine too ;)

Jamie, thanks

GB, smart move. The internet is soooooooo distracting.

Nicole, conferences can be pricey, but perhaps you can join a local writer's group instead.

KC, thanks

David, hahaha so funny. And cute.

Chuck, I had to learn that one the hard way. I'd do everything else and be left with no time to write.

Holli, oh, great tweet!

Angela, exactly right. Settling is bad in a writer's career.

Yvonne, thanks

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips! Great post, very helpful.

simple girl..... said...

excellent tips.. Just now I had this sudden feeling of self-doubt and the read your post. It is giving me the confidence to have faith on myself..

simple girl..... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you for the list. I can say–hand on heart–I'm guilty of not following most of your points. And it is guilt that puts my family to the forefront of my day.
I'd love to commit more time to writing, but until I learn how to master the skill, I'll keep plodding along.
Happy A to Z travels. :)

Unknown said...

Great post and thanks for this group. for newbees and wannabees like myself, chosing that most insecure genre of non-fiction, the climb is more uphill than ever! Never give up is my best!
Marie an #AtoZ er at http://myeverydaypersonal.blogspot.be/

Philip Verghese 'Ariel' said...

Hi Linda,
Thanks for sharing this.
Indeed a great list here again!!!
Let us keep it.
All good wishes to all my friends here :-)
~ Philip

Anonymous said...

I've been having a rough go of it these last 6 months. I really *want* to get back into my story, but I've been bombarded by life yet again. We are now in the 4th month and I still haven't managed to do much but re-read my story. :( I seriously need to get back into my characters' heads. Thank you for your list. I need to get my butt in chair and just do it.

Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
My A to Z
Caring for My Veteran

Alex Hurst said...

I'm finally going to be able to get back into a writing schedule starting next week, because I'll finally have two days off of work after three years of six days a week! Yay!!! The stories! They will be written! :D

Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan. "B is for Books" is my current post.

Unknown said...

Hi there!

I find that inspiration doesn't often strike me. I have ideas, I let them stew in my head, noting them down when I feel I'm running out of mental space. There's no lightning bolt, it's just chemistry.

Sometimes if I close my eyes I can see the scenes unfold in my head. So then it's just a case of turning that visualisation into words in an economic way.

I don't actually sit and type the story at the keyboard every day. I probably should, but I think that eventually I would run out of brain buffer and need a break to come up with some new ideas to replace the ones I've used up.

Maybe my idea generating will become more efficient in the future and I'll have to get typing so that I can get it all down. For now I need to keep practising and coming up with new material.

cleemckenzie said...

I have never giving up at the top of my list, but there have been times I've thought of erasing it. So far I haven't. Guess I can give myself some kind of star for that.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Dancing, thanks

Simple Girl, that's so brilliant to hear :)

sdneeve1, family is still important, and often a source of inspiration.

Marie, breaking into non-fiction is definitely not easy. All the best for your endeavours.

Philip, thanks so much. Good wishes to you too.

Jamie, yep, sometimes life has a way of doing that, but if we apply ourselves, and write just a little everyday, then we'll soon find ourselves moving forward again.

Alex, enjoy your new writing schedule!!

Martin, sounds like you've found a technique that works for you.

Lee, I think we've all toyed with the idea of giving up. Yep, you do deserve a star :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynda. Thank you for dropping by my place today.
This is a great list, and I'm a list man.
I apply myself by having a working schedule on my desk, right alongside my A4-sized year planner. I work in retail three days a week, but on the other days, I work to my schedule.

Lisa said...

Thanks so much for this posting. Good to see a list of what folks do to keep the "juices" flowing... and thanks as well for the chance to list our blog posts for the A to Z!

HistorySleuth said...

Great Idea! I'll hop over to facebook.
History Sleuth's Writings -A-Z/ISWG

Alicia Hawks said...

I'm so excited to have found this blog!! Writing is something I've always been interested in (I've written dozens of stories in notebooks and whatnot) but I've never really had any real advice about writing outside of a High School English class. I look forward to reading through your blog and learning from your knowledge and experience.

Trisha said...

i think the main thing I struggle with at the moment is writing when I don't feel inspired - or in my case, editing. I have been slacking off quite a bit 'cause my task sometimes feels so huge.

I was also pretty bad at giving myself achievable goals for a while there, all because in 2011 I actually ACHIEVED all my ridiculous goals.