This week’s guest post is the remarkable Cassandra Morgan, author of Prophecy who shares her secrets to jumpstart your writing.
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We’ve all been there. Staring at the blank page while the kids are screaming in the background. You want to reach out and talk to someone, but all you end up doing is scrolling through Facebook or emails. Occasionally you jump back to that blank page, but your fear cripples you from writing more than a few cheap sentences.
I GET IT.
Not only are we plagued by this fear and judgement and fear of failure that calls itself Imposter Syndrome, we can barely find time to breathe in our lives, let alone quality time to write. It’s a reality for so many writers, and it’s the reason some of the best work we’ve never read will never be written.
For you, that ends today. I’m here to tell you my 4 secrets to jumpstart your writing and kick yourself into high-gear.
Secret #1: Time Management
You’ve finally decided you’re going to start planning your writing time. On Sunday, you make a little schedule for the upcoming week. You sit back and smile.
On Monday morning, you wake up to blood all over the bathroom. Somehow, the cat cut his paw and is bleeding everywhere. You finally catch him – after he’s spread blood all over the house from running away – and take him to the emergency vet. $400 and 4 hours later, you finally roll into work.
At least your boss had been cool with you handling your family situation, but she still expects you to get your presentation done on time. Guess you won’t be writing tonight after all.
Life happens. I get it. My schedule constantly changes day to day. Sometimes hour to hour. I work for an IT consulting company, and there are days when a client emergency comes in at 7 AM and throws my entire day off.
So, how do you manage a schedule that’s constantly changing?
Just remember that if life has the power to rearrange your schedule, then so do you.
Cassie, what the heck does that mean?
So, your Monday didn’t go according to plan. You have a presentation that you’re working late into the night finishing, and you’re still finding bloody pawprints in places you had no idea the stupid cat could even get to. After you’ve taken care of the necessities, take a look at your schedule again.
Perhaps you can double your writing time on Wednesday if you can call in a favor and ask your husband to make dinner. Or maybe you treat the kids to an extra movie night while you get in a few pages at the kitchen table behind them.
In an absolute worst case scenario, if there is nowhere in your schedule to make up that time, then just move on. Every day is a new day, and sometimes life just isn’t going to cooperate. That’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up about it.
If you give in to those feelings of guilt, those feelings of failure, you’re letting that Imposter Syndrome monster take over. Brush it off, and move along, sweetheart!
Secret #2: Communication
How many times have you put off writing because you felt obligated to go to girl’s night instead? Or, how many times did you lie to your friends and say you had a big project for work to finish because you were too embarrassed to admit you were at home writing?
We’ve all done it. We’re so worried our friends or family are going to judge us for taking our writing seriously. Fear of Judgement is the second soul to Imposter Syndrome.
When you feel embarrassed about your love of writing, I want you to repeat my mantra over and over:
If it’s important to you, then it’s important to do!
We find time in our schedules to eat, sleep, work, play. Those things are important to us. If writing is important to you, then there’s no reason why any friend or family member wouldn’t want to encourage you.
After all, didn’t you attend Mia’s over 40 beauty pageant last month to support her? And your mom has recently started keeping chickens. You’ve taken the time to memorize all their names. It’s what people who love each other do. And your friends and family love you.
LET THEM HELP YOU.
Ask hubby to do dinner on Wednesdays so you can write. Tell Barbara that you just can’t make it to Margarita Monday next week, because you really want to slam out that chapter. Be honest.
And remember, if anyone makes you feel anything but awesome about taking time to write, then those aren’t the kind of people you really want in your life anyway.
BONUS SECRET: Compromise. Your writing isn’t exactly a one-way street, though that would make things so much easier. Just remember that if someone is doing something to help you out with your writing, be willing and observant to return the favor.
Secret #3: Find Your Tribe
As much as your friends and family may try to support you, there are just some things they’ll never understand. And that’s okay!
For years, my father tried to get me to buy a motorcycle. But it just wasn’t a good time for me. It wasn’t until he found a local Christian motorcycle club that the hole in his heart he had been trying to fill through me, was finally filled.
Whether it’s a local writer’s meeting or a writing group online, it’s important to connect with like-minded individuals. When you have something in common with people, you build trust in them.
When you start to build trust in people, your confidence will grow as well.
BONUS TIP: If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. If there is knowledge that you can impart on other writers, then you should absolutely do so. We’re all in this together! But you need to find value in your tribe as well. Knowledge should always be ‘give and take’.
Secret #4: Have a Plan
Before you sit down at that computer, you need to tell your brain exactly what it’s going to accomplish.
I’m not talking about creating an outline for your book. I, myself, am a very detailed outliner, but there are plenty of successful writers out there who are not. Having a plan simply means having a goal, and knowing how you’re going to accomplish it.
Perhaps it’s a specific word-count goal. Or you’re looking to finish a chapter. Maybe you want to spend some time researching a specific thing. Whatever it is, if you don’t tell your brain exactly what it’s going to be working on, it’s going to get distracted.
Actually, let’s talk about distractions. On average, we touch our phones more than 1500 times a day! That’s 1500 scrolls through Facebook, or Likes on Instagram or, my personal favorite, going down the rabbit hole of UFO videos. Not sure where to start? Let me help you out.
- Invest in a timer
It could be a kitchen timer, or even a timer on your phone (just hang on and hear me out on this).
Set yourself a timer for 10-15 minutes. Then WRITE. Write whatever you had planned. When the timer goes off, reset it for 5 minutes. This is your allowed distraction time. Once your distraction time is over, reset that timer again and keep on writing.
Over time, your writing sprints will become longer, allowing you to have less distraction time.
Personally, I like to use my phone for my timer. Now, hang on. I know I said to get rid of distractions, but this is a good one – I promise.
You can find free apps for your phone with times that DON’T make noise when they go off! The great thing about this is if you’re totally on a roll with writing, the last thing you want is a loud BEEEEEEEP to interrupt you.
- Put your phone across the room.
Whether you’re using for a timer or not, putting your phone on the other side of the room creates a physical barrier so it’s a lot harder for you to just mindlessly reach for it.
- Turn off the internet.
I get it. You’re in the middle of writing, and you need to know how many hours it would take to get from Constantinople to Egypt. You pop open that web browser, and the next thing you know, BAM! You’re sucked into YouTube, watching music videos by Egyptian pop stars.
I’m telling you, save your research time for its thing. Writing time is writing time, not research time. Use the highlight feature, make a special note, do something to indicate more needs to be done for your sentence or chapter to be complete. But then you move on. You keep on writing. You can work out those little details later.
There you have it, writers! My 4 Secrets to Jumpstart Your Writing!
A special thank you to Ari for letting me be a guest writer on her blog. I hope to see you on Facebook or Instagram! Don’t be a stranger!
Prophecy, Book One of the Kingdoms of Chartile series
In a land torn asunder by forbidden magic, four friends hold the key to saving the realm… or destroying it.
Jayson, Jack, and Leo never imagined wandering through the woodlands of Ohio could cause them to be whisked away to a fantasy world – but that’s exactly what happened. Trapped within the world of Chartile, they have no clue how to wield their newfound and outlawed magic, let alone save a kingdom.
With their new friend, Piper, they discover an ancient prophecy which may be the realm’s last hope. With an Elven Princess bent on taking every last bit of Chartile as her own, and a Dwarvik society on the brink of civil war, these friends must come together to save the realm or risk losing everything. It’s safe to say, getting home is the least of their problems.
Cassandra Morgan is the author of the YA Epic Fantasy series, The Kingdoms of Chartile, and the Paranormal Cozy Mystery series The Silver Fox Mysteries where she writes as C.P. Morgan.
Cassie hales from a family of writers and English majors but is the first in her family to make a career from her writing.
She is also a writing mentor and frequent guest speaker at writing conferences and conventions across the Midwest USA.
When she isn’t writing or teaching, Cassie can be found caring for orphaned kittens and watching far too many cooking shows.
Connect with Cassie
Would you like to be a guest on this blog? Check out my Guest Poster Policy for all the details
Big thanks to Cassie Morgan for being this week’s guest poster and sharing her secrets. I hope you found her tips useful. Please take the time to check out her links.
If you have any questions for Cassie, drop them in the comments below. I’ll see you on Friday for another blog post.