Tag Archives: writing routine

The Butt-in-the-Chair Approach

Oh, Library Card, how do I love you?  You are by far the best invention ever made.  That and croutons (“Dry bread, yes, please!  On lettuce I think”).  I have a whole stack of books on writing and blogging that I’ve picked up from the library recently.  I’m on a first name basis with several of the librarians there now.  Hello Lois, Jeff, and Cindy!  Today’s favorite is entitled, The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron.  It’s filled with hundreds of writing prompts that provoke the author to search inside yourself and journal about various milestones, small moments, emotions and draw from that to use it in your work.  There are also lots of practices on describing places or characters or objects.

One of the first things he discusses is the Butt-in-the-Chair Approach, because as so many of you other writers have said out there, showing up is half the battle.  You’ve got to make time to write and to get good at it.  But, if you’re worried, he’s got prompts in the book for that too!

My favorite new prompt from the book so far is this:  Pick a time frame, sit down.  You don’t have to write, but you can’t do anything else.

Wow, people.  I must have been running on hyperdrive, because the notion of sitting down and just thinking hadn’t occurred to me!  I am a horrendous ever punctual multi-tasker.  I can never just sit for lunch, I must fill out reports/reply to email/correct associate clocking mistakes.  I can’t just watch a movie, I must sew coat buttons back on, make the grocery list, also try to write a novel.  Ah ha!

Diagnosis:  extreme time management overdose

Cure:  forced thinking cap retreats

If you give yourself, say 30 minutes, to just sit down and not do anything but write, if you want to, I’ll think you’ll find it helpful.  I was worried I would hate it.  But that’s what I do anyway!  Only I would be doing it while watching a movie, while making a sandwich, while talking to someone in the other room!  If I give myself the time to think about my writing, and not allow myself to do anything else, I inevitably pick up the pen and start jotting things down.

Here’s one more prompt I really liked.  Maybe it will spark a story, or a poem, or a blog entry of your own.

Prompt: Mona Simpson begins her story “Lawns” with the sentence “I steal.”  Begin a story or essay or poem or journal entry with the line “I _______.”  Push forward from there.  If you can think of one action that speaks to who you are, what would it be?  Write at least a few paragraphs.  Try this experiment a few times, using different actions.

What do you think your one action line would be?  (Right now, I’m thinking…”I eat,” because it’s dinner time ;))

Or what “writer epiphany” moments have you had recently?

Also, check out Kristen Lamb‘s new blog post.  It’s exactly what you need if you’re having problems prioritizing like me.  Trust me, you’ll love this!

The Six Word Memoir is fun.

Ok, Christmas is over, and it’s time to stop lollygagging about the house in my pajamas and supersoft socks with rubber grips on the bottom.  Yep, that zombie with a cold and mug of green tea you’ve been seeing around your house is me.  Sorry for wiping snot on your sofa.

To jumpstart my writing goals for the new year I wanted to come up with some action plans and creativity projects that will help my writing.   After reading through a new post on creative writing prompts by Michelle Locke I decided what better way to feel renewed than some good old fashioned word games!  Hold on, I need to shove another kleenex up my nose.  *blow*

Where was I?  To date, I’ve successfully begun one of the books I picked up on writing.  It’s a book on journaling, which I already do, but I thought it would contain some prompts.  To go back to my original resolution, I’d like to try a new goal for writing each week and record its helpfulness in this blog, starting with writing prompts.  This week, every day I will do a different writing prompt and record how long I was able to do it and what writing tools I felt it strengthened.  I have a few prompt ideas in mind, but send me some of your favorites, I’ll try really hard not to get vicks vapor rub on them.  *blow*

I’ve been brainstorming some ideas on what to try.  Here is what I have come up with:  changing my workspace, changing the times I write, timed writing, making picture boards, only writing on my lunch hour, playing scrabble for a week, only eating foods that begin with the letter ‘W’ (water chestnuts?  watermelon?  worchestshore sauce?  hmm, take that off my list).  I’ll keep brainstorming and let you know how it goes.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear what your favorite writing routines or prompts are.

And today’s game is:  The Six Word Memoir!  This is a new favorite of mine, and if you’re unfamiliar with the story of Ernest Hemingway’s said memoir it goes like this.  Guy walks into a bar, bets Ernest Hemingway he can’t write a story in only 6 words, Hemingway accepts the challenge.  Scribbles for a bit, then reads, “For Sale, Baby shoes.  Never worn.”

Here are the memoirs I came up with today.

Boyfriend hates hairy legs.  Big deal!

Seriously, playing badminton gave me tendonitis.

Coffee?  Check.  Body in basement?  Check.

“Cookies at bedtime?  Again, Mr. Clause?!”

Tomorrow.  The transplant would be tomorrow.

I should probably learn to swim.

The car driving away.  He’d left.

Cake batter for breakfast.  My roommate.

Three hours making cookies.  Never again.

I saw you in the cemetery.

The best invention ever made: kleenex.

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