Friday, August 12, 2016

Writing Scared
Fun With Quotes

So how, exactly does one have fun with quotes?
Glad you asked! If you’re like me, you start by exchanging quotes on a daily basis with your Best Bud. But not just any quotes, writing quotes, to give each other inspiration. And then you pick the two best quotes of the week to share with the rest of the world - because ... why not? :-D

You probably wouldn’t believe how much time I spend agonizing over which quotes to choose each week. Or maybe you would. Even the daily quote can be hard to choose sometimes, but I’ve got it down to a science. I have around 30 pages of unused quotes (it used to be 31, but I’ve used up a page worth since I started using this method). Each day I scroll down to the page number that matches the date and pick from that page only.

Kind of a simplistic method, but there you go. It save me from having to scour the internet every morning for a new quote. And every once in awhile I add to the document to bring the page number up again, hopefully with quotes I haven’t used before.

The quote from Jamie this week is short and sweet:

“Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.”
—Holly Gerth

I think this is great advice. To keep our writing fresh we need to stretch, to take chances, to try new ideas and work outside of our comfort zone. One summer, as kind of a fun exercise for the writing group I was part of, we came up with an idea to flex our creative muscles. We started with a picture prompt, the same one for all of us, and then we were each given a randomly selected genre to write in - anything from western to erotica.

It was a little scary, and for sure it took us out of our comfort zones. But it also got us thinking outside of the box, as it were. The romance writer may be faced with writing a mystery, the mystery writer may be faced with writing erotica, the children’s writer may be faced with writing a western - and then next time it was a new challenge.

Change can be scary stuff, but it can also be good for you and help you grow as a writer.

Speaking of change, I had a hard time choosing which quote of mine to use this week. My favourite was interesting, but didn’t seem quite complete and it’s too hot to spend a lot of time with the lap top doing research. And another one was just way too long, with too many different things going on in it. So finally, I settled on this one:

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice.
― Octavia E. Butler

Yeah, I know I tend to harp on this, but that’s only because I think it’s so important. Both Jamie and I are trying to settle into a writing routine and it’s not as easy as you think. First there’s the challenge of finding the right time, then there’s the challenge of being able to keep the rest of the world at bay during that time.

Again and again you’ll see the advice to “write every day.” Find a few minutes first thing in the morning, or during your lunch hour. Sneak a few words in while the baby’s napping. Maybe you can streamline your daily chores and use that extra time to work on that story or novel. Stay up a half an hour later, or get up a half an hour earlier.

But while writing every day is certainly a good habit to get into, it’s even better if you can be consistent, doing it at the same time every day. That way, even when you’re not feeling particularly inspired, your mind knows that “This is writing time” and the words will come.

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