There’s just one more writing day in July and it’s the perfect time to look back at your efforts and see how things worked out.
How did your writing go this month?
Could you write when you intended to?
Did you write the things that you intended to?
What obstacles did you encounter? Did you overcome them or are you still working on that?
What can you celebrate about this month’s writing? (Remember, your effort ALWAYS counts here.)
What lessons can you take from July and bring into August’s writing session?
Once you have gathered all of your information about this past month, it’s time to think about how you might make the most of your writing time in August.
Note: If you’d like a longer list of reflection questions, see this post.
Experiment in August
While our writing routines and habits generally serve us well, sometimes we can get a bit bored or kind of stuck. That can lead to us finding our writing time to be a bit of a chore.
The feeling usually passes, of course. And it is possible to just push through it but it isn’t very much fun.
If you are feeling a bit ‘meh’ about your writing lately, maybe you could liven things up with some experiments with your writing time, your writing space, or with your writing practice.
Work a little longer or a little shorter
If you have gotten comfortable with working in 10 minute segments, could you try working for 11 or 12 minutes?
Or if you are finding 10 minutes a little long, maybe 7 or 8 minutes might be the magic number for you?
Personally, I find that the added ‘pressure’ of a suddenly shorter deadline, even if I am shortening it myself, can help me sharpen my focus. So, if I try to write the same number of words in a shorter period of time, I often find that I can jump into the writing ‘zone’ more quickly.
Obviously, don’t add any pressure if it doesn’t serve you well. These friendly check-ins are about making your practice work for you, not about making your writing life unpleasant!
Switch Things Up In Your Writing Space
What kind of small changes can you make to your writing space that might help you with your practice?
Maybe clearing off your desk might help? (It’s ok to dump everything into a box for now!)
Perhaps you need a cushion for your back?
Or maybe a lit candle or some music might make your space more inviting?
Do you need to keep some snacks in easy reach?
Maybe some goofy photos or stuffed animals or knickknacks would help?
Obviously, we all have different preferences for our writing spaces but spending a few minutes and tweaking things to make the space more inviting or intriguing for ourselves is definitely worthwhile.
Set Some Arbitrary Guidelines
If you are finding your writing practice a little dull lately, some arbitrary guidelines might liven things up.
Try telling yourself that your next scene must be all dialogue or that you have to start every sentence with a word starting with T.
Maybe you could decide that every text you receive adds 10 words to your target for the day.
Perhaps you can tell yourself that you can’t have any caffeine until you have written two sentences or that you have to stand on one foot while you write your next paragraph.
And, of course, you can add content guidelines – that every story for August has to include a squirrel, or that all August writing must be in a different genre than you usually write.
The details of these arbitrary guidelines don’t matter. The point is to shake things up a bit so you are thinking a little differently.
These experiments don’t have to become part of your final draft but they might just help you find your way forward.
Try Different Gear
If you always write in a notebook, try typing for a while.
If your laptop is your best friend, give pen and paper a whirl.
Maybe you could try voice dictation or recording a voice memo and writing it out later.
Or you might enjoy writing in crayon on construction paper or in marker on post-it notes.
You can switch out any of your usual implements for something new and see where it leads you. You don’t have to commit to writing a whole chapter in an awkward way, but the experiment may help you look at your work differently.
Personally, I find that different gear leads me to different types and styles of stories. Switching gear can be really handy when a particular story isn’t working. If I type something that I would normally handwrite, or if I record a memo for something that I would normally type out, my brain seems to loosen any knots that were around the story and let me work my way through the ideas more fully.
Find The Fun And Get Those Words
I’m not suggesting that you stress yourself out with experiments. The goal here is to help you find more fun and more relaxation in your writing practice.
Obviously, you take your writing seriously but that doesn’t mean that you can’t explore ways to make the process more comfortable or more interesting.
Trying out a few arbitrary guidelines or jazzing up your writing space might be just the thing you need to help you get your words out of your head and into your work-in-progress.
Christine Hennebury’s storytelling career began when she was four and her parents didn’t believe her tale about water shooting out of her nose onto the couch – they insisted that she had spilled bubble solution from the empty jar in her hand. Luckily, her skills have improved since then. Christine makes up stories, shares stories, and coaches other people who are working on stories, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Find out more about her at christinehennebury.com