Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to Keep Yourself Writing

by Joanne M. Lozar Glenn

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are five ounces of prevention to cure "falling off the wagon" of a writing practice. Consider making one of them a habit--because meeting your blank page or screen regularly (whatever "regularly" means to you)  is lots easier than trying to get reacquainted after a long absence.

  • If it's just you and a buddy, pledge to meet at a coffeehouse and write for 30 to 60 minutes every week. You don't even have to share what you write. Just write, and go home. Mission accomplished.

  • Or make a pact with that buddy to write (on your own) for a specified amount of time each week, using any old prompt to start you off--and agree on a regular time and day, say Thursday at 3 pm,  to report your progress. Then call each other just to say you did it, or to read to each other what you wrote. Alternatively, you can do this by email.

  • If it's you and a few others, decide together whether you want to have a writing group (where you write together) or a critique group (where you respond to each others' writing). Let the first meeting be a discussion of what kind of group you'd like it to be; who will be responsible for keeping the group on track; how the group will work; when, where, how long, and how often you'll meet; and what ground rules you want everyone to follow.

  •  Or if the writers you'd like to hang with are geographically scattered or pressed for time, create an accountability group. Agree that you will each set at least one writing goal a week, share it with the group, and report (the following week) on what you accomplished. Then rinse and repeat. The size of the goal is up to you. What's important is the regular checking in, aspiring, accounting, and doing it all over again. You'd be surprised how much you can accomplish with regular attention to this practice and the group's support.  

  • If you're overscheduled and "writing" is impossible for now, first forgive yourself, then try to at least capture the ideas for "someday writing" that flit through your brain. You could jot each idea in a small spiral-bound "idea catcher" or use a manila folder to hold the scraps of paper, one per idea, that you pile up. You could jot ideas on index cards or post-it notes and file them in a zipped pouch for easy retrieval and sorting. You can even use the "Notes" section of your smartphone. What kinds of ideas, you ask?  Ralph Fletcher, author of A Writer's Notebook, suggests jotting down mind pictures, snatches of conversation, memories, doodles, things you wonder about, and even photographs you capture with the phone's camera.

No matter which of the above practices you try, doing it consistently guarantees that you'll not only have "written" more than if you'd done nothing at all--you'll also feel that, despite whatever else fills your day, you're living more of a writing kind of life.

Joanne M. Lozar Glenn is an independent writer, editor, and educator. She leads destination writing retreats that feature writing from prompts as simple as a photograph and as shameless as eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations. Her book Memoir Your Way (co-authored with five other writers) is forthcoming from Skyhorse Press. For more information: 

Link for destination writing retreats:


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