All writers need tools (Or should I say crutches?) to give them a boost when their writing is not going well. In my case, make that twelve. Twelve little crutches to support me as I limp through "The Between," from creating to publishing my work.
Morning Journal. First thing every morning, I write in my journal. It's like breathing for me. Most often I start by reading something inspiring from a magazine, such as Science of Mind, Oprah, EnlightenNext, or Writer's Digest. Next, I scan the newspaper. Then I write whatever comes to mind. I've come up with some of my best story ideas this way. Great resources for morning pages are The Artist's Way by Julian Cameron, TARCHER TALKS (for a video of Julia discussing morning pages), and What's the Point in Morning Pages?
Power naps. I take naps. Yep. Each and every day, I work a nap into my schedule. To give my brain a rest, you see. I wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new challenge. Sometimes I even dream up a novel idea. For more on napping go to Power Napping for Increased Productivity at About.com.
Walking. Another way I get story ideas and solve plotting problems is by walking. Don't ask me how. Don't ask me why. I just keep plodding along with a goal of success in my mind. When I least expect it (usually during the third mile), ideas come out of nowhere, so fast that I have to stop and write them down (that's why I always have index cards and a pencil in my fanny pack). Walking also puts things into perspective. When I return home from my 3-mile walk, I no longer feel anxious and afraid, but ready to get back to writing. See How Walking Can Increase Creativity and Walking by Henry David Thoreau.
Reading. Where would I be without books on craft? They are my teachers, my guides, and my mentors, there whenever I need them to solve a problem or to inspire. Every Friday on this blog, I do a book talk where I share some of my favorite books. Examples: Manuscript Makeover and The 3 A.M. Epiphany.
Critique Groups. I'm fortunate to be a member of two critique groups, one for nine years and one for four. We meet once a month, to workshop and to inspire. For more information go to Join A Critique Group to Get Your Writing Going, at Right-Writing.com.
Writing Instruction Classes. Early 2010, I completed the requirements for a creative writing certificate through UC Davis Extension. In a previous post, UC Davis Extension Creative Writing Courses, I share my awesome experience.
Blogging/Social Media. I explain in previous post, Why Blog, and Me Blog?, that there are opportunities to grow as a writer and also connect with one's current and future readers through blogging and social media. I've become addicted. Good? Bad? Only time will tell. Another great post about blogging and social media is how small steps can make you a published writer and social media ninja by Justine Musk over at Tribal Writer.
Writer's Conferences. As a result of attending writer's conferences over the years, I have: pitched agents and received submission requests for my novels; won critiques of my novels' pages; connected with and learned from other writers; and met critique partners.
Coffee Shops and Bookstores. Sometimes a writer just needs a change of scenery to get the juices flowing again, especially during revisions. I'm grateful for the space these establishments offer their patrons. Thanks Starbucks (Store Locator). Thanks Borders (Store Locator).
Faithful Readers. If it weren't for my eight trusted readers (Kathy, Moira, Sandra, Marianne, Kate, Elsie, Christine, and my deceased mother), who aren't afraid to give me their honest opinions, I would not have completed four novels. Writing is a lonely business. Writers need feedback and encouragement. "Keep going. You can't quit now." And then, there are of course my faithful blog readers. You have no idea how much your comments are appreciated.
Contests. I'm talking about contests where you can win without winning, contests that give you valuable feedback, and contests that are free! Read about my experience with The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award at: The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
My Family, who forgives me for the time I spend writing and rewriting and promising, "I'm almost done. Bear with me, I'm almost done."
What are the essentials to your life as a writer? Can you name six?
(Photo credit: Crutch, by Twm)