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January 2011

10 Ways to Jump-start Your Writing in 2011: An Illustrated Tour of One Writer’s Mind

Editor’s note: I love Ane Mulligan. Any time I ask her for a funny to lighten the load, she pops right in and saves the day. God bless her! But, even I have to admit that she may have finally gone over the edge. With this article came almost 40 GBs of photos. Seriously? Does she have any idea how much work it is to process that many photos? I love Ane Mulligan. Here’s proof.

Are you looking for foolproof ways to jump-start your writing in 2011? Well, even a fool couldn’t mess these up. If these don’t help, sister, brother, we’re gonna need to chat—over a Starbucks or two.

  1. Put butt-in-chair—in a new chair! If the seat you park your behind in is a good one, you’ll park it more often. I got excited recently when Margaret Brownley did a guest blog on Novel Journey. Her office chair has an exercise ball in it. It’s actually part of the chair! I’ve got to get one. Finally, I’ll be able to park my behind without rolling off. Hey, I’m balance-challenged, okay? So in 2011, I’m going to be a balanced writer.
  2. A-muse-ing inspiration. Have your muse readily available—capture it in a jar. Hey, if Jim Bell can keep “the boys” in the basement, I can keep mine in a jar. My crit partner Jessica Dotta made this one for me. It’s amusing to look at, eh? (Yes, the pun was intended.) She will remind me to start creating.
  3. Keep chocolate handy. Okay, it’s not that new of an idea, but my new take on it works. In 2011, allow yourself one M&M for every 40 words written—believe me,  you’ve never written so fast! You get 25 M&Ms for every 1,000 words. It’s not enough to get fat, unless you’re, say, Karen Kingsbury who writes, what?. 10,000 words a day?
  4. Battle the bunnies! Start the year off right with a clean desk. I try to pretend I’m neat. I like to be neat. I write better with a clean desk. But at night, while I’m asleep (I swear!), the dust bunnies come out to play. They leave an awful mess, stacks of books, notes and scraps of paper, empty M&Ms bags. There’s nothing I can do. They’re an endangered species.
  5. Stick around, toots. Stacks of colorful sticky notes can help keep you stay organized. I attended my local ACFW chapter meeting (go WORD!), where an author told us about her method of editing. It involved different colors, sizes, and shapes of sticky notes. It worked for her, so I figured it would for me, too. Yesterday, I hurried to the store and $50 later came home with a bag full of every color and size imaginable. Today I tried it. Call me. (777) 555-1212. Got this great deal on sticky notes.
  6. Fight blanks. Hang inspirational pictures and sayings around your desk for those times when you are not creative—or am I the only one who stares blankly at a screen for eons? I thought my brain had turned to grits. So I’m hanging pictures of my characters, Scripture in a pretty frame, smiling kittens, M&Ms based artwork—anything to spark the synapses in my head.
  7. Writer’s swag. I have my eye on some pen nib earrings (is that an F.B.P.?), although some of the guys might not look so good in them—but Rubart could pull it off. I have a clock, given to me by one of our ACFW members, Linda Rohrbough. It makes me smile and reminds me that tossing and retrieving are all part of the process of writing. But at nine o’clock there’s the submit part that leads to publishing, which means I’d better get busy—2011 has already started.
  8. Got a way to get-a-way? A get-a-way, no matter how small, is good for writers—no really! It tricks you into thinking you’re like Steinbeck or Hemingway. Okay, maybe not, but Starbucks does not have a telephone that rings for you. Nor does it have a washing machine that knows your name. So do yourself a favor and break the dull routine you’ve gotten into.
  9. Welcome to Disturbia Hang a laminated “Do not disturb ~ writer working” doorknob sign on your office door. Then, don’t forget to shut the door with the sign outside. I got a really nice one from My Book Therapy. However, it did not come with a guarantee that the hubs wouldn’t open the door and ask if I’m busy. And Shadrach can’t read, so he woofs outside until I can’t ignore him a moment longer. The pup has a doggy door a linebacker could fit through, but no, he wants personal service. Maybe for 2011 I should write a manual for writers: How to Train Husbands, Children, and Dogs. Hmm, I could make a fortune ... Somehow I have my doubts, though. Which leads to ... 
  10. Save a bunny. Turn a blind eye to dust and clutter. Remember #4? Dust bunnies are an endangered species, so do your part. Give them undisturbed breeding grounds (they breed best amidst clutter.) That frees you up to write. It all makes sense if you look at it the right way.

So that’s my list of not so new things to try this New Year. Who knows? One of them just might work for you. Write on!

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