And what I mean by stop punishing yourself, is I’m trying to stop punishing myself.
If you’re a writer, you know what I mean. I constantly feel guilty about not making my quota, or not getting enough work done, or taking too many breaks, or… etc. etc. I try really hard not to let it squeeze my chest with anxiety and self-loathing, but some days are harder than others.
I have two ways to pull yourself out of this self-induced-funk. They don’t always work, but nine times out of ten they do.
And trust me, I’ll be utilizing them today!
This one is simple: write for an hour and reward yourself with whatever you want. For me it’s usually whatever TV show I’m currently binge watching.
The only problem with this is I always talk about a reward system, but rarely practice it. And the funny part is, whenever I do it, it works perfectly for me. But my own psychosis tells me “I don’t deserve a reward,” “I haven’t done enough work to justify something as awesome as a reward.” (You get the idea!)
This is all bull! If you find yourself saying anything of the sort, tell yourself to shut up! You DO deserve a reward! Everyone needs to relax and rejuvenate. Believe it or not, it will help your writing!
So set up a system. I’m going to do three rounds today. Wish me luck!
Get the Blood pumping.
Whether it’s a walk, a jog, a run, jumping jacks, yoga… as long as your moving, it’ll help break you out of your negative headspace. You’d be amazed at how simply running in place for a few minutes can boost your mood.
I try to do 20 jumping jacks every hour. It helps me keep track of the time I’m spending in front of the computer, and makes me feel psychologically and physically better.
Bottom line is: you can’t stop your brain from being an a-hole, but you can try and re-route some of that negative thinking. It’s a daily struggle for me, but I’m trying to break out of my self-destructive patterns by reminding myself that self-punishment doesn’t get me anywhere. If anything, it holds me back.
So give yourself permission to reward yourself once in a while without feeling guilty about it! It will make a world of difference!
Let’s face it: editing is the hardest, most grueling part of writing. Putting the words on a page is the fun part, making those words sound great is an entirely different beast.
Here are 3 things that I’ve learned along the way to help tighten up my manuscripts and stay on target.
1. Word Search Is Your Best Friend.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m cranking through my novel I tend to repeat certain words. A lot. As in, how many freaking times do I use the word ‘felt!’ She felt this, she felt that, she felt stronger, she felt as if she knew him etc. etc. etc.!! I don’t know why authors tend to cling to particular words, probably just to put words on the page and get through a scene. But it’s important that you don’t keep the 3,000 ‘felts’ or whatever your word of choice is in your novel, and word search helps immensely.
First, I make a list of all the words I repeat during my initial read-through of my manuscript. Sometimes, it can be actual phrases. I seriously punch myself every time whenever I catch: “That was when…” in my writing!
Once I have a list, I search the entire book for these words or phrases. You’d be amazed at how it forces you to re-arrange or re-create your sentences. It makes your work stronger and ends up helping you in your next novel because you learn not to use those words and phrases so much.
Of course, they’re replaced by entirely new words, but the cycle must continue, right?!
2. Limiting the amount of sentences that start with a pronoun.
Starting every sentence with ‘He’ or ‘She’ can become boring to read. Do a quick search as you read through your book and if you have two or three sentences in a row that start with a pronoun change the middle one up.
An easy way to do that is to take the verb of the sentence and place it first.
For example if the original sentence is: “She ran to the park and played on the jungle gym.”
You could change it to: “Running to the park, Sarah played on the jungle gym.”
Reminding the reader of the character’s name is never a bad idea either!
3. If a sentence feels too long and clunky, it probably is.
This is an easy way to clean up your book. If you find yourself zoning out by the end of one of your sentences or paragraphs, then you can bet your reader will too. Even if it’s grammatically correct, longer sentences can be tedious to read. (With the exception of “Stream of Consciousness” books, then it’s their purpose!)
Here’s an example of a sentence I had to break up in my manuscript today:
“The paranoid part of her couldn’t help but worry that if there was written proof that she knew every detail of a murder that the police would think she was the killer.”
This was clunky and hard to follow. So I changed it to this:
“Paranoia threatened to overwhelm her. Knowing every detail of a crime would make her look guilty. How would Mara be able to explain her journal to the police when they arrested her for murder?”
The same meaning, but told through three shorter sentences instead of one long one.
Hope this helps!
I'm a writer of YA fiction, fiction, comics, television and movies. I try to make all my stories full of jumbly goodness :-)