In continuing a focus on Overcoming Your Obstacles as a Writer, it may be absolutely critical to begin adding structure to your writing methods if you wish to become a better writer. Last time, we discussed methods to overcome emotional writer’s block, when it’s not a plot-point or character holding you back, it’s your own demeanor and determination.
Now here are five simple tasks or methods for structure to help get higher word counts on a consistent basis.
1) Outline Everything
This isn’t just outlining your major plot points. No outline your characters piece-by-piece. The Troy Theatre has a bevy of character and role worksheets. Granted they’re theatrically based, but if you can create character bios to visualize every major haracter, I’ll bet the writing will come easier. You can outline your world, especially if it’s outside the world you know. Check out North by Not West’s world building worksheet to outline that. What better way to outline your work than a worksheet to build your science-fiction or fantasy world?
2) Word Count
Set a word count goal one week, then beat it by 10 words per day. That’s 70 more words that week. Keep going. Add more and more each week. As you do better, adding more words should get easier. Just remember, if you want to run a marathon, you don’t just go to a 10K and expect success. First, try running a little, see how far you can get, then build toward the eventual goal.
3) Set Writing Times
I’ll be the first to raise my hand that designating writing times can fall flat on their face and leave you bloodied and bruised. However, if you write one more day a week every week than previous, then it’s forward progress. Sometimes success at writing doesn’t mean an instant routine. Oftentimes it’s little steps up that mountain.
4) Writing Catch-All
How many times have you thought of a great idea, wrote it on whatever was handy, let’s say a receipt in your wallet. Then, a couple weeks later, you’re ready to write that phenomenal chapter. You pull out your wallet, no receipt. You put it in “that place you won’t forget.” A couple hours later, you’re rummaging through junk drawers, garbage cans, and haven’t written a word. Keep a notebook, moleskin, a packet of sticky notes; I don’t care. But whatever you do, make it a singular approach so that way each and every time you have a brief epiphany of literary genius, it won’t be lost to impulsivity or smothered in ketchup because you wrote your brilliance on a hamburger wrapper.
5) Create a Calendar for Everything Else
“Why focus on other stuff besides my writing? That sounds bonkers and makes no sense.” Well, how many times have you not been able to write because it’s garbage day, the sink is full, and you can’t find a clean pair of matching socks to save your life. So you have a choice, have a sane living space or write. Rather than wait for it to be a problem, make a calendar for everyday stuff so you can have time to write rather than pile your writing, then pile on your day-to-day life. Right now, I tackle the following, try it out or adapt as necessary:
Monday – Financial Management & Trash
Tuesday – Kitchen
Wednesday – Bedroom & Laundry (Write while the washer & dryer do their thing)
Thursday – Bathroom
Friday – Kitchen (We cook a lot)
Saturday – Yard & Handy-Man Work
Sunday – Relax & Write More
Spread out your normal life, so you can leave time for the good stuff.
What structure helped you write more? How did structure improve your writing? Chime in with the comments section. The conversation’s always live on Twitter @ThomasAFowler, use the hash-tag #WritersConquest. As always, keep checking my official website for the latest updates. Thanks so much for taking on the Writer’s Conquest.