Skip to main content

Trick Me Into Writing: 5 for Friday

Image placeholder title

Lately, I’ve had to trick myself into writing. Here are 6 (Okay, I snuck in an extra this week) tricks/methods (suggested by great writers, mentors, professors, & colleagues) that I’ve been using to get started:

1.The longhand trick. Write in a notebook, with a good old pen. Pablo Neruda said, “The typewriter separated me from a deeper intimacy with poetry, and my hand brought me closer to that intimacy again.”

2. Allow yourself to write terribly. Just get it down on the page. Tell yourself I’m just having fun, I’m just free-writing. It doesn’t matter if what I write is any good. I’m just stretching my writing muscles, practicing.“You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts,” said Nikki Giovanni, “because if you write with someone looking over your shoulder, you’ll never write.” 

3.Goals. Set them and stick to them, my professor says.A page a day equals a novel a year.Goals force us to rise up; they make us fight for something. And when we accomplish them, our self esteem is boosted and our artistic faith is renewed. This week my goal was 1,000 words a day. Did I accomplish that goal? Yes. Was every word worth keeping? No way. I may have ended up scrapping half the week’s work, but I believe I wrote more than I would have if I hadn’t set the goal.

4.Read good stuff. I once overheard a writer say, I’m not really a big reader. This blew my mind! Reading and writing go hand in hand. Whenever I read good fiction it completely inspires me. I used to feel intimated and think: Well, I’m never going to be that good, why even bother? I’ve learned this feeling is unproductive. My friend’s brother is a songwriter and when she was struggling with her own writing, he said to her: I look at it aseven the worst songwriter is still a songwriter. We can’t be writers if we don’t write. And we don’t always need to be the best to do what we love.

5.Imitate the good stuff. I often use this method to warm up. Again, back to the notebook where I write a short piece imitating the style of an author I admire. Others recommend literally copying a paragraph you love, word for word, onto the page. This gets the hand moving and it wakes the mind up. It’s about paying attention: you closely witness another writer’s choices as you transcribe the passage. And you learn something you may choose to apply to your own writing.

6.Writing in a café/ bar. Think of Hemingway at Le Deux Maggots or at the Ritz Carlton in Paris. There’s life and noise happening in cafes that feeds our writing. Writing somewhere new also shakes things up and makes things fun. And you feel mysterious and cool when you do this. And people come up to you and say, “What are you working on there?” My novel, you can say. Or, a collection. Then they get really impressed and it makes you feel like you’re doing something important (which you are). It also puts the pressure on: I better not be all talk, I better get down to business and write this thing.

Today I will be using two tricks. I will allow myself to write terribly and I will read good stuff. Currently reading two beautiful story collections: Lydia Peelle’s Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing. And Barb Johnson’s More ofThis World and Maybe Another.

“It is important to try and write when you are in the wrong mood or the weather is wrong.Even if you don’t succeed you’ll be developing a muscle that may do it later on.”

-John Ashbery

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title
Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Michigan Quarterly Review, the flagship literary journal of the University of Michigan.

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between desperate and disparate with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What has made Sherlock Holmes so adaptable and changeable throughout the character’s original inception? Author Timothy Miller explains.

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

When author Diana Giovinazzo found herself caught in the storm of grief, doing what she loved felt insurmountable. Here, she shares how she worked through her grief to find her creativity again.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Our Brand-New Digital Guide, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce our new “Get Published in 2022” digital guide, six new WDU courses, and more!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

The occasional bump in the writing process is normal, but it can be difficult to work through. Here, author Genevieve Essig shares five ways to keep your writing rolling.

From Script

How to Write from a Place of Truth and Desire and Bending the Rules in Screenwriting (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with screenwriter Steven Knight (Spencer), Mike Mills (C'mon C'mon), and David Mitchell (Matrix Resurrection). Plus, how to utilize your vulnerability in your writing and different perspectives on screenwriting structure.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is forgetting to read.

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Sharing even a fraction of our feelings with our characters will help our stories feel more authentic. Here, Kris Spisak explains how to tap into our memories to tell emotional truths on the page.