Trick Me Into Writing: 5 for Friday - Writer's Digest

Trick Me Into Writing: 5 for Friday

Publish date:
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

Seven Tips for Intuitive Writing: The Heart-Hand Connection

Award-winning author Jill G. Hall shares her top tips for how to dive into your latest project head-first.


Bearing vs. Baring vs. Barring (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use bearing vs. baring vs. barring on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


15 Things a Writer Should Never Do

Former Writer's Digest managing editor Zachary Petit shares his list of 15 things a writer should never do, based on interviews with successful authors as well as his own occasional literary forays and flails.


Evie Green: Imaginary Friends and Allowing Change

Author Evie Green explains why she was surprised to end writing a horror novel and how she learned to trust the editorial process.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.


Lenora Bell: When Fairy Tales Meet Reality TV

Bestselling historical romance author Lenora Bell discusses researching, avoiding info-dumps while still charming readers, and how her latest book was inspired by her life.


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.