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I totally agree with this post, because even on days when I am not specifically writing word count, I am still scanning the world for writing fodder. In London, everything seems to inspire me! Today, guest blogger Midge Raymond has some common sense suggestions that will keep you alert and on the lookout for ideas every day.
As writers, we’re told that in order to succeed, we must write every day—but of course, this isn’t realistic or feasible for most of us; we have families, day jobs, and other responsibilities that can get in the way of a daily writing practice.
As an author with a busy schedule, I’ve found that it’s not necessary to write every single day—but what is necessary is to think like a writer every day: to open our eyes and ears just a little wider than the next person, to take in everything happening in the world around us, including in our own inner worlds, all of which provides the richest material we’ll ever need.
Here are a few tips—with corresponding writing prompts—to help you train to be an Everyday Writer…even when you don’t have a lot of writing time at hand.
(1) Open your eyes
So often in our everyday lives we find ourselves occupied with our cell phones when we could be observing what’s happening around us. Do your writer-self a favor, and keep the cell phone tucked away: Look around instead.
PROMPT: Next time you’re in line somewhere (the grocery store, the post office, wherever), look around you. Choose a nearby person and write a character sketch based on this person (if you’re not able to write in the moment, take mental notes and jot them down as soon as you’re able).
(2) Open your ears
We often shut out the world around us (and often it’s necessary), but in doing so we also risk missing some interesting tidbits of life. Make a point of opening your ears to what’s going on around you—and use it to launch a new piece of writing.
PROMPT: As with the prompt above, the next time you’re in line somewhere—or waiting for the doctor or dentist—listen to the conversations going on around you. Choose a snippet of dialogue and write it down, turning it over to your own imagination (again, if you’re not able to write in the moment, take mental notes and jot them down as soon as you can).
(3) Open your notebook
Always, always carry a small notebook (if necessary, you can use your phone—just don’t succumb to email or Facebook!) and write down anything and everything you find interesting.
PROMPT: Write down the last interesting thing you overheard. Use this to launch into a new scene or a conversation between two characters.
(4) Open your mind
From the hard work to the rejections to the inevitable self-doubt, being a writer has its challenges. And when the going gets tough, the tough start daydreaming. Sometimes just imagining the finish line can be enough to get us there: Envision it, and it will happen.
PROMPT: Write a review for your work-in-progress—a glowing review, exactly as you’d like the piece to be and exactly as you’d like it to be received. Turn to this as you write (to stay on track) and especially when you haven’t been writing (to inspire you to write).
(5) Open your arms
Part of being a writer means accepting we can’t do everything. Embrace the lovely chaos of your life and remember that this is what brings you all your best material.
PROMPT: Write down one thing you’d like to accomplish with your writing project this week (or even this month, if you’re exceptionally busy). Check in with yourself at the end of the week/month, and see how you did. If it didn’t work out as you’d hoped, revise accordingly. If all went well, create the next goal and go from there.
How are you an every day writer? Please leave your comments below to help inspire others.
About the Author
Midge Raymond is the author of Everyday Writing: Tips and Prompts to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life and the story collection Forgetting English, which received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times magazine, and many other publications and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Visit www.MidgeRaymond.com for more information and to subscribe to her free email newsletter for writers.