5 Practical Tips to Take the Suck Out of Writing
Like any job, writing has its logistical and psychological challenges. These don’t have to ruin your experience, though. These are just a handful of tips that can make completing a draft all the easier and more enjoyable.
1. Back your writing up and print it out.
These days, tools like Google Docs mean you can avoid problems like lost or malfunctioning pen drives, overwritten files, etc. Many companies with this type of cloud storage sync after working offline and offer guarantees that protect you if any loss of data is the company’s fault.
But backups still can allow you to share your work with individuals who might not have access to or know how to use those tools. Additionally, publishers and agents still ask for manuscripts attached to emails as Word documents, although this might shift to permissions-based URL linking in the future. Many teams already use this type of linking to collaborate on pieces.
Printed need-only copies also can ease eye strain for beta readers or your own editorial process. Some people genuinely prefer the traditional feel of a red pen against paper as they rework. But by far the biggest reason to print out what you’ve written is software compatibility. The printed page will retain its accessibility for decades or even centuries with no need for updates and isn’t problematic in terms of particular word processing programs/platforms losing favor.
Whether you backup digitally or print out your pages, do it consistently, ideally at the end of every writing session or day.
2. Pay attention to your rhythm.
I’m a huge advocate of scheduling out time every day to complete projects. But if you genuinely can’t focus before noon, don’t try to plunk a writing session on your calendar for 8:00 a.m. under the mistaken impression the early bird is the only one getting any worms.
A well-designed workspace can give your brain a solid signal that, hey, it’s time to get crankin’ on that draft. But sitting at a desk all day takes a physical toll. Set reminders to get up and stretch or take a walk. Let yourself take some of the time you have for writing to go to a park with your laptop, or just let the new environment refresh you so you can come back to the draft with a new perspective and focus. It’s perfectly OK to use voice-to-text tools while on your treadmill, gardening, or putting away your groceries.
4. Ignore the bestseller lists.
Here’s a dirty little secret: Bestsellers often aren’t the greatest writing. Sometimes, they’re just based on a particularly trendy topic, such as political analysis or revelations. What’s more, there’s a lot of controversy about how bestsellers “earn” their spots. The lists are far from accurate and actually are relatively easy to manipulate. If you really want examples of good writing you can use to improve your own approach, word of mouth is the best option. Ask people you know, both online and in person, what they would recommend. You might be surprised at what they put in front of you, and you’ll get exposure to many more styles and voices.
5. Add your personal touches to your writing session.
Maybe it’s having an ice-cold soda next to you as you type. Maybe it’s letting an app mimic the sound of a typewriter as you fly over the keys, or having your favorite fuzzy sweater on. It’s not just about being comfortable or eliminating distractions. It’s about being relaxed and getting in the mindset that you’re not going to judge yourself or what comes out on the page anymore. Items that can remind you of the “why” behind the project, such as a photo of your family or something you want in your life, can be powerful motivators.