Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What Keeps You from Writing?

Mari L Barnes
Me, I have a list.
I have yet to develop the all-important writing habit. I don’t write regularly. Even after six books, I don’t write with commitment. I am distracted by the minutiae of my entire life, presented here in no particular order of importance.
1.  The Pit. That’s the day job.
2.  Housework/ Yard Work. I can actually hear the dishes crying out from the sink. And flowers being strangled by weeds.
3.  Exercise. There goes 30-90 minutes.
4.  Volunteering. Anything from talking to a group to pulling weeds at the arboretum.
5.  The Computer. This includes the publishing business, email, the social media abyss, shopping, researching, etc.
6.  Reading. That’s why we become writers in the first place, isn’t it?
7.  Television. Way too much television.

There are other things in my life—family, friends, forays into the outside world—but nothing fills the overflowing cup of my days like the Big 7.
Recognize anything?
Here’s how we’re going to take on the Goliaths that are standing in the way of our literary genius:
1.  Life gets in the way.
a.  One of the perks of being an adult is that sometimes we get to be the boss of ourselves.
b.  We’re going to give ourselves permission to do something that is important to us.
2.  We don’t believe we have enough time.
a.  Starting today, we will schedule our writing if we can.
b.  Choose your best time: before everyone else gets up, once everyone else is asleep, on your lunch break, while waiting to pick the kids up from school.
c.  We will write in opportunistic spurts if we can’t schedule writing time. Fifteen minutes at a time is better than nothing. Don’t scoff: Lynn Chandler Willis helps her family with her nine grandchildren. She writes when toddlers are napping, everyone is on their favorite playground equipment and while sitting in the carpool lane, waiting for the older kids to get out of school. Her latest release, Wink of an Eye, was chosen as the winner of the 2013 Minotaur Books/Private Eye Writers of America Best First PI Novel Competition. She was the first woman in 10 years to win the contest.
3.  We don’t believe we have enough talent.
a.  Steven King’s first words as a child weren’t the opening sentence in The Stand. We LEARN to write by writing badly and then a bit better and then better still.
b.  Let’s give ourselves permission to write bad first drafts. We’ll think of them as our practice drafts.
c.  We’ll take breaks and reward ourselves. Write for 20 minutes, have a walk around the block or a cookie, and get back to work.
d.  Establish some rituals. Let’s respect our writing by giving it what it needs to flow. Try writing in the same place, at the same time each day, having things organized the way you like them, always using the blue pen—you’ll figure out what works for you. I have a cup of tea and put on my “Writer Working” hat.
e.  Remember, “Every artist was first an amateur.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
4.  We don’t think we have anything profound to say.
a.  Your life, perspective and experiences are unique enough to be of interest to some and universal enough to resonate with many.
b.  Every novel doesn’t have to be War and Peace. There’s plenty of room for Bridget Jones’ Diary, Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Any Color.

5.           We don’t know how to get started.
a.  Sit down.
b.  Pick up a pen or put your fingers on the keyboard.
c.  Write one sentence. Write one more.
Mari L Barnes writes for children under the pen name of Mari Lumpkin and for adults as ML Barnes. Her books, Parting River Jordan and Crossing River Jordan are proof that church can be funny. Mari’s company, Flying Turtle Publishing, specializes in books that families can share.
She is a member of the Highland Writers Group as well as being a member and serving on the board of the Indiana Writers Consortium. Mari is creating a workbook, Life Authors: It’s Your Story, to help people jumpstart writing their life stories. More information is coming soon to

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