Happy Writing

TedTalks seems to be on a roll here at FictionAllDay.

‘The Happy Secret to Better Work’ is a great, light video that is both inspiring and incredibly helpful. Shawn Achor is both charismatic and funny, which makes this 12 minute video seem even shorter.

I’ll bet that we’ve all found it to be true that being happier leads to better work (and better relationships, sleep, etc.). What’s more important to a writer than better work? Shawn has a few tips that help you increase your positivity throughout the day and I personally have been following his advice to write down three things I’m thankful for every day (without ever repeating) for the past two months. I can say for certain that I enjoy the habit and it makes me feel good. As an example, last night I was thankful for hot showers, rain, and fruit.

What are you thankful for?

J.J. Abrams’s Mystery Box

An incredible talk given by one of the greatest story creators / writers in the world today.

I’ll mostly let the talk speak for itself, but what Abrams was speaking about during the first half of this video seemed really important to me. In the first part of this presentation, Abrams retraces his steps to find what really got him into creating stories in the first place – what was really driving him to do all of the things that he was doing. For him it was the undeniable allure of mystery. What is it for each of us? Finding what is most important to us in storytelling – what it is that most inspires us to put words on paper – is really important. It can lead to a self awareness that helps us focus on what we care about the most. And as we all know, working on something that we really care about is what makes work fun and easy instead of boring and difficult, and what makes something good into something great.

Bring it to the Beach?

Bring it to the Beach?

It’s one of those questions that has always split writers in half, and probably always will. Should we bring our writing with us on vacation?

Now before we go any further, I have put in the warning that there are many angles to this answer, and I’m not going to end this with a 100% definitive yes or no.

There are two incredibly common arguments against bringing our writing with us on vacation. Is a vacation really a vacation if we bring our work with us? And, we need that vacation time to unwind and let our creative mind recharge, so is it really a good idea for us to write while we’re away?

But there are good arguments in favor of writing on vacation too. On vacation, we don’t have the everyday worries of running our errands or going to our day job. We’re also in an incredibly relaxed state, and it would do us some good to see what great ideas can spring from our fingers while we sit around relaxing.

I’m sure that just as every writer is different, every person has a different answer to this question. My answer is very simple.

Yes, we should write, but no, it should not have to do with our current project.

Vacation is a perfect time to just let the words come out – write about the beautiful day outside, the reflection we did on the beach that intrigues us, how peaceful and relaxed we feel, what we miss at home, etc. This way we’re still relaxing, and feel like we’re on vacation, but we also aren’t worrying or stressing about our current project. We’re still recharging our creative minds because we put our current project aside, and we also keep our writing skills sharp by continuing to put words on the paper (read: pixels on the screen). And many of us also know that it’s when we’re writing about nothing in particular that we’re struck by our most dynamite ideas (Yes, in this case it is OK to do work on vacation and write down what that dynamite idea is).

In the end, we’re all going to do what we feel like doing when we’re on vacation – isn’t that what a vacation is? But for me, at least, vacation is that time when our subconscious is waiting to toss out something we never would have thought of before.

P.S. Yes, I’m on vacation right now.

Even on Christmas

Even on Christmas

We’ve heard it all before – from books, articles, the words of advice from our friends, and the back of our minds too. *You should be writing every day.* Well for some of us it isn’t that easy. Or is it?

Writing every day can seem like a challenge to us. I know it was a challenge that I didn’t master for years – a challenge that I probably still haven’t mastered. But I have a good 100 day streak going, so I thought it was time for a post.

“Start a blog!” “Write by hand!” “Just one sentence!”
These are the pieces of advice plastered over every inch of writing motivation space in every form of media. “But that won’t work for me,” I always tell myself, “Even if it did, what good does it do?”

Writing every day – even about unimportant things like what a huge ass you friend was being last night – helps spur creativity. It starts good habits, and it gives us ideas we never recognized were good until they formed on the paper (read: screen) in front of us.

A lot of people advocate for blogging – but with blogging there is an inherent need to put our best work forward, and sometimes that can stop us from writing anything at all.

I advocate for a journal. No this doesn’t have to be a dear diary type of journal, just a document you make with the date on the first line of every entry that grows longer as you write each day (if you have scrivener, this works really well because you can make a new entry for every day, and even group them around phases in your life). At the end of the day, even if you haven’t written a single word and have nothing to say, you can open that document and write “Nothing good happened today. I have nothing to say,” and boom, you just wrote something. And even more amazingly that more often than not it turns into, “I have nothing to say. But I wish that ______. Tomorrow I’ll try to _______.” And then your off to the races. Even if it turns into just one paragraph, and that’s all you do every day, that’s 365 paragraphs in a year – probably close to 180 pages. That’s a novella, or half a novel, or just 180 separate pages – any way you look at it, that’s an accomplishment.

So if we’re having trouble writing, we can always write in a journal. Write at least one word in it every day – it’s surprising what that habit can add up to.

Here’s a good article that I read just before I wrote this post:

And if you don’t have a good medium for writing try this:
I don’t personally use it (I use scrivener), but many of my friends do, and they love it.

Happy writing.