Creating Your Writing Habits - The Writers Hour - Creative Conversations with Janine Bolon

Janine Bolon – Creating Your Writing Habit8 min read

Janine Bolon: Welcome to the Writers Hour Creative Conversations. I am Janine Bolon, and today I want to discuss with you how to go about creating your writing habit. There are so many different ways of writing but some people get really wrapped up in, “How should I write? What should I write?” And they eventually just spin their wheels and they really do not engage any one aspect. So let us talk about a few of the stereotypes that stand out. First of all, let us dispel the stereotype of, “You need hours and hours of solitude in a cabin in the woods and that is the only place that you can possibly write.” This we need to dispel right off the bat. For some reason with Hollywood or wherever it seems that writers have to be in cabins alone in the woods before they can create that fabulous American novel. Okay? Just wanted to let you know that I have written so many books in absolute chaos as far as my life is concerned, where I was only having anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes at a time that I could write and I was able to get whole books done even with that process, and I am not the only one.

Janine Bolon: When you really start engaging with the writing community, writers from all walks of life start emerging and sharing with you how they wrote a book in a weekend. One person talked about how they wrote a book over the course of 10 years. Now that may not– You may not have that sort of discipline. But what I wanted to let you know is that if there is a way to go about writing a book even if you write the book on your bus ride to work every day, I have seen authors do just that. So basically, it comes down to this simple fact, you need to give yourself permission to write your book. Now there have been some things that I have heard from various authors about “Well, I can not do that it is too selfish”, “I can not do that because I can never find time alone”, “I can not do that because it is really not as necessary as making money”. And so I just wanted to share with you that if you have a story, and I know you do, if you have a story even if it is your own life, it is worth writing about. There is someone on this planet that needs to hear the life lessons that you have learned, and yes, they are important. Right now we have eight billion people on this planet and I can assure you that the lessons that you have learned in life are going to be appealing and need to be heard or read by somebody on this planet. So I would like you to stop the head trash that keeps you from allowing your words to flow, okay?

Janine Bolon: So let us talk about this habit of writing. When is the best time to write? Are you an early bird, a night owl, or are you both? Just wanted to let you know that the best way to start writing is to just do that. Set up a schedule for yourself and work within your own biorhythms. I would like to say play, play with your own biorhythms. Meaning, I am an early bird. I get up anywhere from 3:00 to 4:30 a.m. and I write until my job starts at 6:30 in the morning. So at 6:30, that is when I start work, and so I write a couple of hours before that. There are some people that I talk to on Facebook at 3:30 in the morning who are just getting ready to go to bed. I am waking up and I will say hi to those writers. So I encourage you to whatever your schedule is, take time to write and you do not need hours and hours, start with only 20 minutes, take the first 20 minutes and just write. And a lot of times that writing is going to be absolute garbage. Do not worry about it. You may even say things like, “Janine I am staring at the blank page. I do not even know where to begin,” and I am like, “start with stream of consciousness writing.” This was a trick I learned from Stephen King. I was able to have an opportunity to chat with– not that chat with him personally, but listen to him chat to other writers, and what was fascinating at that particular symposium was he talked about sometimes he just writes on the page whatever is going through his head which is a grocery list or whatever. Sometimes, I have absolutely no idea what to write when I come to to the white page on my desktop and I will just start writing “Mary has a little lamb, her fleece is white as snow, everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go,” and then I just write from there. “This is stupid, I have nothing to write today, I do not know why I am sitting here.” I will actually write that kind of garbage on the page. And before you know it whatever log jam was in my brain clears and all of a sudden I have words that start to flow that are in the direction. I want to go for that day’s writing.

Janine Bolon: It is very important that you give yourself a chance to just take the time to write, so set your timer for 20 minutes and write for that 20 minutes. I highly recommend that you set it up on your calendar, and you make this an appointment with yourself, that is non-negotiable. You will write that day. You do not procrastinate, you just sit down and write. What you have to say matters. And one of the aspects about writing that few people really talk about is this is the one time during the day that you are going to be able to say a full sentence and not be interrupted. As a mother of four young children when I was first learning my habit of writing, it was fascinating to me how much joy I got from it because I could get a complete thought out, I could write total sentences, paragraphs even, and never be interrupted. This was such a joy for me that I kept up the Habit even though now my children are all over the age of 18. So when you are first starting on your writing habit, realize there is going to be so many positive aspects, but they are solitary joys, and that is writing is a solitary business, but that does not mean that you are physically in solitude. You may be surrounded by a busload of people as you are sitting there working on an adventure story on your laptop. It does not matter what you are writing on or how you are writing. What is important is the act itself. It is a form of self-expression that brings with it its own pleasure, its own joys, its own frustrations. So I recommend that you find a writing group. Why? Because it is helpful to have a buddy, somebody you can hold yourself accountable to, and that you meet with them once every two weeks, once a week, you decide the pacing. But find yourself a buddy so that they are there so that they can help you when you are struggling. Let them know when you are struggling and they will be there to assist you with that.

Janine Bolon: It also is wonderful to have a writing group so that you can phone a friend or get on a Zoom call and just discuss what you are struggling with and they can help you get through whatever writing block you may have at the time. I know some people say they never have a writer’s block and I like to shake[?] can you join my writing group? Because we would love to have somebody like you in our group. But I encourage you to find a writing group of some kind, meet up is fantastic place or several groups on Facebook, and I also have my own writers group. If you go to my website I have a writers group where we have a goal of writing a single book every year, and we have several of our authors on that path. Several of our authors are just learning the habit of writing and they meet with us and we encourage them and move them along, and let them know they are on the right path. We meet twice a month. And so if you are interested in joining us go to my website and we would love to have you with us.

So, this is Janine Bolon with the Writers Hour Creative Conversation. Hoping that you will create for yourself a writing habit. As a form of self-expression that actually will serve the greater good, the greater community that you are a part of because I know that there is somebody on this planet that is really interested in hearing your life story. Have a great day, and we will see you soon.