Hello, folks! Today I am featuring Nathan Peterson, a comic book author! I’m really excited to share a guest post he wrote for us about writing habits and more. Kick back, relax, and enjoy.
Oh! But before you kick back… I have big news. My bestselling series, The Infidel Books, is getting a face lift. If you’d like to join the cover reveal for books 1 and 2 (The Divided Nation and The Grim Alliance), you can do so here. Cover reveal sign ups for book 3, The Mercenary’s Deception that releases this July, are coming soon. Don’t miss out. These covers almost made me cry…
Back to the post!
WRITING YOUR GOALS
by NATHAN PETERSON
1 Tip to Help Jumpstart Good Writing Habits
The sunshine’s bright and warm. The birdsong is steady and cheerful. It’s definitely shorts weather. People shoot past your window on their bikes, filling the air with laughter.
You have two choices. You could work on your book, or you could do literally anything else (within reason). You could do your budget, take the kids to the park, grill out, or even put your horse in the bathtub, unless you’re in South Carolina.
If you’ve ever tried writing a novel or done any other creative project, you already know the struggle I’m talking about. There’s just something about the idea of sitting down in front of a laptop or notebook that feels so . . . exhausting. Just thinking about it makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and binge-watch a season of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
And yet, I call myself a writer. I like to think I’m creative and that I generally enjoy it. It’s weird and confusing.
For a long, long time, I let all those conflicting emotions hold me back. If I was lucky, I’d work on my book once a week. When my job as a teacher got busy (pretty much the whole school year), my novel sat and sat, gathering dust in notebooks. But even when I switched careers and had more free time, I still didn’t feel like writing often. So I didn’t.
That is until I learned about this one trick that helped jumpstart my writing habits: timers. I know, it sounds too simple, too easy. And maybe that’s why it worked for me.
A friend shared an email from Daphne Grant, a seasoned writing coach. In it, she recommended setting up a daily rhythm of writing. You just set a really short timer (I think I started with 10 minutes, but do whatever seems manageable) and just write.
It doesn’t matter how clunky the sentences are. It doesn’t matter how much of an impostor or failure you feel at that moment (I think almost all writers struggle with impostor syndrome at least to some degree). Just write. When the timer’s done, you move on with your life, whether that’s putting the kids to bed or finishing bathing your horse.
If you’re super busy, feel free to stop reading and start writing even now! But here are some useful caveats:
Ignore Your Inner Critic
When I first started trying this timer technique, it wasn’t easy. “This story’s awful. Just give up. Go watch a movie.” All those objections and more crowded my head. Following Daphne’s advice, I did my best to just plow through and keep writing. It still wasn’t easy. But it did get easier.
And it taught me something really invaluable: no matter how hard you try, your first draft is not going to be perfect, honestly probably not even good (at least mine aren’t). Ultimately, what distinguishes seasoned writers from others is tenacity and revisions. It may be cliche, but writing really is about revision. Making this character a little funnier. Making this scene a little more intense. Bit by bit. And during revisions, your inner critic can have a heyday pointing out your flaws but also identifying how to make them better.
Increase the Timer Slowly
After a while, writing just for 10 minutes a day didn’t seem like enough. I wanted to finish my book this century, after all. So I started increasing the timer’s duration slowly. Ultimately, I’ve worked myself up to 45 minutes per session most nights after work.
Do what’s manageable for you based on how much free time you have. But DON’T jump into the deep end, setting a timer for an hour when you first start out. It won’t end well, more than likely. Just like working out, you need to build your writing muscles and stamina slowly. This gradual approach will be a lot more enjoyable instead of just plowing through. After all, we’re in this for the long-term, trying to set healthy writing habits, not writing a final exam paper the night before!
Rest & Balance
As much as I wanted to finish my book, I began to realize that I couldn’t write everyday. Or maybe more accurately, I shouldn’t. Like most things, establishing healthy rhythms of rest and work and seeking moderation in all things is best. When I don’t do this, too often writing becomes a chore and drudgery. And who wants to see their gift and passion turned into misery? Been there, done that. Got a T-shirt. And I don’t wanna go back.
Even if you’re not aspiring to write a novel, I encourage you to give this a try with any creative project. (I’ve had pretty good success with it when it comes to drawing for a comic book series I started last year.) Generally, what ends up happening is I set the timer, not really feeling like writing or drawing, but by the time it goes off, I completely got sucked into the project. That’s what we’re aiming for!
The best part about this tip is that you can have your cake/pie/cookies/[insert favorite dessert] and eat it too. When the sun’s shining, the birds are chirping, and the weather is literally perfect, you can just set your writing timer, bust out some amazing paragraphs, and then beep, beep, beep, you’re done writing for the day and can get out there and enjoy the awesome weather!
Nathan Peterson has been an aspiring novelist and artist since childhood. Growing up with a passion for all things Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, it’s no surprise he loves weaving sci-fi, fantasy, and real life into his projects. You can learn more about his and his friend’s comic books series, Vidar & Hans, highlighting the antics and adventures of a Viking and troll aspiring to be superheroes at vidarandhans.wordpress.com.
What an epic post, right? Personally, unless I’m in the middle of a launch, I *must* write everyday! What’s a habit you keep at? Do you write daily or no? Drop your hints and tips below!
Thanks again, Nathan, for being on the blog!