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101 Tips and Ideas for Writing on the Run

Allen and Linda Anderson, Guest Authors

Part 1 of 4

1.  I Am a Writer. On a piece of paper or in your journal, write: "I am a writer. I write about _____________. My gift to the world is _____________." When you meet the next three new people and they ask what you do, start by saying, "I am a writer." This declaration will help you claim your right to be a writer. Publishing, making money, and being recognized are irrelevant. If you write, you are a writer. Tell the world!

2.  Make Writing a Priority. After you have claimed being a writer, list in your journal five ways you are going to make writing a priority. You are writer. How will you arrange your time and space so you can write?

3.  Schedule Writing Times. Make a list of the writing projects or goals you want to accomplish. Use an appointment book or calendar and make appointments with yourself. Schedule writing into your days and weeks with as much commitment as any appointment you'd make with someone else. Do your best to keep the commitments you make to yourself and to your writing.

4.  Overcome? Overwhelm. Try breaking big projects into smaller, manageable goals. Set up files for the topics of your writing project, so you can start to accumulate ideas, quotes, and reference material. Keep yourself focused and on-task by sharing your small goals with a writing friend via e-mail or telephone. After you have achieved a smaller goal by the deadline you set, reward yourself! If you created files for topics by the end of the week, for example, take time out to visit with a friend at your favorite coffee shop and celebrate. You'll keep yourself motivated by rewarding yourself throughout phases of a big project rather than waiting until you've completed it.

5.  Writing Your Life Away. Living life IS writing. Life supplies your daily writing material. Write as you go. Keep notes. Observe. File your notes by subject. Watch what life is providing you for writing both your planned and unexpected writing projects.

6.  Coauthoring with Your Children. When you tuck your young children into bed, try making up stories for them instead of always reading from other authors' books. Watch your children's reactions to these stories and welcome their suggestions for how to make them evolve. Write drafts of these stories and decide if you want to try to get them published as children's articles or books.

7.  Set the Alarm. Wake up earlier each day to do focused writing. As little as 15 minutes each day gives you almost two more hours of writing time each week.

8.  7 Minute Focused Writing Exercise. Is there a central image, metaphor, or analogy with many facets that you could explore? Write the topic you have chosen at the top of a sheet of paper. Then also write at the top of the paper four strong words that go with this topic. Try to make at least one of your words contrast with the others in tone or focus. Use a timer that doesn't distract you. Set the timer for seven minutes. Use the four words you have chosen to start or keep writing throughout the seven minutes. A very important aspect of this exercise is -- don't lift you pen off the paper. Write until the timer rings even if you are only writing gibberish. Just keep going until new thoughts come. Now look at what you have written. Are you surprised by how much and how well you wrote in only seven minutes?

9.  Catch Your Dreams on Tape.? Keep a tape recorder near your bed to record dreams as they happen during the night or when you first wake up. Often dreams help in developing ideas for articles, stories, and other writing projects.

10.  Dreamcatcher Notebook. Have a notepad and pen on your bed stand to jot down notes from dreams and ideas that come to mind first thing upon awakening.

11.  Let Your Partner Sleep. Have a small flashlight, penlight, or reading lamp near your bed so you can easily write during the night or early morning without disturbing your sleeping partner.

12.  A Question for the Sandman. Prior to going to bed, write a question you have about your writing project. This question may relate to a character, plot point, article theme, or some other creative aspect of your writing. Place the written question under your pillow. This cues your subconscious mind to help you find the answer to your question.

13.  Inspire Yourself to Sleep. Each evening before going to sleep, read an inspiring writing quote or passage from an author you enjoy reading and that you respect. Be inspired as you drift into dreamland.

14.  Make a Writing Space. Have a home writing office, studio, corner of a room, or bookcase shelf ready for you 24-hours a day. If you can't sleep and need to write, go there, close the door, and write. There are no rules on the proper times to write. 2:00 a.m. is a good as 7:00 p.m.

15.  The Value of Assignments. Take writing workshops and classes that assign homework and provide writing exercises for the students. Do the assignments.

16.  Check Out the Quality. There are all sorts of writing classes and workshops. Some are helpful and others may not be as good. Save yourself some time and check with writing friends for their experiences with the instructors and the facilities.

17.  Writer's Group Rhythm. Keep writing by join a writers group or create you own. Meet at least two times each month to stay in a rhythm of writing regularly. At your writers' group, ask others for their ideas on how they make time and space for writing.

18.  Online Writing Communities. Join online writing newsletters and chat groups. Ask others how they are managing to find time for writing.

19.  Writers Write for Each Other. Subscribe to writing magazines and newsletters. Skim them each month, looking for sage advice from others who are achieving their writing goals.

20.  Contest Fever. Enter your article/story/poem/screenplay/stage play into a contest. Contests can be wonderful ways of imposing deadlines on you. And if you win them, you may earn prizes and recognition.

21.  Deadlines Make Writing Come Alive. Create deadlines for yourself. Example: "I will have the first draft of my story completed by Saturday." Or "I will write five pages on Monday and Wednesday of this week." To make this commitment real, tell a friend.

22.  Writing Partners and Dates. Make writing dates with friends. Leave a message that says when and where you'll meet your friend and for how long the two of you will write. Be sure to allow another 15 minutes for a nice chat after you have written together. Tell your writing partner not to let you know if he or she isn't coming to the appointment. Your showing up for a specified writing time is what's important.

23.  Procrastination As Your Writing Friend. Use procrastination as a way to write more. Pick a job you REALLY don't want to do. Since you're probably not going to do it today anyway, bargain with yourself like this: "I won't have to clean the den today if I write three pages."

24.  Sunvisor Notes. Leave a notebook and pen tucked into the sun visor or side pocket of your car to jot down notes at stoplights and stop signs.

25.  A Tape Recorder as Your Passenger. Keep an audiocassette tape recorder on (or under) your front passenger seat in the car for easy access to record ideas when you can do this safely. Transcribe your ideas into a notebook later. Be sure you keep a cassette tape in the recorder at all times.

Part 2next


Copyright © - Allen and Linda Anderson. - Reprinted with permission. Allen and Linda Anderson are authors and inspirational speakers who have been married since 1983. For a free subscription to "Writing on the Run" eZINE offering one quick, practical, inspiring, and creative idea each week to help professional and aspiring writers make time and space for writing, send an e-mail to or visit their Website:


  If you would like to talk one-on-one with Larry James about issues related to this article, you are invited to arrange for a private coaching session by telephone. Go to Author & Speaker Coaching for specific details and fees.

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