Best Writing Advice

by Ethel Lee-Miller

Early in my writing career, Julia Cameron’s morning pages idea inspired me. So that’s how you do it. Get up even earlier than I already did for my teaching job. My kitchen nook was cozy lit by the spring sunrise. I loved writing each day and certainly did more than the recommended three pages a day – for a while. Soon this schedule became a “have to” instead of a “want to.” I abandoned it.

I read about writers who got up at 5:00 a.m. every single day- even weekends and wrote for hours. Sounded like suffering to me.

Here’s my advice that works for me: You don’t really have to write every day to be a “writer.” A daily schedule may not be for you. But you do have to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and get something written.

Part A: Make a large sign with the letters B I C. “Butt In Chair” Tack it up where you’ll see it.

Part B: Commit to a specific schedule for 7 or 10 or 14 days. “I will write five pages every morning.” “I will write every other day for four hours.” Keep a log. There’s nothing like seeing it in “black and white” to keep you honest. If it works, renew your commitment; if not, devise a new one.

I commit to one day a week with my Eastside Writing Room. Writers gather for two hours. No phone, no interruptions, just write. It’s a tiny bit social and a whole lot of writing. I set aside an additional morning each week for creative writing and another afternoon or evening for the business of writing.

About once a month, I find I’ll write for hours every morning for the entire week – because my writing process has me walking around dictating ideas to my phone in the car, or on line at Safeway. After while I just have to sit down and write. I’m a writer.

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