The Writer’s Test Kitchen

pizza-oven

Some things cook, and some things burn.

I don’t know about other writers, but I, for one, am always looking for a better recipe for writing success. Of course, no single recipe is going to work for every writer, and sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error before you find the combination of ingredients that works for you. Thus, the writer’s test kitchen.

Admittedly, we’re all working with a lot of the same ingredients. Twenty-six letters, check. Determination, check. Imagination, check. Mad wordsmithing skills…hopefully. But that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking more about the practical methodologies, strategies, tricks, lies, and motivators we use to get the job done.

This year, as I mentioned previously, I’m working at being more consistent, and less procrastinate-y. (Is that even a word? If not, I’ve just coined it. Feel free to make use of it as you will.) So here are some of the ingredients I’m cooking up in my test kitchen to see what comes out of the oven at the end of the year:

One daily dose of writing at 750words.com. Yes, I’ve experimented with this ingredient before. It’s got a lot going for it: privacy, motivation, cute badges to earn, reminder emails. I think my longest streak prior to this attempt was 46 days, so I’m out to beat that, at least. 46 days is 34,500 words right there, so whether I use it for blogging, fiction, private rants, or stream of consciousness, it’s productive.

Public goals. Yep, I’m telling the world that I’m finishing some stuff this year. This is a good motivator for me, because I really hate to look like a failure. In anything. Ever. (Note that I have not yet said how many things I will finish this year. Because, see previous sentence.)

Treadmill desk. Although I logged a goodly number of miles at the treadmill desk at the beginning of last year, I did fall off (although not literally) as the year progressed. There were many reasons for this, which I will not bore you with here. However, I have found that I am generally highly motivated to keep writing as long as I keep walking, which should prove useful in trying to be more productive. Also, benefits health-and-weight-wise.

Storylines. Nothing helps me wrangle a manuscript into shape better than doing an index card layout in Writer’s Cafe Storylines. I can visualize the entire story arc, see where characters appear, note the flow of plots and subplots, and insert revision notes exactly where they have to go.

Nirvana app. This little online beauty is great at helping keep goals, lists, and next actions organized and focused. It works on the Getting Things Done principle, and I started using it partway through 2013 with pretty decent success. I’m hoping it will help me stay organized, focused, and also keep me from getting bogged down in those not-writing things.

Evernote. Invaluable for storing notes, ideas, lists, and everything else I will need to keep organized. I use it in conjunction with Nirvava because I like to use Nirvana for time-sensitive things, but Evernote is for, well, everything.

A batch of unfinished manuscripts. Of course, a core ingredient if this is to be the Year of Finishing. I’ll have to vet, assess, and categorize these right off the bat, to see how they might each fit into the yearly plan. For this, I’ll likely use Evernote.

Add all ingredients, mix well, and bake in a consistently hot oven for a year. We’ll see what tasty treats emerge at the end.

Photo credit: Lotus Head

 


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