By Ottavia Paluch
When news broke out about the fire that was rapidly spreading through the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, I was shocked, in disarray. A centuries-old landmark had been destroyed. A quick Google search tells you that it’s 850 years old. Construction began in 1163 and it took nearly 200 years to complete. Victor Hugo immortalized it in his novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. It’s a site (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, too) that’s full of meaning to Paris locals and the people of France. It survived the French Revolution and both World Wars. It’s a place of worship for not just Catholics, but also for historians, studiers of art and admirers of architecture.
Which is why, as the cathedral burned, Twitter lit up, and tweets from all over the world, some of hope, others of sadness, flooded in. Pictures of those close to the scene, their faces lit up with horror. Videos of them singing hymns. Pictures of the inside of the cathedral, and what remained of it. Videos, and heartbreaking ones at that, of the spire falling.
I texted a friend of mine I found online, another teenage writer from France—just not from Paris. We discussed the situation, and she explained that its burning might’ve been linked to renovations that were going on. She didn’t feel as attached to it as those who lived closer to it were, but it was still a national symbol of pride for her country. The two of us decided we’d write about it. I wrote a poem that at first was RAW and full of TEENAGE EMOTIONS and went through a number of drafts before I was satisfied with it. I felt more empathetic at the end, like I felt the pain of the French.
It was evident that the event had great poetry potential, because so much symbolism was attached to it. The fire broke out during Holy Week, the most sacred time for Christians. It came as the Catholic Church has been submerged in controversy over the abuse of children, while France has dealt with a series of terror attacks that left the nation bruised, scarred, and seeking desperately for some light to brighten the sky, the Champs-Élysées, the triangles of the Eiffel Tower. But not like this. For this, il n’y avait pas des mots.
Late in the middle of the Parisian night, French firefighters held a press conference announcing that Notre-Dame’s famous spire and roof collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, were saved. There was relief that the whole thing hadn’t collapsed. Plenty was lost: the roof, the steeple, the spire. Yet treasured Catholic artifacts were revealed to have been saved. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, was in charge of recognizing the emotions that the people of France were feeling. Hell, the world; even the Pope called him. On national television, Macron stated that he’d like to have the gothic building rebuilt in five years. Experts stated that to restore the cathedral both inside and out to the point where you couldn’t distinguish it from how it looked before the fire would be extremely difficult. Maybe it was an act of urgency coming from Macron, a matter of him trying to get on top of the issue, trying to keep his people at ease with what had happened.
I’d check TripAdvisor and see how many were adding to the collection of reviews. A message from the company itself had been added, and said that because of how much has been destroyed, the cathedral will be closed until further notice, which is why tours listed won’t include details about or pictures of the inside of the cathedral. Reviews were pouring in with messages from tourists detailing their experience visiting the cathedral mere days, even hours before the fire. There was also plenty from those who came after the building was closed off, mentioning how thousands of people were surrounding it, mourning its’ partial loss and hoping it’d be rebuilt. One said that even from far away, you could still see the cathedral and smell the burned wood.
At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow this?
And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow this?
Soon after, perhaps even immediately after it was confirmed that the fire had been completely extinguished, a whole other side to the story rose out of the ashes of Notre-Dame. There were reports surfacing of celebrities—and that’s putting it lightly, because they were billionaires—donating hundreds of millions to the rebuilding of the cathedral. It wasn’t long until the money pledged toppled one billion dollars. Billion, with a B. Take for instance, how billionaire Bernard Arnault's family said that they would donate $226 million. Or that the head of a company that owns brands like Gucci vowed to donate $113 million. It was as if the French elite had come together to save something that had meant so much to them, and their donations made sense because of this. Yet the money was raised so quickly, almost like it had appeared out of thin air.
It made you think. Essentially a billion dollars was raised in less than 24 hours for a place of worship in one of the richest areas in the world. What about Flint, Michigan, still on the edge, whose residents are reeling after five years, who are still skeptical when it comes to their town having clean water? That story has mostly fallen from the news cycle. Surely, for much less money, their problem could be fixed.
Notre-Dame was a fixture in the news for a solid week. When other places of worship that had dealt with destruction around the same time made the news, you felt as if their story would’ve been more prominent had it not been for Quasimodo. Historic black churches and Islamic mosques have been burned and destroyed. But, they may have been ignored more than they already were if it weren’t for Notre-Dame bringing their personal disaster to light, which led to a huge increase in donations from the public that will go towards refurbishing. It’s good to know that these places of worship, too, can still have a raison d’etre to call their own.
And you sit and wonder, why? Is Notre-Dame still worth visiting? The answer depends. In a sense, we teenagers are lucky, because we will be witnessing the story of its recovery. It still stands. There’s a reason why people rushed toward it before the fire, (and why they probably will for the next few years during its restoration) to leave their prayer there. They want their faith to be restored.
Events like these are what we spend what seems like forever trying to comprehend, grasp, make sense of. Events like these are drenched in real-life symbolism, have real-life implications, and give meaning, both good and bad, to real life. It’s no wonder why we find ourselves by the blank page in these times, after these events, trying to make sense of it all, knowing that we most likely never will.
Songs for driving along pine-studded country lanes, songs for open skies and pickup trucks, songs for lovers of old town roads, curated by our blog correspondent Cate. Listen on our Spotify here, or see the track listing below:
Remedy by the Zac Brown Band
Not Giving In by Tom Walker
Old Town Road - Remix by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
Power Over Me by Dermot Kennedy
Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
Howlin’ For You by The Black Keys
Trouble by Valerie Broussard
Life in Technicolor ii by Coldplay
I Of The Storm by Of Monsters and Men
Alright by Darius Rucker
Dig into the heart of spring with these both modern & classic songs by female solo artists and bands led by women, curated by our blog correspondent Ottavia. Listen on our Spotify here, or see the track listing below:
Green Light by Lorde
Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers
Gold Guns Girls by Metric
Holy by PVRIS
Stray by Grace VanderWaal
No Below by Speedy Ortiz
The Power of Love - Radio Edit by Céline Dion
Dreams Tonite by Alvvays
Criminal by Fiona Apple
Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Nobody by Mitski
The Story by Brandi Carlile
By Ottavia Paluch
Here at BWO, we talk a lot about finding time to write even when you have a lot on your plate. A few weeks ago, I decided I would challenge myself to do just that. The task at hand: to write seven sonnets in seven days.
I bet you’re already fearing for my safety. Why sonnets, you might be asking yourself. I wonder if she failed on day two. You’re going to have to read on to find out if I prevailed or not, but first, I’ll briefly answer your other looming questions.
I wanted to stick to some kind of poetic form that was short enough to write sometime during my day, but also hard enough so that finishing it would be rewarding. Haikus were too short, and villanelles? I didn’t feel like rhyming, and it seemed complicated. Sonnets were only fourteen lines long—the perfect length. I decided I would stick to ten syllables per line, as per Shakespearean rules, as I had never paid attention to them in my work.
I’m going to outline how my writing went day-by-day, and at the end of each summary, I’ll rate how difficult it was for me to write the poem and find space to write it out of ten.
The day I decide to test myself is also the day I begin writing these sonnets. It’s a Sunday. You’ll notice most were inspired by a lyric from a song, or a quote from an article/interview, or a line that (almost by magic) popped into my head—something that caught my eye and inspired me to put something down. It’s my “process” at this point in my non-existent career as a writer. In class that day we started our unit on optics and mirrors and light. I write a sonnet about mirrors and light.
Difficulty: 6/10. Setting that syllables limit made it fun! What’s more, I wrote it on a whim fifteen minutes before I left for bed, if that tells you anything about me.
It’s my first day of five where school plays a part in how much sonneting (yes, I just invented that word) I get done, and if/when I can find time to write it. Today, I get halfway through my science homework before thinking, “Why not write another sonnet?” Then I waste half an hour looking through a collection of half-finished poems and nearly-discarded couplets and other works in progress that I shoved into a folder on my Notes app. One of the older ones is from half a year ago. I remember writing it and feeling unsatisfied with it, so I put it away, believing it would never see the light of day.
Difficulty: 5/10. This is the part where I stress the importance of keeping all your old WIPs. KEEP THEM! As embarrassing as they are, you might want to take a look at them when you’re creatively blocked. It came in handy today, as I had a good chunk of the poem already finished for me, so it was just a matter of making sure I followed the syllables rule and tied it all together in the last couple lines.
It’s a Tuesday. On the bus ride to school in the morning, I type out precisely one (1) line in my Notes app on my phone.
Later in the evening, I decide to make things interesting and start and end my next sonnet with that line. But I was still missing twelve lines—85 percent—of the sonnet and find myself unable to think of anything else. I finish up my homework and on returning to the poem, I put a song on about love—or twelve, to be exact, and then BOOM! Something just happens, and words slowly trickle out, and I manage to crank something out, determined to follow through with this challenge.
Difficulty: 8.5/10. As you can tell, this one was the most difficult out of the seven to write.
An Aside from Yours Truly: Over said spring break I decided to submit a couple of these sonnets to a small sampling of literary journals and the one I wrote on this day was accepted not too long ago. Wild. It wasn’t even my favourite out of the seven. Sometimes stuff like this challenge pays off! (I sent them out on a whim, even though I was planning on shoving them in a drawer to collect dust. I would recommend you do the same if you’re planning to try this challenge yourself and look over them later.)
It’s a Wednesday. I have a hectic day in class and at home, and by the time I get a chance to rest, I have half an hour before I have to head to bed. I check my Notes app and find a lyric from a song that caught my eye. (Sadly, I don’t remember who said it. Maybe it was from a Fiona Apple song, but you’ll have to consult my not-so-helpful brain if you want confirmation.) Whatever song it was, I put it on loop and wrote till I couldn’t due to sleep.
Difficulty: 7/10. The syllables limit makes things tougher, doesn’t it?
It’s a Thursday and guess what? I HAVE TWO TESTS TOMORROW AHHH HELP.
Mind you, when I wrote these sonnets, it was the last week before spring break, so I’m sure school was as hectic for you as it was for me with all your teachers trying to squeeze things in just before the break and also in time for midterms and whatnot. Yet one thing I can’t squeeze in was a sonnet. I head to bed angry.
Difficulty: 10/10. Because I couldn’t and didn’t.
My last day of schooling before the break. The tests go well. I come home jubilant—school’s out. My stress disappears in a flash. I bash out a sonnet in fifteen minutes, one with an optimistic ending, just because.
Then it comes to my attention that I didn’t write a sonnet the night before. But it’s no big deal, because I have become more laid back than usual. I read a couple chapters of a novel and then write another one—in an old notebook I used for writing awful rhyming poems when I was twelve—that involves musical terms and lines I never knew would work together.
Difficulty: 4/10.I manage to craft two sonnets I’m proud of—one being my favourite out of the bunch.
As I reach the final day, I’m inherently proud of myself for succeeding. I came in thinking I’d give up after the second day and came out a better writer. The last sonnet I write is inspired by a poem I read at eleven A.M., a few minutes after I wake up.
Difficulty: 4/10. I had all day to write this one. Thank goodness for spring break.
By Cate Pitterle
Every profession has its resources—journalists have contacts, lawyers have case files, doctors have… WebMD?—and writers are no different. We trawl the web, getting caught up in hours and hours of winding, circular research. Wikipedia takes us to obscure websites to the search engine and back again. That’s why I’ve been compiling lists of writing resources that have been helpful to me and others I know. Though there’s no exhaustive list of resources or a completely efficient research method, these websites, books, and podcasts might help make your process a little easier. You might still find yourself trudging through search engine waves, but hopefully these places will help you push back the tide. Happy researching!
Writer’s Digest - A go-to site for any and all writing problems, tips, and questions.
Indifferent Languages - A translator site that translates English words and phrases into those of over 80 other languages. Good for historical fiction, naming characters or places, or perhaps creating a fantasy language of your own.
Office Timeline - If you’re writing a longer piece and aren’t sure what happens when, this site is a good place to start. Organize your events into graphs based on when they start and how long they last for.
Inkarnate - Writing a fantasy? You’ve come to the right place. Inkarnate is some great free software with which you can build detailed fantasy maps, no prior skill needed.
Of course, there’s also the universal writer problem of naming your characters. Here are a few websites that have helped me find names in the past:
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King is such a well-known writing book, it might as well be Jane Eyre. A great place to start for any writer.
Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee talks specifically about writing creative nonfiction, but the advice is priceless for writers of any genre.
The Word-Loss Diet by Rayne Hall probably isn’t for writers tackling a first draft, but it’s certainly for any trying to edit one. A book about focusing and condensing your writing to make it as powerful as possible.
Lore explains the origins of folklores and fairy tales with a darker twist. A possibility for any writers looking for inspiration or for a fairy tale to retell.
I Should be Writing with Six Wakes author Mur Lafferty provides writer interviews and how-tos for authors everywhere.
Stuff You Should Know covers topics ranging from Elvis to desert survival, making it a great place to go for both inspiration and research.
Stuff You Missed in History Class, another source for research and inspiration, covers obscure, interesting stories that you probably didn’t read about in your textbooks.
Throughline, one of my favorite podcasts, seeks to explain current events by showing how past events have led to the current situation. If you’re a historical fiction writer, this is the place for you.
By Ottavia Paluch
(I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m a big music fan. I will also preface this by saying that I tend to lean towards the genre of old-but-not-really rock/alternative/indie music. The examples I list below are reflective of my tastes. Okay? Okay.)
I’m sure we can all agree that music can act as many things: a universal language, a connection to the rest of the world, an aide to help you focus, an aide to help you have a good time, an aide to the creative process, and that it also exists to help Ottavia Paluch make good playlists. The last one was a joke, but I think I’ve made my point clear: music is very useful.
So how do we writers utilize it to help us, well, write? I’ll tell you what I’ve done.
As I neared completion of my first almost-novel a few years back, I had a song to accompany each one of my chapters. In case it never got optioned for film, this was the closest thing to a movie soundtrack I could possibly get. Every scene had a song, and as I visualized them in my head, the songs gave the scenes more life. All the sadder scenes had Radiohead, and the ones that were infused with love got Radiohead, and so on. (A majority of it was Radiohead, really.)
But what if you’re just in the middle of your novel-in-progress and don’t know how to start your next chapter? Maybe you need to set the scene in your mind. Close your eyes and try to hear what you think you should be playing as your scene moves along. What do you hear? Cinematic swells? It could be anything. It all relies on you and your imagination. Say you’re writing an action-packed chapter with blood and guts and death. Perhaps you might want to set the mood with an almost-prog-rock song or album to put in heavy rotation. You could use a “You dumped me, and now I hate you” song for when your main character is shrugging off a breakup. During a scene where your main character gets discouraged, you can fit two songs in one scene, if that’s what works for you; one with a slower tempo, and one that’s more upbeat and happier, a sort of pick-me-up song. You’re a teen, and this is your book, hence why you should know that your choices are endless as to where you want to take your story with regards to audio, and that there are no wrong answers.
What about using music to help us focus while we’re writing? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but classical music most likely will do the trick. Many studies have shown that listening to classical music improves a lot of things. But when it comes to its effects on us writers, it proves to be a very valuable asset. We all have the days where we need to get our creative juices flowing, so it’s good to know that Bach or Beethoven or Mozart or Vivaldi or *insert any composer you can think of* will help you out. While listening to classical music won’t instantly make you creative, it might make you think outside the box, and it will help you get into a much more creative mindset than just listening to silence. Here’s a tip—does listening to classical renditions of your favourite songs strike you as intriguing? Take a look at the Vitamin String Quartet, who do lovely versions of many, many songs by many, many different artists, covering everyone from Sam Smith to The Beatles.
This applies to other types or genres of music that might help you get into the writing zone when you’re stuck, too. I’ll give a few more examples. Listening to the sounds of nature can enhance cognitive function and concentration. You might need soothing sounds—flowing water, rustling leaves, for instance—to work and write well. Babbling brooks and waves crashing are my best friend when I’m not writing, like when I’m stressed out and need a moment to relax.
Music from video games is a great choice, and a more popular one at that, thanks to the popularity of video games. This genre is specifically designed to enhance your gaming experience: to help you dodge bullets or skillfully maneuver your way through enemies.
You can also give ambient music a try. As Brian Eno, a producer on many of U2’s (a band that I love, by the way) albums and creator of Music for Airports, once said, “Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” Ambient music is effective for those difficult scenes in your stories; the ones that take up more space in your Word document, the ones that require more detail than usual. Listening to ambient music helps to ensure that I can push through my work and stay (mostly) sane in the process of finishing it.
When finding your voice while writing, you have to experiment to see what works. The same goes for listening to music that pairs with your writing. Soft and mellow songs have often been the inspiration for many of my poems. Flatsound, Sufjan Stevens, and Elliot Smith are all artists that make beautiful songs in this style, and ones that I love. Your favourite playlist containing all the songs you love, full of mainly high energy songs, can keep you motivated, and it’s especially helpful to me when it's late at night and I need an energy boost to keep working on a project. However, I would use it in moderation—often, you catch yourself singing along to the words, and even writing the lyrics of the song down instead of what you were planning to write down! And there are also times when silence is golden. Whatever song you need to hear, though, blast it through your headphones until words arrive on that blank page.
Songs for when you want Valentine’s Day to last longer than just a day, curated by our blog correspondent Ottavia. Listen on our Spotify here, or see the track listing below:
Lovers in Japan - Osaka Sun Mix by Coldplay
Friday I’m In Love by The Cure
She Loves You - Mono / Remastered by The Beatles
Lovesong by The Cure
Sea of Love by The National
Love At First Sight by The Brobecks
Skinny Love by Bon Iver
Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran
Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley
Love on the Weekend by John Mayer
My Love - Live by Paul McCartney
True Love Will Find You In The End by Matthew Good
By Marriah Talbott-Malone
I’ve come to find, as a creator of stories, there is no harm in knowing too much. While we may be warned about sharing too much information, or sometimes even too little, being overly aware of what we are creating is quite possibly one of our greatest advantages.
As a writer, I’ve learned about the essential elements of a story more times than my fingers can count. When it came to the fourth or fifth time in which I was being lectured on the stages of Freytag’s pyramid, I was more than convinced I was an expert. It wasn’t until I started editing for magazines and journals that I realized the primary mistakes I see in most writers, I see in my own work as well.
It is so incredibly easy to get lost in the excitement and wonder of forming something that is your own. Whether it be the creation of a whole new world or developing a character, containing yourself from forming these ideas into something bigger can feel almost impossible. However, what we must realize is that the release of this excitement is only the first step. No matter how much we may believe we know about telling stories or how impatient we may be to share our ideas, it’s important to always look back on the essentials of a story. These aspects are present for a reason. They are the tools in allowing us to make our story stronger and to gain as much knowledge about our creation as possible.
While this could very well be your fourth or fifth lecture on these elements, as I said above, we can never know too much! The following elements are fundamental to a strong story:
While many may say an outline is not necessary, I believe it is the first true step in organizing your thoughts. Whether you use bullet points or a full organizer, an outline allows you to create your story’s skeleton. You can start by asking yourself questions about your story:
—What are you writing about?
—What is/are the setting(s) of your story?
—Who are your characters?
—What is going to happen? Why will this be significant?
These are just a few examples of questions you can use. With the information you find, start organizing in a way that will be most effective for your story (chronological order, topics, concrete versus vague ideas, or others). Whether or not you choose to use an outline is your choice, but it is something I strongly recommend. I have used outlines for multiple short stories and the progression of my novel. I’ve found that I’ve created my best work with the use of this tool.
Plot is the progression of your story, or in simpler words, what happens. The most important thing with a story’s plot is making sure all five stages are present.
—Exposition: introduces characters, gives background information
—Rising action: events leading up to climax
—Climax: highest point of interest/problem/suspense
—Falling Action: events that solve problem/interest/suspense
—Resolution: how things end
When your story lacks one of these stages, it often feels to readers as if something in your story is missing. If these pieces are fully developed it is very easy to find holes in a story, making the story feel incomplete and appear rushed. The first suggestion I would give to prevent these things from happening would be to map out the most important points of your story. You can do this mentally or physically, just as long as you are aware of your story’s most significant points.
Another suggestion would be to center in on more detailed descriptions. I’ve come across many stories that feel rushed because the author is telling more of the story than showing. Descriptions and detail really allow a reader to enter the story. It captivates them, adding depth and emotion. Showing rather than telling slows the story down and makes the pace feel more interactive and natural.
Plot devices and subplots can also add depth to your story. Not only do they solve the issue of a story feeling rushed, but they often give us an opportunity to better connect with a story’s characters. We are able to learn more about characters in many of these situations and are able to see and predict how they respond in certain situations.
Character is so vital to storytelling. It allows us to be more involved with the story. Character development that is well-done can display transition and success not just in characters, but in the plot as well.
In order to have well-developed characters, I would recommend getting to know them. Who are your characters? Who is the protagonist? Antagonist? Are your characters round? Flat? You want to know your characters like the back of your hand. After all, you are creating them. If something is missing in your character, it is essentially up to you to find what that is and work on finding a solution.
I personally work on developing characters through charts. I like to get as much information on them as possible. While character charts like the ones below may not be your thing, I have found them incredibly helpful. The process of creating and connecting with your characters is truly a great experience. These charts are so in-depth and allow you to get to know your characters almost as well as you know yourself. My favorites are from Deviant Art and EpiGuide.
The next element is setting. Setting is where your story or specific events take place. Setting has a strong impact on a story’s plot and character. Without a setting, your story is essentially stemming from nothing. Setting is also responsible for the mood and atmosphere. There are many instances in which authors use setting as a symbol for their stories, adding creativity and depth to the piece. When we look to develop our setting, we can look at many different factors, including:
Theme refers to a story’s meaning or the underlying message of a piece. When we read stories, we read them with the intention of discovering what we believe the author wants us to know or take away. Every story is told for a reason and allowing readers to discover just why you are telling it is one of the greatest things about writing. When we look to find the theme of our story, we can do so by asking ourselves questions:
—What do you want your story to tell?
—What do you want to let people know?
—Why does this happen in my story? What exactly does it mean?
The more often we use these elements, the more we are able to see our stories transform. These elements not only strengthen a story, but they strengthen our experiences as writers. No matter how much we may know about these elements, we can always benefit from reviewing and looking back on them. The more we know, the greater the stories we will write.
Songs for r&r: relaxing and remembering past moments, past lives, past laughs, all with a smile on your face, curated by our blog correspondent Cate. Listen on our Spotify here, or see the track listing below:
Older by Sasha Sloan
Force of Nature by Bea Miller
Stone by Jaymes Young
Pioneers by for KING & COUNTRY
Fireflies by Owl City
ghostin by Ariana Grande
home by morgxn feat. WALK THE MOON
Bones by Galantis feat. OneRepublic
I’m Not Her by Clara Mae
Consequences - orchestra by Camila Cabello
Lights Down Low by MAX
By Cate Pitterle
Over the weekend, I was talking with some writers I knew, and one of us asked the most dreaded, most glossed-over question a writer can encounter: how on earth do you find time to write?
We all had different answers. One of us said they wrote when inspired; one said they found deadlines helpful; another deleted distracting social media apps off his phone; a fourth found she had a hard time juggling everything. As for me, I always keep the Notes app on my phone open. When a piece of poetry or a great line for a story hits me, I jot it down for later… and hope I ever find the time to get back to it.
In reality, I’ve found balancing writing and the rest of my life hard, especially in the thick, standardized-testing, endless-homework-pile, mountains-of-work slush that high school can become. What’s the solution, then? Staying up until 2 a.m. typing away on a document, or waking up at 5 a.m. to do the same? Writing during free periods during the school day? I’ve tried all of those options, and I’ve personally found that staying up late works for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a night owl, but I’ve found that my “writing hours” usually fall somewhere between 11:00 and 12:00 at night.
Whatever time of day works for you, though, one thing remains the same—you have to make the time to write. A day is only 24 hours, and every writer in history has had those same 24 hours in which to work. Not everyone is perfect (let’s admit, everyone needs some Netflix time now and then to relax), but cramming in writing sessions whenever you can means more words on the page, more stories and poems taking shape, more characters coming to life. Toting around a notebook or a phone is a step in that process, sure, but I think it requires more than that. It requires staring down that blank page and conquering it. It requires dedication. It requires the dedication that I’ve tried to build up over the years, the kind of dedication that every author needs.
When I open my Instagram and wonder how the professional authors that I love pound out 5,000 words a day, I feel a little intimidated. But even if I can get 100 words on the page, it feels like a win. Writing is a marathon sport, as cliché as that sounds. No matter how much you write, you’re moving forward. If you keep writing, you’ll reach the finish line.
Establishing a writing routine is easier said than done, though. I try to write as often as I can, but when it comes to sitting down at a desk every day, it can feel impossible. Some things that have worked for me in the past were NaNoWriMo (if you’re competitive, try this in November! The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days), creating a daily word goal calendar, or even setting an alarm on my phone to remind me to write at a certain time. I also like to think of it as “carrot and stick”—if you don’t write, do you have to do a load of laundry instead? If you do write, should you give yourself a chocolate to celebrate? That kind of risk-reward system might be another source of motivation as you look to develop your writing habits.
Is finding time to write hard? Definitely—I think every writer, even the pros, would say the same. But don’t let that stop you. Just keep swimming (writing?).
You’ve got this.