Thursday, August 15, 2013

Challenging Yourself As a Writer

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

In just two weeks, my kids will be heading back to school.  This is always a very bittersweet time of year for me.  As much as I love the beach and warmer weather and enjoy having them home (for ten weeks!) especially without the pressure of homework, sports activities and other commitments, I also love what a new school year stands for.

I've always loved how the start of a new school year means fresh possibilities, both in and out of the classroom, for all of us.  There are so many new things to be learned, new friends to be met, and definitely new experiences to be had.  My kids may not see it that way, but in time, I hope they too will appreciate how exciting it is to take an empty tablet of paper and journal some new goals to grow and challenge themselves with as the steamy days of summer blend quietly with the crisper days of autumn.

As a mother, I use this time of year to regroup and refocus on how I can freshen up our home as well as anything I can do to freshen up my parenting style including how I interact with my kids, my expectations of them and certainly my attitude.

As a writer, this time of year inspires me to improve my craft, review my writing goals, and above all to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself.  Summer days are lazy and many times non productive whereas the cooler, clearer days of autumn can usually re energize my vision and my muse.

An article I always keep handy for this very purpose is 73 Ways to Become a Better Writer
By Mary Jaksch.

It's a compilation of advice from over 50 different writers on how they challenge themselves to become a better writer.  I was so inspired by it that I printed it and keep a copy in my writer's crate.

I hope when you have time you can visit the list yourself, but for now I thought I'd share a few of my favorites from that article.

  • Write in different genres: blog posts, poems, short stories, essays.

  • Challenge yourself: write in a crowded cafe, write on the toilet, write for 24 hours straight.

  • Watch movies. Can you write the story better?

  • Read your stuff aloud to anyone who can stand it – including the dog or cat.

  • When in doubt, cut it out.

  • Read your old stuff and acknowledge how far you’ve come – and how far you have to go.

  • Take risks – don’t be afraid to shock. You are not who you think you are.

  • Tell everyone: “I’m a writer.”
How can you challenge yourself as a writer this fall?

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