Going your own way – Brandi Megan Granett

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By Brandi Megan Granett

Sometime in the early 2000s, National Write a Novel Month swept through my writing community. As October ticked by, people kept asking me “Are you going to do it?” Or they chided, “Come on do it with me.” At the time, I was enrolled in university pursuing a master’s degree in education. Statistics loomed over any free time left over after homeschooling my daughter and teaching my English classes. I couldn’t possibly add writing over 2000 words a day to my to-do list.♥

Then an email came through from a boy (now a man) that I went to high school with announcing his plans to sell everything he owns and head off into the woods to write songs and finish a memoir. Jealousy consumed me. I wanted to sell everything and head off into the woods, too. I wanted to write words all day! In this green-eyed, temper tantrum, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and didn’t tell anyone.

Somehow, I found a way to squeeze in the many, many words each day and finished a novel called Tarnished. What a glorious accomplishment! It felt akin to winning a marathon. But it also left me spent, weary, and never wanting to write again.

But I am a writer. It’s difficult to just stop writing. Writing was a constant throughout my life. My first story was published in the third grade. I taught writing for a living. And that novel I finished – I used it to gain acceptance to a doctorate program at Aberystwyth University in Wales in Creative Writing. I didn’t really have the option to stop writing. But I did. For a long time after I reached that magical 50,000-word goal, I didn’t write anything new.

Then I fell in love again — and a new romance colors everything in your life with a rosy tone. All of a sudden, I felt like if this love thing was possible again, anything was possible. Maybe I could write another book? But then I remembered the grind of the 2000 words a day and froze in my tracks. I couldn’t do it. Not that way.

But the idea wouldn’t leave me. The desire to write itched at my skin; I wanted to find a way to dwell in the choices life now presented me about love and romance in a fictional space. But I would need to find a new way. Something better than the last time. So I applied my scientific mind to analyze the approach. Here’s what I came up with:

Pros:
I wrote a book
I wrote every day
I developed a habit
Writing became easy

Cons:
This was exhausting
It took up more time than I had
It made me hate writing

Takeaways:
Writing every day was great
Writing a lot every day wasn’t!

So, I approached my next project, Triple Love Score, differently. I loved the daily practice of NaNoWriMo, but the 2000-word grind depleted me. Instead of tackling 2000 words a day, I promised myself I would write 500 words a day. I gave myself one out — if I didn’t feel like writing, I could not do it, if I at least tried to write one sentence. Most days that one sentence easily turned into the 500 words. And some days the 500 words turned into 1000 or even more. And slowly but surely, Triple Love Score took shape and the story of Miranda and the choices she faces in love, romance, and writing poetry on the internet came into being.

But this article isn’t about me — not really though of course I’d love for you to read Triple Love Score and see how it turned out. What this article is really about is how to get your own butt in the chair and the writing happening for your own practice. By analyzing what worked for me, I was able to create a practice that sustained my joy in writing and kept me motivated to keep going each day.

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin validates this approach. In this book, Rubin explores how your personality type can be used to create habits that last. The key to Rubin’s approach, as well as my own, is to not blindly follow someone else’s advice or the way they handle writing novels. The trick to success lay in knowing yourself and what will work for you.

So as you consider your goals as a writer, ask yourself some key questions:

• When have you been the most productive?
• When did you most enjoy writing?
• What do you enjoy writing?
• When do you have the most time for writing?
• What environment do you like best for writing?

And finally, what can you do with that information to make a practice that works for you? What can you change or reorganize about your day, the rules you set for yourself, or the projects you tackle to make more writing possible for you?

I’d love to hear your challenges, suggestions, and what works for you. You can find me on Twitter: @brandigranett or Facebook: BrandiMeganGranett


Brandi Megan Granett is an author, online English professor, and private writing mentor. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University, Wales, an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College, a Masters in Adult Education with an emphasis on Distance Education from Penn State University, and her BA from the University of Florida. Granett is the author of My Intended (William Morrow, 2000). She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

www.brandigranett.com

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