Writers Write: Set Up Your Writing Life

writers desk with notebook computer and coffee

Writers write. There’s no getting around it. Planning and research help you write your story faster, but at some point, you need to start writing and make writing a consistent part of your life.

Recently I’ve received questions from beginning mystery writers who hadn’t entered the writing life. They were getting ready to begin to commence but hadn’t started writing. Your novel won’t get written until you start. 

One person sent me a long list of all the research materials they had on hand as references—and they had read every one. Another was trying to collate three different story outline models into one big structure. 

There’s a point where you need to stop overthinking your story and start writing. 

Start The First Draft 

That first blank page can be intimidating. But you don’t need to be perfect in the first draft. In fact, don’t expect to be perfect. 

The aim of the first draft is to get the story written from beginning to end. 

You’ll accomplish a lot, but perfection isn’t a goal.

  • You’ll know the beginning, middle, and end of your story
  • You’ll introduce all the characters, so you (and your readers) have a sense of who they are
  • You’ll discover your writing strengths
  • You’ll discover your writing weaknesses—fixable when you edit after you finish the draft
  • You’ll learn how to create a mystery puzzle, adding clues and writing suspects who misdirect and hide
  • You’ll discover all the research details you don’t know even with all the research you’ve already done
  • You’ll learn how to incorporate writing into your life

All the planning and research you do will not help you learn these things. They come only with writing. 

Everything is Fixable

I have an author friend who loves finishing the first draft because now she can make the story “good.” She saves all the syntax tweaking until after she’s finished the first draft. And she fleshes out characters and looks for plot holes. 

Save all your worries and doubts about the story until the first draft is finished. Editing is all about making your story as smooth as possible for the reader. 

For now, get started writing.

Create and Treasure Your Writing Rituals

Your writing rituals are based on your personality so they are unique to each writer. 

Here are some ideas that other writers use.

  • A special place where they write. It could be a cafe, your kitchen table, a room in your home, your “writing” desk. I have a friend whose day job is writing, so when he writes fiction he goes to another room and a different desk. Your place can be at home, a space somewhere else, or even a commute train.
  • Paper or device. Some writers write the first draft in longhand with pen and paper. They type the manuscript on the computer later. Others write on a computer or pad. Some use story-writing software others use writing software.
  • Line up your snacks. Writers love to nibble, so get your snacks ready before you start writing. Chocolate, secret trash food, crackers, almonds. It doesn’t matter. Just have your snacks on hand so you don’t interrupt writing to get snacks in another room. 
  • Drinks. Some writers fuel their writing time with coffee, others with herbal tea, and others with water. Stay hydrated.
  • Noise or no noise. Some writers like the “white noise” of cafe chatter while others write with earplugs so they hear nothing.
  • Music or silence. The same goes for music. Some writers create playlists for their writing time. Some even have playlists for the type of scene they’re writing—tense, action, romantic, etc. Other writers prefer silence.
  • Morning, noon, or night. Each writer seems to have a time of day when writing flows easily. Some get up early in the morning others are night owls. Find your best time and dedicate it to writing.

Mix and match your rituals. They act as triggers that tell you “this is writing time.” Rituals help you form a writing habit.

Get Writing

Whatever tools you choose, or space you like, or sounds, or snacks, your want to create a writing habit that becomes part of your life. 

Your mystery won’t get written until you write. 

Need help? Write A Killer Mystery is the course for mystery writers that leads you from story idea to The End, covering everything in between so your story gets written. 

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

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