Amazing Kids! Magazine

Being a More Productive Writer

By Ryan Traynor, Editor-in-Chief

 

Everyone has their own style of writing just as everyone has their own rhythm to writing. What do you do when you have a writing deadline, but you just can’t get the words on the page? This happens to me every month as I sit in front of my computer screen with the magazine deadline looming in front of me. Luckily for me, when I am faced with a definite deadline, I am more motivated to get my fingers typing. I have, on more than one occasion, sat in front of a blank screen without being able to conjure up one creative thought. I was lucky to break through these barriers and create something great. Here are some useful tips:

  1. Begin by brainstorming – Don’t think about writing the whole story when you first sit down. Leave your mind blank for a few minutes and let the ideas flow. Jot down on a piece of paper the ideas that come to your mind. Let these ideas flow. They may include characters, plot lines, or just general themes. Your best ideas are rarely your first ones so don’t stop yourself from making several lists.
  2. Come back after a 10 minute break and look at what you have written down. The best ideas should pop out at you. Highlight or circle them and you’ll feel like you have accomplished a great deal.
  3. Don’t get stuck looking at a blank page. The biggest obstacle to writing is getting started. Even if you have a couple of false starts, be sure to write those first couple of lines no matter what. Then everything will begin to flow.
  4. Don’t put off your writing until the end of the day. Unless it’s journal writing where you are just recording things that happen, leaving your writing to the end of the day will just slow you down. Writing should come first – before checking emails, returning texts, or playing a video game. The few minutes you think it will take to complete these other items will turn into hours and then you’ll have lost your window. Figure out when your most creative time is, then pencil in a permanent appointment for yourself to do your writing.
  5. Carry around a notepad to jot down ideas. Last year my parents bought me a journal pad. I looked up from opening it with a questioning look on my face. My mom said, “You always have great ideas for stories but they never get written because you don’t write them down.” She was right. Even if it is just a one-liner, be sure to make a note of any idea that sparks your energy. You’ll know when it is good, just by how it makes you feel.
  6. Set deadlines for yourself. How many famous authors didn’t write their first book until they were over 40? The people that achieve great things at young ages are always the ones who set goals for themselves. Tell yourself: By the 15th of the month I’ll have 3 pages written. Any goal will help you get a little further down your path to completion.
  7. Don’t talk about it – do it. I am guilty of this. I get very excited about a story and I’ll tell my parents and friends all about it. At the end I’ll find my energy has dwindled and I never get around to writing it down. Let your creativity flow on the page, not in conversation. Once you talk about it, the details will fade into the air and it will be difficult to get them back. Spend that energy in jotting down your thoughts so they don’t get lost. You’ll be glad you did.
  8. Don’t get bound by the rules. When I have to write for school, there usually is a rubric of what I will be graded on. I tend to glance over the rules, write my first draft, revise it, then go to the rubric. Only at this point will I make sure all the categories are covered because I don’t want the rules to shut down my creativity. Rules are important for grading at school, but don’t let that be the driving force in your stories.
  9. Don’t run out of steam. Sometimes I try to cram the completion of a whole story into one sitting. This can be dangerous because having a short deadline will not allow you to explore alternative characters, plots, and settings. Don’t box yourself into taking only one road. Allow yourself some breaks to take a walk, talk to your family, and clear your mind. It will rejuvenate you and allow you to finish the story with the same enthusiasm as you started it.
  10. Don’t over-edit. Sometimes being finished is scary. It means you are ready to be judged. Just remember that not everything can be perfect, and sometimes those little flaws give our stories character. Let someone else read your story. If they love it, let it go and move on to your next masterpiece.

I hope these ideas inspire you to put your pen to paper. I look forward to reading your stories and poems. Send them to me at editor@amazing-kids.org. Remember, don’t put it off. Start today!