Quarterly Column Archive

Q3 2008
Q2 2008
Q1 2008

Q4 2007
Q3 2007
Q2 2007
Q1 2007

Q4 2006
Q3 2006
Q2 2006
Q1 2006

Q4 2005
Q3 2005
Q2 2005
Q1 2005

Q4 2004
Q3 2004
Q2 2004
Q1 2004

Q1 2008

Leap Year

What better time to take a big leap in your writing than this year, leap year? To take a leap, follow these seemingly simple rules.

Stop worrying

Don't worry about what others will think of your writing. Don't write to please others. Write to please yourself or some imaginary audience. Stop worrying about what your family and friends will think; this will only lead to self-censorship, which is rarely a good thing.

When you stop worrying and write courageously, better and truer work comes out.

Read often and widely

Good and great writers read. It's one of the ways to learn to write. Don't allow a busy schedule to be an excuse not to read. Make room. Delight in the sound of language, the way words are strung together.

Don't starve yourself; reading helps a writer grow. Read what you love to read, and occasionally read widely to discover new writers, styles, and forms. How? Anthologies of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that cover a range of writers are a good place to start.

Write subconsciously

When composing, try your best to shut down your thinking mind and allow your subconscious mind to do the work. This is where great metaphors and complicated story lines come from.

You cannot think a poem or a story, no matter how much writing classes may lead you to believe this. Great work comes from a combination of the subconscious mind (aka the unconscious mind or muse) and the gut. Don't believe me? Ask a famous writer.

Write regularly

The only surefire way to make a leap in your writing is to write. Again, no excuses. Put away your TV. Wake up an hour earlier three days a week. Devote the end of your day to your story or poem. Write on the bus.

If you truly want to be a writer, you must sit down and write. If you are not writing regularly, then it's time for some tough love. Ask a friend you trust to help you work through whatever is keeping you from doing what you want to do.

Now, leap!

Copyright © 2003–2009 Angela Jane Fountas. All rights reserved.
Contact: info[at]writehabit[dot]org