Monday, 19 May 2014

Guest post: Get Off The Writing Merry-Go-Round And Try Something New

Today Nikolas from Grammarly is guest posting on my blog! :)
Get Off The Writing Merry-Go-Round And Try Something New
Just keep going and going and going…
Ever feel like you’ve been doing the same thing repetitively? Feel like you’re stuck in a rut? No new ideas coming in and your creativity is at an all time low? Why do we do this to ourselves, writers? We keep trucking along, trying to finish our manuscript, when our writing is suffering. Stop riding the same horse and try something new. Your writing will thank you.
When you get stuck in a rut where you write forever and know that even though the keys are punched fast, the quality of the writing is terrible, you need to stop and do something else. No matter how many words you write, they’re not good words. You may have met your five-page minimum for the day, you may have written from 2-7 p.m. just like you planned, and submitted that draft to your editor, but at what cost?
 Give Your Brain a Break
You’re writing crap because your brain feels like crap. You’re tired or annoyed or frustrated or burnt out. There’s not enough time to feel sorry for yourself so you just keep working; turning out pages like rain drops. Why not give yourself a break? Take a yoga class, read a new book, talk to a new writer, find a new client, teach yourself something new about writing. Even the most experienced writers are always learning. The English language is constantly evolving, adding new words like “bootylicious” every day, so writers need to stay up on trends and information.
Take some time out to stop writing. Yes, stop writing. Just like plants need water, soil, and food to live, so do you. You can’t just place a writer at a desk, water them, and poof out comes greatness. They need to be fed and praised with sunshine compliments and take a nap every so often. Writing constantly, although it has shown to improve skills, burns you out and leaves you with a quality of work that is far less than what you’re capable of.
 Try a New Fountain of Knowledge
When I’m tired of writing, I like to move to editing or writing prompts. They help me clean my head and look at my work in a different light. I can see that there are fresh ideas on the page when I free write and I can tell that my work is improving by just changing the topic. Likewise, when I sit down to edit, I can see my work’s flaws a lot better and see where the links in the chain aren’t matching up.
Proofreading can become a difficult task when you’re brain is fried, however. That’s why I like to turn my work over to the online source Grammarly for a fresh pair of eyes and perspective.
Grammarly identifies errors in my writing that I miss, teaches me how to avoid my most common errors, and gives me a chance to unlearn and relearn grammar and punctuation through it’s teaching tools. It adapts to my style and even suggests context-optimized synonyms that improve my work. It’s a tool that really wants you to take advantage of it and drives you towards better writing. When I proofread with Grammarly, I know the work is error-free and better than what I could have done myself. I know that I’ll learn more about writing but also have the opportunity to reach out to other writers for help through the question and answer boards. Grammarly is a different style and type of tool that truly encompasses all the particles that make up a manuscript.
 Give Up Your Season Pass
That’s right. Get off the merry-go-round and let your brain have a rest. Even if you work tirelessly for hours or days or months, eventually a crash will come. Do yourself, and probably your friend and family, favor and go out to lunch or paint a picture or go for a walk to give your brain a break. Taking into account the other parts of the writing process, such as proofreading and contacting agents or publishers, can help you see the big picture rather than just focusing on the small pieces of your manuscript that have been driving you crazy. You’re a hardworking writer; enjoy the view every so often.            
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.
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  1. A drained brain is useful to writers, so I agree that we need to take a rest. Your suggestions are helpful ones. Passing through on the AtoZ road trip.

  2. I think that's what my brain needs--a break! I write freelance for my day job--so I'm writing thousands of words each day. The only thing that keeps me from burnout is that I'm constantly shifting from one assignment to the next, so it's always a new topic. Working on my novel is actually my fun writing!