One of the best sessions I heard at the Willamette Writers Conference was a panel of three agents. One of them in particular said something that has stuck with me.
She was answering a question from the audience. After an agent had already signed you, the person asked, what should you do as a writer in the meantime while waiting for your manuscript to sell? She smiled and her eyes got big. “Write!” She said. “We want to know that you’re working on other things, that you’re still generating content.”
The principle of generating content was a huge one that I came away with from the conference. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? If you’re a writer, write all the time, every single day. Basic. However, maybe you’ll agree with me when I admit that often, I theorize and procrastinate far too much, and put pen to paper far too little.
Our content may not be stellar for quite awhile. It may suck. However, it will never even get close to awesome if we don’t generate it in the first place. In the words of P.D. James, “Don’t just plan to write—write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.”
If we spend all of our time fussing and thinking and tinkering around with the idea of our writing, we miss the opportunity to grow into a better writer.
So, generate content! The three “kick-starters” below are obvious, but they are my go-to, the fuel that keeps my writing flowing, even when I don’t feel like it, or when think that everything coming out of my brain is mush.
1) Journal. This keeps you in the habit of constantly processing life through writing. Plus, no one reads your journal (usually), so you can write an awful mess in there and nobody cares.
2) Read. Read a ton, then write about what you’re reading, or copy what you’re reading to gain a sense of the author’s style, or just let the reading marinate inside of you to add flavor to your writing projects.
3) Write. Yep, this soapbox again. Everyday, whether you feel like it or not. We have not reached the end of the year yet (aka reflection time), but I can already tell you the single biggest thing that has transformed my life as a writer this year is the decision to sit down and write every morning.
Do you get stuck sometimes in your writing? What helps you consistently generate content? Is there a particular activity that kick-starts you again?