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10 Tips to Help Writers “Put Their A** in the Chair”

In Feature Articles by Rachel Aydt

At Slice’s Literary Writers Conference panelists shared ten tips to help writers get to the most important work at hand: the writing itself.

By Rachel Aydt

author writingA panel entitled “Putting Your Ass in the Chair,” was great kicker for the Slice Literary Writers Conference (discussed here) and a reminder that despite all the social shenanigans that abound in the upcoming fall season in New York, and across the country, nothing happens unless the work gets done. Moderator Tobias Carroll discussed with his panelists how they’ve managed to complete long projects and keep the steam going. Panelists were Elissa Schappell, Author, Blueprints for Building Better Girls; Ben Greenman, Author, The Slippage; Darin Strauss, Author, Chang & Eng; Adam Wilson, Author, What’s Important Is Feeling

The truth is, we all get in our own way creating our own conflicts. Still, they can be overcome. Darin Strauss, for example, wrote his first book while working a full-time job in-between the hours of 7 and 9 every morning.

Here ten tips; some obvious, others not so much.

  1. Invest in earplugs
  2. Use the software program Freedom, which shuts you out from the Internet
  3. Get a timed safe to throw your cell phone into (a favorite trick of Adam Wilsons)
  4. Forget the dishes. There will always be more dishes. They aren’t going away, ever.
  5. If you’re short on inspiration, peruse the dictionary until a word you’re unfamiliar with gets you going.
  6. Try these automatic surrealist writing exercises.
  7. Be clear with yourself about the difference between research time and writing time, and allocate your time accordingly.
  8. Pick two of the following three: Sleep, Socialize, or Write. Forget the third.
  9. Train your mind to think about the things you’re going to write about as you move about your day, like during your walk to the subway.
  10. Finally, make time for reading. A good reading day is a good writing day.
About the Author

Rachel Aydt

Rachel Aydt is a full-time writer, editor and researcher in New York City. She worked on the staff at American Heritage Magazine, YM, Cosmopolitan and CosmoGirl. Rachel has also contributed to Time International and Inked magazines. Since 2001, she has taught writing classes at the New School University.