WRITING LIFE: How to Keep Writing by Katie Bannon

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Whether you’re working on a book-length work or on shorter pieces, the fellowship of other writers can help maintain your writing momentum. Perhaps your work was recently rejected, and you feel discouraged, or you must produce a certain number of pages on deadline.

Two free resources you may find helpful are NaNoWriMo, a month of writing that takes place remotely each November, and the London Writers Salon, an online community based in London.

You don’t have to write fiction during NaNoWriMo, you can write anything. The London Writers Salon holds hour-long group writing sessions. They’ll send a daily quote to your inbox that might inspire you too. No matter how you define your writing community, there are endless ways to join in. Here are some tips for keeping momentum in your writing practice, from November 2021 contributor Katie Bannon:

Sit down at roughly the same time each day you write.
This will condition the creative part of your brain to show up for you. You can also incorporate a symbolic gesture to signal it’s time to write. For instance, I have a refurbished typewriter on my desk that I open at the start of writing sessions.

Don’t beat yourself up on the off days.
Sometimes you might stare at the blank page in front of you and do nothing at all. That’s okay. On those days, give yourself permission not to be productive, knowing this is only temporary. Remember that writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Write where the heat is.
If there’s a particular scene that’s buzzing with energy the day you sit down to write, go with it! Trust your subconscious to guide you toward the places you need to be.

Give yourself short assignments.
In her brilliant writing book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about focusing on small, bite-size pieces of a project. If you’re writing a memoir about your marriage, for instance, don’t start by telling yourself: “I’m going to write about the patriarchal nature of marriage.” That’s a huge topic that will likely leave you feeling overwhelmed. Instead, give yourself the assignment to write about your first date with your husband. Or maybe just what your husband was wearing the first time you laid eyes on him.

Take breaks!
Even the best of us need respite from the tedious, emotionally draining writing process. Find diversions that will help you refill your tank when you’re feeling spent. Some of my favorites: Watching a light TV show, taking a walk, cuddling my pets.

No matter what your writing practice looks like, remember that you know yourself best. Productivity is not a one-size-fits-all concept, neither in writing nor in life. Find a writing practice that works for you and stick to it. End of story.


Meet the Contributor
Katie Bannon is a writer, editor, and educator whose work has appeared in NPR, Salon, Narratively, Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, Cognoscenti, and more. Her memoir manuscript was a finalist for the Permafrost Nonfiction Book Prize. A graduate of GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator, she holds a BA from Tufts University and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Emerson College. Katie is a developmental editor and consultant who loves working with memoirists on finding the “story” behind the “situation” of their lives. Find her at www.katiebannon.com and on Twitter: @katiedbannon.


Share a Comment