I’ve previously written that some of my very best sentences and ideas happen in my head when I’m far away from my writing desk (see Teaching Tip #4). It’s important our students understand that this happens for authors. Why? Because it can happen for them too—and you! How? You need to turn your writing switch on.
Tip # 7: Turn Your Writing Switch On
Imagine a light switch on the wall. You can turn that switch on and off. Each of us has a similar mechanism in our head—it’s what I call the writing switch. Most likely, our students flip that switch on at writing time and turn it off when writing is over. For an author, the writing switch is never off.
So what does it mean to have the switch on? What does it look like? Simply put, it means you go through daily life thinking like a writer. Your stories and characters go with you everywhere and you think about them throughout the day, but you must also pay attention to the world around you—much like a scientist using his senses to make keen observations—so that you notice, and then you need to take time to wonder: How could that be used in a story? With my character? What if this were to happen?
Once you’ve turned the writing switch on, you’ll have ideas come to you when you least expect it—on your walks, in the grocery store, in the shower, driving your car—which is why I recommend taking your writing notebook with you wherever you go. If that’s not practical, then consider using your phone to record a voice memo. (This has saved me on several dog walks when deep in the woods.) When one of those ideas grabs a hold of you and doesn’t leave you alone, it’s time to get serious.
Happy New Year!
I’d love to hear from you if you find Mr. Terupt’s tips helpful or if you have additional thoughts or questions. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit me at robbuyea.com. Follow me on twitter @robbuyea. Look for tip #8 to be posted on Monday, February 1st.