Apps to get those flabby writing muscles in shape in just four weeks

in Potpourri by

You’ve thought about writing, and you’ve got some juicy stories you’d like to tell. But when you sit down to write, you end up staring at a blank page, chewing on your pen cap, or watching the cursor flash in front of you. The words just don’t come naturally; you give up and, instead, end up googling paddle board yoga poses or texting your grandma.

Synonymous with adventure, summer is the perfect time to make changes and push yourself to succeed at new challenges. Filling a blank page with your words can be intimidating—even experienced writers can feel the pressure to produce when they sit down to write. If you’ve thought about trying your hand at writing this summer, we’ve got a plan that will help you get those literary muscles into shape and keep you focused. For each of four weeks, you’ll use a new tool to build a creative writing practice that will last all year long.

Week One: Writer Fuel

 

Week one is all about laying the foundation for writing by generating creative content. Before you can refine story, you have to string some words into sentences that are going somewhere. The Writer Igniter, hosted by DIY MFA, is set up like a writing prompt slot machine. With each click of the mouse pad, you’ll be presented with a new combination of key story elements, including character, situation, a prop, and a place. To start, settle on a storyline that inspires you, and write about it for 20 minutes.

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Week Two: Endurance Training

fullmetaljacketpictureDuring week two, set some realistic word count goals for yourself, such as 500 words per day (about a page, typed). Use the WriteChain app to track your progress. It stores word counts for each writing session, tracks total word count, and counts daily sessions to track your “writing chain.” Skipping a session results in breaking the chain and WriteChain will notify you that you’re getting off track. Use this app to help you lengthen your story drafts from week one.

 

Pomodoro-TechniqueWeek Three: Maximize Productivity

Week three’s exercise will help you make them most of your creative time through the Pomodoro Technique®, a time management method that can be used for any task and involves 25-minute intervals of work, separated by short breaks. Pomodoro apps such as this one helps writers focus, tune out the internet and other distractions, and meet short-term goals. Use this app once or twice a day in combination with a writing prompt, or to develop notes into longer drafts.

Week Four: No Excuses

By week four, you may find yourself encountering the much-feared writer’s block. Not to worry—this week we’ll circumvent the temptation to slack off on your writing goals and reverse any slowed progress. Through imminent consequences for procrastination and rewards for accomplishments, Write or Die 2 makes a game of your goals. After all, new challenges should be fun, right? With this app, you’ll choose your incentive frequency, and customize visual stimulus—such as an ocean scene or the sound of rain, rewards—such as pictures of kittens or puppies, and consequences—a dangling spider, for example.

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After four weeks of practice, you’ll have discovered which apps work best with your new writing style and developed a new writing habit that will be hard to quit. Ready for the challenge?

Feeling inspired? Read our article about award-winning author and writing expert Elizabeth Sims and her new release: You’ve Got a Book in You.

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Angela Palm's forthcoming essay collection, Riverine, is the recipient of the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. The book will be published by Graywolf Press in spring 2016. Her first book, an anthology of literature called Please Do Not Remove, was published by Wind Ridge Books (2014). Angela's work also appears in apt, Hippocampus, Paper Darts, Midwestern Gothic, Sundog Lit, Prick of the Spindle, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. Angela's essay, “The Devolution of Cake,” and her short story, “Mrs. Greenwood’s Jelly,” were both nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve written a travel blog for friends and family for about three years now. Several have said I should try to get it published but I haven’t a clue how to go about such a thing. I really only write when I’m travelling and when I review a book.

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