Monthly Archives: April 2015

From Our Wordsmith Newsletter – Tips For The Writer With No Routine

Some writers are neat. Organized. Controlled. Disciplined. They have a set routine, they write at the same dedicated hour of each day, for the same number of hours each day. They have pages-long outlines they work from, neatly organized charts and graphs and index cards that keep track of all their story details.

But that’s not all writers. Some of us are messy. Uncontrolled. Undisciplined. We have no routines. We spend hours searching back for details we forgot to put on a chart or graph. We write whenever and wherever the muse strikes, not at pre-appointed times, for as long as the muse graces us with her presence. An hour, a morning, a day.

Which is better? Which is best? There’s so much advice out there about the value of getting up an hour early to write, or staying up an hour longer, and doing it on a consistent basis. And even more advice on outlining your story and working from that outline to keep you focused and on track.

But is this really a better/worse situation, or simply two different ways of working? For many writers, like Ernest Gaines and Anne Perry, routine frees their creativity. They need the structure, the organization. Their minds work best in a confined atmosphere.

But equally as many writers are stifled by routine, writers like Erin Entrada Kelly. Like me (your intrepid editor), if she tries to stick to a writing schedule, she worries more about the passing minutes than the story. Like me, she writes when compelled to write, when the words are there, no matter what time of day, or where she is. If you’re like us, if No Routine is your routine, here is some advice to help you along:

1. Never stop writing, even if in your head. Write with your brain and imagination when you’re not at the keyboard or with pen and paper. Creative ideas are all around you. Cultivate the skill of people watching; they’re weird, fascinating creatures. If you do that, you’ll never run out of ideas.

2. Be Ready. Make sure you have a notebook and pen with you at all times, for when lightning strikes. How many times did a brilliant idea occur to you that you thought you’d never forget? And then you forgot it before you even got home…

3. Be productive. When you’re not writing, read. One feeds the other.

4. Don’t out-talk your ideas. Routine-less writers tend to over-talk their great ideas, which dilutes the need to write them down. Spend less time talking and more time writing it down to work out the kinks. Make it yours. Don’t let the idea play itself out in talk before you have the chance to sit with in in front of keyboard or notebook.

5. Find your own footing. Everyone has his/her own way, and you need to find what works best for you. Advice is great—until it doesn’t work. Don’t think you “have” to do what other writers do. What works for you is the best way.

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Tolosa Press – Call For Submissions

Would you like to have your story published in local press? Now you can!


Tolosa Press publishes three community newspapers in San Luis Obispo county: The SLO City News, The Coast News and The Bay News. Tolosa Press prints 30,000 copies that are distributed in more than 600 racks/locations in the county, plus your story will be featured online.

SLO NightWriters is proud to have the members’ stories featured in each issue of Tolosa Press.

We are looking for SHORT FICTION STORIES, with the word limit of 600.

Want to write, but need an inspiration? How about one of these prompts to get you started – use them as the first sentence of your story, or incorporate them as you write along.

  • She had waited twenty years to return it.
  • Spare some change, please?
  • He had kept his mother alive in his thoughts. Too alive, perhaps.
  • He looked at his phone, turned pale, then quickly left the room. She watched him, smiling.
  • What do you mean, you lost the lottery ticket?

Happy Writing!

Tolosa Press Submissions Guidelines

*To be eligible to submit, your NightWriter dues must be current.

All submissions must be the original work of the author. You may submit previously published or submitted material if it was not published locally.


–      Short stories – fiction and creative non-fiction. All themes are accepted, but please keep in mind  that Tolosa Press is a family friendly publication. The publisher prefers pieces that grab the  readers and keep them interested until the end.

Not Accepting:

–      Poetry, Essays, Opinion pieces, Excerpts from novels, “How To” articles.

Submission Guidelines:

–      Send your submission as an attachment, not in the body of the e-mail. Attach as a word  document.

–      Word limit (strict!) – 500 – 600

–      Double space; use readable 12 point font, preferably Times New Roman.

–      Insert a header, which should include: title, your name, word count, genre.

–      Include a two sentence bio and insert at the bottom of your submission, even if you have  submitted before.

Submissions should be sent to:, with “Tolosa Call for Submission” in the subject line.

NightWriters reserves the right to edit submissions. Whenever time allows, the author will have the opportunity to approve changes.

If your submission is selected, the NightWriter Photographer may arrange to take your picture to submit with the article. 

Andrea Chmelik

Tolosa Press Submissions Manager

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