On Writing

How To Rid Thyself of Writer’s Block

I didn’t want to write. In fact, the mere thought of writing caused my brain to become violent in its objections. An iron wall was slammed across the realm of creativity, and I stared at it, perplexed.

As I clearly am now an expert on the matter *cough* I thought I’d better share my discoveries with you.

notebookinforestPut It Down, Step Away From the Bomb

Sometimes you can push through a block, other times you can’t. DON’T DESPAIR. Leave your desk and writing implements and do something else.

If your pen is plastered to your finger, then write someone a letter. If it isn’t, go for a walk, wash up, put your books in alphabetical order, go for a trip, or save the world from murderous pandas.

Don’t Read Your Genre

Seriously. Don’t. Pick up a completely different genre and read that. Your objective is to distract your brain; to fool it into relaxing. Because then … then we spring, my brothers. Then we fall upon these pitiful blocks with our battle cries and war pens and- ahem. Sorry.

Recall This Truth:readingincar

A first draft is allowed to be messy. A first draft is not a finished novel.

Vanquish Stage Fright

If you’ve built up your story in your mind as the story to end all stories, don’t. Push all pressure, awe and aspirations away. Cast ’em into the sea, chuck ’em in the dust bin or burn ’em with dragon fire.

These things can freeze your pen and hinder your creativity under the crushing weight of certain future greatness.

… and lastly

Don’t panic, for this too shall pass.

I managed to conquer my block the next day, the short story is now complete and is awaiting my butchering pen. Huzzah!

Other How To’s, because I am a Very Helpful Hedgehog: How To Write Five Thousand Words in One Evening // How to Acquire Books Without Becoming Penniless // How to Design a Front Cover For Your Book //

On Writing

How To Write Five Thousand Words In One Evening

how towritefivethousand

… though of course you can write five thousand words at any time of day that you so choose. Obviously.

Find a Comfortable Seat

This is important. I used my large soft toy as a back-rest. (Soft toys are very good as back-rests – an important fact.) If it’s cold, wrap a blanket around your shoulders.

Panic Not

Look – if you think writing 5k in one evening is impossible, you’ll find it impossible. So, when you start to write – cheer yourself on. Two hundred and fifty words down? That’s a quarter of a thousand! Wahoo! You can do it! Five thousand? Pfft, little brain. Just you wait till I write ten thousand in one day. Your brain will quiver with fear and do precisely as you wish after such a threat.

Thank You For the Music!

This is important. Don’t listen to music you are unfamiliar with. You want to sink into your writing with absolutely no distractions. I didn’t even use a playlist. I found one song and then I stuck it on repeat. If it’s familiar it will fade into the background.

Side effects: you’ll be heartily sick of your song afterwhile. So, when you take a break, choose another bit of music and play the stuffing out of that one too.

Make Goals.

Think to yourself – I’ll write two thousand and then I’ll take a break. Reach that goal, take a break and then return for more. Use the break to make tea, rest your eyes and gather your sanity from the far-flung regions it has fled to. It’s really not that bad.

Format That Word Document

You don’t want to be distracted by page numbers (oh bother, I’ve only written one page! ONE PAGE!). So eliminate them. Change your view from the Print Layout to Web Layout. This gives you the freedom to simply spill your words onto those pages without realising how many there are.

I find this tip to be really, really useful. I call it ‘Tricking My Brain To Doing What I Want Muhahahaha Bow To Me Story Of Mine’.

5kin1evening
I took this picture in relieved triumph

Remember That Quantity Does Not Always Mean Quality

… and you know what? That doesn’t matter right now. You can come back and brutally butcher it all. This isn’t editing. This is writing. [Though obviously I like to believe that every word that drips from my fingers is golden and precious, full of diamond rainbows and glorious prose]

For The Fidgety Bits

Right now, it doesn’t matter if the people have a festival on this or that date, they use spears or bows as weapons or if a poodle really is a dog – pop all your questions, continuity issues and ideas into a separate word document. You are writing. Come back to that later.

Tell your story now.

////

So there you have it! All you need to write five thousand words in one evening. I managed to do it at the weekend, and now feel like a pompous expert on the matter.

Happy Writing!

(P.S Your wrist might ache jus’ a little bit afterwards. But what is a wrist ache to marvelous words?)

On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

Patience, Young Grasshopper

 

iforgotsomething

 

I was impatient –  I wanted to finish The Many Trials; to get it done. Over with. Complete. Move on to something else. And it seemed such a chore to do so.

I’m sure that you can see the error in my thinking – I didn’t though, and it took me awhile untill it ‘clicked’.

Why on earth was I worrying about getting it done? Why did it feel so hard to plonk one word in front of the other? Why was I beginning to loathe it?

I’d forgotten, you see.

I’d forgotten that writing isn’t about finishing it. Sure – doing so is, you know, just a teeny bit important. But there is no use in finishing a novel which drops like a dead weight around the neck at the very thought of completing it. It was like one of those awful dreams where you want to run, but are stuck in an invisible pool of glue and cannot move.

I’d forgotten to enjoy it – to love telling my tale. Forgotten the thrill of a funny piece of dialogue, a humourous description or an emotional scene.

And that is a rather big thing to forget.

So have patience, Young Grasshopper – you’ll reach the End. But what use is there in reaching the ending when the journey there has been dry and devoid of any enjoyment? Enjoy it. Put heart in every scene. Give colour to the voyage, and those who reach the End will be left with the longing to read just one page more.

I think I just rambled, Life, On Writing

Goals can be hard to complete: so just eat cake.

https://i2.wp.com/media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/49/8c/ec/498cecb3ddbfe1d7fb3e945f5d25e475.jpgOften, if we look at say a goal – climb a mountain, write that 75, 000 word novel etc – the enormity of it all can be just plain depressing.

The idea of it is exciting; the end result is looked forward to with great expectation. But when the mountain from the travel brochure becomes the actual, real life, really high and incredibly-difficult-to-climb mountain or the novel “a girl meets a robot penguin who is actually an actor in disguise andthisisgoingtobesoGREAT!” grinds to halt (“that’s it, this is killing my brain. Why can’t they speak? They’re like awkward cyborgs!”) then … then the wish to throw up your hands grows. And grows.

It’s all very well to say casually and coolly, “it’s all about perseverance.”

Easy to sum and say … but the actual perseverance? The sweating away up the path? Overcoming writer’s block? Ignoring the desire to give up and flop down on the wayside? Not so easy.

But – have no fear my friends! I have found a Way to banish all feelings of despair …

Think of it … like a big, beautiful cake:

https://i0.wp.com/media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ac/9c/60/ac9c608bc4b29e142aef63c606d51329.jpg
… like so

Now, say you want to eat the whole thing – you wouldn’t attempt to swallow it down in one go … would you? (Unless you are a hippo … if you are, please go ahead). No, you would cut a slice, and eat it. And then you would cut another, and eat that. And then another and another (and another!) and so on until (feeling more than a little bit sick) you’d accomplished your goal. Huzzah!

It’s the same with writing (or climbing that there mountain) – cut it down. You want to write a 75, 000 word novel in a year? Cool – just write around 205 words per day.

Take one step up the mountain path – because a step taken is a step nearer to the peak. A paragraph written is a paragraph closer to end of the chapter; the end of the book.

Break it up; turn your goal into nice edible chunks, and then, it won’t seem so big; so daunting.

I think I just rambled, On Writing

Type, my Minions!

When you hear the word ‘writer’ … what do you immediately picture?

An author scribbling away furiously at a notepad, steam rising visibly from the paper? A man, puffing leisurely from his pipe, occasionally exclaiming, “My word, that’s a good sentence!” and writing it down on his ever-present trusty notebook? A woman, modern with bracelets and rings aplenty, a chic scarf wrapped around her neck tapping with manicured fingernails on her keyboard?

Or do you picture someone who sits down, pulls up a word document, stares dazedly at it for a moment or two and then promptly surfs the internet?

‘Cause that person above? Yep, that’s me.

Believe it or not the times when I write the most is when I don’t have access to the internet, (but I need the web for research! Yeah, totally. Because news websites really are brillIant helps to writing a medieval fantasy book) or when my brain decides to cooperate, (which happens all the time, it’s actually amazing how many hundred of thousands of words it allows me to turn out. I am in no way telling a blatant falsehood).

My writing comes in fits and starts. It isn’t one steady flowing stream of amazing dialogue, sweeping action and delicate descriptions. No, I have off days and on days. Days in which I spout a couple hundred words, or one word, or a thousand words.

I can’t say: “the set method to getting my creative juices flowing is one, spin on my head, twice. Two, Drink a cup of tea with precisely three tablespoons of fat-free milk. Three, do finger stretches, and finally step number four, command my fingers with the words, type, my minions!

Nope. Uh uh.

It doesn’t work like that.

Some days I’ll write one project, other days I’ll write in another. (though it’s time I knuckled down and focused on one … more on that another time). Some days I write, other days I [cough] don’t write at all [cough].

But … I’m also a firm believer in that I can write anything if I set my mind to it. Seriously. Even the project which feels like I’m banging my head against a horrible wall, a horrible brick wall. Perhaps it is like that time when you got a stitch when running; the oh so comforting advice you were given? Run it off.

So maybe the secret to writing is actually step number four: command my fingers with the words, type, my minions!

You want us to *what*?
You want us to *what*?

The conclusion of this long and rambling post?

Will power!

Concentration!

Write it off!

and

Experimentation!

(and an extra exclamation point, for good measure)

!