You don’t get better at writing by avoiding reading and writing until you are better at writing.
You don’t need to be master wordsmith each day. A single scene or a nice turn of phrase means you are now that much better at writing in general.
It’s also okay if what you wrote turns out to be drivel. You learn by working out what NOT to do, as well as by working out what TO do.
You will be the only person who knows if your work didn’t turn out how you intended. Only you see the things that are in your head but never made it to the page. No one else will know unless you tell them.
Don’t compare yourself to others. You only get to see their best stuff, while you see ALL of you work. Good or bad. So don’t compare a garbled first draft, written in the wee hours of the morning, with a published work.
Just keep writing. You only fail if you stop.
Totally agree with this post, especially about ‘faux-twist’ endings. So drop in, read, spread the love.
Well, I guess great minds do think alike. So following up from yesterday’s post have a look at…
Dear World Please Kill Me,
Hello all you sons of Mars, daughters of Venus, and queers of Uranus (no offense intended, I just wanted to include everyone. #sendingpositivevibes.) So I figured…
I’ve already published a few pieces dealing with the mechanics of writing, combinations of things I’ve personally learnt and advice purloined from elsewhere that is just too good not to share.
In line with these existing posts, I’m starting a fortnightly, maybe weekly if inspiration strikes, series of posts related to the craft of writing. These will all be original content posts, (no re-posts or short ‘picture and inspirational quote’ meme posts) and will all be linked by the Under the Hood category that you can peruse by the menus on the right side of this page. Looking under the novel’s hood as it were.
My goal is to help aspiring authors, struggling writers, and frustrated self-publishers. Along the way, I’m hoping to cement my own craft and maybe expand my reach. I only ask that if you find something worthwhile that you share it amongst your own networks.
For the starting writer, there are just so many things you should know. Preparation, proper grammar, research, writing, genre rules, editing, design and eventually publishing are all scary steps towards either authorship or alcoholism. Sadly before you start you can’t actually know which things you need to know. This catch 22 means you really have 4 options…
- Don’t start. That way quitting lies.
- Don’t start until you’ve finished. That way madness lies
- Start anyway and just remember that life = pain
- Make use of the pain, sweat, tears and caffeine poisoning that others have endured before you.
Now before you get started, repeat after me…
ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn
Sights and Sounds
Everyone likes a view, cityscapes, forests and the ocean can all be a source of creativity, but if it’s not an option put up some posters that are going to inspire you to hammer out those words. The same goes for sounds, some people find them inspiring and do their best writing to music, the sounds of nature or the cacophony of the city. For others, sound just gets in the way. Work out what is right for you.
If you write during the day make sure you have lots of natural light. There is nothing better for the creative mind (and mental health) than getting enough natural daylight. If you write at night make sure your light source doesn’t buzz or flicker. Some people get headaches just from the fluorescent lights, others don’t care.
Whether you’re working under natural light or artificial make sure your not being blinded by it. A nice cheat can be to write out things on paper during the day and transfer/edit that to your computer at night. Think of it as a quick and dirty revision process.
If you can’t sit still, are being sat on by pets, or ache, you’re not going to be getting a lot of work done. You don’t necessarily need a desk, a bean-bag and notepad might be right for you, just make sure your body won’t be constantly disturbing your mind.
Avoid them. Lock off facebook and Tumblr (there are apps for that) leave you phone in the other room and uninstall games from your work computer. Make sure you have the option of locking off your space to really get lost in the writing process.
Your reference books and materials should be kept close at hand. You don’t want to have to break your flow by taking the time to search through other rooms for what you need.
There are two schools of thought on this. One is to keep everything nearby. Carrot sticks or other
not so healthy items just an arms length away. Again so you don’t break your flow. The other school of thought is to keep those snacks the hell away from your keyboard/notes. Not only does this avoid the inevitable “hey what happened to the rest of the packet?” moments, but it also means you are regularly getting up to stretch your legs and in doing so get the blood and creative juices flowing. If you’re anything like me you’ll get up and boil the jug three or four times before actually remembering to make the coffee before it gets cold again.
Valentine’s Day, named after the terminator saint who could not be killed (seriously, google the man). A day associated with a whole choir of terrifying angels, who have apparently been infantilised by modern society and rendered diabetic by the following day’s ‘70% off’ chocolate sales. They also seem to think they’re snipers, but thankfully haven’t found that weapons upgrade yet.
Love is the thing that inspires poetry, romantic gestures, and treason. A few small chemical changes in the brain and the smartest of individuals does the most stupid of things while the biggest coward will take on the world.
So for VDay have some hearts and kittens, and try not to engage in seditious behaviour for a winning smile and a few nebulous promises. Also, if you write one more love-triangle I will reach through the monitor and slap the Oxytocin & Dopamine out of you.
Love. It makes the plot go round. Also available in pill form. Consult your doctor for side effects.
Also Deadpool, best date movie EVER!!!
This is an excellent concept, and should be enforced by PHS (Publishing House Stormtroopers). You will comply in all instances where the location of the characters is in any way important. I’m already tracking counter-intuitive fantasy names, so if I need to have some idea where each unpronounceable city/mountain/ruin is, your story is becoming more of a chore than an escape.
… also, I love to see characters spend ages trudging between nearby cities and then apparently teleporting between distant locations… it’s magic… or maybe just the need for a good continuity edit.
If a primary task of fiction is to explore the human experience—who we are and what we mean to each other—then the fantastic and unreal must surely be key elements in that exploration. But plenty of people still claim that fantasy and other genres are less “real” than purely mimetic fiction. And Kazuo Ishiguro has the best answer to those people.