Some Tips for Writing

Hello hello! A dedicated post for this blog! Surely not!

Yes, though this post is of course about writing, so lets start.

The Beginning

Here Comes the Blank Page...
Here Comes the Blank Page…

Or what I call, blank page syndrome. You open up your document or load the first page into your typewriter and all you have is white. How do we start? What do we write. Write anything.

The story I’m writing at the moment (and have been writing on and off since NaNoWriMo) is called ‘fucking blank pages’ not because it’s about blank pages but because that was originally the starting sentence, which was part of the starting paragraph, which was the first in a series of paragraphs that filled the first page. It was just me wittering on about how much I hate blank page syndrome for about 800 words, and that first page actually lasted for some time before it ended up being deleted.

It helps not to have a blank first page, so type in it. Type anything, get the creativity flowing and when you get to a point where you feel ready finish whatever you were writing and go straight into it. No coffee breaks, no toast, no tea because you’re in the flow, get a paragraph down at least, then go for coffee.

Desktop/Desk Management

Amy Tan's Messy Desk
Amy Tan’s Messy Desk

I’ve got Dexpot on my laptop and it’s been very useful. Basically it’s a program that adds additional desktops to your desktop (sounds confusing, but here’s a helpful video) so I tend to have one desktop dedicated to writing, and another for leisure (music will be on leisure also, because I do end up distracting myself simply by changing the music). What’s brilliant about this is that I know I can very easily switch between the two, it literally takes milliseconds, but for some reason I don’t do it all that often. I’m not sure how this works, or why, but it works.

As for the desk, throw everything else on the floor. I don’t care if it’s a your phone or an ancient Egyptian vase, throw it on the floor. Get rid of it somehow. Give yourself a clear desk somewhere light, perhaps near a window, and get a good chair – something upright.

Keep Going!

That's right, from (Intel Boutique)
That’s right, from (Intel Boutique)

I’m crap at this bit, so don’t take my word as gospel but what I find helpful is music. Orchestral music, classical music, white noise, techno or epic music works well because there are no vocals. Alternatively, if you want to pick music that has vocals, choose someone you can’t understand! I find I can listen to music being sung in other languages and keep my concentration because I can’t understand the words, I don’t end up reading the music I just feel it. Get some headphones too, comfy ones.

Also, be reasonable with tea and coffee breaks (this is the bit I’m bad at). A break every 30/40 minutes is alright, but a cup of tea every ten is really not fine. In fact, it’s probably very bad for you. I’m approximately 70% tea right now because I’m terrible with my tea breaks. What I also think is important is that when you take a break you take a bloody break, don’t wander round the house cleaning up or decide to do the hoovering take five minutes or so and do something mindless like read Fifty Shades or something (sorry Grey fans).

But the main thing is: write. None of this spending ten minutes on one sentence, editing is done afterwards. This has taken me aaaaaaages to get used to. In the past whilst writing essays I was a slave to my inner goddess (oopps, I mean critic) and it took me an incredibly long amount of time to get the word count right, but this is fiction, it’s about flow. Stopping and starting every sentence shows in your writing, I also think the places where you decide to stop one day and start the next shows. So don’t do it, stay up all night and never sleep because that’s what a writer does, writers don’t sleep, they are actually born with a gene that causes insomnia which is where the idea that a ‘writer is born, not made’ comes from end at a good point – the end of a scene or chapter – and start a new one the next day. When you get in the flow stick with it, keep it going!

The Hard and the Smooth

That's Right, Broken Rocks (from ftextures.com)
That’s Right, Broken Rocks (from ftextures.com)

Some things come easy, and some things are just horribly hard. Some scenes you’re going to love writing and it just all happens on the page and a hour comes by like five minutes has passed. Suddenly you’re five pages up and you’re thinking, ‘why, why is it night time?’ But there’s also the hard, and you’ve either got to soldier on through it or do something else for a little bit. It’ll feel wrong, awfully wrong, but force yourself to sit there and get the writing done – try and find some pleasure in smaller things, a turn of phrase, a poetic line.

Or, do something else. Start writing a different chapter or a scene that will/might occur later. Get your spirits up so you can tackle whatever knot you’ve found yourself. But whatever you do, DO NOT EDIT, once you’ve started editing the chances of you stopping are slim, very slim.

Okay, cool, there’s some tips from me anyway. I’m starting to get better at writing a great deal in a short amount of time. Today I nailed my 1,000 word a day challenge in about an hour (I actually hit 1,500), so I might amp it up to 2,000 or 3,000 words a day.

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