26th April 2020
Taming the monkey.
I can honestly say I don’t have a clue what to write for my first ever blog post.
There’s so much and nothing that comes to mind at the same time.
As I am writing this, I am doing something which is called ‘Free writing.’ It’s a useful tip that people can do when they simply can’t think of adman thing to write. You simply type out the narrative in your mind.
This technique is interesting because it lets you actually view your thoughts for a few minutes, rather than it just running in the background. Like it’s always there but your trying to not pay attention to it. Almost like having a puppy which has gotten into the habit of barking until you shout at it to be quiet. Well guess what? You gave in. You paid attention, and now the puppy is barking again, and that paper weight looks more appealing by the second.
I’m not for a second suggesting you bash your own head in with a paperweight (or the puppies for that matter), I’m simply saying instead of trying to specifically think of something to write; Such as what a character would say, a character would do, how a scene develops or even worse, when the curser is dancing on a blank page and you cant make it stop.
The next time you are stuck with what to write about, simply let the narrative in your mind flow. Because it will be listened to whether you want it to be or not.
You might write absolute tripe, but it’s easier to find that idea when you’re listening, than when you’re screaming at the chorus of voices to be quiet.
Finding A Shadow In A Hall Of Mirrors.
In relation to how I write, I find as well as free typing, I rarely (if at all) plan out what my book/poem/story/novella/love letter to my old school teacher (Hi Mrs. Newman) will contain. I usually have a title or an idea. Just a nugget of something, a seed, which I plant on the page and try to nurture it into something worthy of harvest for my dear readers to feast upon.
Remember, what you are doing is art, and I feel that the best art is that which comes from the soul and not out of a factory. If you constantly wrestle with an idea, down to the finest detail, it’s likely it won’t ever make it to paper. People are easy to get stuck in the ‘plotting’ phase instead of the ’writing’ phase. This is the nature of a writers mind. We are our own worst critic. So how likely do you think it is that you will have the perfect story down and it come out EXACTLY like that?
Don’t get me wrong, its good to plan. But don’t fall into the trap of always planning every detail. One of the things I love about what I do and how I do it is I am literally discovering the plot and the characters as the story unfolds. When I have tried to plot, my characters just derail the story and find monster hidden in the woods instead of going straight to Grandma’s house as planned. In all of my writing, I haven’t had a clue how it will end until it ends, and it is normally nothing how I thought it would end up and the end result has always been much better.
Remember you are writing the first draft, not the finished thing. Refining can be done later. Get the damn thing on the page first. Uncover that love story, find that monster in the closet, seduce that teacher you had a crush on (Hi again Mrs. Newman). Get. It. Done. And stop worrying about every little detail to begin with.
Key Points. Because We All Like Check lists.
So to clarify, here are my stages and I think you might find them useful –
1 – Get that seed and get it on the page. Don’t rush it, and if you aren’t happy with how its going its completely fine. Just keep going and make adjustments later.
2 – When you can think of something to write, have your characters describe a glass of water. It’s a simple technique, but it gets the juices flowing again. After you’ve finished describing that annoying glass and you’ve made yourself a drink, continue on.
3 – Don’t think you have to have everything done in a week, a month etc. It takes as long as it takes. Some writers take years to complete a draft, others a few months. It’s not a competition.
4 – Meditate or exercise. You know how I said that the narrative behind the eyes is your friend when you are writing? Well after its been in full force for an hour or two you can get mental fatigue. Your mind is a sluggish ride and nothings coming out. This is fine. This is normal. Exercise and meditate. It clears the mind and when you net sit down, you’ll find that plot you’ve been struggling with has sorted itself out. Consider it defragging the hard drive. It looks better when you’ve done it. Everything’s still there, but it looks so much prettier now.
5 – If you can (and this is easier said than done) set up a writing schedule. Try to write at certain times a day. Whether that’s first thing in the morning or last thing at night, or somewhere in between, you will let your mind know that its time to go to work.
I personally like to write either in the morning before my boy has gotten up, or in the evening when he has gone to bed. I like listening to classical music or total silence. And coffee. Strong coffee.
6 – Write little and often. Just how you can’t learn the piano in a day, you can’t write a book. Most people say ‘Write every day.’ Well that isn’t always possible.
We have lives. Families. Jobs. Commitments. It’s not always possible to write every day. So write as often as you can. Set a weekly word goal. Something average, achievable, whilst still making a good dent in your work week by week.
7 – Believe in yourself. You will be your own worse critic, and when you are putting your thought on paper and letting people read them, this can be scary. Good. Its suppose to be. It means you give a damn. People will say you are no good. You will think at times they are right. The world isn’t full of puppies and rainbows. People can be arseholes, but don’t let them make you believe you are one too. Take advice, take feedback and criticism and keep going. Don’t give up.
8 – Set little goals.
This one speaks for itself. Have a deadline. Say ‘I will have this chapter finished by next week/month,’ and work towards it. Writing is a hard gig, and every writer has a level of self-loathing to want to do this as a career or a hobby.
A novel is just a story. A story is just segments. Segments are just chapters. Chapters are just words and words are just letters.
Break it down. Focus on getting those next few words done. That next scene. That next chapter. Little and often, and set realistic goals. You will get there, and it’s a great feeling when you do.
I hope this has been somewhat useful for my first blog post.
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Until next time.