Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just Keep Writing

by Anne Haben

Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing, writing. What do we do? We write, write, write.

I know what you’re all thinking “how am I supposed to write a novel in a semester?”  Well in all honesty you probably won’t.  Instead what you will have is a pretty solid first draft but that’s only if you can crank out enough words to get you there.

Writer's block: It's kind of like that.
What about writers block, or lack of focus, or losing interest in what your characters are doing?  Yes these are all obstacles you will have to face but there are ways to get past them — trust me I’ve done it.
You need to find ways to keep you motivated and keep yourself invested in telling your story.
1)      Try writing at different times in the day to figure out when you’re most creative.  Unfortunately for me this is usually really late at night when all of my roommates are finally asleep.
2)      If silence doesn’t work well for you try listening to music.  TVs can be too distracting for some because there are images you want to see but with music a single lyric can spark an entire scene.  Music can also get you into the right mind frame to write.  Say you are a generally happy person but one of the scenes in your novel is particularly dark listen to music that portrays this mood.
3)      Go to different places to write.  It isn’t good to just sit at the same desk day after day staring at a blank screen.  It gets frustrating and you feel like you aren’t accomplishing anything because you probably aren’t.  Take your laptop to the park, or a coffee shop, just go somewhere different.  You never know who you are going to bump into or what you may see that will spark your imagination and have you writing a thousand words before you realize where they are even taking you.
4)      Search the internet for random pictures. Inspiration is just waiting to be stumbled upon so go find it.
5)      Look up famous quotes and even some that aren’t so famous.  Sometimes all you need is a line and then all of the sudden you have a full conversation between your characters.

All of these can help with writers block.  It isn’t about writing something perfectly at first chance or about sitting in one place to get things done.  You have to explore what is around you so you have more to write about.

Don’t bother constantly revising what you wrote either.  Concentrate on the new.  Get your words down before you lose them for they may never come back.

Try writing without thinking, sounds strange I know, but when you write without thinking you don’t second guess yourself and what you write may surprise you and what your characters do can surprise you.  This is something you want because when you surprise yourself you have a better chance of surprising your readers. Having the element of surprise is one of the things that will keep your readers invested in your story and causes them to want to read on.

Maybe for some sitting in silence in the same place at the same time works for them but we are all different writers and need different things to keep us chugging along.  I hope these suggestions/tips will help some of you in your noveling process and if you have any other advice on what keeps you writing and focused please share them in the comments.

[Editor's Note: If you're having trouble managing your inspirations, check out today's blog post by Aaron Wittwer.  And be sure to tune in tomorrow for Spencer McNelly's post on queer literature! - Lauren Burch]

1 comment:

  1. My favorite part of this post is the simply, practical list you put together to help defeat writer's block. So often when I get stuck on a scene, I forget I have other options beyond hitting my head against the keyboard and hoping for inspiration. Having tips on how to do that, all of which are simple, fast solutions that can be done just about anywhere, is definitely a help to people like me, who get so caught up in the details that they forget their options.