Thursday, November 24, 2005

How Do I Do It? How Do I Keep Writing?

Someone recently asked me these questions and I thought it was worth putting my answer here.

How do I do it?

I just do it. I make sure I write something every day, and an hour a day is far better than cramming in a weekend of writing once a month.

Do what you can to minimise distractions: attach the keys permanently to your husband (you can choose where), tell the kids to leave you alone during your special 'writing time', set up a desk in a room where you won't be disturbed, or maybe even get hold of a laptop and sit out in the backyard. Get the rest of your family to walk the dog every night for an hour.

That's the practical side. I'd say the other side was emotional.

What is stopping you from getting past chapter 2?

It's not time, because you can make time if you truly want to. So I'd say it's something like your 'inner critic'. Tell that voice that keeps telling you the writing isn't good enough to shut up. Ignore it. Write silly, stupid things just for the fun of it. As Hemingway said, the first draft of anything is shit. The real sweat is the revision process. But before you can get to that you need to let your inspiration flow uninhibited. Have a glass of wine if it helps. Even if all you do is write a sentence every day, you'll find that your writing muscles start getting stronger. Keep at it.

When you're not writing, think about writing. Watch people and look for the little details that make them who they are. Notice everything around you and start thinking how you could turn everything into a story. Do that for a couple of weeks and your brain will be overflowing with ideas. Write them down in a special notebook.

I can also recommend to you all the books I have on my website. I've read them all and they've all helped. I'm almost addicted to reading books on writing.

What else can I say? I love bookshops, but you don't have to. Just love books. Read them and try to figure out why they made you stay up all night even though you have to get up early in the morning so you can get the kids ready for school.

Writing groups? I'm too chicken to go myself. I've been meaning to join a Thursday night group but haven't. All I've done is paid for a year's membership with the NSW Writer's Centre. That way I can say I'm a member. And I get a newsletter, and 10% off books at various stores.

I may not be a member of a writing group, but I have found something that's just as good. The Mystery Writer's Forum. It's specialised of course, but the feedback I've had from other writers has been invaluable. Maybe you can find something on the net that suits whatever writing you find the most interesting. There's lots out there.

Now, start writing. And keep writing!

Me, I'm going back to bed. I'm sick. Sniffle.

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