Is It Time to Put Night Writing to Bed?

Recently I have been thinking about what motivates writers and how old habits can dictate your writing routine. At some point we were all that young writer, scribbling away in bed with nothing but a torch, Biro pen and a notebook.

Over the past couple of weeks my writing efforts have dwindled to virtually nothing. Feelings of frustration toward my lack of motivation has prompted me to look at whether daily distractions are providing me with excuses not to write or if it’s just old habits. There is always something more important to do such as work, cooking tea, housework, gardening, food shopping, catching up with friends and family. Then when you do manage to steal away a few minutes, a phone call or a knock at the door pulls you out of the ‘zone’ you had struggled to get in, in the first place.

Yet when clock is pushing midnight, all the words stream out onto the page.  There is nothing left to do with the day. The house is silent, the outdoor world is peaceful, the night belongs to you and nobody else. Writing at that time of night puts me into a meditative state and is cathartic release of everything that happened during the day.

The only thing to stopping me is knowing that in less than six hours I have to be up, dressed and ready to go to work. So I crawl back to bed feeling unsatisfied and annoyed that a plot line won’t be written as well at 7pm the next evening.

When I was younger I would write until the early hours and not care that I would be falling asleep during class assembly. The stolen hours were magical and I would (eventually) go to sleep dreaming of new worlds to create in fiction land. I sorely miss those days and I wish it was that easy now, but it isn’t. That’s just part of being a grown up.

Finding time to write is a treat and I wonder if I don’t spend more time writing because I just don’t feel like it’s a priority. It should be a priority. To me, writing defines who I am and the satisfaction of working on a story is unparalleled to anything else. So why don’t I feel motivated? There is no answer to that. We all have peaks and troughs during our periods of writing, set backs and failures. There will always be distractions and something else more important to do.

You just have to keep on going despite the chaos around you.

“Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement” Cory Doctorow

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How to Write with Speed… Go, Go, Go!

As some of you may know I am currently taking part in June Novel Writing Month in a bid to get the first draft of my novel finished. I used to be a serious edit-as-you go kind of person and it was getting me absolutely no where. I understand this does work for a lot of people but I found it restrictive.

Now I am in full swing again with this new form of speed writing. Still a little bit behind target but I am catching up, I have miraculously managed to write about 15,000 words in the last few days. I never thought that was even possible.

I know what is on paper is complete waffle but just sitting down at the laptop and bashing out a few thousand words each night has become a little ritualistic. Some evenings it is like pulling teeth but the point is if you keep going, something amazing happens and you start to form a story. Like magic.

I urge you all to give it a go. Here are my top tips for starting your first draft and hopefully finishing it (from someone who is still yet to reach the end!)

Plan ahead

Some writers like to plan out the plot meticulously however for me just thinking throughout the day what I will write about in the evening works well too. If you don’t like any form of planning, just sit down and let you mind wander as you type

Do NOT edit

This is crucial. Do not look back on what you have written. Yes the temptation is great but the moment you start going back and editing it is no longer your first draft. You are a writer and you have permission to produce a shitty first draft, make it sparkle during revision phase only.

Give yourself a break

Do not bring yourself down with the ‘this is rubbish’ and ‘No publisher will ever be interested’ talk. Also if you get tired then stop and take a break, don’t be a slave to the word count.

Switch off the phone

I can’t deal with distractions. Sometimes you don’t have a choice and you have to work around them however if you can sort out a quiet place to work then it will help you get in the zone.

Ignore Twitter/Facebook/Blogs

All too tempting to have a peak and see what other people are up to instead of facing a blank page

If faced with a stand-off against a blank page…

…. then walk away, get a drink or a bite to eat, go for a walk, anything. Just don’t sit there. The words are in your head, you just need to lure them out. Another tip if you’re in this predicament is to write garbage or about your day. It limbers up your mind.

 

Fire the Critic and Build a Novel

It has been nearly two weeks since I last posted on here. Last week I was on holiday and my blog is now looking rather neglected. In truth I enjoyed taking a break from writing as I noticed a lull in creativity and everything I wrote felt a bit stale. My brain needed to be recharged so I injected it with a good amount of fiction and over the past week I’ve read three books and just started on my fourth. I’ve been listening to music I haven’t heard in years, went on long coastal walks, drank lots of wine and caught up with my favourite TV shows. Now I’m feeling really inspired, refreshed with ideas and ready to write.

At the moment I am taking part in June Novel Writing Month and pushing to get that elusive first draft completed. In truth I started the novel years ago and it has already been through the mill a bit. Since then the plot has changed completely thanks to losing everything that I had initially written. It was a story I was incredibly proud of so was devastated when I lost all 15,000 words. When I went back to rewriting, I literally lost the plot and all enthusiasm for the story I was trying to tell, convinced that it would never be as good.

So instead of grappling with the beginning and getting nowhere, I jumped to halfway through the story and pleased to report so far so good. From what I’ve gathered so far is that writing a novel is all about knuckling down, making sure you are committed, dedicated and excited about the story you are telling. I haven’t meticulously planned my novel, mainly because I like getting stuck in and allow the ideas to flow and see where the story takes me.

I have chosen not to edit as I go, ignoring that annoying little voice in your head which likes to tear your work to shred before it’s even taken form. To silence the inner critic requires a lot of discipline as the temptation to go back and edit what you have done is just plain hard. However by allowing the writing to take over and abolishing the critical side from the initial creative process has allowed the story to develop into something rather interesting.  Now the novel is slowly, but surely taking form.

I read somewhere that you need to visualize your novel as a sky scraper. You need to get the foundations in first, such as the plot then add structure and reinforce with words. Once the bare bones are up and stable, you can then start making it look pretty.

So this week I will also be taking part in Friday Fictioneers. After gaining some pretty good and honest advice a few weeks ago I am looking forward to putting that to use.

Friday Fictioneers #6 Kicking back, letting go

Here is Friday Fictioneer tale for this week, photo prompt from Madison Woods. Fancy a go? Visit  Madison’s blog, view the photo, write 100 words and post it back as a comment on her story.

Memories of rolling down the dusty road in the blistering heat and kicking back by the campfire kept Julie awake. As the children slept she would creep through the house, open a cool beer, sit on the porch and daydream. To her children and husband it was a rusty heap of junk but in her eyes it was everything that she used to be, beautiful and free. With little money for the month, Julie considered her only choice. Hidden beneath the trees and overgrown grass, the truck’s decaying body looked sad and neglected. Julie knew it was time to let go.