The secret to writing and the reason why this is Awesome!

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want to know a little secret? Come closer and I’ll tell you. Now, are you sitting comfortably, got a drink? Go on, go get one, your favorite tipple or a hot chocolate, I’ll wait…

You all set? Great,

Ready, Set, Here it comes……..

“Writing isn’t easy.”

Phew, I said it. Did you think I was going to give you the secret sword of wordsmithing? Do you think that there is some sort of magic bean that instantly transforms you into a genius who wee’s excellence? Or perhaps one ring that rules them….. Sorry got carried away there.

We all wish there was and we’ve all seen the sales patter..

“Sign up for my webcast where I show how you can write a bestseller with next to no effort on your part…” and all for just 500 fat ones… Ohh PURLEASE

Ever thought that if you could just…… find the magic keyword that opens the door to blockbusterville closely accompanied by the six figure publishing contract (where we don’t have to market or speak to people), that everything will be okay? It won’t.

Success in life is about persistence and luck. You have to keep at it and be ready when luck comes knocking. But before luck can pull up at the welcome mat (you are not naked are you? Good Gracious, put something on… No not the jogging bottoms.) you are there prepped and ready for it. So here’s my reason/s why it’s great that writing is so hard.

1. If it was easy everyone would be doing it….

If writing a novel or writing in general was a cake walk then everybody would do it. I know that at times it may seem that everyone IS doing it but they’re not. It’s just the writers resources and blogs where you have hung out. Most people don’t do it or can’t do it and that’s just great for you and me. Less writers, less competition – mwah, ha, ha, ha….. I am stroking a cat, she is long haired but she definitely does not have a diamond collar.

2. If it was easy everyone would finish it…..

Most people never finish. There are hundreds and thousands of dusty manuscripts and half written poems or short stories lining drawers everywhere. If you’re gonna do this writering you have to finish. A half-written story is a broken promise. Now you are not the sort of person who breaks a promise are you? Good. I thought not. (Please in the name of all that walks and crawls do not let this be me…. 9,600 and a full stop to go.)

3. If it was easy everyone would do it well….

Yes, I know a lot of poorly written and unbelievably dire books are out there. If everyone did this well, how would you and I distinguish ourselves against the rest of them? It’s  our error free original wonderful creative voice that makes us special. We don’t just ship, see point 2, we ship rainbows and cream cakes and the smell of grass after summer rain.

So yes this writing is hard and it takes time, persistence, sweat, tears, anger, frustration and love to create.  But that is why the fact that we are writers and we write is AWESOME.

Comments, as always are welcome.

Are you a writing Screw-Up? Five things I learned the Hard Way.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A story that should have flopped.

We all secretly wish to write award-winning, book/article/blog selling perfect prose, the minute we lay our fingers on the keyboard and we all are slightly disappointed with our first drafts, when it turns out they are less than perfect. We may all understand that “crappiness” is part of the process but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

There are five distinct screw-ups I’ve made that have taught me how to get better at this writering and I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve sucked at and how it’s helped you improve. So, here’s my Top Five.

1. OBSESSION WITH W.I.P. TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL ELSE

I have been guilty of putting my writing ahead of absolutely everything and become obsessive about it to the point of a detriment to my day job (the one that pays the bills) and my personal relationships. This sucks and has not made me a better writer. Nothing, not even this writing means you should stop interacting with life at least some of the time. Don’t look at me like that, writing appeals to the loner in all of us, but without life experiences our writing is in 2D, it’s thin and lacks authenticity.

2. NOT PUTTING THE EFFORT IN

Okay, this is where I go the other way and hang out on social media and try to loosely prove to myself that “building a platform” is more important than the W.I.P. What is a Platform anyway? I’m not an oil-rig worker, I’m a writer! I’m a complete idiot when it comes to building authentic relationships via social media and that’s the new BUZZ message? Communicate, make friends and be real. But in  150 characters or less.

Or then there’s Procrastination which sounds like a disease and has the same ravaging effects. Whilst cutting yourself some slack is a good idea, there are times when you just have to sit down, suck it up and string sentences together.

3. PANTSER OR PLOTTER?

I am a Plotter who Pantses. I am now only about 10,000 words away from the end of the first novel and I am going to have to go back and plot and cut and re-draft. The second book will be fully plotted out before I start. It’s easier in the long-term and I’ve noticed a butt-kicking awesome lift in my productivity when I have a clear idea of where the work is going. A structure allows me to take the work in a different direction. A plan doesn’t restrict, it frees my creativity. Currently I have a lot more work to do because I didn’t do this the first time.

Whether you are a Plotter or a Pantser, just accept it and move on. Plotters don’t understand Pantsers and Pantsers don’t understand Plotters. We are two seperate sides of the Force. Of course I now realise that Pantsing is the DARK SIDE…..

4. REPETITIVE WORDS

There are lots of turns of phrase and words that as a new writer you are going to find a lot of in your work. I’ve listed mine in an earlier post. We all struggle to move our writing on. I thoroughly recommend creating a list of those words you overuse and then searching them out in your prose. Don’t remove every instance where you use them, as there will be occasions where they are completely correct and fit. Again we are back to the word balance…

5. THINKING ABOUT MY AUDIENCE

There will always be room for great stories and I need to accept the fact that all the storylines have already been taken. I don’t think there will ever not be a place for writing about all the great archetypes in our world. Yes, things do go through a cycle and you may find for a decade darker style fiction where everyone dies and there are no happy endings are in vogue, the next decade happy endings, hope and redemption win out in the light. My best example of this is Star Wars, a tale of heroes that became a major success in the same decade that gave us Scarface and Taxi Driver. Some stories will always “just” work.

Write what you want to write and stay true to yourself. Although some more fiction for grown ups and not teenage girls would be nice. Just saying.

COMMENTS, AS ALWAYS WELCOME. May the force be with you…..

Why have I never heard of half of the people who give writing advice?

Advice

Advice (Photo credit: mpclemens)

I always used to imagine that writing (if you do it properly) is a free and easy creative rapture, where I sit and the words effortlessly flow from every pore like some sort of wordsmith disease. I have discovered Dear Reader that anything worth doing is difficult. Now, I’m not talking brain surgery here, I am talking about effort….

I’ve also discovered a direct correlation between how difficult it is and how likely I am to complete it. Is half of this about showing up and writing stuff down? Stuff that isn’t just about how hard it is to write stuff. I’ve tried that tactic recently and I have managed to complete 3/4 of my novel.  It’s still not finished and nowhere near a publishable or ship-able format but it is 3/4 done and I’m patting myself on the back for that.

It also resulted in a six month gap in my blog writing. I love blogging due to instant gratification, I press the little publish button and voilà someone is potentially going to skim read the first few lines.  However, I have noticed how much writing blogs  and a lot of the advice being extolled,  is from people who have no more right to give advice than I do…

Have they written a bestseller, maybe but not one that I’ve ever read….

So is that what happens when your novels don’t make it? Do you just write about writing instead…..

Your thoughts are welcome friends…

P.S If you fancy a very commercial laugh. Try #danceponydance

P.S.S Do not drink any kind of liquid whilst doing this.

P.S.S.S The Findus one is genius! For all my American friends – Google recent press in the UK regarding Findus after watching. It will make perfect sense.

FINDING THE COURAGE TO WRITE BADLY.

Scream

Scream (Photo credit: CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK)

I’ve done something a bit stupid. This could be the mark of a madwoman but I am feeling good about it. I finally hit around 41,000 words yesterday and I have experimented in Scrivener with the plot and the form etc. I must have had a bit of a funny turn last night as I found the delete button and after having a really good hard think about what I want to do and how long that is going to take me. I permanently deleted roughly 38,000 words. Please take permanently in the literal sense which involved emptying the waste paper basket on my desktop.Ummm, I know what your thinking. Your thinking she’s lost her little mind and will be one of those wannabe writers who NEVER finishes the first draft. The more I come to terms with the action I took last night, the more I think it makes sense.

The reason it’s not the craziest thing I have ever done is because the story I am writing has been in my head for so long that I had the misguided perception that I could write it all out with minimal planning and plotting.

My writers brain just does not work that way….

So I’ve kept some bits I am proud of, that I can read aloud like a bedtime story and it sounds right. No clunk, click or boom. I am going to continue to plot it out in Scrivener and I will be working on it via scenes as I am a visual person. The first attempt has shown that I am not a “start at the beginning and finish at the end” type of writer.

Now that I have cleared the metaphorical decks; I will be brave enough to write rubbish and continue to write rubbish until it’s finished. I won’t care if my little head tells me this is the worst thing I’ve ever written or that I am completely crazy for even thinking that I could write a book.

I will keep going until my digits bleed. I’ll have my plot to keep it in line and a synopsis of each scene. The writing will be lean, whilst still giving you impressions of another world. I want my readers to fill in the blanks and use their imaginations to colour it in from their perceptions and life experiences.

There will be no second cut, this was a one time thing. I think I needed to find what works for me as a writer and every single word I kept was based on a plan/plot/scene idea.

So have I completely lost it, gone nuts, flown away with the fairies? Comments as always welcome.