Tuesday, 25 February 2020

What To Do When You Just Don't Feel Like Writing

I'm currently in the middle of writing my next novel.

But there's a problem, if you can call it a problem. And that is, whenever I'm writing, I lose track of time and before I know it hours have passed by without me even realising it.

It's obvious to see that being totally immersed in my work that I lose track of time (while getting thousands of words written), but the problem is that during that time I haven't had a drink and it's too late to get anything else done.

Sometimes I don't even realise how long I've been sitting there until it suddenly occurs to me that I'm struggling to see because it's getting dark, which is exactly what happened to me yesterday. I was sat with my A4 notebook and pencil, writing away, when I started to noticed that it was getting harder and harder to see the page. And when I looked up, it was dusk and the sun had already set.

I had no idea that I'd been sitting there for almost 3 hours! I thought it was still the middle of the afternoon but it was actually almost 6 o'clock. So dinner was late and I was somewhat dehydrated, but on the positive side, I'd written over a dozen pages - front and back.

Only problem now though, is this morning I'm going to have to type it all up, which isn't all bad because I use it as a way to reread my work and see any parts where I've gone wrong.

And then after I do that, I'll get straight back to handwriting again because it's the part I like best. Once I sit down and start writing by hand, it seems like I just can't stop.

Many writers say they suffer from writers' block, but not me.

I do, however, often suffer from can't-sit-down block.

 But as soon as my butt is in the chair and my favorite retractable pencil is in my hand (or my felt tip pen which I also sometimes use), I'm away with my imagination and love every minute of it. Except that time escapes me so I don't actually remember every minute, but that's OK too.

Getting too much writing done is never really a problem, is it?

So this is my writing tip for the day, if you're having trouble sitting down and writing, just grab your favourite notebook and your favourite writing implement and start writing. If you haven't got anything to write, just write anything. Do a bit of journalling, or write about what you can see, hear and smell.

It doesn't matter what you write, only that you make a start. And it doesn't have to be perfect. Feel free to use bad grammar or to spell things wrong, because perfection isn't important at this point, but words on paper are.

And if you're like me, once you start writing, it's hard to stop.

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Saturday, 22 February 2020

Why I'm Like Jackie Collins When It Comes to Writing Novels

This month I'm working on my new novel, which is going to be a really great book because even I'm finding the story fascinating and I know how it ends. :)

The problem though is that I've outlined it by hand (dozens of pages) but I've been writing the manuscript itself straight onto the computer. And this is a problem because I'm finding that working this way is stifling my creativity.

Usually, I much prefer writing by hand and typing things up later. But I thought it would be better to write this book straight onto the computer because it's a long book (hundreds of pages), so time is of the essence.

There has always been a big debate amongst writers as to whether it's better to write books by hand or straight to keyboard. And what I've found is that it's entirely up to each individual writer. Although the 'experts' have said, that from studies that have been done, most writers are more creative when writing by hand and also, that handwriting notes while studying, helps students to retain more knowledge than when they type their notes straight onto their computers. So according to the hex-purts, handwriting always wins over typing straight to the keyboard.

And this can be substantiated when you see authors like Jackie Collins who has a complete collection of her books in handwritten volumes. I was amazed when I saw it in a TV interview with her once. Apparently, she handwrote all her books (and she's written many) and had those handwritten pages made into a beautiful collection of huge, leather-bound books.

In an interview with her in the L A Times, what they said about her handwritten tomes was, "They’re handwritten on legal pads—she doesn’t type— and, on occasion, the spelling is a little shaky, not that she gives a damn." And when asked what she writes with she said,  "It must be black felt pens. Or blue felt pens. And white typing paper or yellow legal pads. There’s no other way."

You can read more about Jackie's writing life in another interview at https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/09/jackie-collins-hollywood-mansion.

So getting back to my own book, although I enjoyed creating the outline by hand, I then found that not only was typing the manuscript creatively stifling, but also (and this is the worst) I kept procrastinating and not WANTING to write because I was not enjoying it. So I was writing less.

All of which helped me to make up my mind about how to write it and that was to go back to handwriting because, ironically, my reason for wanting to type it instead was because I thought it would be quicker. It takes me a lot longer to write things by hand than to type them because I'm a pretty fast typist (I learned touch-typing years ago at school).

But the reality is that it's actually faster for me to handwrite my manuscript because although the initial writing takes longer, I find I write more often and for much longer when I'm sat working with a notebook and pen. Plus I can work anywhere without needing to drag my computer along with me.

So for me, handwriting wins hands down because although I feel like it's taking me longer to write, the fact that I write so much less when I have to type it instead means that I'm actually writing less, not more. So trying to do it faster is completely defeating the object.

And what takes me two or three hours to write, takes me only 30 minutes or less to type up because I can type so fast.

And, most importantly, now that I'm back to handwriting my manuscript, I'm enjoying writing again and I WANT to sit and down and write whereas before, I had to force myself to do it so I was procrastinating instead of writing.

So no matter whether it's faster to handwrite or to type, at least when I'm writing by hand, I'm actually writing.

Watch the short (2 minute) video below for a bit of Jackie Collins' inspirational writing advice.


Wednesday, 19 February 2020

This Simple Change Doubled My Writing Output

They say that the only reason we work 8 hours a day at our job is because they give us 8 hours to do our work. But the truth is that most people could get their work done it half the time, but because we’re given 8 hours, we stretch it out to fit the time.

And it’s the same with writing.

It’s no good telling yourself that you have to sit and write for 8 hours a day if you don’t need to.

Why sit at your computer all day when you could be doing other things?

If you spend more time than you need sitting in front of your computer every day, you’ll just waste time surfing the internet and checking your Facebook account.

I suffered from this lack of productivity problem for a long time.

Then I read a really interesting book called 2,000 to 10,000: How to write better, write faster and write more of what you love.

And the way the author went from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000 was easy. She went out to do it.

So I did the same. I’d often worked away from home before but never all the time.

And what I always found was that while I was somewhere else I wasn’t distracted by anything.

Most of the time when I write away from home, I have no internet connection, which is a good thing.

Even if I’m working somewhere that’s noisy it doesn’t matter. As long as I don’t have anyone wanting my attention, I can just get on with my writing.

And because I look so busy, even people who know me don’t interrupt me, which I’m always glad about because it can really disrupt my flow of concentration.

I can work in the library or at a local park. Sometimes I drive to a nearby lookout because I’m unlikely to run into friends there, and it has covered picnic tables and a toilet block. Perfect!

Even if it rains while I’m out I’ll just sit in my car and write. That too is a good place for uninterrupted writing time.

I find that if I only stay out for 2 hours, I can write up to 7,000 words. That’s double what I get done when I’m at home.

So if you’re not getting as much writing done as you need, try working somewhere else.

You won’t believe what a difference it makes until you try it.


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The Wealthy Writer

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Make Writing So Easy And Fun You Can't Wait To Do It Every Day

I was watching a video of a talk being given by one of my favorite writers, Dean Wesley Smith and in it he said one thing that not only really resonated with me, but it's something that most writers don't do.

And I wondered, why not?

What he said is that writing must be fun to do.

And this is so important that I'll tell you again...

Writing must be fun to do.

If you find that writing is a chore and you always procrastinate because you don't want to do it, it's because it's not fun for you.

There are so many different ways to earn money writing, but just because it's possible to do, it doesn't mean it's the right thing for you to do.

You need to be doing the kind of writing that is fun for you.

Another problem that holds writers back is that they worry too much about their writing being perfect, or not publishing something until they can get the perfect cover or the perfect formatting.

My advice is to just forget about it.

No one is perfect and if you wait till you think your work is perfect you'll never submit it or publish it.

I began writing when I didn't really know what I was doing but I just knew that if I was doing SOMETHING I was moving forward. And it worked. What I was doing wasn't perfect, but I was outworking most other writers so I was making progress and making money.

It was Ray Bradbury who said (and I paraphrase) that if you have a year to write, you're better off writing 52 short stories than try and write one whole novel because it's almost impossible to write 52 bad stories. He said that writing one story a week for a year is great practice so you'll get better as you keep writing.

He also said he has had a sign above his typewriter for over 25 years that says "Don't think!"

So if you want to write more and earn more, my advice is:

Stress less, write more and have fun.

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