Wednesday 18 January 2023

What I Do to Write Fiction When I Have No Ideas

My desk buddy, Marvin The Martian
Last year I told you that I'd downloaded a copy of the eBook, Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline, by Dean Wesley Smith.

It's an absolutely fascinating book about how to start writing a story with nothing but a character and a situation/setting. So for instance, a female ballet dancer at a truck stop, or a recovering alcoholic standing outside a bar wondering whether or not to go in.

And when you've got your character and setting, you just start writing without any idea where the story is going.

I had to read the book twice before I gave it a try because it seemed insane, but I figured if such a prolific writer as Dean Wesley Smith could do it thousands of times AND earn a lot of money from it, why not give it a go.

But it wasn't easy because I'm an avid outliner when it comes to writing. I can easily spend a couple of days writing nothing but my outline before I even begin writing a book.

So I decided to start small with a short story.

And it worked.

I tried it again only this time I went online to a random word generator page, got my 3 words, and started writing.

And I have to admit it was quite a blast. I was writing with no idea where I was going, but I did have to pause once or twice to try and think.

Since then I've done it several times and each time it gets easier, probably because it doesn't feel as scary the second, third, or fourth time.

I'm also quite surprised at how creative I am and how quickly ideas can actually come to me.

And funnily enough, all this writing short fiction into the dark, is what I do in the evening. For some reason, even though I'd swear I'm a morning person and it's when I do most of my writing, the evenings seem to be for fiction writing, which is another thing that surprised me.

I still don't think I could write a whole novel this way because my short stories have to be done in just one or two sittings. After that, my ideas start to fade.

It's probably why I prefer writing outlines for my books because once all my ideas are captured in my extensive outline, I can relax and write, knowing that nothing will be left out, and even as I write, more ideas keep coming to me.

If you haven't tried writing short stories "into the dark" give it a try.

You don't have to show your work to anyone else. It's just some fun writing for you to do.

I find it's a great way to start writing even if I don't have anything to write. I just get my 3 words and start writing. It means that I can write anywhere, anytime. All I need is a notebook and pen/pencil (I prefer to write by hand, me and Stephen King both I discovered), 3 random words, and I can write for hours.

I bet next time I have to take a long train ride into the city (which usually takes over an hour) I can write a brilliant short story during the journey there and back, even if I don't have a clue what I'm going to write before I get on the train.

What I'm going to do with the stories I've written so far I have no idea. But if I find a freelance market looking for a story like one of mine, I'll submit it. I may also collate them into a book of short stories.

Who know?

For now though I'm going to keep on writing, because that's the most import part of being a writer.

And being able to write into the dark anytime I want to, is a game changer.

NOTE: The photo above is of my little desk buddy, Marvin the Martian, who I complain to when I'm struggling to write, or who I smile at when I'm inspired to write and getting loads done. :)

Monday 16 January 2023

This Simple Little Tip Will Get You Writing Like A Pro - Instantly

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Do you know how people become top athletes?


They become great at what they do through practice, and they practice all the time.

They usually need a coach to become great at what they do, to show them how it’s done.

Likewise, professionals need a university degree to be able to do what they do, or a business course.

In the same way, writers need to learn from the best, and it’s easy to do, and free.

Whatever type of writer you want to be, find some great writing in your preferred genre/field, and practice writing it out.

Copy out passages from their books, ads, join their email list and copy out their emails too.

We all know that writers are readers, and we learn a lot about writing from what we read. But what works even better is copying it out by hand. This gives us a good feel for the tempo, the words, and the flow.

Don’t plagiarize their work, just learn how it’s done. Have fun writing like your favourite authors. Spend as much time as you want writing like a pro till it feels natural and you have a good understanding of their writing style and how they tell a great story.

Athletes don’t go straight out and compete without years of practice. Professionals study hard and do work experience to get a thorough understanding of what they need to do and how to be good at it.

As a writer you need to do the same.

Study writing by copying the great writers, then go out and write as much of your own words as you can.

Never stop writing. 

Write every day. 

And this consistent practice will help you to become great at what you do.


Thursday 12 January 2023

How To Make Yourself Procrastination Proof

Professor Snape- Writing

Procrastination is a dirty word, especially to writers, so why do we do it so often?

It’s easy to think that it’s something only unknown writers suffer from, but it’s not.

Even the most prolific writers find it hard to sit down and write when they don’t feel like it.

Stephen King, who is considered a prolific writer, in his book, On Writing, said that he writes a minimum of 2,000 words a day, which for him is 10 handwritten pages. But even he suffers from procrastination some days.

“On some days those ten pages come easily; I’m up and out doing errands by eleven thirty in the morning, perky as a rat in liverwurst.  More frequently, as I grow older, I find myself eating lunch at my desk and finishing the work around one-thirty in the afternoon. Sometimes, when the words come hard, I’m still fiddling around at teatime. Either way is fine with me but only under dire circumstances do I allow myself to shut down before I get my 2,000 words,”

And in those words of wisdom lies the “secret” of how to procrastination proof yourself.

And just in case you missed it, the “secret” is to sit down and write, and don’t get up until you’ve finished, no matter what.

In fact, if you did the same with anything you have to do that you don’t feel like doing – household chores, shopping, washing the car, doing laundry – you’d have what author Don Aslett calls a “48-Hour Day.”

They say that how you do anything is how you do everything.

So quit procrastinating about everything.

Turn off Netflix, put down your phone, stop reading this, and get your writing done, whether you feel like it or not, and no matter how long it takes, even if you’re “still fiddling around at teatime.”

There’s no excuses for procrastinating.


Stop Procrastinating and Take Back Control of Your Life

Tuesday 10 January 2023

The 5 Minute Antidote to Writing More, Writing Faster, And Writing Better.

Woman writing more, writing faster
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

How much can you write in 5 minutes?

You probably think, “not much.”

But if you’ve ever done a speed writing exercise, you’ll know that you can easily write 2/3 pages in 5 minutes.

Doing speed writing exercises is easy. You just use 3 random words (easy to find online from a random word generator page), set a timer for 5 minutes, and start writing. You can write whatever you want but those 3 words must be included in your opening paragraph.

These exercises are fun to do and a simple antidote on days when you don’t feel like writing because they help get you into the writing “zone” quickly, in just 5 minutes (unsurprisingly).

So if you can write 2/3 page in 5 minutes, you should be able to write 8 to 10 pages in an hour (1 hour ÷ 5 minutes = 12 x 2/3page = 8) depending on your own personal typing/writing speed.

Once you know how much you can write in an hour, imagine how much you can write in a week. And that’s if you’re only writing for one hour a day.

This is the power of not procrastinating.

It’s sitting down and writing without giving yourself excuses to stop.

And all it takes is 5 minutes to write 2/3 of a page.

When the 5 minutes is up, you won’t want to stop.