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Friday, 8 November 2013

Writing Tips for Insane People


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It's an indescribable joy, it's incredibly painful, it drives you nuts. So why, on God's good earth, would you do it to yourself? This is the mystery, dear friends! And we writers don't even bother trying to answer it. We just know we are compelled.

I've been a published author for 13 years. I've written five chapter books for kids, poetry, non-fiction, short stories and four novels, one of which is about to be published (more details on that soon!)
So, here's some tips I thought I'd share with you, dear writer, whoever and wherever you are, to keep your head up: 
        
 1. Organise your environment. 
      You can’t expect your brain to function in surroundings which are constantly distracting you from the task, ie: dirty washing on the floor, annoying pets demanding your attention, household members (children and partner) interrupting you, too hot, too cold, uncomfortable chair, a total mess all over your desk. Ready your mind, by readying your environment. Have a list of things that tick you off and start ticking them off! Make sure your desk has only what you need for the task, not groaning under the weight of miscellaneous paraphernalia.
     
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      2. Organise your story.  
      Yes, there’s a theme developing here. One of the biggest excuses I use is that I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing next or where I am in the novel. I solve this by having notebooks full to the brim with ideas timelines, scene sequences, character profiles and maps. Beat that pathetic, whiney voice in your head by knowing your characters well, understanding how the tension is going to escalate and how you plan to resolve it.

       3. Make time. 
      If you have to write at 2am, do it! If this project is important enough to you, you will find a way to get it done. You just have to give yourself permission. After all, writing isn’t a dawdle, its soul-grinding work at times. Of course, there are times when you soar on the wings of angels as the words pour out of some primal part of you, fully formed and fantastic. No, wait, that was a dream I had. Any sane person would not choose to be a writer!

           4. Set goals. 
       Even if it’s as small as “I’m going to work for an hour.” Even if it’s just editing what you’ve already written, or going over the character backgrounds to reacquaint yourself with these fascinating people.
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    5. Tell someone about what you’re doing. 
      Make yourself accountable to someone who doesn’t live inside your head! Talk about your story, the characters, where it’s going, what it's hoping to explore. What is it you are trying to say with this tale?

Now, I just want to clarify, up front, that I do not always take my own advice and I’m my worst critic, but the important thing is, I keep trying. I take aim and fire, not matter how small the target. Your hopes and dreams are bound up in this thing. Make it something you want to sing about in the shower! Make it your personal stamp on the world, something you’ve given us all. Don’t let doubts, rejections, other people’s opinions or ill health stop you. Fight for it! And good luck.
 

cheers, Dawn

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