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Posts tagged ‘Kate Grenville’

First Monday Mentoring November 2016 – five ways to start writing when you’d rather watch paint dry

Hi and welcome to First Monday Mentoring when we discuss aspects of writing not normally talked about.

For instance, the art of watching paint dry. I’m doing it a lot lately, not literally, but in the sense of not wanting to sit down at my desk and write actual words. After being published for four decades, and ninety books, this is a strange experience.

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I’ve found all manner of things to fill the time, from reading to giving my home a spring makeover. Watching too many real estate and renovating programs may make one thing springboard off another. I also wonder, is this how people fill their time when they don’t have stories and characters chattering away in their heads?

After a while you start to wonder if the muse has deserted you for good. Not that I’m a big fan of the muse, believing that professional writers write, inspired or not. Over many years, when I’ve been unable to conjure up the exact words I want, I’ve given myself permission to write any old how, telling myself it will be edited later.

This process has never failed me – until now. But as with everything to do with writing, there are no absolutes. The process of writing is what spy thriller writer, Len Deighton, called “a muddled system of trial and error.” He said the hardest lesson to learn is that thousands of words must be written and then discarded or rewritten before the “keepers” emerge.

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Deighton said he softened the blow by keeping his early drafts for months before throwing them away. If nothing else, this gave him the objectivity which is mostly lacking when confronting our freshly written drafts.

Writers trip ourselves up in dozens of ways. The most common, fear of failure, can lead to making sure we have no time to write that best seller. Spring makeover, anyone? Social media, while being a useful promotional tool, can feel as if we’re writing, without contributing a single word to a manuscript.

So here are five ways to stop yourself watching paint drying – or real estate programs.

  1. Find your best writing time and protect it ferociously

The time needn’t be from nine to five, unless it suits you. If you are most productive in the early hours or late into the night, keep these times free from distraction and interruption.

  1. Have your own writing place

Even if it’s only a corner of a room, or in your car, having that space and associating it with writing can be a powerful tool.

  1. Develop a writing habit

Victor Pineiro, blogged here http://tinyurl.com/zym8cq4 about writing his first novel by working on a laptop during his hour-long train trip to work. He says, “The key was not getting angry at myself for writing pure garbage some days. This was just an experiment — nothing to lose. As you’ve read dozens of times, once you do something for thirty days it becomes habit .” Once his laptop was open, he says, he felt obligated to write and it slowly became a habit.

  1. Use the small chunks of time

Like Pineiro, you can write while commuting; dictate story notes on your hands-free phone as you drive; plot the next step in your book while awaiting an appointment; or read reference material online while the kids play sport. This frees up your writing time to generate actual words.

  1. Write for yourself at first

I’ve blogged here about the critic over your shoulder, the inner voice insisting you can’t write so why bother? Somehow we have to overcome the critic and write anyway. Writing for yourself alone, and not letting anyone see your work until you’re ready, often helps. You can also do what Kate Grenville told me she does – put a sign over your desk, reminding yourself, “It can all be fixed tomorrow.”

What every writer's conscience should look like

What every writer’s conscience should look like

Now all I have to do is take my own advice. Right after I check out this Tiny House makeover.

Feel free to comment or share your experiences below. The blog is moderated to avoid spam. If you’d like your comments to appear right away, click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone. Happy writing!

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Valerie’s latest book, Outback Code, is available from Harlequin from November 21  

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Three things writers tell ourselves. Only one is true.

We writers are very good at spinning yarns – that’s why we’re writers. But we are also very good at telling ourselves stories. Lies if you like. The trouble is when we start believing them. Here are three I’ve heard, and told myself, countless times. Can you spot the one truth?

1. I don’t need to write my idea down. I’ll remember it in the morning.

This is a big one, and no, you won’t remember in the morning. All you will remember is that you had a brilliant idea. If you’re lucky, you may remember enough fragments to sort of recapture the idea. But you will always know there was more. If only you’d made the effort to scribble down a few notes, dictated your thoughts into a recording device, or left yourself a voice message as a reminder, you’d be on your way. The moments directly before and after sleep are known to produce brainwaves associated with creativity. Unfortunately, they are also least connected to short-term memory, which is why this problem occurs. Capture the lightning. Make notes. Your brain isn’t hard-wired to remember your brilliant ideas in these brief but fertile moments.

2. I won’t write today. I can catch up tomorrow.

You know this for a lie the moment you read it. We all do. Whether your target daily word count is five hundred words or five thousand (yes, these freaks of nature do exist), you’re wise to try to write them, even if you think they suck pondwater.  Kate Grenville told me she has a sign over her desk saying, “It can all be fixed tomorrow.” Another amazing writer, Nora Roberts,  said at an Australian writing conference, “You can fix a bad page, you can’t fix a blank page.” Skipping a day because of an emergency is one thing. Skipping because you don’t feel like writing is dangerous. One day can easily become many, until you have to question how much you really want to write.

3. I’ll think of a better ending later

Strangely, this isn’t a lie. Sometimes the only way to solve a writing challenge is to write your way through it. When writing my screenplay recently, I knew what I wanted to have happen at the climactic scene. What I didn’t know was how the scene would go. I wrote a treatment (synopsis) for the producer and told him that the scene would change. When I got there, it took me several long nights of brainstorming on paper to resolve the problem. What if? Why would she…? Could she do that? What if he…? until I had the breakthrough I needed. The result was a nifty twist I couldn’t have foreseen at the start, because I hadn’t lived in my characters’ world for long enough.

“If you build it, they will come” is often true of writing. Capture your ideas. Commit to showing up most days and meeting your chosen word count. Your reward will be a world that comes to life for you and your readers.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @valerieparv and Facebook

now writing for Living Magazine http://www.livingmagazine.com.au

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