How do you like your job? How did you like it when you first got it? Were you excited? Did that change with time? In this post I’ll try to touch on something that – I learnt – frustrates a lot of new writers.
Many of us have been there before. A lot are there now. Let me paint you a picture if you will and feel free to jump and say “That’s me, right there!” when you see it…
You feel a certain muse. Something is nagging at the edge of your being and you struggle to put your finger on it. You know it’s there… If you could only… the gates open and you see it!
That A-ha! moment when an idea presents itself in all of its glory and possibilities. You scramble to find your notebook (or anything you can write it on) and you put your idea down and breath… “There it is.” You got the idea and your mind is racing. Already in these few seconds it took you to write the idea, you start envisioning the great tale that would come out of it. You might even have a hero in mind, or perhaps a villain?
You push everything aside. Full of adrenaline you sit down and start writing a main plot. Something along the lines of “Johnny finds a magic wand, has [enter big problem here] and ends up beating the bad guys and saving the girl.”
Next you share this with a couple of close friends and they say “Wow, that’s so cool! How do you come up with all these ideas?” and you just know you’re onto something great!
Who knows? maybe you are!
So now you know you have a great idea, you know that your hero will save the day and you might even have a very clear idea on how he’s going to pull this off. Here’s where many of us deflate…
We start writing and after a while we look at that last scene where our hero shoots up the place and kills all the bad folks and we ask… “are we there yet?”
I hear this one a lot. I even felt that way myself. It takes many words to write a novel… It’s hard… I get bored… I get tired… It’s a grind…
It most certainly is hard. No argument here. Then again, what’s easy? There’s not a lot of rewarding things that aren’t hard. But is should not be boring or tiring or grinding. It should be fun, no? Hey, Don’t look at me, it’s your story 😉
So how do you not get caught in a grind?
Here are my five recommendations for you:
- Plot a lot! – If you plot your novel from A to Z you’d have a very clear view of what’s next. That sets you on a path and gives you purpose. How well did you do in the past when you knew where you were going? I thought so 🙂
- Learn how to form a scene – You might be surprised to know that when you know how to begin and end a scene, it’s not only the reader who’d go on to the next page…
- Invest in your characters – If your character is flat it will feel that way when you write. Take the time and invest in knowing her/him. write some “stuff” about her. Who is she? What does she like? By all means – interview your character. When your character looks like a real person (not real as someone you know, but real as she has all the makings of a person), you’ll feel a lot better with how you portray her and her journey in your novel.
- Read! – Yes you do have time to read. Everyone has time to read! The more you read – I found – the better you “flow”. It’s not about imitation or emulation of any other writer’s style. I honestly think it’s beyond my capacity to explain how it works. All I know is that it does! So go read!
Oh, and for heaven’s sake –
- Write write write! – Write whatever and whenever possible. Write letters, blog posts, poetry, whatever. They say that money makes money. Well guess what? Writing makes more writing. I have a very busy schedule and I have just over half a novel left to write but I make it a point to come here and write some more! That’s what we do – we write. right? Write whether it looks like literary gold or horse manure… it really doesn’t matter. Manure can serve as the ground on which your best pieces of text can grow. And gold? well, it’s gold!
I don’t buy into “Writer’s block“. It’s a myth. It doesn’t exist other than to serve as an excuse not to write. If you feel stuck on your current project, look at what you can do to improve your plot, characters, your concept.. and while you’re looking into it, write something else.
Don’t give in to “the grind”. Writing a novel is hard, but it should be fun.
Let me know your thoughts! Let me know of other ways you know to make writing flow.