We’ve all got our own methods for barrelling through the day. Some of us make lists, some of us have reminder apps, some of us keep all our errands and tasks in our heads. When you’re writing, some days the words flow and sing, and when you’re editing, some days you’re so excited that you can feel the s***ty first draft words turning to smooth, well placed sentences under your fingers.
At other times, between real life and lack of confidence, every word sounds stupid and clichéd and nothing your characters say seems plausible or remotely exciting. The best cure for that, of course, is to go out and live life for a while. Step away from the page and interact with others. Do something fun and unexpected!
For those times when you can’t do that – faced with a deadline or the need to by-gum-get-things-done – I’ve got a few tips and tricks that have helped me
Read poetry, especially something that’s written in a style completely unlike what you’re used to reading or writing. Penning a dark urban mystery? Read some Gerard Manley Hopkins. Creating a lyrical literary masterpiece? Browse some Bukowski. The contrast, and the 360 way of looking at the same old world, tends to jump start your creativity.
Research. Not in a long-term, leading to procrastination way, but in fits and starts. What’s the view from the castle at Naples? A two second Google image search. Can you use coltsfoot in stew? Another split second search. Don’t get distracted by photos of the Italian countryside or delicious recipes. Search, find the answer, return to the manuscript. Done! Hopefully, that’ll satisfy any urge you might have had to click over to Facebook…
Plan for writing time. “Today I will write from 1 to 3 pm.” Watch your writing time get eaten up by family demands, freelancing, household tasks, what have you. Get mad. Write anyway, even if you lose an hour’s sleep.
Go out of your comfort zone. I love writing at home, listening to my own music, accompanied by cats. Yet I get a lot more work done when I wake early and head to the coffee shop, where they play music that I can’t stand and where there’s always the possibility of overhearing ridiculous conversations (“So, like, I told him not to do that, but then he did, and I was all, how could you, and you know what my therapist says…”).
Last but not least…
Read. Write. Don’tStop. Don’tcompareyourselftoothers. There’snohurry. ChangePOVs. Writeinstreamofconsciousnesstoexploreacharacter . DrinkcoffeeStopreadingalltheso-calledrulesaboutwriting. Idleawaybythinkingofchaptertitlesorcharacternamesorbynamingashipcardoggoldfish. Siptea. Thinkaboutyourstorywhilewalkingshoweringbicycling. Re-readafavouritebookorlistentoafavouritealbum. Playagame. Daleks! Tellittosomeoneelse. Ignoreitandgowatchamovie. Eat. Blog. Exercise. Putyourantagoniststogether. Stopfocusingonbooksales-yourownorothers’. Have fun!