#1 Read something else. From what I see, a great number of writers have the issue that, when faced with a tasty looking book by another writer, we would rather spend some time (preferably hours) with that person’s characters and plots, than play around our own. Even though there’s literally no way for one to write if one doesn’t read – although I wouldn’t be surprised if people actually tried it – there is a time and a place for reading, and it is after you’ve written, and not necessarily at your desk. (Oh, I don’t have a desk yet, don’t worry, but kitchen table sounds so quaint.)
#2 Talk about writing. To your partner, your friends, your editor or your unsuspecting colleagues who would probably rather have you talk about something else, for a change. Or, umm, have them talk, yes, I know, I’m sorry. I actually find that sharing excitement helps to stay excited about a project, but there’s also the issue of not being able to talk and type at the same ime, so – talking = still not writing!
#3 Read about writing. You know the drill – how to write, how to plot, how to avoid writing altogether. Though I find some types of articles and manuals immensly helpful – e. g. studies into pulp fiction writers, or plotting genre novels – I prefer to read them after having written for the day. If I have the time to put some extra hours in writing on a certain day, I might take a short, motivational break with a writer’s blog or two, but – getting motivated and learning a trick or two of the craft – still not actually practicing the craft itself.
#4 Research and/or plan. Though, technically – especially when you take a walk on the wild side of fiction inspired by history – this is rather unavoidable, it’s still not – you’ve guessed it – writing. On good days (of which I was lucky enough to have quite a few in these past February and March) I usually write for an hour or three, and then spend the remaining few hours online or offline, trying to track down some obscure detail or another. (Bless Google Maps for tracking distances on foot, a crucial detail for historical fiction.) My favourite type of research revolves around future projects, having made the great mistake of writing my first ever published novel with next to no research, a grave error. Thus, research can acutally hurt the writing pace, because it employs totally different parts of a writer’s mind.
Also – and I’ve learned this the hard way – stopping mid-sentence to find out where the closest railway station to your town would have been in 1874 is a surefire way to delay the whole process for the day. These days, I leave [the railway station] in parentheses, just like that, and do the actual research in the editing phase. The reasoning is quite simple – not many readers will actually care about the details, but they will most definitely care if the writer didn’t finish the scene in the same emotional tone as it had started.
#5 Edit. (Or take a walk straight into hell, imho, it would probably take less time and far less pain.) There are writers who edit as they go, but I’m mostly too excited or too embarassed by what I’ve written. Editing, too, slows down the working (and onward-pushing) parts of my brain too much. That’s why I’m going to need to work hard to train myself to edit faster and stay motivated more easily in the second part of 2019. You know – grants ‘n’ all.
#6 Write about writing. (Got me there…) Sometimes, the frustration just has to get out somehow, and is there any better way? A note needs to be made that I love writing with a passion of a thousand werewolves, and, when I write, I never seem to understand why anyone would do anything else, ever. The fun in the process is a great way to gauge if something is working or not, too – if something sucks to be written, how the frak do I expect it not to suck to be read? Still,
rantingwriting about writing has its uses, too. (Like, hey – new blog post!) Today, my planned schedule consisted mostly of editing. Naturally, rather than wtiting, I’ve commited avoidances #1 and #6, so far. And now I’m getting back to #1, again, and I can’t even say I’m that sorry.
After all, writing a blog post about writing is still writing, right?