Sunday, 7 August 2016

Sitting down to Write - Overcoming the hurdles 

I took a (long) break from writing. I am now writing again and currently working on novel # 3. Interestingly, I see that all the old hurdles are creeping up again. You know - the crippling fear, the self-doubt, the usual. Thankfully, because of writing books 1 & 2, I have a bit of experience in dealing with those hurdles. I know when they arise and I know how to deal with them. 

When I mention to friends/acquaintances that I have written books, they often say, "Oh! I'd love to write a book too. But I wouldn't know where to start..." The truth is, if I can do it, anyone again. Here are the hurdles I have come across and here are my tips for dealing with them. 

Problem #1 - The Fear 

This is what happens before you even think about sitting down with a pen and paper to write. The Fear Happens. 

The Fear says "Ha! You! You think you can write?! ha ha ha ha *snort* No. You can't write! Where would you even start! There's no way you could write an entire novel! Don't be so ridiculous. Forget that notion immediately and just content yourself."

Tip #1 - Just Ignore The Fear 

The Fear is a voice that will pop up occasionally. It is just a thought and it is not fact. Ignore it. Carry on. 

Problem #2 - Procrastination 

When you actually do sit down at your first writing session, procrastination sets in. Suddenly this seems like a great time to pull out a compact mirror and start studying your teeth. God, they really could do with a floss, couldn't they? *sets off to bathroom to get some floss* Or your nails- they could do with some clear varnish. Anything to actually avoid starting. 

Tip #2 - Just Do It 

Put your phone on silent and in the other side of the room out of eyesight. Just start. Start writing and ignore the 'Fear' which will jump up and down and say 'this is crap'. Tell the fear that 'this is just a first draft'. 'It doesn't have to be perfect'. 'I can go back and fix it'. That gives you the freedom to relax and write anything. Write badly. Write freely. Just write. Get it on the page. Sometimes something miraculous happens. Sometimes a phrase will come out of 'nowhere' or a sentence will flow out of your pen and you'll think 'Cool! Where did that come from?!" And you'll be pleased with yourself. 

Either way, by the time you get to the end of your writing session, it will be more words written that if you listened to the Fear. It's a start. 

Problem #3 - Thinking Stuff Up 

But how do I think stuff up? Where do I start?

Tip #3 - Get stuff down 

The trick is not to 'think stuff up' - the trick is to 'get stuff down'. 

When I write, I like to pretend I'm sitting in the audience in a theatre. The red curtain has been pulled back, the actors are on stage performing. My job is to record what's happening. 

It sounds like a bit of cliche but your characters will start to tell you what they're doing. It might take a few chapters to get into the flow but once you start, they'll make sure to tell you how they will react to situations!

Think of a theme you'd like to work with in your novel. 
Think of characters that could highlight that theme.
Think of the conflict in the beginning, think of the resolution at the end, and think of the twists and turns in the middle. 
You have the bones.
Ignore the fear and just do it!