If you are a Writer, then Write
If you are a writer, write. If you are a Sculptor, sculpt. If you are a juggler, juggle. I know, sometimes, it's hard to get started. Sometimes I stare at a blank piece of paper and sweat, or stare at a blank computer screa and bite my nails as I think of what to write next.
It can be hard, but we have to stop making excuses and get off our butts, wothout a product, you have nothing to sell. No more writer's block, no more taking breaks. Bradbury said you can go through a million manuscripts before you find your definitive style. Start hooking and jabbing, start writing, now!
Quality over quantity, yes, but if you tell people that you're a writer, and when they ask for a sample you have nothing to produce, you may feel silly.
I am NOT a prolific writer, I struggle too, that why I pick up magazines for writers with helpful advice and tips. In one of them, Locus (which is for SF&F writers and aimed for people in the biz) I found an article on how to avoid distractions in the age of distractions (like internet, cable, etc). Written by author 'Cory Doctorow'. Some of the best I ever had so far.
I'll try to sum up...
1) Short, regular work schedule. Try to dedicate just twenty minutes a day to writing. That isn't asking for very much, on some days I spend hours. The trick is to do it every day, even weekends, there's the problem. When this guy gets a novel project he usually uses the time to get one or two pages done each day. I think that's a good modest goal and not asking too tooo much. I did the math, if I could get off my butt and do a page a day I would end up with several novels a year. For people like us, who probably cant keep up that kind of pace, maybe we should start at a few paragraphs a day. Oy!
2)When you get to your goal---stop! I know, its will be hard, I will be tempted to go on and on if I'm on a streak. However, he makes good points. Stop, even if you are in the middle of a sentence, that way when you pick it up the next day you have a little kick start and know where to pick it up.
3)No research. I know, me too. But again, he has an excellent point. I dont know how many nights I would stop in the middle of a story to do some research on my favorite gobbler of time and creative energy, Wikipedia, and ended up spending hours looking up pictures of giant squids and circus bears riding unicycles. Why? Easy distractions. Putting a few links and websites in my hands is like putting a mouse directly on TOP of the mouse trap. Whenever you get someplace where you need research data, like the length of the Brooklyn bridge, just type out ' TK '. Whenever you come across it when you proof read that's your way of knowing it needs data. Also, if somehow you miss it and come across it later in the future, or an editor, if they're not assholes, they will point it out for you. Its like secret journalistic lingo or something. The story comes first, then the details. Research is not writing and vice versa.
4)No ceremonies. Some peoples' advice on how to get past writing blocks is to set up a nice atmosphere, lighting candles, incense, mediatating, and other horse crap. No ceremonies, they distract from the writing itself and mentally make you dependent on a certain kind of setting in order to get work done. All you need is your twenty minutes a day and that's it. You should be able to get the work done with a crying baby in the same room. Its just one day, just twenty minutes, no need to rub the Budhha's belly or sitting crosslegged on a bush of four-leaf clovers or anything. No holy cow, no 'special' writing rooms, just you and the paper. Showdown.
5)Kill your word processor. Some word programs have so many features built into them that its impossible to get a sentence done because half the page is red or green, and a little talking dog icon on the side is talking to me. Silence them, the people who made those programs are not authors and dont know any more about writing a book than they probably do about fornicating. No spell check, word check, or anything check until you get your daily goal done, then play cut and paste with your finished product. Without your 'David' there is no sculpture to polish, Michaelangelo.
6)Eliminate pop-ups, screensavers, and notifications that may distract you. Yahoo messenger annoys the hell out of me, so does weatherbug, and AOL mail. That's why when I'm writing I usually have those closed anyway. It's just another disraction, another thing to tempt us to double click on an ad or do some stupid trivia quiz to prove to ourselves that we are not stupid. Aunt Margorine can wait for twenty minutes until you get your work done, I'm sure she'll understand if you cant IM her right back.
The most important thing is to keep doing it when you start. It's hard to keep it up, but just remember that every piece won't be perfect right away, even after heavy editing. Don't get bogged down in the most minute detail, start with your framework and then add flesh.
And that, my friends, was his advice to me, and my advice to you. I am merely the messenger. Some of it I have been doing, some of it I have yet to try or test out. It is hard to keep up with, but seemes like solid advice.
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