♫On the second day of Bookmas, the book blogger gave to me, a list of writing tips and a book rec for a mystery...♫
Hello and welcome back to My Words Are Arrows for Bookmas Day 2! Today I have something I haven't done for ages, which is a writing tips post. Back when MWAA was much younger, shortly after its inception in 2013, I wrote a short (and really bad) post about writer habits, and also one about character profiling, but I thought today I'd sit down and talk through some actual writing tips that I've collected over the last five years or so of me discovering my own technique.
When You're Starting Out
When you first get a story idea, it might be tempting, if you're anything like me, to excitedly whip out a blank document and start writing. And sometimes, that can be a good thing to do. But more often than not, I've found, when I do that, I lose the story very quickly, and I find it hard to write a cohesive manuscript with any continuity. The excitement of a new idea is a really good writing motivator, but a handy tip I've found that helps to keep your ideas gathered and starts making you think about the trajectory of the story is to write a blurb for it. I sometimes imagine that I've written the story, and I'm ready to publish it, and I need to sell it to my readers, outlining the plot and all its selling points. This helps me to think about the story and the way I want it to go, and to also plan a little bit rather than jumping straight in the deep end.
Another handy idea is just jotting down a few dot points at the top of the document before you start writing. They don't have to be extensive, or even comprehensible to anyone other than you. But a few dot points with a few ideas of where you want the story to go can make all the difference, and can also spark new ideas and prevent the loss of direction. Maybe you could make a note of an important scene you're looking forward to writing later on, or a character you want to introduce. You could even jot down a specific line of dialogue or prose that helps define a scene, character, setting, etc. I find that just doing a tiny bit of planning can be really helpful to stay on track.
When You're Sailing Along Nicely
When you're flying through words smoothly and loving life because you have a story that's coming together, making sense and kicking butt, things can feel amazing. But it is so important that you do a few little things that will help to make your entire writing experience more enjoyable.
Timelines. I must admit, I am very guilty of this. I always say I'll work out timeline during the editing process, because I'm too busy writing the actual story, and then after I finish the manuscript, I have to spend hours re-configuring the timeline and continuity. I know it's boring to timeline, trust me. But unless you have an amazing memory and you can clearly see every distinct scene, event, and etc in your head whilst writing, things have the potential to get messy. I find (when I actually do timeline... I think this might be my New Year's Resolution...) that just jotting down scenes in the order they happened can be a huge help. It also helps to draw up a literal timeline, and to place events on it so you can clearly see when things have happened. This makes editing and even writing so much easier to do, so I would highly recommend giving it a try and working out how it works best for you.
This may seem obvious, but number your pages! This is something I always forget to do, and it's so annoying. It takes three seconds to do, and it is so useful and such a time saver.
Don't try to edit as you go. This may not be the most applicable tip for everyone, because all writers and their techniques are different, but I've found that if I just get the words out and then deal with the imperfections later, it's a lot quicker than nitpicking over each word and sentence as I go. The thing is, a first draft is never going to be your final draft, so don't worry if it sucks a little! That's what editing is for. Just spew those words and ideas onto your document and then go through it later. Trust me, your drafts will get progressively better.
When You Hit Writer's Block
As someone who spent a large portion of November crying over my NaNoWriMo project and my various bouts of writer's block, I totally feel you if you're stuck at the moment. The first thing to know is — you're not alone! Every writer feels the pain of writer's block and every writer hates it. And, pretty much every writer has or will overcome it at some stage. I've found some things that can make writer's block easier to deal with.
First of all, let's rewind to back when you started writing your story. When you start a new project, sometimes it's a good idea to write out some reasons why you love your project. It may be a particular character, a scene, or something along those lines. If you have a list of reasons why you love it, you can add to it as you write, and then when you hit a road block you can pull it up and remind yourself of why you started writing this story, and why you want to continue.
Think outside the box! If you've been following a rigid plan, or if you've had a single view for the trajectory of the story that you're not feeling anymore, have some fun and write out some crazy scenarios that probably won't end up being in the actual story. If you have a contemporary and you're not sure where to go, or don't know how to write a particular scene, why don't you try throwing your characters into a zombie apocalypse? Or perhaps try writing a scene in another time period. It's fun, there's no pressure, and it can help get your creativity and imagination going again. Who knows, perhaps your contemporary might morph into a satirical zombie apocalypse. You never know.
Don't, and I repeat, DO NOT, turn to Netflix! Netflix is the destroyer of time and potential. I love Netflix, I really do, and I love binge watching TV shows. However, if you're battling writer's block (or a reading slump, for that matter), and you turn to Gossip Girl or Teen Wolf or Orange is the New Black, you know you're never coming out of that vortex. When you're already struggling to find motivation to write, you do not need the tempting alternative of Upper East Side scandal, or Dylan O'Brien battling forces of evil. Once you start a Netflix binge, it is so hard to get out of it, especially when you don't really want to write.
When You're In Need Of A Little ✧･ﾟ:*Inspiration*:･ﾟ✧
Sometimes, you just need a little motivation to write. Environment makes a huge difference in how you write, and I find that it's best to be completely comfortable so that you're not worrying about annoying people on the bus peering over and reading your demon possession scene, or busy classmates chastising your loud typing. Find somewhere you can relax and write with little distraction. It also helps to have a snack or beverage. My personal preference would be tea and almond trail mix, but whatever yours is, go get some! Because we all know that calories which go into good story writing don't count.
It may also help to read some of your favourite books again, and think about why you like them so much, and whether you can translate those reasons into your own writing. This can also be a good way to think outside the confines of your own original ideas, because sometimes, you need to get out of your comfort zone and kill your darlings to create something wonderful.
Watch this video over and over and over. It works.
I hope these tips have been of use to all you writers out there. It is important that I mention that these are tips I use and have discovered for myself, and they may not be applicable or work for every person, and that's okay! Writing is very trial and error, so if you trial, you may encounter error. But from error, you can minimalise future error! I wish you all the best with your writing projects, and I hope you've enjoyed day 2 of Bookmas!
As usual, you can contact me via any of my socials to chat, give feedback or make business propositions. Have a wonderful day, and I'll see you all tomorrow for day 3 of Bookmas!