Friday, February 1, 2013

Getting those words on the page

There's a lot of times where it's hard to write. This morning, in fact, I was staring at my computer unwilling to click on my document tab to continue working on my WIP. I was thinking of the scope of the work ahead of me and how it was just so impossible and how I would never be able to wrangle the titanic mass of my novel together in a coherent fashion.

That, right there, was my problem. When you're sitting down to write, or really, do anything on a large scale, you can't think about the scope of your task. Know that it's big, but you can't focus on that. You have to focus on the small things that you can do right then to make it all come together. Take small pieces. You know the saying that I'm about to butcher: To move a mountain you must start with very small stones.

Your book is a mountain, and it comes together with stones.

So, here are some tips that get me moving when I'm just staring at the screen, wondering how I ever got myself into this situation and oh god it'll never happen I just can't blauuurgghhhhh...

  • Number one! Just open your work, scroll to the bottom, and start reading where you left off the last time. 90% of the time this gets me moving. I either start editing things or I remember what I wanted to do or I realize that I have a better idea now than last time. 
  • Two! Write a scene you know will never be in your book. Just write the shittiest piece of crap you can. Take your character and throw them into a situation that they absolutely would never be in. If your novel is a high-fantasy epic, take your stout warrior who never breaks his vows and throw him into a movie theatre or the red-light district of Hanoi. Just let it run wild for a thousand words. You'll be so amused by what happens that I promise you will learn something about your character that you didn't know before.
  • Three! Find an object in the room. Preferably one whose history you don't completely know. Maybe it's a lamp you picked up at a yardsale. Maybe it's a gift you got from a friend. Maybe it's some old bric-a-brac from your grandparents. Find it, and write a 200 word story about it. Keep it short. This will get the writing part of your brain pumping. This is stretching for your brain. After one or even a few of these shorts, you will be ready to pound out the words.
  • Four. If you don't already, write a scene from the POV of your villain. Don't let them become a character unless they already are, or mess with your story structure too much -- I know a lot of authors have trouble when they write a POV for a character that usually doesn't have one; they just want to keep writing more and more and more about them! Just remember, this is an exercise, not a marathon. Just write the POV scene and get the villain's motivations really in your head. Prep yourself for that final confrontation. Get the villain's voice really cemented. In writing this POV you will likely come up with new ways to torture your protagonist, or at least think of creepy things for the villain to whisper in your MC's dreams.
  • Five. If none of these things are working. Go get some exercise. Go move. Research shows that being in motion improves creativity. The current theory is that your visual cortex becomes more active as you take in and process your moving surroundings, and this jump-starts the daydream machine. (yeah we don't know a lot about that part of the brain yet :P) But seriously, it works. You see Neil Gaiman tweeting constantly about "well gotta figure out how to finish this scene, time to go for a run." or "just got back from a run, figured out how to end the book." Just go for a walk, you don't need to run (I don't. I ride, though). The key point is DONT STAY IN YOUR HOME. See something new, be in motion.
  • If none of these work for you, TOO BAD. Stop being so stubborn you whiney baby! Go write and stop feeling sorry for yourself! :D Seriously though -- you're only going to get better at this when you do it, and I promise that once you're at that page and start typing those words, you will feel much better.
  • Oh I suppose there's a 6. If nothing else works, go write a blog post about how to make yourself write. It works for me!
Good luck guys, and happy writing!

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