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Writing Tips

#1 User is offline   Defiance 

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:42 PM

Is anyone here a frequent writer? I love writing, but I'm also a procrastinator in the worst possible way. I'll think of a great idea and tell myself I should go write about it, but I'll keep putting it off. Eventually, when I do sit down to write, I find myself constantly looking at the time and getting distracted by other things in general. Because of this, I'm here to ask for some advice not on how to write, but on how to start writing. Once I get into a routine I don't think I'll have much trouble, but I'm awful at getting started.

Here are my thoughts on what I'm going to do starting tomorrow:

No video games, TV, or internet browsing until I've written at least "x" many words. I'm thinking 500-1000 to start off with; if I get more that's great, but I need to set a minimum limit. I might have to unplug the internet for this.

I don't have many obligations to be in a certain place at a certain time currently, so I think it also might be good to set a specific time to start writing.

Get rid of the clocks. I'll cover up the one on my computer if I have to. Looking at the time just takes me out of what I'm doing.

Eat beforehand, have a nice hot cup of coffee to keep me company. Because honestly, who writes without coffee?

And the other other side of the obligation: read more! Come 9 or 10 o'clock at night, I need to put the games down and devote an hour or two to reading. I spend far too little time doing my favorite activity.
uhm, that should be 'stuff.' My stiff is never nihilistic.
~Steven Erikson


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#2 User is offline   Ruthan Good 

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:47 PM

I'm with you bruv. Same problem. Problem is, I inevitably end up browsing. Sometimes you want to check out some image, word.... and then it snowballs and you go to this forum, check out bbc, wookieepedia, seinfeld episode, hellboy comic. I've been actually trying to script a comic book recently, got ideas, characters, long overarching storylines. It's fun to brainstorm, but when the time comes to do it, I just fail miserably.

Oh, and can't forget this little thing called a job. Damn having to earn money just gets in the way of everything.
I don't have time to consider things I have to consider.
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#3 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 09:21 AM

Job is a killer for me, but also I get easily distracted.
its all about will power, your brain is conditioned to protect you, so will set up roadblocks in advance so if you fail you have a comforter. "I got caught up doi g this or that, god I'm such a procrastinator, no wonder I cant get my book finished!". On some subconcious level you're concerned it might suck, you might sit and write for days and not get anywhere so you set yourself up for justifying not doing something.

I find it incredibly hard to move past that sometimes (read, fucking daily) the o ly way is to set a time when you sit down for an hour/whatever with a piece of paper, or a computer with the internet disconnected and do not fucking budge from your seat for anything, barring pissing your pants (unless you're super serious, then piss away)
setting a word limit is a similar strategy but it has its pitfalls, sure you might not get your 1000 words down in your hour, but they might be better. I often find when I have a mental word target I automatically start to pad, sure this is what editing is for, but I'd (personally) much rather write a bit less and not have to butcher ot five times to make it palatable.

so uh, yeah, you have to fight you inner demon and be firm with you targets, barring a medical emergency let nothing come between you and that time you've set aside.
if it was a gym membership you'd paid a lot of money for you'd make sure you made your scheduled workout, if it was just running at home you might be more inclined to take an evening off, its very much mind over matter, sme are very good at it, some not so much.
but once you get into a routine you'll find missing a day messes with your groove more than the initial effort of sitting down to it every evening.

I got a little lost there but I think I conveyed my.point, procrastination is an excuse, not a condition, you don't need rewards or locked down rooms to succeed, you just need to beat your brains protection system, don't be scarred of failure, failing means you tried.
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#4 User is offline   Fist Gamet 

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 09:50 AM

Sounds like you guys are creatures of habit, so, if that is your thing, you might want to establish positive habits to write. It is possible that you focus on the myriad excuses to not write because, somewhere deep down, there is a fear of writing within you. Reflect hard and honest on this. Now, should this not be the case, then look to establish new patterns of behaviour for yourself. Make it easy for yourself and take the pressure off. Set aside one hour, get rid of the distractions, set an alarm clock and place it away from you to relieve the time pressure. Sit down. Have cup of coffee ready. Face the blank screen. Write.

Research is important but you need to be ruthless in separating research time from writing time. Writing time is just for writing. Research time is wher eyou can edit and add and revise and let your creative mine wander without worrying that you are not writing.
Victory is mine!
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#5 User is offline   D'iversify 

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 11:16 AM

May not work for creative writing, but i find with academic work, I sometimes work better when slightly tired, as if I'm buzzing I find it easier to be distracted. Mind you, I have to have the research done and a good plan set up already. So I'd recommend writing a skeleton first - no major details, no literary language, just what's going to happen. Break it down into scenes so that it's more digestible. Then write it out scene by scene, putting flesh onto the bones. Don't care too much for perfection first time round, unless you're the kind of writer who prefers to go slowly but get things right first time. If you have a well set out skeleton, the tendency to pad will decrease hopefully as you'll concentrate on joining the dots rather than bumbling your way from event A to B. As I said, I write more academic stuff than creative, but I've been moving more and more towards this kind of strategy and it can work well.
I am the Onyx Wizards
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#6 User is offline   Defiance 

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:23 PM

Thanks for the great advice, guys.

I'll readily admit that part of it is the fear of failure. It's stupid, and I tell myself it's stupid, but I let it get to me none-the-less. It's especially silly considering when I have written stories or even just RPed on a play-by-post board, people have personally come to me saying how much they've enjoyed my writing.

Time to say fuck the stupid excuses. To continue your analogy with exercise, being deterred from writing because it might not be as good as I want is like being deterred from running because I can't keep up a 6 minute per mile pace over several miles.
uhm, that should be 'stuff.' My stiff is never nihilistic.
~Steven Erikson


Mythwood: Play-by-post RP board.
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#7 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 01:00 PM

For what its worth, I don't think I could manage a 6 minute mile, period. :)
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#8 User is offline   CowboyYojimbo 

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 06:08 PM

No one is watching
If your main problem is thinking of the idea too much, not starting and a fear of failure, my best advice is to remember "No one cares". No one will read the project until you are ready for it to be read so by all means write a bad first draft. Get it out and improve from there. It's normal to want it to be perfect as you go or to feel like you are not good enough yet to do it, I imagine most writers feel that way. All writers have to walk that line of having confidence in what they have and yet knowing when something isnt working, Just go for it. The worst thing you have written is better than the best thing you haven't written.

As for schedules and processes, you can either set a time each day or at least a time frame, so either 10-12 each dya or two hours at some point. Come that time, glue your ass down and work for that time. At the end you stop, even if you have one line or 12 pages and are on a roll.
Another option is say, im writing a page or scene a day and don't stop till you do.
Figure out if writing goals or having a schedule is the best for you.
Sometimes breaks, naps and playing games or reading can help tremendously. Some procrastination is good. Read, play and view what inspires you. Something there might lead you to the solution to some problem in your story.
Also, find the environment that is right for you. Do you enjoy a desk and laptop, or a notebook out in the woods on a hike. Do you write to music or do you need silence? Mix this with your schedule and you won't be trying to find the Muse, the Muse will find you cause it knows where you will be and when. Turn writing in to a habit.

Write even when you are not. I do more work on story, plot, characters and dialogue when I'm not at the word processor or blank page. If you have a 9-5 job so to speak, work on it there too. Keep a notebook too. As a writer you must observe and live in the world outside of your block, town or even country. Observe peoples behavior, mannerisms, write interesting shop names down, funny stories, great lines you think of or hear, great titles, or fascinating images.
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#9 User is offline   ShanRawr 

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 06:54 PM

Here are some things I've found useful while writing and doing my MFA:

Either have a page/word count or a time limit.
Like everything else in writing, it depends on the writer, but my experience has actually been better with time limits. I have 30 pages due every month, so I have an overall page limit goal. However, I like time limits because after doing NaNoWriMo for several years, I've discovered if I have to meet a word limit, my characters are going to do a lot of talking. I mean A LOT of talking. I love writing dialogue. 50,000 words worth of dialogue.

Anyways, 1.5-2 hours uninterrupted works best for me. Sometimes I will take a break and do another 1.5-2 hours (if I have time). I've found that if I block out the whole day for writing, nothing happens. I procrastinate and fiddle. That's where structure and schedule helps. When I'm free on the weekends, I go out in the morning to a bookstore or coffee shop so I won't procrastinate. I like to feel like I've accomplished something by noon. On weekdays after work, I usually write at home. But if I turn on the tv or start playing too much on the computer I won't get anything done. So there is some discipline required.

When do you do your best work?
Some people work best in the morning, some in the evening. You want to block your time during your most creative part of the day.

You can't fix what you haven't written.
This is one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received. I repeat it to myself. Often. Especially when I'm writing masterpieces like, "Bob did this. Bob did that."

Deadlines are great motivators.
Set deadlines for yourself. If you think it would help, you might look into Camp NaNoWriMo.

Find other writers.
I have a local writing group. I also have critique partners at school. Having a support group really helps, but make sure you don't spend all of your time talking about writing and never actually doing any.
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#10 User is offline   EmperorMagus 

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 08:40 PM

I couldn't get myself to write. So I started writing when my time couldn't be spent any other way. I have a notebook with me (always) and I write whenever I'm waiting for someone or I'm bored or whatever.
Of course I understand this may not work for a lot of people, as they need more peace and quiet for writing but it is working for me.
Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
#sarcasm
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#11 User is offline   wade 

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:41 PM

I typically need to employ a mantra of "Don't look at the word-count. Get in the story. Care about the writing. Write like this is the first time. Write like this is the last time. Don't look at the word-count."
Eventually, sometimes, reminding myself of those things might help. If I'm lucky.
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