Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Good habits

If you keep a diary on your work desk, (something I recommend, but then I have a stationery quirk; new notebooks and diaries of all shapes and sizes lure me saying Buy Me, Buy Me! Last year in France I bought a diary and then discovered it was intended for French school kids, and started in August instead of January. But still, it has lots of names of French saints and other interesting stuff). anyway, to get back to the topic - if you keep a diary at your work desk, record how long you actually worked at writing your wip, how many words you achieved and where you did it.
Looking back over a week or a month, you can figure out if you do your best work in the living room with the kids, a coffee shop with no wifi or your desk. You'll also know if you do best mornings or evenings, before or after walking the dog....make the best of that knowledge, and make it work for you. Sometimes, we need all the help we can give ourselves! 

Some parts of  a story we approach with eager excitement, others bits we know have to go down on paper but the scene doesn't exactly excite us. The only answer is to try and drum up some excitement in how you approach it get on with it. Try and change the scene somehow. Give it a kick up the backside, turn it on its head, do it from another POV, anything to make the scene live, so that you have some pleasure in writing it. 

Get rid of the idea that it's a sin to write fast. Some of our famour authors write really fast, though there are others who take years to finish a book. As we've said before, some of the best scenes come really fast,  for whatever reason, and then what are we tempted to do? Get out the proverbial red pen and go through it until we've taken all the life out of it. Knowing when to leave well alone and move on to the next scene is hard to learn, but it's worth it. Believe that fast writing can be good writing and leave it alone. You can always go back to it later, when you're on a second draft.


Heather Haven said...

Jen, I carry a small notebook with me at all times and have jotted down many a mysterious phrase or word. But for me, it triggers something and I'm off and away. I still have the title of a short story which came to me out of the blue. I intend to write it someday. There's also a few random phone numbers and a recipe or two. All good stuff!
The only drawback about writing fast is rewrites and quality. After your first few drafts, I think the work needs to be put away to mature like a fine wine. Come back to it after a month or two and see what you've got. Putting aside uncaught errors, you can often find where a scene really should go. I am a big believer in not rushing. Sometimes a reworked sentence can make all the difference.

Jenna Storm said...

Great post Jen!

I enjoyed it very much and I love to hear tips from other writers. I do have a day planner that I take with me and at times I'll jot down when I started writing and ended. But you make a good point about using it to look back on a month's work.

As for writing fast...if only I could I would love it. Maybe you could do a post on quicker writing!

Thanks Jenna Storm

Jen Black said...

Oh yes! Write fast, then leave it for a while and go back over it. I intended this for another post!

Lorrie said...

lol. lately to me, writing fast is maybe two paragraphs a day. A snail would beat me. Too much real life going on. But, I keep plugging at it.

Thanks for the interesting post.

Anita Davison said...

I thought I was odd to have a notebook fetish - I have a whole boxful of pristine bound books with artistic covers and creamy white virgin pages I haven't brought myself to deface with my scrappy writing. Since I bought a laptop my handwriting is atrocious!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post, Jen. I love notebooks and stationery too, but I still need to be more oranised with writing things down!

J Q Rose said...

I am chuckling at writing fast because I do race to get the bones of the story down and get to the end. Then I go back and add the flesh to it, but my crit group's main criticism is I need to slow down." Great post.

Jen Black said...

Lovely to have you all drop in - I'd've had coffee and cake if I'd known! Do you think we should start a notebook fetishers club? LOL!