Sunday, September 6, 2009

First Drafts

Today I can't blog because my mental faculties have been drained by writing 30 pages of a new fantasy novel at one sitting. I'm calling it New Fantasy Novel (tentative title). Once in a while a new book will burst out of me with little warning. The idea has been there for a while, filling up my head with images, but I don’t realize it’s becoming a book until it suddenly spills out onto paper. I won’t say anything about the plot for now. I don’t like to discuss a first draft because I don’t want to jinx it.

The first draft is the most exciting step in writing a book. I try not to ruin the enjoyment by fussing over the sort of details that get me stuck. I used to get stuck all the time because I couldn’t decide what to write next. I felt I must start at the beginning and work my way to the end. As a result I abandoned a number of projects because I became stuck for so long I lost interest. Finally I realized there is no law that says you have to write in a straight line. I could start in the middle of the story, skip to the end, then go back to the opening chapter. Now when I’m writing a story I record bits of dialogue and action in the order that they come to me and worry about sorting out the order of events later with the word processor. If I come to a part that seems to be slowing me down, and I’m anxious to get on with a more interesting section up ahead, I simply skip over the problematic part. Inserting a note such as (he explains the history of the sword to her) or (they run into some sort of obstacle here) reminds me to come back to this section later and expand upon it. The most important thing to remember about first drafts, a tip that will guarantee publication, is (insert information here).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Queen of Procrastination

Although we love to write, writers are the worst (or perhaps the best) when it comes to allowing ourselves to be distracted from it. When I’m in a good mood, I’m distracted by everything around me. When I’m in a bad mood, I’m distracted by everything inside me. I’ve learned to set a timer when I sit down to write. Knowing I have a deadline of an hour helps me stay focussed. The timer also reminds me to stop for a break during those wonderful spells of creativity when I become too focussed and forget to eat or sleep.

Favourite ways to distract myself:

  • Trying to toss my pen into the air and catch it using only my mouth
  • Searching for an environmentally friendly product that will remove ink from my face
  • Playing with the figurines scattered around my office
  • Gardening
  • Eating
  • Chasing bugs across my desk
  • Eating again
  • Exercising to compensate for all the eating
  • Reading, reading and more reading

I would be interested to hear what other writers do to distract themselves. Maybe I'll take a survey. In fact I'll do that right now! The new novel can wait a little longer...