Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Give yourself permission to write crap

Tell Me a Story - writing tip
AJ - Do you have any suggestions for those of us perfectionist/ slowpokes who have a hard time NOT editing as we write? Basically I write crap. I have to keep editing it away.
Hi, Billie. Thanks for contacting me. I can only suggest that because you understand your problem, the answer virtually lies in your own hands. Recognizing that you’ve hit an obstacle is certainly the first step - and even the best writer churns out crap in the first draft.

Some writers become drunk with their own words and don’t recognize what they’ve written can have anything wrong with it. They are deluding themselves. Their writing will remain crap.

Words have worth

Maybe your problem is the opposite in that you don’t believe your words have worth. If that’s the case, then you too, are deluding yourself. There is something of worth in everything you write. Amongst that crap will be a gem, and if you clean it up it will sparkle.

Once you acknowledge a first draft, warts and all, is an essential part of writing, maybe you’ll face it more philosophically and proficiently. No one is going to read your first draft. It’s for your eyes only, a scribbling of basic ideas.

Force yourself to write.

Striving for the ultimate is an essential part of success, but you really shouldn’t let it get in the way of putting that precious story down. Be hard on yourself. Force yourself to simply write until the draft is complete. When the draft is finished, you can give yourself full-rein to edit. You can be as harsh as you like – in fact, you should be severe. Stories are not written, they are re-written.

Overcoming the problem.

Years ago I had trouble with putting profanities into my work.

I overcame the problem by writing a whole story using the most foul-language I could dream up. I let it flood out; in fact, I overdid the writing. The story was unreadable because of this overuse of swear words, but it cured me.

Maybe you could try something similar with, say, a version of your very own NaNoWriMo. Set your own target then write like mad for a month – forget quality – forget story content – just give yourself permission to complete a novel-full-of-crap within a month.

Expect crap, write crap; be satisfied with crap - but you might be pleasantly surprised. You might even have a story you can use sometime – and you might just be cured.


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Writing - Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Tell Me a Story - question
Hello, AJ. I'm having a dilemma. I think it's descriptive power syndrome. I over-describe things (maybe) and get stuck right after writing a great descriptive paragraph and become unable to continue the plot. Every thing I start to write results like that. Please do recommend me methods or tell me tips to overcome my problem. Thanks.
Hello Aiman from Singapore. Thanks for sending this in. Descriptive Power Syndrome, mm.... That's a new one on me, I guess you not only recognize you have a problem, but have named it as well. Perhaps you’re talking about what in the past was called ‘purple prose’.

It seems to me that you almost have the answer in your own hands. Most people don't understand what the obstacles are with their writing and that's where their actual problems lie. Once they KNOW they have a problem, they work on it and polish it away. You seem to understand exactly what is wrong - so let's try to see why you can't get over it.

Edit it away

Most authors simply get on with writing their story and return later to edit away the crap. Don’t imagine that writers produce a beautiful piece of work hot off the press. Stories aren’t written, stories are re-written, several times. Everyone has to edit the rubbish away. The trick is recognizing what the rubbish is. You already seem to understand this.

Let's try a plan

Okay, so maybe the real problem lies in planning. I know I hammer this a lot, but a lot of hiccups in writing come about because of insufficient preparation.

If you make an outline of the story before you start to write, you won’t grind to a halt because any sticking points will be ironed out in the planning stage. A plan doesn’t have to be all-inclusive, it can be as sketchy as you like. Just make one. The worst plan is better than none at all - and the plan can be altered at any time to accomodate new ideas.

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Some writers claim that making an outline inhibits their flow of writing, that their creative juices are stunted. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. Once you know where the story is going, you can write free-flow then wham! Words just fall off the ends of your fingers.

A plan is merely a guide, a map of where you want to go; it isn’t the journey, it isn’t writing. Writing is where you release the juices and the flow of creation comes into it’s own.

Good luck - and let me know how you go on.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The first few pages of a novel are crucial

Tell Me a Story - advice.

Hello AJ. I wonder if you can help? I have a problem when starting my stories. I never seem to get the beginning right. Is there any advice you can offer?
Hi, Jennifer. Thank you for sending this in. The first chapter, in fact probably the first ten pages, are the most important part of any story. It's the window into your fictional world and unless readers like what they see within this time, they're liable to turn away.

For more information take a look at this Bukisa article BECOMING A WRITER

Hope this helps a little. Don't give up - and good luck.

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