Thursday, 14 August 2014

Five top tips for summer writing

My last post focused on the fact that writing in the summer holidays is not a walk in the park. (Or if it is, you are on the way to the recycling point.) Part two is going to be Way More Positive. This is because, though it is probably reassuring to know that life after publication is not all wafting about in a cloud of smug complacency, there is also a vague expectation that a blog called How to be a Writer might include some useful advice.





So here are Five Top Tips for summer writing:

1. Write indoors, or in the shade. Sunbathe later. Writing in the sun equals migraine, there are mathematical equations to prove this.

2. Chunk your time. Vis a vis the sample 'to do' list in my last post, there is always shit to be done, and there is always writing to be done, so you need to do first one thing, then another, in blocks. Zone your day into writing time and non writing time. Zone your week in the same way - try and have at least one day on which you write and that is it. Nothing else is allowed to happen, and that includes coffee with your best friend.

3. Write first. You don't have to rise at dawn, drink lemon juice and be perfect, but it does help if you write early in the day, before your brain has silted up with invoices and cleaning tips. (I know this is hard if you are a parent and have early rising children, in which my advice is to send them to a summer play group or insist that your partner does some holiday child care and write then.)

4. Avoid social media. Yes, this is me, writing online, telling you to avoid going online. Avoid going online. I am still saying it.

5. Enjoy yourself. I am not of the persuasion that writing is a sort of self-torture, and that the only reason to do it is that you like the look of a published novel, or doing signings in Waterstones, or whatever the motive is meant to be if you write-but-hate-writing. I LOVE writing. I would go mad without it. Ergo, I enjoy it. If you don't, try something else. Life is short, and there are too many words out there already.


And here is a my Useful Link, an excellent book which is not written by me: Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress Free Productivity by David Allen Good time management isn't the answer to everything, but it is a big help when it comes to doing The Actual Writing and still sorting out the mortgage payments and all the other stuff the modern world insists on consisting of.

24 comments:

  1. 6. Write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you're writing, and aren't writing particularly well. (Agatha Christie)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great quote - and I agree this is essential at any time of year!

      Delete
  2. P.S.
    Congratulations by the way on the publication of Dark Aemilia. I enjoyed it immensely. One passage in particular brought a smile. It was a reminder of something my mother-in-law said to me once.
    "I'll broil your brain in its shallow skull! Mangle your preachifying words into Bedlam babble, and corrupt your skin into a thousand worm-infested sores! I'll make you pray for Hades as a respite from your pain! And I'll twist your mind to such distraction that you'll tear off all your limbs to find relief and sanity! Do you hear me, you pox-groined, foul-nosed turd stain?"
    God, I miss her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. MelonCharlieMonkey15 August 2014 13:05

    "I write at night. I write in the daytime. I write when the pottage burns. I write while the soap congeals. I write while the house-mice nibble the fallen cake-crumbs at my feet. I write."

    I write, therefore I am ...
    @(.)(.)@
    MelonCharlieMonkey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for this - I'm pleased this struck a chord!

      Delete
  4. I like to do my writing in "chunks"... but not every day. I don't like to write just to throw words around. I like to have a plan, a plot, an idea. I let it stew around in my head a while until I'm ready to birth it, and then I sit down and it pours out. Just now I'm stewing up a book of poetry in which the title of every poem is going to be a line from a certain movie. The poems are not going to be about the movie, I'm just using the lines as titles. It's going to be wild. I'm going to write it on my 1943 Optima Elite typewriter. This is what is going through my head every day. I will start writing it in October.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm intrigued. Have you selected any movie titles yet? Can you give me an example?

      Delete
    2. MelonCharlieMonkey16 August 2014 06:40

      @(.)(.)@
      Not movie titles. She said lines from the movies (or movie). But I'm intrigued as well. I'd love to hear some examples too.

      Delete
    3. Smartass.

      Delete
    4. MelonCharlieMonkey16 August 2014 07:11

      @(.)(.)@
      My favourite line from the movies is this one. "I know something of a woman in a man's profession. Yes, by God, I do know about that." It is spoken by Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare In Love.

      Delete
    5. I love that line too! From the same movie, I also like the line ''Your father should keep you better informed. He has bought me for you.'

      Delete
    6. MelonCharlieMonkey16 August 2014 07:43

      @(.)(.)@
      Gosh there are a lot of great lines in that film. "Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster." I'd bet my laptop that one came from Stoppard.

      Delete
  5. I agree that it is a really intriguing project - and I'm also very interested in the fact that you are going to use a typewriter Marcheline. I was just thinking about this the other day - Will Self uses a typewriter at a certain stage of the writing process and I used to use one when I started out. What appeals to you about this- do you think you write differently on a typewriter compared to writing in hand or on a laptop? I might blog about this - have been meaning to for a while.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reminds me of something Ernest Hemingway once said. "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

      Delete
    2. MelonCharlieMonkey16 August 2014 07:20

      @(.)(.)@
      Tom Robbins said: "At the typewriter you find out who you are." How true.

      Delete
    3. My neighbour told me Graham Greene wrote with a fountain pen. Is this a fact? Or was the dear lady just pulling my leg because she knows how much I hate changing the typewriter ribbon?

      Delete
    4. MelonCharlieMonkey16 August 2014 07:47

      @(.)(.)@
      Fountain pens can be just as messy as typewriter ribbons.

      Delete
    5. I hadn't considered that. How right you are!

      Delete
    6. Imagine what it must have been like to write with a quill. Yikes!

      Delete
  6. Actually, I have a bunch of turkey feathers that I've tempered and are waiting to be cut into quills. I've bought an antique inkwell, and some ink. Just looking for some parchment now.

    I won't say which movie is my muse until I've got the project finished.

    As for the typewriter, I'm a fanatic about all things vintage - and I've found that using this typewriter causes me to slow down dramatically, allowing a lot more mental space to roam around in before words get on paper. I think it's actually a way to cut down on the editing process, as the mind has time to self-correct before the fingers get the thought down.

    I'm not entirely sure I will do all the writing ON the typewriter... I may write some of it by hand as well - but the finished book will be all on typewritten pages, which will then be scanned or photographed and put together that way - as typewritten pages, not font set by a printing company. I'm also a fan of not erasing or covering up typos - I like the grounded feel of an obviously corrected letter, or a typed-over character.

    The fact that the apostrophe does not live in the same place on my typewriter as it does on my computer keyboard ensures that there are many such corrections! (It lives on the "8" key rather than next to my right pinky finger.) Also, there is no #1 key. The lower-case "L" is the number 1 on the typewriter. The smell of the ink and the oil that keeps the keys from sticking is heady stuff - as is the musty smell of the typewriter case. Really, I'm in love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is brilliant, and very inspiring. I really agree with you about the self editing thing - I found recently that Wordsworth used to compose entire poems before committing them to paper. (Unfortunately, due to poor eyesight he dictated them to his wife or sister, which is a tad sexist, but I guess he was a man of his time. Anyway, clearly a master of self correction, and his poems are pretty good.)

      I also really like your comments about the mechanics of typing and how this changes writing - so interesting. I've just written a post on typing, but really it just scratches the surface, it is such a fascinating subject. Thank you for this!

      Delete
  7. Hi Sally,

    I am a studying, budding writer who is interested in writing screenplays. After reading Dark Aemilia I feel passionate to use Aemilia Lanier's character as a muse.

    Therefore, as I would be basing a film solely on your book, telling Ameilia's unique story about factual events, I feel it only proper to acquire the rights from the you to do so.

    As a novice writer, I am uncertain of the procedure that needs to be followed and would appreciate you help and guidance regarding this matter.

    Many thanks
    Lizzie

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Lizzie,

    Thanks so murch for your feedback! I'm delighted that you find Dark Aemilia inspiring.
    If you are interested in the rights,the person to contact is my publisher Candida Lacey on phone: +44 (0)1273 720000 or email: info@myriadeditions.com

    very best wishes

    Sally

    ReplyDelete