Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Going Back To The Start

Going back and starting something after you've really got stuck in can be... daunting but, unfortunately, it can be necessary.

For example, last night I was writing when suddenly I realised, rather irritatingly, that the setting just wasn't working for the story and the image I wanted to get across to the reader. I wasn't impressed to say the least. I spent a good ten minutes annoyed out of mind that the characters and plot which I had been working so hard on was at risk of not fitting together- of not working- because of the setting being badly written, badly thought out and just plain unbelievable.

I was just about ready to throw in the towel, to go and look at a whole new idea when I took a deep breath and, reluctantly, went back to the drawing board.

Image courtesy of Google

The reason? I reminded myself of why I was writing the story, of the loyalty I felt towards my characters and my need to get them back on the page and out there in the world. I went back to the drawing board because I knew if I gave in, I would spend the rest of the month (at least) kicking myself or wishing that I carried on.

It can be tough when we have to go back and re-write a scene or a conversation or even (heaven forbid) a chapter but if what you're writing is truly worth it and you're committed to it than you'll stick with it- no matter how tempting it may be to give up.

Things To Remember When You Want To Quit
  1. Why you are writing this? Maybe you feel compelled to, maybe you feel as though you have a message you want to share with the world. It may even be as simple as you being unable to get the story out of your head and you need to get it out of your system.
  2. How will you feel if you quit? Will you be kicking yourself? Will you find yourself wishing that you could just pick up where you left off? Or will you be relieved that the pressure is gone?
  3. How difficult is it to change what's needed? If it's a scene, plan out how you want it to go. With my change of setting, I've thought about what I need to be there for scenes to work yet what will help set the tone of the story.
  4. Take a deep breath and step away, see if you feel the same. Sometimes the pressure can get to us and we need to go and take a breather before we can make a clear judgement. Don't make a rash decision- think it through.

Have any tips of your own? Share them below!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Writers Block

Now we've all suffered from it at some point or other. That moment of panic and then gradual frustration as you stare at the blank page in front of you, the cursor flashing almost tauntingly as you struggle to find a single word to put down.
Sound familiar?

You're not alone. We all get it at some point, it's how you handle it that counts.
Image courtesy of Google
Here's some exercises to try to get you writing again:
  1. Open up a blank document and just type (or write on a plain piece of paper) ANYTHING. I mean anything! Admittedly this works better on a computer as you can type random letters quicker than you can write them and after a while of typing pure gibberish eventually words begin to form... and then phrases... and then sentences...
  2. Go out and well... exercise! Go for a walk, a run or take the dog out for a stroll. Sometimes it can help to clear your head and it gets your blood pumping as well!
  3. Write something else for a while. If the problem is that you're stuck on what you're writing at the minute, try a poem. Or, if you're a poet, try a small bit of prose. Sometimes if you focus on something too hard you miss what is right in front of your face.
  4. Listen to your favourite song. Step away from what you were doing- leave the room if you have to- and blast your favourite bit of music. Dance to it, sing along at the top of your lungs. Go crazy with it! Get it out of your system then get back to it!
Everyone is different, some of these things may work for you and some may not but you don't know unless you give it a go!

What do you do to get rid of pesky writers block? Let me know below! :)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Beware The 2D Character!

Ah, Characters. Sometimes we love them, sometimes we love to hate them but either way they certainly move us to write some pretty crazy stuff with them involved.

The major issue I tend to find with writing characters is how best to make them seem like real, breathing people rather than just figures on a page. The best way to make people feel as though they are a part of the story or are witnessing something happening right in front of them, is to make the characters so realistic that your reader isn't hung up on trying to imagine how they act or their personalities.

The way to do this? Start to believe in the characters yourself.

Characters, just like people, have more than one aspect of their personality. No person is solely bad just as no person is solely good but rather each person has elements of both: just like yin and yang.
Take for example the famous literary character of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. He is, overall, considered the 'good guy' of the story. He saves Lydia from ruining her reputation with Mr. Wickham by going after the pair and ends up together with Elizabeth at the end of the story.

However, he is not without his faults.

He is renowned for his pride and cold demeanour towards strangers as well as his lack of willingness to participate in social events. But it is these imperfections which, in their own way, make the character so prominent in the book.

  • Think of a person, male or female and a job that they may have. This can be absolutely anything! From a female chef to a male accountant...
  • What age are they roughly? Twenties to thirties? Middle aged? Just retired?
  • What are their good qualities? Are they patient? Kind? A great parent? A good friend?
  • Now, what are their bad qualities? Do they smoke? Do they have a secret addiction? Are they abusive to their partners? Do they have a dark secret? And if so, what?
  • How do their lives balance out with these qualities? Are they internally conflicted? Are they in denial? Have they made peace with themselves?
  • Finally, would you say that overall they are a 'good 'or a 'bad' character?
Can't decide? Not a problem! Literature is filled with Anti-heros and antagonists you can sympathise with- like Winston from George Orwell's '1984' or Amir from 'The Kite Runner'.

Go on, give it a go! Let me know how it turned out in the comments sections below!

Lou x

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Had A Bad Day? Use It!

We've all had one of those days where something has happened or nothing will go right and we're just about ready to tear our hair out! Well you know what? Take a deep breath and store it for later. Nothing makes a story more realistic than examples of real life events.
Now, for the sake of continued employment, I'm not saying quote it word for word! But if you have a boss from hell or a job that just generally grates on your nerves just grit your teeth, smile sweetly and note it all down for later.
Image courtesy of Google
Here's a quick example. I wasn't having the worst day but I'll admit I had a very irritating phone call and look what came from it:
'I rubbed at the space between my brows as I felt a headache approaching over the horizon. Loud, raucous laughter emitted from the small kitchen to the side, forcing me to cover the ear that wasn't pressed against the off-white receiver as I struggled to make out the garbled words coming from the other side of the line.

"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that..."
Pulling a face at the woman's sharp tone, I jotted down the next line of the address. "And your postcode, please?"
As she continued a rant about the incompetence of youth now-a-days, the sight of my co-worker sneaking her bag out of her drawer and creeping out of her chair caused me to press the phone against my chest and glare at her. "Oh no, no no no! Not again Gemma!"
She glanced quickly towards the small room filled with our colleagues before slipping on her jacket and zipping it up. "It's not a big deal, I'm just slipping out for a bit."
"No- I'm not covering for you again! I'm sick of you doing this and landing me in it!"
"Oh come on- please? Just say that the school's called and I've got to pick up Will to take him to the child-minder's."
"You used the same excuse last week!"
She pouted as she tucked her chair back under her desk. "Just, please? I'm sure you'll come up with something!" As the others began to trickle out of the kitchen, she gave a quick wave. "See you later, yeah? I'll be half an hours, tops..."
"Gemma!" As she hurried off, I craned my head around the corner to see the door shut behind her. "Gemma!"
Clenching my fist tightly in frustration, I swore under my breath. The rising pitch coming from the receiver brought me back into focus and, after sighing, I reluctantly brought it back to my ear. "Sorry, ma'am. Can you repeat that please?"'

So give it a go! You may just come up with something brilliant. Besides, it's a great way to get rid of your frustration...

Leave a comment or let me know about your worst day of work!

Lou x

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Read, Read, Read!

One way to get better as a writer? Read.
How can you know how to word something or how to describe something if you've never seen it done before? Simple- you can't!
You can't write an adventure without learning how to build suspense.
You can't write a sci-fi without learning how to make it believable.
You can't write a poem without learning how to structure it.
For a writer, reading is incredibly important. How can you improve your vocabulary without coming across new words? How can you come up with new ideas for your own writing if you don't look at what's already out there?

So sit down, put your feet up and grab a good book or poem. After all, hopefully someone will be doing the same with one of yours one day.

Thinking Outside The Box

When I was walking back from work, I was listening to my iPod when a song I hadn't listened to for a while came on. It was 'Nothing' by 'The Script'.
It reminded me of a time a while ago where my Mum and I we listening to it while in the car and I randomly asked her what she thought the story was behind the song.
"I think it's about a man who goes to see his ex-girlfriend or ex-wife and she turns him away."
To be honest I was surprised. I hadn't thought of it like that at all, in fact I had thought that the song was about a man who had died and the reason that his ex-partner didn't acknowledge him was because he was a ghost that she couldn't see.
It just goes to show that sometimes, you have to step away from your own ideas and take in other people's thoughts and feelings about things to see the bigger picture.

Image courtesy of Google
  1. Step outside and get some air- sometimes a new environment can help to clear your mind.
  2. Talk to people and see how they feel about things- having a discussion about things can open your eyes to new arguments and viewpoints.
  3. Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes- imagine how you might feel or act and try to transfer that into your writing.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

One golden rule I always follow is write every day. Seriously. No excuses!
I'm not saying that you have to write a story that would put Stephen King to shame everyday but if you get yourself in the routine of sitting down everyday and thinking. "Right, I'm going to write now." then, soon enough, it will just come naturally.

Imagine that you're learning to play an instrument. You would make sure that you practiced the same piece of music or the same technique over and over again until you got it.

Now, I'm not naïve- not am I a saint. I know that there are days when you just can't be bothered to get the laptop or the notepad down and slog on whilst thinking of the nap you could be having, or the film you could be watching- trust me I know! But just think if you were to do the same with learning an instrument. You'd be less confident in what you were playing, you would make more mistakes and you'd get so frustrated over it all you'd begin to ask yourself what was the point?
Image courtesy of Google
So, here are my top tips to help you get into the habit of writing everyday:
  1. Don't be too harsh on yourself!Life can be hectic and often the things we try to plan for tend to get pushed back for later or forgotten all together. So, if you are really struggling to find the time to sit down and write than look at your daily routine and see if you can fit it in somewhere. Do you perhaps have some time while you're waiting for someone that you're giving a lift to? Or maybe when you're waiting for something to cook? Personally, if I want to jot something down I wait for my dinner break at work.
  2. CompromiseOK, so we all have bad days- we all have days where we don't particularly feel like writing. It doesn't make us terrible people or terrible writers, it just makes us human. When this happens, take a deep breath and be honest with yourself. Say for example you aim to write 1000 words a day (every one is different so don't panic if this sounds a lot!) but you really really can't bring yourself to do it, than say that you will only do 300 that day. You're still getting some writing done yet your not behaving like you must do it as some form of punishment.
    Obviously you can't do this every day, as it loses its purpose, but it is a helpful way to keep up the habit.
  3. Try different times of the dayEveryone has different ways of functioning and writing is no different. Some people find that they are most productive writing first thing in the morning while others find that it suits them to write before they go to sleep. The only way you can know which works best for you is to try and find which works best for you.
The main thing to remember is that you are writing for you. Yes, you have to consider whether an audience would understand what you are trying to say and yes, you have to consider whether your story makes sense but at the end of the day it is you that is taking the time to write and it is you who is sticking with it through thick and thin so enjoy it! Treat yourself to a biscuit as you type, have a comfy pair of slippers on as you write just don't forget who you're doing this for: You.

What Makes A Writer?

A lot of people seem to ask this question, whether they have just started writing or have been writing for years. Some people seem to think that there is a rite of passage that people need to pass before they can call themselves 'writers'.
The truth is you're already there. Do you take the time to sit down and grab a pen and paper? Do you take the time to turn on your laptop/ computer/ tablet and go onto a blank document before taking the first tentative taps on the keys? Then you're a writer. Plain and simple.

If someone were to walk over to a canvas and paint a picture- and if they did this often- we would call them a 'painter'. Yes, they may not do it for a career- yes, they may not get any financial gain from it but they paint.
Image courtesy of Google

The same example can be given with someone who runs. If someone takes the time to go out every morning or every evening to jog- even if it's only for half a mile- they are still a 'runner'.

Image courtesy of Google

So the next time someone asks you what you do, don't be embarrassed to hold your head up high and say, "I'm a writer." because at the end of the day you are.