It's not often I talk about the craft of writing. Advice on self-publishing and discussing fantasy is now my bag. However, as I'm currently buried in a new novel, and have been bitten firmly by the writing bug, I wanted to share a few musings on how I write, and how I stay clear of the dreaded block. I'm not going to cover the actual prose or conjugated verbs here, instead I've got three tips for you that'll maximise your productivity. Here we go:
1 - Have a plan
There are pantsers - those who write by the seat of their pants - and there are planners - clue's in the name. Now I'm a planner. I write out a detailed plan, jotting out a rough guide of each chapter before I dive into chapter one. I'll also plot out the history and the landscape of a world, write back stories for characters, and any other detail that comes to mind.
Now if you're a pantser, you'll probably be frowning at this point. However, I still think almost all of you plan to a certain extent. Perhaps a few lines ahead, maybe a couple of chapters, there's still an element of forward thinking.
The plan is what I think guards against the writer's block. By sitting down with an idea already in your head, you know exactly what you need to do. You're purposeful, and your brain can focus on just working through a set of milestones rather than planning from word to word.
Even if it's just when you hit a block, you can still plan. Sit back, temple those fingers and work out a way through it with a plan. It's as cathartic as using to-do lists to calm a busy mind.
2 - Clear your mind
Fear not, I haven't gone all Yoda. I'm talking about the simple clarity of mind that is needed for writing. I believe you should pay 100% attention when you're working on a book. Writing is difficult, just like any art is. And just like any art, it deserves your attention.
Distractions can come in many forms, from that lingering email you need to get back to or that bill you forgot to pay. If you can't concentrate, you won't be putting your best on the page, and that's just not right.
What I'd suggest is dealing with those niggles before you sit down to write. Just make sure that by clearing your mind, you don't bite into your writing time too much. Send the email, pay the bill, then get cracking. Or, just come up with a plan for dealing with them later, so you don't have to worry about them. That way you won't be staring into space between sentences, thinking of reality instead of the yarn you're spinning.
3 - Clear your space
Whether you have the classic writing shed at the bottom of the garden, a roof terrace looking out over the bustling city, or just a favourite booth at the local pub, we all have a favourite place to write.
Mine is the desk, and I refuse to have anything in front of me other than my keyboard and trackpad when I'm writing. It sounds strange, but trust me, it's holistic. The fewer things between you and the screen, the fewer things your fingers can stray to, the better.
This most definitely includes phones. This is why push notifications are of the devil. You'll be in the midst of an epic fight scene and suddenly your mate Glen will share the latest historical meme he's found, which of course you have to look at, make a witty comment about, then possibly find another image, and then sign out with an emoji. No. You should be writing!
This also includes Twitter, Facebook, noisy housemates, and anything else that will get between you and 100% focus. Shut the door, cocoon yourself in your own space, and you'll find your writing flows faster.
While this all may sound pretty zen, it's how I believe I maximise both creativity and productivity. By getting into a certain mindset dedicated to the act of writing, by sitting down in a prepared zone where all that's expected of you is words, you can separate everyday, distracting life from whatever world you're creating, and keep the block at bay.
If you've got any writing tips you want to share, comment below, Facebook me at www.facebook.com/BenGalleyAuthor, or tweet me @BenGalley.
Catch you soon,