Occasionally, as a writer, we believe that we have to have a a special room or space in which to write. In fact, I posted about this a while ago. We do need a space where we won’t be interrupted. But that doesn’t have to be at home. It could be your car or a park–although that would be a seasonal space since writing outside in the winter might freeze your fingers off depending on where you live.
A change of scenery will do you good. Pack up your stuff, hop in your car, and find yourself a little cafe. Maybe your local Panera Bread, Starbucks, or–heck–your local library. Try writing outside of your house. The part of you that longs to have a distraction will be satisfied, I promise you. As for the part of you that needs to work, they’ll be satisfied too and possibly inspired by the new surroundings.
The quote from Stephen King’s On Writing is pretty powerful. Stephen King, one of the world’s most well known author (I won’t say popular because a fair amount of people don’t like his work… but they do know his name), was once ashamed of his own writing.
I have spent a good many years since— too many, I think— being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.
King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (p. 50).
Maybe you’ve seen the “Let’s eat Grandma!” example, maybe you know about the strippers named Hitler and Stalin, maybe you think commas are like sprinkles and they make your ice cream-like writing taste better and look pretty. Who knows. Perhaps you’re one of those overly excited writers!!! You know, the ones who like to put multiple exclamation points after their sentences!!! Or maybe — just maybe — you learned one day that there are two –count ’em two — types of dashes and you think it’s — like —cool to put them everywhere in your writing to replace all those — frankly useless — commas. If any of this applies to you: this writing tip is for you.
It’s the classic: show me don’t tell me.
It’s also a cop out in your writing. Oh, sure, it’s factual too. The sun is indeed shining. Are the birds chirping as well?
Chuck Palahniuk’s article on Lit Reactor says it very well. You’ll have to “un-pack” the description. This photo for example. Try describing it at face value. I came up with:
I’m going to admit something up front here. This post is going to rant about something. It is, however, very important for anyone who creates content on the web.
It’s very important. It helps clear up your blog feed and your site content. It makes it easier for your audience and prospective followers to peruse your content. Most importantly-it makes it easier for your audience to scroll through their feed without having to read your 8,000+ word story because you were too lazy to click a button after the first paragraph.
The most important thing for a storyteller to do is ground the reader. By the end of the first paragraph the reader should know the name of the narrator or main character and the setting. Some writers like to keep this from the reader, but remember that readers shouldn’t be confused about the story at the beginning.
Think about it this way: You go to the doctor’s office and after your check up the doctor says, “Hmm… that’s not right.” Then walks out of the office. You follow him because you are curious and somewhat terrified about what isn’t right and catch up with him at the counter. He stands in front of you reading his chart.
“Well, what’s wrong with me?” you ask.
“Huh? Oh, hold on.” He walks away from you again and goes into a different room.
Your writing is sacred even before it is finished. Whether you keep in a notebook and write out on the front lawn or you keep it on your computer and compose at your desk, the space you create in is also sacred and should be treated that way by you and everyone else.
As I’ve stated in some other Writing Tip Tuesday posts, my writing space is messy. Truthfully, although I do use the applications that I told you about in the last two Writing Tip Tuesday posts, I prefer working on my desk with a cork board, post-it notes, push pins, and yarn (to draw paths between scenes). If someone came into my space and cleaned it–a lot of my work would be undone.
Welcome back for the exciting conclusion to It’s My Handy Dandy… Everything! I will be discussing two more applications to help you keep your writing organized.
Writing can take up a lot of space. Ok, my writing takes up a lot of space-maybe you are organized-I’m not. Writing takes up space somewhere and if you are working on multiple pieces, or long pieces for that matter, it can get pretty hard to keep track of your progress and your plot.
For that reason, I am telling you all about the super fun apps that I use for my writing!
This application runs on your android phone. It keeps track of the word count for each of your projects and can be set to give you reminders to work on your piece.
Having your first draft critiqued can be hard, especially if it took some time to complete, but it will only get better if you are positive about its criticism. You can’t improve your writing if you think it’s already perfect.
If it’s the first draft-believe me when I say this-it’s shitty.