Mmegi Blogs :: Things Iíve learned along the way
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Friday 16 November 2018, 13:42 pm.
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Things Iíve learned along the way

People are often shocked by how much work I can get done. I accept that I come from a working class background, which drilled into my head from birth that my worth is measured by how hard I work and the quality of the work that I produce, but how has that translated into me being a writer? There are a few things Iíve learned along the way that have helped me be a more efficient and productive writer.
By Lauri Kubuitsile Fri 22 Dec 2017, 13:24 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Things Iíve learned along the way








Don’t wait for the muse.

I’ve never believed in the idea that you must wait for the muse to strike you with an overpowering idea before you sit down at your desk.

In On Writing, Stephen King gives the best advice when he says that if you go to your office every day, keeping regular hours, your muse will know where to find you. This is the truth. And even better: your muse will find you more often; she knows you’re waiting for her.

If you set your mind to ‘brainstorm’ and let it go, you soon realise that ideas are unlimited.  The better question is: do those ideas have any legs? Can they become a short story?  A novel? But the muse, that source of ideas, she seems to have an unlimited supply as long as you keep her regularly exercised.

 

Have a plan

I know some writers will say planning messes with their mojo, fair enough. If that’s you, look away. But I know for certain, especially for longer works, if you have no plan before you get started, it’s very easy to get off track and also to find yourself in plot corners that you can’t get out of without a lot of re-writing.

For a novel I always have, at the very least, a basic plot outline, chapter synopses, and character sketches for my main characters as well as most of my minor ones. I rarely stick to the initial pre-work, but it starts me off confidently.

As I progress, I update my plot outline and change my character sketches as I get to understand the characters and their motivations better. Sometimes I need them to be different types of people than I thought they would be. I go back and change it. Nothing is written in stone. Everything is a guide. Pre-writing work makes the many edits and re-writes you will do to

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your first draft much easier.

 

At rough draft stage ignore everything

When you’ve done your pre-work and you’re sitting down to start the first draft of your manuscript, ignore everything. Write. That’s it. Getting it down on the page must be paramount. Don’t concern yourself with pretty sentences. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling. Never listen to any of those voices in your head that question you and your work and the futility of it all. Don’t think about the publishing process or the future reader. Write. Get to the end. Everything else will be sorted during re-writes.  If you start by editing, you’ll be stifling everything. If you start by thinking what your mother will think, or what your agent will think, you’ll begin to censor your creative mind. Don’t. Let it loose to go where it needs to.

 

Don’t wait, go on to the next project

You’ve sent your manuscript to an agent or publisher, and now you wait, right?  Nope, not me. I never wait for anything. For me the most important part of any project is the writing, when it’s done I’m done.  Yes, it might find a publisher and that will mean the editing and proofreading process, and I’ll see the manuscript over and over again, but none of that really matters to me.

I’m interested in the writing process most, I’m a writer and writers write.

So as soon as a manuscript is finished, after many, many rounds of (self) edits and re-writes, I’m finished, and I get going with the project that has been bubbling away in my grey matter.  If you’re going to sit by your phone or inbox and wait for a response on the manuscript you sent out, you better get a comfortable chair. And besides the wasted time, you’ll make yourself very stressed. Better to think about other things, such as your new project.

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