The Author’s 10 Commandments

  1. Thou shalt write!
  2. Thou shalt read (and read widely)
  3. Thou shalt secure buttocks to a chair for at least an hour a day
  4. Thou must survive on caffeine and obstinacy
  5. Thou shalt not rely on adverbs
  6. Thou shalt show not tell
  7. Thou shalt expect the first draft to be a mess!
  8. Thou shalt not rely on cliches!
  9. Honour thy audience
  10. Thou shalt not commit the crime of verbiage (unless your an academic – then you just can’t help yourself)

(Bonus Extra: Thou shalt not worry about all of the rules because some rules were made to be broken!)

Writing fatigue and f-bombs

Warning: unasterisked swearing!

No energy for lengthy writer’s musings today.

I’m writing. Sometimes it’s Story A, sometimes D…probably a line or two from narrative Z…but fuck it…I’m writing. The writing’s at that ugly stage, where I dislike everything.

But fuck it…I’m writing.

Autumn’s almost here: hoping it brings a fresh wind of creativity and enthusiasm for wordage.

If not, fuck it…I’ll still be writing.

PS: Keep Writing by Tyece at Twenties Unscripted

dont-drop-f-bombs-18012-1302236813-1

Narrative Infidelity & The Cheating Curve

Narrative Infidelity

Back in April, I started writing ‘properly’. What I mean by ‘properly, is I regularly glued my rear to a chair and churned out words, with the idea that one day, I would have a novel to show for my efforts.voices-in-head

It’s officially July, so I’ve only been at this ‘properly’ for a few months. However, the process hasn’t been without its problems. It seems the more I write, the more I find myself cheating on my own stories.

Firstly, let me say that I accepted my calling to write a long time ago. I have acknowledged the voices in my head – who like to talk my ears off, if I don’t open a fresh word document and put fingers to keyboard. However, what I didn’t consider was that the competition for narrative dominance would be so loud or demanding!

My literary motto comes from E. L. Doctorow, who said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia”. And for good reason, it seems.

Fickle Fiction

Somewhere around 20,000 words into my original narrative (which I’ll refer to as Book A), a short story began calling for my attention. Since I needed a break from Book A, and I would rather write than not, I decided to give the short story a chance.

The short story was written and packed away into the archive.

I returned to working on Book A.

There I was, happily tapping away, when halfway through a scene, a horror plot snuck up on me, and the concept for Book B was born.

I furiously wrote down as much as I could so I didn’t lose the initial genesis of Book B. Once it was out of my head, I returned my focus to Book A…again.

After a flurry of a few more thousand (or so) words, Book A was shoved unceremoniously out of the way by a crime thriller!

Please welcome Book C.

Did I mention that the fantasy fiction I assumed would be my ‘go-to’ genre, has yet to make a solid and consistent appearance anywhere in my writing exploits? (Where are you Book D?)

The Cheating Curve

The more I write, the more ideas come to me! I’m like that kid in the Sixth Sense: I see plot developments and characters everywhere! Some are even dead too! Kudos to my creativity…not so great for my writing discipline.

cheating-vs-learning

I feel as if I’m cheating on my own story! Can I add that it is exhausting! How do people cheat in real life? Where do cheaters find the time and the energy? How do you keep everyone happy for Chrissake!?

Romance wants a handsome protagonist and some witty banter, but horror demands detailed scene-setting with chilling undertones. Fantasy needs solid world creation, but crime requires scientific fact. Each genre of fiction wants different things: tone, development style, speech patterns, research!

*mutters something about genres being a bunch of self-centred arseholes*

I need stability: a story I can rely on. I thought my days of flitting from one plot to another were done. I don’t have the energy to flirt with this many potential books! I should be in a monogamous relationship with only one story. Right? Isn’t that the appropriate way to do this thing called novel writing?

Maybe not…

 

 

Reading for Pleasure? Not when you’re writing a book!

Writers must read!

It’s no secret that authors are likely to be avid readers, but when does reading for pleasure take a back seat to the purpose of reading for study?

Since I started writing, I’m reading more than usual. In fact, in the last few months, if I’m not reading or writing, I’m feeling guilty because I should be reading or writing.

All the experts have said it: writers must read!

The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.

Samuel Johnson

Basically, if you want to be a great writer, read more! Want to improve your narrative? Read more! Need to find your voice? Read More! Unlock the secrets of the universe? Read more !

The chant is incessant… read more books…read more books… more book… more books… more books… smore cooks… raw hooks… flappertteyrpskyllgenoisdungus… GAHHHHHH!!!!

*head explodes over a stack of paperbacks, brain matter sliding off leather kindle cover*

Reading is good for the old grey matter

Brain meltdown notwithstanding, it really is in everyone’s best interests to read more anyway. It’s good for you, like broccoli but tastier.

However, for we brave and fearless souls (read: stupid f*ckwits) trying to write professionally, reading becomes a critical exercise.

Reading for analysis

At the moment, the majority of my reading is done with an analytical eye, which is less enjoyable and harder than it seems.

I have besmirched the hallowed pages of paperbacks with ugly pencilled notes in the margins. I have sullied paragraphs of gentle prose with the luminous swipe of my highlighter pen! No book is safe, and my inner librarian is cursing me to the deepest pit of the seven hells!

And, it’s not just hardcopy: my smartphone is bursting with my unrelenting obsession to collect and catalogue information that might, or might not, make it into a book one day.

On a positive note, Amazon, Foyles and my local second-hand bookshop are doing very well out of this whole affair.

This week’s reading list:

  • The White Queen by Phillippa Gregory’s
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

The problem occurs when I find myself wrestling with enjoyment versus analysis. I’m not saying one is mutually exclusive of the other, but I find it difficult to lose myself in a novel when I need to look at it objectively.

Also, guilt rears its ugly head! How can I justify ‘wasting’ time on a book that’s not my own?

I think I have the answer…

Need time? Something’s gotta give

To make more time for reading, something, somewhere, has to be sacrificed. And, I don’t mean your neighbour’s annoying cockapoo cross!

Personally, I found more hours in the day by sacrificing other activities like binge-watching Netflix and sleeping.

I watch a lot of TV shows! In a short amount of time, I clocked up episodes of Supernatural, Castle The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. Weeks of missed episodes were consumed in a matter of days.

Taking a break is important too

Doing too much can be just as detrimental as doing too little. Creative burnout is very real and writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

I like to make sure I take enough breaks when writing or studying, so I don’t morph into a crazy person shouting at pigeons!

I shut my laptop or put down my book, then I go and enjoy something mindless and easy. No guilt, no word count, no stress.