Hey there, writer? Whatcha doin’? Surfing the Internet? Caught up in some devilishly clever blog post that has promised to give you the secrets of the craft in one easy-to-read, bulleted list with some fancy-schmancy graphics?
I see you.
I’m glad you’re here, actually, I DO have some important advice in this my first lesson on finishing your work in progress.
Get off the Internet and back to your writing, you filthy animal.
Ok…wait! Not right now…just hear me out. I promise, I’ll be brief (500 words or so…Look! Only 420 left! 418…)
Fewer things deter the creative process like the multi-faceted distractions we face in our interconnected world. The phone, social media, the addictive thumbs-up ‘likes’ and sympathetic sobbing emojis. Constant information streams into our overworked, underfed brains; the lies, the truth, the barrage of sight and sound that, when boiled down, amounts to so much nothing. So much noise.
So shut it down.
That’s all. Part 1, in a neat little nutshell. Expand? Ok, but only because you asked…
Do you want to write more? Then disconnect. Grab a pen and paper and sit your ass on a park bench or in a coffee shop with your phone and laptop “conveniently” left at home.
“But…but I can’t just write! I won’t be able to spell check or word count (320 left) or research the typical milk production of a Nubian goat in April!”
First of all, my little perfectionist, rough drafts don’t need to be spell checked the moment words hit paper (shocking, right?)
Secondly, one page of average handwriting has about 250 words give or take. You’re welcome.
Third (ly?), you sound like someone who could use my patented “Blah Blah” technique to avoid distraction in the middle of your writing flow.
Not familiar? Well, don’t search it on line (Jesus, haven’t you been listening to me?) It’s a secret I share with only my closest creative misfits, lucky you.
When you don’t know a factual detail of some part of your scene, insert the words “Blah Blah” into the space and move on.
Did you—did you just roll your eyes at me? Watch it…I will mom voice you so hard…
“Victoria knew that the Nubians would produce at least blah blah of milk next month, giving her blah blah bars of homemade soap to sell.”
It also works if I’ve forgotten a secondary character’s name but know that scrolling back to find it will dry up the good stuff that’s pouring out:
“ ‘You’re a handful,’ Mr. Blah Blah said and scowled over the drag pole fence.”
Don’t fiddle with your flow. Let the unnecessary lay in wait and avoid the pitfall of jumping on the Internet to do some ‘quick research’ which will curtail your thought process and take you away from your work (16 hours of baby-goats-in-pajamas-videos later and I’ve forgotten evil exists in the world. Good for sleep, bad for fleshing out antagonists.)
When the creative dust has settled into a beautiful, uninhibited outpouring of ingenuity go back and find your ‘blah blahs’ (they stick out like sore typos, especially being ‘repeat’ words) and you can designate a specific, allotted time to research and check them.
There it is.
But in my forty or so words left, I should give you at least one bullet (I believe I promised it somewhere up there.)
- More than just in your writing, consider disconnecting in your life. Be present in the world around you, not face down in a screen. Your writing will be better. Your life will be better. Power down for at least an hour a day. No phone, no television, no laptop, no screen. Live through your eyes, your ears… all those messy, beautiful human senses your mother worked so hard to make for nine months. Notice the vibrancy of color in nature, the way wind feels against your cheek. Listen to your own breath. Taste your food. Powerful writing comes from living with powerful intention.
Ok, now you can leave me. I apologize for surpassing the mark. What can I say? I didn’t want to mess with my flow.
Go work on your book. Your poem…your passion. Come back and let me know how it’s going.
I’m signing off for the day, but I’ll get back to you when my creative dust settles.