Tag Archives | writing process

Work on the novel continues apace

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“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Berlin April 10

Catching up on my stored Instapaper* articles, I found a piece describing some of the (often strange and ritualised) ways in which acclaimed writers write.

Having spent the last few months twisting around myself, trying to organise the ideas and plans for my novel without going crazy, wondering if it was normal to spend so much time planning that the actual writing of prose seems to be the thing I do least, sitting at a desk buried in layers of post-its and index cards, writing in notebooks overrun with more arrows and crossings out than words – breathe, Rhian, breathe – to read about Ishiguro’s flow-charts, Mantel’s showers and Atwood’s scribbles has reassured me that I might be sane. Or, rather, normal. For a writer. Maybe.

Sounds like I have the ‘create whichever system/state of chaos you need in order to beckon and then trap your ideas’ part of novel-writing right, so all I need to do now is try not to flinch at the prospect of getting my prose anywhere near the level of those masters.

(Um, yes. I only want to read really bad fiction at the moment, stuff that makes me feel superior. Badly punctuated, excessively descriptive, heavy on the speech tags? Bring it on! Cliched or nonsensical characters in overwrought settings? Yes please! I’ve had to put my Maggie Stiefvater* backlog to one side, as I can’t handle the prettiness right now).

The article is here, and if you enjoy reading about the writing process then I recommend the Paris Review interviews – a fascinating collection of interviews with artists and writers, in several volumes. Volume 1 is my favourite, featuring Hemingway, Capote, Dorothy Parke, Joan Didion and Kurt Vonnegut.

*Instapaper ROCKS. Especially if you’re trying to reduce your time online, but don’t want to miss out on good reading. It’s especially useful for me because it syncs with my Kindle.

When I see something online I want to read, say an article about literary agents or a blog post about female YA writers, I click to send it to Instapaper and then The Magic Instapaper Fairies compile everything I’ve saved and email me a mini-newspaper made up of them.

So, I can give myself five minutes to scan Twitter, send any interesting links to my Instapaper account, wave at my friends and then get back to what I was supposed to be doing offline. The next morning, my Kindle receives a document containing anything I tagged, and I read it on the train. I don’t find myself online for hours reading when I should be writing, but I still get to keep up with interesting articles at a time I choose. LOVE. IT.

*the beginning scene in Linger, when Isabel comes into the bookshop? It slayed me, it was written so well. So much is conveyed without ever being explicit – I had to stomp around the house, loudly Giving Up Writing, before I could pick up either the book or my writing again.

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yawn

 

yawn

© spencer77

I read an article recently about ‘How To Be Creative’ which said,

Get Groggy.  According to a study published last month, people at their least alert time of day—think of a night person early in the morning—performed far better on various creative puzzles, sometimes improving their success rate by 50%. Grogginess has creative perks.

As anyone who’s lived with me, worked with me or talked to me before noon will tell you, I am not a morning person. But this groggy thing made sense to me. I thought it could be like working in that creative haze I get sometimes, when the words flow and I write cool dream-y stuff without trying. That most often happens when I’ve got a fever, so a way to recreate that without ‘flu sounded like something worth setting the alarm for.

So, I woke up early today and tried to write whilst groggy. Sat at my desk at 7am (which is extremely early for me), without coffee, and tried to blog. Then I tried journalling, then fiction. They all sucked. I suck. Mornings suck. My brain-fingers-keyboard interface needs coffee. To be honest, even with coffee I tend to stay fuzzy til about 2pm.

This post is here to prove that I once tried this – and am therefore excused from trying it ever again. It is now 9am and two hours of writing crap hasn’t been the best start to my day. To the coffee machine! And/or back to bed.

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Recommended resources for writing SF/F? (Mslexia Guest Blog)

Since my last post, some of you have asked for links to useful blogs about writing fantasy/science fiction. Unfortunately, this has made me realise that most of what I read when I started writing is out of date now – no longer updated, or my bookmarks lost from when I changed laptops. Darn.

Recently I’ve been keeping my head down and writing, trying to limit my online reading til this novel is done, so I don’t have as much fresh content to recommend as I’d like. I’ve listed here a few links to some classics and content I still think is relevant, but I’m really writing this to ask what you read.

Which sites or books do you find useful when you’re stuck for what to write, or how to write it? Was there a genre-specific resource that helped when you were starting out?

Or, do you just use the same writing advice non-genre writers would? Is anything extra needed?

Read the full article (including ace Ray Bradbury video and a picture of a Cat Wizard) here.

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