A while back a friend of mine had asked me for some advice on beginning a story.
I’ll say this right now: I’m not one for treatments and outlines. I tend to utilize them in the middle of a project, but even then only briefly (just to remind myself what it is I’m writing about). Outside of writing the actual story, I only jot down important ideas for later that I don’t want to forget.
In terms of beginning a new story, this is what I told my friend:
“I figure out what story I want to tell and who I want it to be about. Then I go on the adventure with that person, discovering everything as they do.”
I tend to be spontaneous when I write. It’s always been certain of making it interesting for me; not knowing what to expect next. Granted, I do like to know the ending, and I especially know specific events that I want to detail, so my stories do bend to some sort of code, but in the end I prefer freedom with the page.
I’m still a young writer, and I may yet come to discover the perks of writing up treatments, but the way I see it, if you think too much about something, you end up getting bored of it, or maybe begin to doubt it. Like life, you won’t make a whole lot of progress sitting around thinking about what you’re going to do with yourself rather than actually doing it.
So if you’re someone who has trouble starting a story, understand these basics: What you want to tell, and who you want it to be about.
Going from there, I’m sure you might find yourself being just about as surprised as the reader.
In hopes to prevent others from making the same mistakes, I’ve decided to write a post today about some of my worst writing habits and how to avoid them.
Coffee, oh delicious elixir, how you complete me! You are my jump-starter and bittersweet lover! You mean the world to me. I don’t know what I’d do without you! Alright, enough of that.
Drinking too much coffee is always one of those things that tends to sneak up on me, especially if I’m out at a coffee shop writing. When I sit down to start a rewrite, it isn’t until my heart starts throbbing out of my chest that I notice the 5 empty coffee cups at my side. This is also a very bad habit for me considering I have poor heart health. Famed author Balzac literally died of caffeine poisoning. Although I don’t think I drink THAT much, it’s my hope to kick this habit eventually.
What really helps me is keeping a mental note of how many coffees I’ve had in a single day. When I get my first cup, I’ll say in my mind “number 1″. This way when my craving kicks in, I know how many I’ve had that day. Right now my limit is 3 *gulp* but it should be one, or none at all. Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
When I’m in the middle of an intense writing session and I stop to think of what to write next, without fail my digits find their way into my mouth. It’s not just nails either. It’s cuticles, knuckles, you name it. Considering that my nails are always in a state of serrated decrepitude, I’ve made a decision to try to nix this habit once and for all. Generally this is a bad habit that doesn’t have any correlation with writing, but for me this happens primarily when I write.
To stop myself from doing this, I’ve found that using surges of hand sanitizer or moisturizer on my fingers not only helps to sooth the dry flaking I’ve inflicted, but also acts as a taste-bud attacker. Believe me, this works. The second I get a taste of that sterile residue I stop biting and don’t think twice about it. I can type a lot faster, I spend less time thinking, and I spend more time writing. Trust me, your fingers will thank you.
It’s unfortunate that I get a great deal of my best ideas while I’m out driving. Sometimes I’ll even get the urge to drive for several hours. I live in a very rural/boring area of Canada which provides excellent zoning out periods. It wasn’t until I started writing in public places where I noticed my ideas would flow best on the drive into town.
I don’t condone this kind of behaviour at all. Not only is it occasionally dangerous, it’s extraordinarily expensive as well. Gas prices have never been higher and a driving habit is probably one of the worst things to have right now. (Well, at least I’m not just burning or sniffing the gas, but I digress.)
To combat this habit, I’ve taken to walking instead. I’ll drive to a wooded conservation area or a nice neighbourhood, park the car and walk until the juices start flowing.
It’s also a lot better for my FAT ASS.
Where do I even begin? Cellphones, the internet, video games, netflix, social media – they’re all so toxic for me right now. I can’t write unless I rid myself of all these things. My nostalgia for the past keeps me locked in cheasy MS:DOS games (now available on iPhone!), as well as old TV shows on Netflix that I can’t stop watching. They are all so distracting and it’s gotten to the point when I’m going nuts. Even twitter, which was once a great networking platform for me, has recently become a venomous time eater. Fear not fellow distracted writers, for there is a cure!
SHUT EVERYTHING OFF!!! (except your computer, if you need it.) As a result of my addictive tech personality, I’ve resorted to leaving my phone in the car, turning off my wifi connection and deleting addictive apps from my devices. It has helped my productivity soar in the last month. Some of you might remember my post about the gadget free day. I now stand resolute behind that statement. They are evil enemies of your craft and should be avoided at all costs.
I’m afraid this last habit has been the most difficult to kick. I struggle with it every day. (Hear that? That’s me feeling sorry for myself.) GUH, If I had a quarter for every time I stopped what I was doing and started feeling sorry for myself, I’d be a BAZILLIONTRILLIONQUADRILLIONAIRE. Even now, it’s not easy for me to write this because I feel like I’d be lying to myself.
When these pity parties usually start, it’s always when I’m facing a challenging rewrite. When I see the edit ahead of me, I take one look at the path ahead and turn around. Trek up a mountain just for a successful plot point? Kiss my ass! I’d rather sit on the beaches of my own lake of tears. Seriously, when will I get it into my thick skull that creative power is a result of positive personal affirmation? (Ah, there I go again. Being hard on myself.)
-No one is perfect.
-Everyone started somewhere.
-Don’t let others define your work.
-Small doable actions will take you further than big exhausting leaps.
These are all topics I’ve written about time and time again on this blog, yet I can’t seem to follow my own advice at times. I suppose that’s the nature of the beast being an artistic person. I have found however, that breaking this habit on occasion isn’t as hard as one may think. The key is to – WRITE ABOUT IT – I know that sounds silly, but writing about my problems in life both personally and creatively has always proven fruitful.
When I read through my journals, I can see my progress as a human being. I also find that I never run out of source material. There will always be challenges you’ll face as a writer. It’s best that you find a way to channel these problems creatively.
Hell, I even started a blog about it!
The point is that you DO something. Don’t just sit there and let it eat you up inside. Find like minded writers and TALK about it. The bottom line is that you must do something that is productive. Writing THROUGH these creative breakdowns is really the best thing you can do. Even if you only write a paragraph a day, what matters is that you WRITE.
I hope these crappy habits of mine have proven insightful. I realize things could be a lot worse. (I could be a coke sniffer or something!)
Sometimes, the best medicine is practicing that cliché of “getting back on the horse.”
– Daniel J. Pike
The best cure for writer’s block? Stop thinking of it as a barricade, and think of it more as a path. I find that most people who deal with writer’s block think of it as a physical block that has to be broken down or overcome when it’s better to approach it as a figurative block.
Imagine your creative flow as a road. Perhaps it’s pretty steady at the moment and everything’s going great. You’re writing up a storm and the printer is spitting out pages, but suddenly you reach a brick wall. You’ve lost your momentum and you’re perplexed or perturbed. Now most writers will just stare at that wall and bash their heads against it until it gives way, but perhaps choosing to turn left or right would be more beneficial.
This is where the figurative block comes in. Perhaps you walk down a block or two, and you find a road that leads you back on track beyond the dead end, or maybe it takes a few or a multitude; regardless, at some point you should find your way, even if it means going all the way back and starting over.
What is it that you’re exactly doing walking up these blocks? You’re having an experience. It could be taken quite literally that you’re going for a walk through town (perhaps to get groceries or just have a breath of fresh air). Maybe you’re watching a movie, reading a book, or listening to music. Or perhaps you’re taking big steps and going on a vacation or extensive adventure. Walking down these roads could be anything (heck, even eating can count), but what matters is that you’re broadening your creative horizons by having experiences to draw from. At some point you’re going to find the right road that leads you back on the right track, or sometimes on a new, more inspired path altogether.
To put it plainly, writer’s block comes about from a lack of inspiration. Rather than sit at your keyboard and question your talent, why not take writer’s block as an opportunity to indulge yourself in leisureness or activity? Why not let your mind rest up as well as absorb more ideas? There’s no need to fret, because the fact is inspiration doesn’t magically come about by staring at a blank page; it comes from living and being active. See the world, find a story, and make yourself hunger to fill that page, because you just can’t force-feed inspiration.
A lot of artists I’ve known throughout the years suffer from the same form of creative guilt as I do. This guilt is that little voice inside of you that says:
“Daniel, you haven’t done any writing today or yesterday! You’ve been working on the same story for a month now! You gotta do something big and monumentous! You have to prove to everyone that you can do it! You gotta drop everything and write for 4 weeks straight, never stopping and not talking to anybody! Everyone is going to think you’re some sort of hack if you don’t deliver some sort of product, and FAST!”
As great as these intentions are, this usually leads to something I like to call “breaking the dam.” It’s a creative act that seeks to do something REALLY BIG, and ALL AT ONCE, like some sort of creative hiroshima massacre.
Sure you got everyone’s attention with your huge explosion of creativity, but this doesn’t give you a good foundation to build on. Instead it gives all artists a false sense of accomplishment.
Please learn from my mistakes, and know that leaps of absurd ambition do not equal productivity… or product. Haven’t you ever heard anybody say, “quality, not quantity?”
I know there is a lot to be said about setting high goals for yourself, and I’m all-for people trying to pursue their dreams. I also understand that there are some artists who can’t help but get a flush of inspiration. This is an enviable aspect of the craft. Yet it is an aspect that is strengthened by a routine, rather than a stand alone occurrence. But if you ‘break the dam’ on your craft… yes you will be doing something big with your life, but at the end of the day you’re left with a broken dam. You’ll be drowning in your own flood waters, and you won’t have any energy left to pick up the pieces.
Try to build a foundation for yourself – brick by brick; a great cement dam that holds back the demons of guilt and doubt. You need to be prepared for failures. I’m sure everyone has heard the bedtime story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Slow and steady wins this race. Don’t tucker yourself out and feel depleted every year. If you do that you won’t get anything done.
Famed director Stephen Spielberg made several made-for-TV movies, and TV-Specials before he even attempted an ambitious project like JAWS. Learn from my mistakes. Please. Small ‘doable’ actions have gotten me further than I ever thought possible.
Practice some self discipline, and map out a plan of action for yourself before making any drastic decisions. Then put your plan into action, and by all means PACE yourself.
Just try to be a doer, and NOT a doer-all-at-once.
- Daniel J. Pike
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in screenwriting, I’ve compiled a short list of the most common mistakes I’ve observed in my years of editing people’s screenplays:
5) BAD SLUG LINES
You’d be surprised to know how many people make this mistake.
Slug-Lines are supposed to be read as a short transition into your action. You don’t have to describe the location in the slug-line. You should be as concise as possible, eliminating anything that isn’t necessary. Some screenwriters might tell you it’s alright to get creative with times of of the day, but I say: NOOOO!
Unless you’re writing a scene where Luke Skywalker looks off to a binary sunset, or Jordi LaForge is gazing upon a sunrise with his real eyes for the first time, very seldom are DUSK and DAWN acceptable. Use INT and EXT, instead of INTERIOR, EXTERIOR, INSIDE, or OUTSIDE. Stick to DAY or NIGHT shots. AFTERNOONS, MORNINGS, EVENINGS, and LATE EVENINGS are all unnecessary. Your transition of time should be evident in the way you tell your story. There is no physical way of showing how ‘night time’ can be ‘midnight’ on screen. The sky is dark. The shot requires that you shoot at night time. Therefore, you should just use “NIGHT”.
INTERIOR - DOWN THE UPSTAIRS HALLWAY NEAR THE BATHROOM - MIDNIGHT
INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT
4) LENGTHY SETTING/SCENE/CHARACTER DESCRIPTION
This one isn’t as easy. A lot of the time, I find myself cutting out entire pages of action. If your description does nothing to reveal something about the character, or advance the plot, it isn’t necessary.
Think about it.
You only have 120 pages (on average) to work with. Why would you put in anything that isn’t important? Ever notice when books are made into movies, sometimes fans get upset that things are cut from the book? Well obviously! Otherwise a movie would be way too long, and as much as I loved Harry Potter, I don’t feel like sitting through a 22 hour movie.
(However I have a “19 hour+ Harry Potter Movie Marathon” coming up that I am GREATLY looking forward too…).
Here is an example of how you can clean up a scene of description:
DALE, a man aged 33, sits on a plush leather couch in the middle of a fancily decorated living room, wearing dark khaki pants, a dress shirt, and a tie. He fidgets on the leather couch. Across the room, an ornately carved red door, made of mahogany opens. GEEVES the butler, dressed in a full tuxedo with a tailed suit jacket, walks toward Dale across the red and black pattered carpet. Dale looks up at Geeves and bits his lip. Geeves motions with his gloved hand toward the door. Dale gulps, stands up, and walks toward the open mahogany door.
DALE, a man in his early 30s, sits on a leather couch in a fancy living room. He adjusts his necktie. Across the room, a large mahogany door opens. GEEVES the old butler, enters the room and approaches Dale.
Dale bites his lip.
Geeves stands up straight and motions his hand toward the open door.
Dale gulps and stands.
The two of them exit the room.
Notice how I edited the piece so that Dale’s nervous actions are on their own lines? I did this to give the scene a bit more tension. I also broke up the paragraph to make it easier to read. I also eliminated almost every piece of description. Your job isn’t to furnish rooms, dress actors, or decide what brand of eyeliner Norma Desmond wears.
In novel writing, it might be argued that can you use description until the cows come home, (Just ask J.R.R. Tolkien) but in the cutthroat business of screenwriting, you are to give just enough description to give the reader a visual. Use your best judgement. I usually like to give a bit of detail to help set the scene, but anything else is just fluff around the edges.
It should be noted that integral props, or complicated settings can use a bit more description. If it is going to play a crucial role in your story, you want your reader to be able to visualize it immediately.
3) DON’T DO THE WORK OF THE FILM CREW
If your screenplay is littered with PAN UPS, TILT DOWNS, dramatic musical cues, or excessive descriptions, you should pursue a considerable rewrite. If you believe what you’ve written will be dictating the work of the cameraman, the actor, or the film crew in anyway, you need to eliminate it. As I said before, your job isn’t to dress your actors, act for them, or decide what kind of lighting is appropriate for a scene. Film is a COLLABORATIVE MEDIUM.
Here are some common mistakes:
No! YOU stop it!
Using (whispering) is acceptable if required, as is (out of breath) or (laughing), but they really aren’t necessary. The actors job is to interpret the dialogue as it is needed for the scene. Don’t do their job for them.
No! You stop it!
See how much simpler and to the point this is? If the actors don’t know there is anger, or maybe some shouting in this scene, then they are stupid and shouldn’t be acting anyway.
Here is another mistake:
INTERIOR - INSIDE UPSTAIRS HALLWAY NEAR THE BATHROOM - MIDNIGHT
TILT UP to Sarah standing at the end of the hallway. PAN OVER to Brent holding a knife. Dramatic music is playing, as Brent rushes over to Sarah.
INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY -- NIGHT
Sarah stands at the end of the hallway. Brent is across from her, clutching a KNIFE. Brent lunges toward her.
See how much cleaner this action is without the camera angels and shot descriptions? The way a film is shot is for the director and the cinematographer to decide in their production script. If you’re an independent filmmaker who will be writing AND directing, for the benefit of your actors and crew, just write a regular screenplay. When you litter your story with PAN-UPs, CLOSE-UPs, and what-have-yous, it takes the reader out of the story. You want your reader to get sucked into the world of your script, and never put it down until it’s finished.
2) WRITING IN THE PRESENT TENSE
Very few realize the importance of screenwriting in the present tense. It should be how every screenplay it written. Writing in past tense is wonderful for fiction, or other literary forms, but if you want your reader to follow through your script as if it is happening precisely in that moment, you gotta write in present tense. Here are some examples:
EXTERIOR - PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL - AFTERNOON
Billy was standing on a large rock in the middle of the courtyard at the back of the school. Students walked towards him. Billy looked at them, and grinned. He grabbed the toilet paper from his side, and began wrapping himself with it.
The students laughed at this.
EXT. - PUBLIC HIGHSCHOOL - DAY
Billy stands on a large rock in the middle of the courtyard at the back of the school. Students strut toward him. Billy looks at them and grins. He grabs the toilet paper from his side, and wraps himself with it.
The students giggle.
I contest that there are no right or wrong answers at times, and one can argue that it’s not a big deal if you submit a screenplay written in the past tense. However, it is the general consensus of Hollywood producers and working screenwriters, that the present tense is not only important, but a requirement.
1) DISREGARDING YOUR AUDIENCE’S NEEDS
I can’t express the utmost importance in writing for your audience. If you aren’t writing to tell a good story, then why the hell are you writing? Let me remind you, that I’ve read many screenplays where the author feels the need to use the craft as a means of personal flattery or self therapy. This is not to be confused with self-expression.
Self-expression is important in ANY art form. You need to draw on things in your life so that you can create an original story. As far as I know, no one else is me. Therefore, I have something original to tell. However, if you feel the need to symbolize your life and use sub-par metaphors for your first world problems, you should reconsider your intentions. Why are you telling this story?
The difference, is that you should not be writing so your friends and family can see how you struggled with a relationship, but to write a story that anyone can relate to.
Do you think audiences pack into theatres so they can see how you broke up with your partner in a coffee shop?
Audiences pack into theatres, because they want to be entertained! They want to laugh and cry! They want to be scared! They want to live vicariously through characters that perservereer, or witness the horrible downfalls of a tragic lifestyle!
Your first thought should be: “How is my story going to affect my audience?” If your first thought is how you can ‘cleverly symbolize’ how you deal with things, you’re not thinking about your audience. Unless you want to pay for your own movie tickets, and see your problems on the big screen, get over yourself. Stop being so egotistical, and start TRYING TO TELL A GOOD STORY.
Finally, it should be noted that you cannot as a screenwriter show anything that you cannot see on screen. Internal thoughts or feelings should be left for the novel. You cannot say “Jake is happy when he see’s Betty.” You can however, say “Jake smiles at Betty” or “Jake spots Betty and smiles.” Just be mindful of what you’re writing. As always, writing is rewriting, so if you make mistakes, don’t worry. Keep plugging away at your craft and soon these rules will seem like nothing.
Take 15-30 minutes today to write yourself a letter. Ask yourself these 5 questions:
1) Do I need to work on my screenplay format?
2) Can I eliminate unnecessary elements that aren't important to my characters or story?
3) Am I writing for myself, or for my audience?
4) What do I want to say with this story?
5) How do I want my audience to feel at the end of my story?
If you answer ‘yes’ to anything on this list, you might want to reconsider your priorities:
10) If someone asks you ‘when is the last time you wrote anything’ and your answer is ‘a few months ago’.
9) One moleskin notebook has lasted you a year or more.
8) If you’re stopping to answer text messages.
7) If you’re watching television while writing.
6) If you think complaining into your diary is considered writing.
5) If you enjoy telling everybody you know about your unfinished work.
4) If you carry writing materials around with you wherever you go, but never take them out of the bag.
3) If you’re reading a ‘how to’ book on writing, and not doing the exercises.
2) If you write less then one hour a week.
1) If you write one draft and think you’re done.
Don’t be a talker – be a doer. Stop what you’re doing, and go write something already. Writing is rewriting. If you’ve never completed anything before, that might also be a sign you’re not actually writing. Don’t be one of those people that goes their whole lives talking about how they have a great idea for a book or a movie. Just write it.
If you remember the last writer’s tool about the “Gadget Free Day”, equally can be said for having a gadget on you at all times.
Some writers may tell you that getting a portable recording device is an integral tool to the craft. I say bull$*&%. If you have a cellphone, chances are you have two functions: Voice Recorder, and a Notepad.
I tend to use my notepad more often, but there are times when I’m out and I don’t have time to write anything quickly. I’ll just excuse myself into the bathroom or someplace private, record a few choice words into the recorder app, and BOOM. Instant notes.
I’ve outlined many plots this way. Most people have either a cellphone or ipod nowadays. Whether you have a Blackberry Playbook or iPad – or just a plain cellphone, why not utilize your morning commute to the fullest extent? Hell, I’ve even used my phone while sitting on the … well, I won’t go into details, but basically you can take notes virtually anywhere.
A lot of writers I know tend to forget, or under-utilize these functions. Sometimes it’s easy to remember to keep a grocery list, but forget notes about your characters. What I love most about my phone is that I have the option of just e-mailing lists or voicenotes to myself for later use.
Do I recommend texting your entire novel to someone? No.
Do I recommend tweeting your entire novel, or posting everything on facebook using your phone?- absolutely not. That’s annoying to everyone in social media platforms, and a great way to lose followers. Not to mention you’re inviting someone to steal everything you’re doing.
Do I recommend you use mobile technology to write down notes, and possibly write pages for yourself while you have a spare moment in your busy day? Abso-freakin-lutely.
If you’re always thinking about writing while on the go, this tool will help you start putting those instantaneous creative thoughts into practical application.
You can find other tools like this in the Writer’s Toolbox link, at the top of the page.
I’ve decided to give this blog a much needed facelift. Apologies if you witnessed any of the awkward changes being made before things were complete. I still have a few more things to fix, but for now, I’m satisfied.
If you have a chance today, remember that this blog isn’t anything without readers! Please share and
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I’ve been told by several writers that prologues are completely unnecessary in any piece of storytelling. I however, believe they are a very effective way of illuminating integral aspects of backstory.
Prologues can be used to give the story you are telling, some very valuable context.
Prologues are very popularly used in Fantasy or Science Fiction genres, but can also be used in horror, thrillers, or any story which requires a set up of a previous crime or event. Screenwriters use them often, as complicated worlds or scenarios are difficult to squeeze into your story when you have a 120 page limit.
The Lord of the Rings, Lady in the Water, The Dark Crystal, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, are all examples of prologues that utilize narration to explain backstory, leading into your central tale. Although you may not need narration, it can be an effective and interesting tool to use. Another famous example is the yellow scrolling ‘text’ from Star Wars which sets up the story of a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.
Dictionary.com describes the word ‘prologue’ as a separate introductory section of a literary or musical work, and an event or action that leads to another event or situation. Your prologue should be a self contained story that presents an unanswered question near the end. This question will lead into your central plot, and keeps your audience/readers hooked.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast does this by introducing us to the world of the prince, his primary flaw, and the unanswered question “who could ever learn to love a beast?”. This transitions immediately into Belle’s introduction -> “hint hint, wink wink.”. What makes this prologue effective, is that it is poignant, elegant, and simple. Complex prologues may leave your audience/readers feeling alienated, and wondering “what the heck is going on?”.
However, don’t be quick to explain everything either, as you can run into danger telling your entire story. When I first wrote a prologue for one of my scripts, my then ignorant self thought I had written a masterpiece. Pfffft. What I didn’t know, was that I was so ‘on the nose’ about the questions leading into my story, my readers immediately were able to predict everything that happened.
You don’t want people to get everything out of the prologue. If you do, then just write a short story or film. Your prologue should have the ability to feel like a separate entity, but an incomplete one. Here’s another example of a good prologue from Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal:
This prologue is effective as it introduces us to the world of the crystal, sets up the audience’s expectations, and outlines the grim situation the characters are living in. It doesn’t give the plot away, and you’re left guessing what will happen next.
I know what I’m speaking about may be a tad ‘obvious’ for some, but speaking from experience it’s actually quite a difficult thing to write. Every writer’s first priority should be to drum up an effective backstory. By all means, if you do this without requiring a prologue, then give yourself a big pat on the back. However, if your story is about wizards, rings of power, worlds of fairies, a boy who lived, or a magic rose, you may just need to give your audience/readers a little more with a good prologue.
You’d never believe it, but in a timespan of just four months…
…I’ve locked my keys in my car a total of 7 times.
Oh yes, I’m an idiot.
Thankfully, I’m not capable of misplacing my brain (at least, I hope not), and there is usually always access to paper and pens. You’d be shocked how many coffee stores, or restaurants are willing to part with a few pieces of paper and a pen if you ask nicely.
Now, if you’re a dunce like me, and you need to wait around for people to bring you a spare set of keys, or for a mobile car service to arrive, you can get pretty creative in passing the time. I’ve learned the benefits of using this time to concentrate on my writing.
I get a good chuckle out of picturing the first few times I’ve done this, and literally thinking to myself “Oh no! My cellphone, laptop, and journal are locked in my car! HOW AM I GOING TO WRITE?” … then it dawned on me one day, while waiting for my parents to bring me my spare set of keys, that I could simply ask a local Starbucks for a few pieces of paper and a pen.
Not only did they provide the materials I needed, in feeling sorry for my predicament, they gave me a free latte! Score!
It’s funny how many businesses are so eager to help you when you do something stupid. It’s almost as if the break in routine gives them an excuse to leave their all important burger flipping, in pursuit of some scrap paper… or some band-aids (don’t ask.)
At any rate, the lesson I’ve learned in all of this, was how much ACTUAL writing I completed, not having my cellphone, or an internet connection to actively distract me from doing everything. It’s astonishing how your brain is FORCED to think, when you have nothing to do.
This is also a fantastic way to iron out writer’s block. I’ve climbed out of many plot holes, and character problems this way. It amazes me how much of a creative recovery it can be, not having a gadget at your side. Unless you’re some sort of business tycoon, and your crackberry or i-arm is some sort of appendage, then I highly recommend trying this out. Before the advent of technology, many writers got along just fine without a cellphone, laptop, or what-have-you. “Just turn it off” some might say …
… sorry, I don’t have that kind of willpower. Perhaps that’s also a reason why I’m tubby. Just leave your devices at home, and thank me when you get a crap-load of writing done.
TASK: Set aside a large chunk of time, and leave every precious electronic thing you own that may distract you at home. Bring nothing but some paper, and a pen. (perhaps an extra pen, just in case.)
This writing tip is brought to you by a forgetful idiot.
You can find other tools like this in the Writer’s Toolbox link, at the top of the page.