Last week: not a great one. Words written: around 3000. Words deleted: around 8000. Cups of coffee drunk: 12. Fits of anguished rage: 8-14 (depending on whether you count the ones that took place in dreams).
New week, new start. Now seems a good time to continue my series of inspirational writing tips for myself. (You can see part 1 here.)
Not in a ‘you’ve let yourself go and need to sort yourself out’ kind of way. Obviously. As discussed in tip #2 (see below), a lot of the work that goes into writing doesn’t take place at your desk. For me, walking is one of the best ways to conjure up new ideas. Doesn’t matter how aimless my stroll is, or how grim my surroundings; something in the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other seems to help get my thoughts back on track when I’m stuck.
If you ever find yourself on the Brixton Road in the middle of the afternoon, watch out for a small blonde girl wandering along it with a vacant expression. I will probably be harnessing the inner genius.
Writing tip for self #5 – Give your story time and space to take shape.
It can be dispiriting when you feel like you’re finally getting somewhere, and then you notice your story unexpectedly beginning to change direction under your suspicious gaze.
What do you do? Do you go with the new idea, and end up scrapping much of what you’ve already done? Or do you force the story onwards into the mould you originally envisaged?
I’ve made it sound like I know the answer to this. If only. But I think maybe it’s the first option. I’ve found that the real story, the richest and most exciting version, sometimes only emerges later on. You have to be flexible to let that happen, and patient.
Writing tip for self #6 – Don’t forget how much you love doing this.
Yes, writing can be a slog sometimes. You’re wracked with self-doubt, you’re spending too much time alone and forgetting how to interact with other human beings; you may in fact have gone feral and insist on living in a box fort. But in any case, this is what you love, and what you’ve always wanted to do, and mostly it makes you happy. Be grateful.