Writing About Writing, And Advice No One Asked For

Hi I’m Ella, and I’m a writer.

We need some sort of support group with the amount of complaining we all seem to do. Especially about not writing, which is about 80% of what being a writer is about. The rest of it is about 10% squeezing your brain and writing something even with the very distinct lack of motivation to do so, and 9.5% editing. Which leaves you with 0.5% of actual inspiration to write. As I said in a previous post, writer’s block is less of an occasional problem and more a consistent state of being. I’m by no means qualified to give tips, but seeing as writing is in the title of my blog I might as well write a bit about… well, writing.

Since my last post about creative writing, I’ve finished my first novel Enclosure (including extensive editing, proof-reading and all the particulars about font sizing, spacing and what-not that publishers want you to do) and am about 23,000 words into the sequel. I’m trying to get the first published – trying being the operative word. I’ve lost count of the amount of agents that I’ve sent Enclosure to, which has received about two rejections with some actual feedback, then a handful of plain old rejections, and somewhere between ten and fifteen that just ignored me. I’m not going to lie, no matter how much I told myself that it was going to be a hard slog and reminding myself how many times J.K Rowling herself got rejected, it gets pretty disheartening. If there are any creative writers reading this post, you’ll understand why. If not, I’ll try to explain the ridiculous levels of attachment we have to our characters. I  bawl my eyes out when I’m writing scenes in which my characters are in distress. Any one who knows me will back me up that I talk about them like they are real people; like they are friends I’ve known all my life. I frequently – and this is embarrassing, but I can’t stop myself – refer to them as my children. So it’s not a pleasant feeling when people clearly just aren’t into it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The feeling when I finished Enclosure was awesome. I mean awesome as in I danced around my house blasting ‘Celebrate Good Times, C’mon’ at full volume. Scared the window cleaner to death. Finishing one novel also pushed me to write more. I got in such a habit of writing nearly every day that I missed it when I wasn’t. That’s not to say I don’t have days when I seriously can’t be arsed. But I’ve been powering through the sequel far quicker than the first one because now it doesn’t seem like too much effort to write 500 words a day. Doing it in small chunks is definitely the way to go for me. And if I miss a day, I’ll do 1000 the next. That still isn’t a huge amount in the grand scheme of things – typing at size 12, that’s about a page. Writing every day is one piece of advice that I see thrown around a lot, and in theory I agree with it. Yes, even if you don’t have much motivation. If you wait around for motivation, you’ll never get anything done. But equally, don’t beat yourself up if you have a day off. For one thing, you can always catch up the next day if you keep your goals reasonable. For another, even if you don’t catch up it’s fine to have a day off every now and again, just like you would with anything else. It’s important to be disciplined if you’re serious about writing, but if you stop enjoying writing then what’s the point?

Like anything that’s worth doing, writing is difficult. It’s time consuming, it’s often frustrating and unless you make your millions from it there’s not a lot in terms of financial reward. That’s why my ultimate piece of advice in this little ramble parading itself as a blog post is this: if you’re writing for any other reason than being really and truly passionate about it, then don’t bother. Because while I’d love to get Enclosure published, it was never my end goal. I wrote it because I wanted to. And even if all it does is gather dust, I’ll still be proud of it.

Blessed Be )O(

A witch’s writing tips

Hi folks, sorry for the massive lack in updates for the past few weeks! I’ve not been in a great place lately but I’ve taken a few days off work so hopefully I’ll be more active from now on. These past few days have been a bit of a struggle; the first day I was off work I could barely get out of bed at all. But thankfully in the past couple of days I’ve been feeling a bit more motivated and put my time to good use; I got some fresh flowers for my Ostara altar, I made some lavender lemonade, I caught up with two of my best fricreative_process_pie_chart1ends and most significantly – I wrote.

Anyone who aspires to be a writer (at least the majority of those I know or have spoken to) will tell you that being a writer involves a lot of not writing. Writer’s block is less of an occasional problem and more a consistent state of being. And let me tell you, no one can procrastinate like a writer can. I’m not exactly what you could call a professional writer; my writing has never been in so much as a school paper. But I have been writing for a hell of a long time, so I’m hoping I can share some tips on what helps me in terms of finding motivation to write.

1. Keep a notepad with you ALWAYS

This is a fairly common piece of advice, but honestly; KEEP IT WITH YOU. Most of my best ideas for phrases and descriptions and characters come to me in the middle of the night, so I keep my notepad next to my bed so I can write them straight away. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a notepad; I have a friend who has a notes folder on her phone dedicated to dreams that she can use in her stories. I prefer a notepad but if you are more technologically-minded than I am (which to be honest, most people under 70 are) then that’s a great alternative. Write anything that catches your eye, even if it doesn’t fit into to what you’re working on at the time. I’ve had customers at work who have inspired characters that I’ve scribbled on my break or on the bus home – characters I’ve not yet used and maybe never will. But it’s a great resource to have if you’re ever stuck for characters, settings or a nice way to round off a paragraph.

2. Make playlists for your characters

This is a rather subjective piece of advice, but it really works for me. I have Youtube playlists for just about everything, including my characters; some of the songs are chosen for the lyrics, as I’ve found that they sum up a characters’s personality or relationship perfectly; some are chosen purely on the music, as the sound works well for their emotions and mental state. I’ve made some for individual characters, some for romantic relationships between characters, some for platonic relationships between characters… I find it really helpful in terms of getting into a character’s mindset. This won’t work for everyone, but if you’re like me and music can massively influence your mood then it’s ideal. The only danger is that it can become very distracting – if you find yourself spending hours searching for more songs to add and no time actually writing, then it might not be working!

WOLF PLAYLIST
An individual character… and not the nicest!

 3. Do Myers-Briggs (or other personality tests) for your characters

This is one of the first things I do when planning a story. The humanmetrics Myers-Briggs test is my go-to for this, but essentially any personality test will do; simply answer the questions how you imagine your character would and see what they come out as. I find this useful in ensuring that my characters have distinctive personalities, as it gives me a clearer image of how they would react to certain situations, how they would interact with each other and their motivating factors.

4. Moodboards

This is great for both settings and characters; I have a powerpoint for my moodboards, with each slide being dedicated to a character or place.All I do is search for images that form an impression of the place or character, using sites like Google images, Deviantart and Tumblr. For example, one of the settings in the piece I’m currently working on is a divey bar, so I have pictures of old jukeboxes, bars smashed up after brawls and scuffed furniture. Sometimes if you really can’t think of what to do, just describing some of the images you have can give you the push you need to write
more.FOREST

 5. Even if you don’t have motivation, write anyway

Definitely easier said than done, but sometimes it really is the only way. I have written pages that I think are complete crap at the time and have taken me hours, but when I’ve looked back
on them in a more positive mood have actually been pretty good! You’re not always going to be motivated, but if you wait for inspiration for strike then you could be waiting for a while. However, if you just write something anyway – even if it’s rubbish and you end up changing it all – it can spur you on to do better later. My recommendation is to never delete what you’ve written immediately after writing it; leave it for a day, then come back to it and read it over. If you still don’t think it works, then you can change it. But for me, at least 70% of the time parts that I’ve thought were terrible were, on reflection, not as bad as I thought!

So, I hope this has been vaguely helpful to any aspiring writers out there! I feel like this post might be a bit messy and rough around the edges, but I’m hoping to be back in the swing of posting regularly again.

Blessed be )O(