Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Writing as an Adventure - or - Be In It To Win It

Somebody once said to me- "Oh I always meant to write when I retire."

Given the age of retirement is 65 here (recently I think, moved to 67 or something like that) that's a long time to wait to start writing. And while there are many people who don't get published until they might be that age, their motivation to write will have been with them all their lives and they should have spent many long nights writing before or after working all day in the office.

In other words a writer is born that way.

So I nod politely when people say this type of thing because they think because I can do it, anyone can. Either I look stupid, or... ah... I look stupid, full stop.

Writing is an adventure. It is painful. It is fun. It hurts. It can be triumphant. There are good times. There are bad. There are.

Advice to beginners, middlers and patient always have written hopefuls is just don't think - do. Don't plan. Just do. Don't sit down and try to plot the whole story like you were planning an overseas trip. Don't use precision and don't procrastinate. Just sit and do.

Some tips would be to carry a notebook with you at all times. You never remember good ideas. Good ideas are spontaneous little devils and like to play catch me while you can. Cheat them. Just tell them "later" and sneak it into your notebook while they're not looking.

Lucky you if you are technologically savvy. One of my writing group I am totally envious of. She puts them into her cell phone.

Another tip. Have a plot board. One of those cork jobs you can move around, throw in frustration or whatever. But pin things on it relating to a broad aim. I just tear up sheets of A4 and I can rearrange the chapters, ideas, etc. at will. This includes basic facts such as names, relationships etc.

Personally I don't do that, but some people like to answer quizzes about their characters, their aims, well... whatever it takes to motivate you, help you, grab it with both hands - every mickle makes a muckle.

Don't let people discourage you. My mother once said "oh that's just a silly romance" - "absolute rubbish". I also write and illustrate children's books and she was proud of them, but didn't realise that just because she wasn't a romantic soul, doesn't mean I needn't be one. You will probably think what sort of awful parent I have but my father once said to me "what makes you think you are so special as to anticipate you can convince somebody to like this rubbish?" again referring to my romance. Well. Given that he hadn't even read it makes it nonsense. But I don't let them discourage me because my sister once described the sort of books my father like to read then would pass them onto my mother and sister to read. She was most scathing herself. Consequently I learned to keep my own counsel as far as my parents were concerned.

Another tip. Love your characters. People don't like to read a whole book full of some nasty little nark nobody could love. You have to give them somebody to barrack for. I hope you don't hate your baseball, or footy team. Don't know about you, but Greg Norman and the old Tige got a vote of unpopularity from me because of their ego trips, leaving normal moral values hanging on the fence, forgotten.

Biggest, most important tip? Keep writing. Persevere. Thomas the Tank Engine. "I can do it. I know I can do it."

Edit, edit and edit. Make sure that what you publish will never be shamefully hidden away when you are famous. That's a bit like Marilyn Monroe's little nudie calendar done in a moment she needed some cash and haunting her once she hit the big time.

Not every day will shine for you. Good days and bad days happen. But in a way, they are good for you. Good days make you want to dance. Bad days make you (a) try harder and (b)realise what a good day you had yesterday and (c) anti ego.

Okay, enough. I'm off to write. Where are you going?

1 comment:

Her Grace said...

I sometimes get asked when I'm planning on retiring. I always reply, "Never." After all, I am a writer. Writers don't 'retire'. We write and write and write and write and die at the ripe old age of 102.

And even then, after that, some of us go on writing. Posthumous publication is not an unknown thing.