Tuesday, March 27, 2018

How Do You Get Ready To Write?

A very kind anon commented on this post and asked for writing advice.
I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I've had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?
I can't remember who it was who told me never to blog about blogging, it might have been Ilion, but I'm going to go against their advice and answer this question. I thought a great deal about this over breakfast this morning which itself answered the question.

I've been writing daily here since February, 2006. It's gone from a hobby to an attempt to make money to a mental illness. I joke, but only partially. Like you, anon, I love to write.I love to blog. It's the daily thing that has turned into an OCD issue. In that OCD lies the answer to your question.

Because I know I want to write and I "need" to create content every day, a good portion of my time has some part of my brain looking for topics, ideas and takes. The answer to your question, how do I center myself and clear my thoughts is: I do it constantly.

By the time I sit down to write, I've been thinking of the idea I want to share for quite a while. When I finally write, it's stream of consciousness, informed by 12 years of working on English prose. I now think in English composition to the point where I can create a blog past as fast as I can type it.

Long-time readers will know that some days I punt on it and share a photo. That's from sheer exhaustion. There are some days when I am so tired or so overwhelmed by life that I don't have the time and energy to even type. Still, that's content.

I'll turn the question around to you, anon, and ask, do you need to do it? I do. I need it. At a very deep level, I have to write. It's how I learn, it's how I derive some of my value, it's how I formulate my place in the world and my view of the world. If I didn't write, I'd think the same thoughts over and over and be locked into one way of thinking. I believe that I have evolved over time through this blog, through my writing. It's been a terrific experience.

If you need to write, then write when you're not writing. Taking walks, waiting for a stoplight, driving in light traffic, listening to music, whatever. What is it you want to say? If you're writing fiction, what are your characters doing right now? What are they thinking and feeling?

I don't ponder blogging all the time. When I've got a post in my head that I want to get into print, I usually stop looking for bloggable things right there. For me, blogging is important, but life is much, much more than blogging.

Hopefully this makes sense. By the time I sit down to write, the only thing left to do is the typing. It's very much a learned skill, too. The more you write, the more natural the process and the structure become.

Did that help?

Whatever else, I'm certainly no Charles Dickens. For one thing, he was better looking.


ligneus said...

Very sorry to hear that Charles Dickens is better looking than you!

K T Cat said...

LOL! I took a look at that photo and the caption wrote itself.

ligneus said...

I heard somewhere he was a bit of a writer too.

Timothy Eisele said...

"It's very much a learned skill, too. The more you write, the more natural the process and the structure become."

Very true. This can, unfortunately, lead to something that L. Sprague de Camp mentioned in regards to his science fiction writing. He said that he used up a lot of his most-fun ideas when he was first starting up and not all that good at writing yet. And then, after getting much better at writing, he couldn't bring himself to re-use all those ideas again, making it hard to get plots that he was happy with in his newer stories.

Not all authors let that stop them, though. I got some collections of P.G. Wodehouse's very early stories a while back, and found that a lot of them (particularly his Reggie Pepper stories) had plots that got straight-up re-used later on as Jeeves and Wooster stories (and done better the second time).

Foxfier said...

Robin McKinley did a lovely job of writing an early story in a totally different direction-- maybe a good "cure" for not wanting to reuse stories would be to write a collection of short stories that are all variations of the same fairy tale.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

Foxy, I'm a Robin McKinley fan. Which stories are you talking about?

Foxfier said...

Rose Daughter and Beauty. 1978 and 1997, very different stories.

Her writing is definitely a matter of taste, but I love it, too. :) She makes stuff ethereal but you can slip in as easy as any fairy story.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

ah! I've read Beauty, but not Rose Daughter. I find some of her books easy to slip into, but Sunshine and Dragonhaven weren't easy at all. She's an amazing storyteller.

Foxfier said...

Dragonhaven hit a cultural barrier for me-- I half grew up where any cougars caught snuffing around jogging paths in KT's area get shipped to, nuff said-- but I suspect Sunshine was helped by having been a teenage geek girl. Not sure, maybe it just hit my funny bone from the broody vampire stuff.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

Some authors ease you into the world they created. With those two books, I felt like I'd been shoved out of an airplane... with no parachute. It took several pages to figure out how to fly.