Monday, 28 January 2013

Top writing tips

io9 has it's top tip for writers based on Tor (a fantasy publisher) writers tips.

So what is the top tip?

Never finish a writing session by finishing off a scene.

Even if you're in the grip of the muse and the words are flowing like cheap hooch at an Irish wedding (I'm Irish before you get offended), stop before you finish. If you can bring yourself to do it, stop in the middle of a sentence. Using the Slaughtered Lamb Entrail Method™, you'll find that you're keen to get back to the page when your next day's writing session begins. Moreover, you won't be stuck at the beginning of a new scene, staring at the flashing Cursor of Doom and wondering what happens next. You'll always have something to pick up and run with.
Personally I think that’s a rubbish tip. When the creative juices are flowing, roll with it. Once I've written what's I my head, that frees me u to consider the nest steps.

What’s my top tip?

Throw out your television!

Okay, maybe that's a little extreme, just unplug it and out it in the spare bedroom for a few weeks. The first few days will feel really odd, like you've lost a friend or lifeline. When your friends or colleagues talk over the water cooler about last night’s shows, you won’t be able to join in, you'll feel like you're missing out! Like you're a freak!

But that soon passes. It won’t be long before you're sick on sitting on the sofa twiddling your thumbs. Maybe you will cook something, clean, sort your tax return out but eventually you will run out of things to keep you occupied, then you’ll start to get creative. Maybe you'll pick up a book or two first for inspiration, or maybe you'll plunge straight into writing.

However it happens, I guarantee that if you really want to write, within two weeks you will be working on your masterpiece.

And if not, hey, at least your house is clean and your taxes are up to date!

In my experience, boredom is the mother of creativity and I genuinely worry for this young generation because with commuter games, hand held games, hundreds of TV channels, movies at the touch of a button, texts, tweets, the internet, cat memes, iPods and mp3 players etc, today’s youth is rarely board. The few times I have encountered a board young person, they genuinely don’t know what to do with themselves.

I remember my summer holidays when we had 6-8 weeks of free time. TV then were only 3 and later 4 channels, some didn't broadcast until the afternoon. We didn't have a parent organising every second of out free time, or access to the distractions we have today, we had to entertain ourselves. And that's exactly what we did.

Anything like calling friends to see if they could play, or impromptu tennis tournaments in the back garden with string for a net, to practising with the yoyo or learning new ball tricks, or taking the dog for a walk, going to the rec (recreation ground) and seeing how high we could swing, or petting the animals in a nearby garden, or recording our favourite songs from the radio, or making a mix tape of our favourite stuff, or watching a film or TV program that's outside of our comfort zone, or going to see the neighbours kittens, or drawing/painting, or picking up a book, or teaching myself the rules of chess, or making something we'd seen on Blue Peter, or playing with our toys, or collecting hobby magazines, or turning kitchen roll centres into swords, or practising an instrument (taught myself to play Stand By Me by ear on a friends guitar once), or carving apples into swans, or built a lego house, or practising make-up, or dying our hair pink (that was unintentional, it was supposed to be a tint), or making a costume from old clothes, or helping to build a brick barbecue, or getting offcuts of paper from the printing factory down the road and making flick-animations, or going to music shops to listen to new stuff, or looking through charity shops, or learning to press flowers, or turning old Christmas and birthday cards into pretty boxes and lids, or making a cake or biscuits, or taking ourselves off to the swimming pool, or finally getting so board that we tried out things that scares us, like the stilts our dad made us, or the roller-skates that eye us evilly from the show cupboard every time we go in it (I never did master roller skates).

And sometimes, we'd just sitting there daydreaming, which is where every novel or creative venture (and many scientific discoveries) start; from an idea.

I have done all those things above and I'm sure, many other things that I can’t remember. I wonder how many modern kids can say the same?

TV is fun, sure, but it rarely expands our minds or enhances our experiences. So why not put the idiot box away for a few weeks, and (re)discover just how creative you can really be?

P.S. If you spend 4-8 hours a day on any other form of modern media (like games or on the internet) try locking them away or turning your internet connection off.

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