The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Writer’s Tricks: Getting Started.

I knew this series was ambitious.

Only my second post and I’m stuck – in more ways than one.

I good few days ago I sent my current script to Lovely Agent. Until she sends it back asking what were you thinking? and have you entirely lost your marbles?  (she won’t really say that, she’s far too nice) – I am BETWEEN BOOKS.

I have things to write. Oh yes I do. I have two different ideas for teen novels  – both of which I’ve roughly  sketched out and both of which have fully formed main characters. They even have a couple of chapters written.  And I have an almost plotted 7+ book –  the second in a  series involving an over dramatic mouse and a boy with more money than parents  (books 1 and 3 are already out on submission).

Oh yes. I have plenty to write. And what advice do we  give those waiting to hear ‘news’? Get on with the next book.

And what have I done?

I have painted the bathroom and  the bedroom ceiling. I have made a tentative farm budget and caught up with the washing and the ironing. I’ve  completed all my critiques and competed in the Sussex Open Fencing Championships. I’ve even started Christmas shopping…

I am not Getting Started.  I am having a little snooze on the starting line.  So this post is a cheat – can you wake me up? How do you get started ?

32 thoughts on “Writer’s Tricks: Getting Started.”

  1. Starting is the worst thing ever. Just write ‘Chapter One’ at the top of the page, stare at it all day, then come down in the evening and tell everyone you wrote chapter one. They’ll be really impressed and you can write ‘chapter two’ at the top of the page the next day!

  2. … first, turn off the internet … then put a timer on. 30 minutes. then write for 30 minutes. if it’s rubbish, so be it. but write. after 30 minutes, repeat. it can only get better! good luck.

  3. I find research often helps. But most times I find just sitting down and Getting On With It, is the best approach. But don’t best yourself up just yet. Sometimes we need time out, and if we’re doing routine things like cleaning and ironing and painting, where the mind wanders, those times often help to quietly fuel creative thinking. Just you wait, soon you’ll be bursting to write! 🙂 it will happen when it’s ready to happen.

  4. Mostly I don’t get started. For ages. So I’m probably not a good person to ask!

    But as I’ve said previously, I don’t see what’s so bad about NOT starting a new book for a while – as long as you’ve got plenty of other stuff to keep your mind occupied.

  5. Ok. Two things here. Thing one: Sometimes you need brewing time – time for all the story ingredients to bubble until the ones you need come to the top. If you’re feeling like that, then something mindless like painting is good – you can mull it over while doing that till you feel it’s ‘cooked’.

    Thing two: if you’re just procrastinating, then put on the Chicken or Tomato of time (I know you have one of those) and just get on with it, as some above have said. I particularly like this quote from Raymond Chandler in this situation, and often apply it.

    “I believe that all writing that has any life in it is done with the solar plexus. It is hard work in the sense that it may leave you tired, even exhausted. In the sense of conscious effort it is not work at all. The important thing is that there should be a space of time, say four hours a day at least*, when a professional writer doesn’t do anything else but write. She doesn’t have to write, and if she doesn’t feel like it she shouldn’t try. She can look out of the window or stand on her head or writhe on the floor, but she is not to do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines, or write cheques. Either write or nothing. It’s the same principle as keeping order in school. If you make the pupils behave, they will learn something just to keep from being bored. I find it works. Two very simple rules. A). You don’t have to write. B). You can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.”

    *Four hours may be too much in this current day and age. Adapt as necessary.

    Bonne chance, cherie, and may our Lovely Agent get back to you prontissimo!

  6. THANK GOODNESS I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE! This is exactly what I’m going through at the moment. Seemly can’t write then feel bad for not writing which makes me down which makes writing even less likely. Every ones suggestion look good so I’m going to try some out. Great post -just what i needed too. Thanks Katherine 🙂

  7. I’m definitely of the Nicky Schmidt/Nick Cross school of thought. Sometimes it’s good to have a break especially if you’ve just achieved something significant. But rather than paint, do housework etc I try to rejuvenate my soul by visiting art galleries, museums, going for walks, live music, spending time with friends. In other words all the things I don’t let myself do when I’m writing a book because I tell myself I don’t have time. So chill out and rejuvenate.

  8. That burden of jobs stacking up can actually make writing more difficult, as subconsciously you know they’re waiting for you, and that’s distracting. Sometimes it really is necessary to clear the decks to an extent before starting something new, as, if you’re anything like me, everything else will be swept under the carpet until a project is finished. And beyond ..

  9. Hi Kathy, Maybe recharging your batteries is what you need most of all, as others have suggested. How do you feel about that? In the past have you had a total rest and come back to work refreshed, re-invigorated and done a better job? Or do you feel guilty about not writing?Is it eating away at you? Would you feel happier if you were?

    Do what feels best.for you. If you want to write – give yourself rewards. A choccie or biccie for the first page completed – even if it’s rubbish – you’ve started!

    Good luck!

  10. A good spreadsheet is what works for me – with columns for daily targets words written and under or over target where the figures go to black when you’re on or over target. I aim for 750 words a day which I can do while working and that’s a reasonable 50k in 3 months. I work to see the numbers go black – that’s my incentive for working generally.

    Well, it works for me when: a) I have a good idea b) i have a plan c) not feeling like rubbish ( said something else there originally but decided against lowering tone x)

    Totally agree about time for stories to brew – actually I think brewing time is probably worth building into spreadsheet e.g. think about MC today but knowing how my mind works that’s probably a recipe for disaster in that I’d think about anything but the MC!

  11. I agree with an awful lot of what has been said up above. Maybe you do need the break in order to have some thinking time. Sometimes when I am having trouble like this I go off and read something else, maybe some poetry and forget about what I am trying to write or not write. It can unblock your thoughts. The other thing I often make my students do is to just write. Empty your head onto the page. It doesn’t have to make sense and you don’t even need to go back over just don’t stop. Don’t think about it, don’t worry about the punctuation or what it says just anything that is in your head empty on to the page. Again it can work is a ‘freeing’ exercise. But also and most importantly (and as others have said) don’t worry about the fact you are not writing. It is really important not to beat yourself up over it. It will all start again, when your brain is ready.

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