As a part of Write Tribe’s prompt, today’s is a ‘list blog’. I figured I’d give a list of practices I employ whilst working on a manuscript. Sharing it with all you writers – would love to hear your ‘rules’ too J
1) Plan to write a solid chunk – perhaps 1500-2000 words in one sitting. Depending on what you are writing, this chunk should more or less take a piece of the story to its logical conclusion – example, a chapter or a set of chapters describing an incident, introducing the conflict etc.
2) Select a time of the day/night when you can write relatively uninterrupted. This is especially difficult if you are working and have a family. But do find those quiet pockets of time.
3) Outside your writing time-slot, when you are finishing up your regular chores, keep writing mentally. In fact, this occurs quite naturally when you are chest-deep in your manuscript. You go over dialogues, characters, situations in your mind relentlessly. This ‘marinating’ time is very essential - if this is done, your writing time is most productive. So whenever you are not writing, THINK about your writing. It is akin to meditation, trust me.
4) Research – depending on what you are writing, you may need to research– it could be a place, a time period etc. Do this research during your non-writing time. Try to research more from books that deal with the subject matter, rather than a generic internet search. If possible, talk to experts; visit the place/monument/building/locality under consideration. In my case, if my manuscript requires extensive research, I do a major part of it before I start with Chapter 1.
5) When you DO sit to write – TURN OFF the internet. The biggest interruption is not the cat or the kids – it’s your pinging inbox and facebook alerts. Feel free to turn off whatsapp too.
6) TURN OFF mental interruptions too. Don’t sit down to write while neglecting other unfinished tasks – they can nag, nag, nag. Don’t sit down to write when you are very angry or upset. Calm down. And when you have to sulk, then you sit and write.
7) Don’t wait for some magical, nirvana-type perfect frame of mind in order to write. You need to answer only one question - Am I Pissed Off? No? Well park your butt and write. If Yes, then go to point 6. You don’t have to be in an ecstatic state of mind to write. Neither do you need to be emitting delta waves.
8) Don’t wait for all the right words and sentences to be formed in your head before you sit to write. Don’t say ... let me think of something spectacular and then write. Chances are you’ll never write. No one gets awesome words and sentences on the first draft. You have to start with “It was a dark and stormy night” and work your way from there. Yup. Build the incline before putting the jazzy escalator.
9) In most movies the writer goes to a lovely cabin by a lake, or by the beach, or in the mountains to finish the manuscript. Trust me, the place does not matter – it’s the will that counts. If the voice in your story is strong ...you can even sit in the kumbhmela and write your manuscript...the noise outside becomes inconsequential when the voice of your protagonist takes over.
10) Get a good chair with butt pillows.
Happy writing my lovelies!
© Sumana Khan – 2014