Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Rules (Part 1 of ?)

Writing hard through January has taught me a couple of lessons about myself and how I write.

Do your prep. Preppy! Preppy! Prep! This is pretty obvious but sometimes I just can't wait to get started. I'll think to myself "I'll work it out as I go." This is stupid and will only end in me hitting a brick wall and abandoning ship (mix your metaphors much?). I have a couple of projects I really can't face going back to because I hit the ejector seat mid-flight. More planning would have fixed this. I don't mean working out whether your characters are Elvis or Beatles men and what flavour Fruit Corner they like after dinner, but it does mean knowing where the story is going, and having some waypoints to work through, even if all that changes once you're writing.

Plan for as long as you like, draft to a deadline. No more open ended writing first drafts for me, once I'm ready to start I need to eat breathe and sleep that script until the draft is complete. In the past I've stepped away from a script because of a problem, or for no real reason, but once I've lost that enthusiasm there's no guaranteeing I'll get it back. Plus it's all very well having written notes to refresh your memory but what about all the stuff you don't write down? The things that just occur to you while your writing and get filed away for rewrites? I know the human brain remembers everything but accessing it can be an issue, best to press on. A month should be enough for a first draft of anything.

Work hard but take breaks. Even if you only do the dishes (one of my favourite working out issues jobs), feed the cat or make a cup of tea. It might be hard work to force yourself to sit at your desk sometimes but it can be just as important to get up and move around.

It's basic stuff but putting it down in black and white feels good. I think I need to lay down some laws for myself and these are the first. I need to come up with something about distractions but we'll come back to that.

On another note the following image has helped me out a lot this month, I can't remember where I got it but I wanted to share it with you...


  1. So bloody true. Everything I've ever written without prep has been a steaming pile of cods. Sound advice young feller me laddo.

    Enjoying 'Quiet Night Inn' BTW.

  2. Excellent, glad to hear that.

    Wish I'd called it The Shadow over Dywyllwch Ddyfrha now though!