One of the biggest challenges in writing is producing even when the well’s apparently run dry. As anybody who’s worked in a newsroom will attest, deadlines don’t wait for the muse.
Publishing is a business, you see – a serious one, with low profit margins. Production is dovetailed, and if a book misses its slot, that’s actually significant.
This is where contests like National November Novel Writing Month come in – apart from a challenge to write to length, they’re also a challenge to write to time. On average, 1667 words a day – though, in reality, some days would doubtless be more productive, others less. Remembering always that word count is a tool, not a target.
So how do you keep going when the muse has left you and gone to Mars? How about trying one or more of these?
- Sit down with your story plan – er, you DID plan it, didn’t you? – and look through what you’ve done, then what you have to do. Find another part of the story, yet to be written; write that and then back-fill.
- Re-read what you’ve written so far. Even revise it. Does this inspire enthusiasm? Some authors – and I think Roald Dahl was one of them – do this routinely as a way to get their mind back into the track of their work.
- Brute force also works. Sit down, start writing a sentence. Then another. Then another. Yes, it’ll likely be dull plod prose, but that’s what word processors are for.
- Do something even more boring, like cleaning up the kitchen or vacuuming. Don’t think about what you’re writing. Not for too long – maybe 15-20 minutes. Let’s say just long enough to earn domestic brownie points. Then get back to the writing.
- Run a contest with yourself – can I write the next sentence? How quickly?
The fact is that writing’s hard work. But even the dull patches can also be made fun, if you let it.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014