How to un-stick your writing project by meeting the challenge head on

Nailing down a style that works for you – which is distinctive, unique and cool – isn’t always easy.

One of my bookshelves...
One of my bookshelves…

There’s so much going on for beginning writers, everything from wrestling with the fact of expressing ideas through to the mechanics of actually writing. All of it has to be mastered and all of it comes in at once. My advice? Don’t panic. All this sorts itself out with time and experience.

Of which the annual National November Writing Month (really, a world-wide rather than just a US event) is maybe the best practise. Where else can writers without contract deadlines get to enjoy the pressure of having to pump out X-number of words every day, finish them off and complete something.

Did I say ‘enjoy’? I did, didn’t I…

Anyhow, the trick to sorting out the overwhelming part of being a beginning writer is to break the problem down. The mechanics of writing include:

  1. Control of the words – getting the grammar and sentences right (only once you have that control can you play games with it), so you can phrase what you are doing.
  2. Control of expression – being able to translate your three-dimensional ideas into linear written phrases, quickly and well. Related to but subtly different from (1).
  3. Combining (1) and (2) to create a distinctive voice of your own.
  4. Having the three-dimensional idea that you want to write about (be it a novel, non-fiction, or whatever).

A lot of authors have (4) but need (1)-(3) to translate it. Others are pretty good on (1)-(3) but lack (4). All of them are necessary.

How does this translate into something for NaNoWriMo? If you’re stuck, have a look at why you’re stuck. Is it lack of content (4), or lack of expression (2)? If the wording sounds dumb, is it lack of (1). Understanding what’s going on – by breaking the issue down into components – is a huge step towards then being able to solve the problem.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015


3 thoughts on “How to un-stick your writing project by meeting the challenge head on

  1. Great blog! I’ve been thinking a lot lately how the most important skill you can acquire in writing is control. I also think control of the subject matter is very important- it’s all very well and good to have a great idea, but if you let the plot trail off, it can ruin the whole story. I also think that once you have control down, you can pretty much play around with most writing rules.

    1. Yes – get the basics right and everything else follows. In fact, if the basics are right, it’s possible to give the story an edge by playing around with some of the rules after that (as Tolkien did…)

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