Lessons from the Creative Writing Battlefield (Day 14)

A few readers have been asking me how the romance novel experiment is coming along, and the answer is: “quite nicely.” Here are a few points I found worth sharing:

 

When I sit down to write now, I write. I am averaging about one thousand words per hour, for up to three consecutive hours. Beyond that, my mind starts to wander and I need to focus on something more physical (going for a walk, cleaning the house, starting my supper, etc.). Once I reach my “word quota,” I turn off my computer and move onto something else.

Lesson #1: Work on your creative writing projects in small batches, every day.

The strange thing is that it still requires a gargantuan exercise of the will on my part to actually start It used to be hard for me to start writing because I knew that I would not be able to write anything; but now that I am writing, and prolifically, too, I wonder: what could possibly be the motivation?! I still find every excuse possible to avoid sitting down and writing, even though once I am actually writing I am quite happy.

Lesson #2: When you know that you have to write, get to it immediately. Know that there is no excuse for you not to be writing, and that you are merely procrastinating.

Throughout my entire life I have identified myself as a night owl, and now, all of a sudden, I find my mind to be at its freshest from 9am to 2pm, especially after a large breakfast or lunch.

Lesson #3: Just because something worked for you before, does not mean that it will work for you now. Be open to trying new strategies and routines.

I have “migrated” from one writing spot to another. I have written in coffee shops, libraries, park benches, public transport, various rooms of my own house—and I find myself frequently changing, depending on the weather (no writing in the park when it snows!) and my mood (sometimes, I just need to be among people). Write anywhere—even in the bathroom (!), if that is what works for you—but remember that the only thing that really matters is that you are

Lesson #4: There is no magical writing spot that will solve all of your artistic woes; the creative “magic” comes from within.

Everyone knows of that one single woman who is so “hungry” to find someone that she scares away any potential mate—and thus remains single. The same goes for writing. When we want so badly to write, we become so obsessed with the one apple at the top of the tree that we fail to see all of the other bright, shiny apples dangling right next to us. It is as if the desperate artist ends up somehow scaring his characters away. In all aspects of life we need to be peaceful, for no one is more attractive and successful than the person who is happy and relaxed in his own skin.

Lesson #5: Be patient. Allow your creativity to take root and gestate naturally, for anything else is an exercise in futility.

I have spoken to many writer friends about the tips and tricks that have helped them in the past. I have also read many, many books on writing by high-profile literary celebrities. Some were utter genius, while others were a grandiose waste of time. But funnily enough, many of the strategies that worked for the authors I so admire do not necessarily work for me.

Lesson #6: Be open to the advice of others, and go ahead and follow it if you are so inclined. Ultimately, though, you will develop a highly personalized strategy or routine that works for you (and beware: sometimes that may involve counting the sixty coffee beans that will go into your morning cup of java).