Writing entries for this blog has been almost impossible this week. It’s bad enough that my motivation is lacking from a combination of heat and too much work, but The Olympics are on!!! How am I supposed to focus on this when Olympic skeet shooting is on TV, followed by table tennis, and dressage? I think I’ve watched more of The Olympics this year than I ever have before. I’ve watched about a dozen soccer games, hours of gymnastics (my fiancée doesn’t give me a choice), swimming, archery, water polo. I think I’ve seen a little of every event except for those in track & field, but I’m not sure those have started yet. I also haven’t gotten to watch the Men’s Basketball Team play yet because of stupid NBC, which is kind of irritating me.
But enough about the games. I’m also finding it really hard to focus on the blog because I’ve begun editing The Last Cup. I love the editing process and I usually get completely caught up in it. Sometimes it only takes me a couple of days to get through the book the first time. Each round of editing usually takes longer than the one before it. I think The Last Cup is my most mainstream work to date, with memorable characters and a blockbuster ending, but I’m in that jaded stage of the book where I start to question just how good it really is. I’m in dire need of a fresh pair of eyes to read it and tell me their thoughts, and I should have that by next week or the week after. Regardless of the more critical opinions of the book, I believe I’ve written the War & Peace of soccer-themed dystopian literature.
The theme of today’s post is the 10 Probably Pointless Things I Do to Help Me Write. That title is sort of tongue in cheek, of course. Why? Because anything you do that helps you write is not pointless. What I’m trying to get people to do, however, is to consider the peculiar or eccentric activities that make up our writing process. What makes you feel ready to write? What gets your fingers typing? Some of my Top 10 will probably sound fairly outrageous to you. Some of them might sound startlingly close to something that you do. That’s great! If you do something completely bizarre to help get the juices going, let me know! I love to steal stuff from people J
So here’s my Top 10:
1. Grow a Beard – Call me crazy, but sometimes I scale back on my shaving big time during the editing process. I find that I am more critical as an editor when I have a scratchy beard pestering me. It feels like Ernest Hemingway has me in a sleeper hold, and he won’t let go unless I cut more out of my book. Obviously my female readers are going to have some trouble with this strategy. My secondary recommendation? Um, maybe pass on shaving the armpits. Your call! A hairy writer is a happy writer.
2. Browse “Weird News” on the Internet – Sometimes I also like to scan the Internet for bizarre articles from around the web just to get my imagination going. MSNBC used to have a “Weird News” section pretty far down their page. Usually these articles are good for a laugh going into your writing. I also enjoy looking up really awesome science articles, like stuff about the Hadron Collider or Super Earths located hundreds of light years away. If it gets the geek in me going, it’s probably good for my writing.
3. Eat Applesauce – Go figure. I’ve eaten a whole half-gallon jar of applesauce before while writing a chapter. I’m not sure it actually helps me write, but it’s delicious. For you romance writers, maybe you should consider keeping it saucy.
4. Eavesdrop on People – Whenever I bring this up, I feel obligated to reinforce that you should never be obvious when you are doing this. Nor should you focus heavily on what is being said. I like to eavesdrop on people more to hear how it is being said. Eavesdropping helps me pick up on minute nuances of language, including turns of phrase, dialect, rhythm, etc. Having a solid grasp of the elasticity of language is a wonderful tool for penning dialogue and, personally, the more outlandish the better. I love listening to people speak who I’m not even immediately positive are speaking English.
5. Drink a Beer – Having a beer or a glass of wine, I find, helps settle the mind, calm the body, and lower just enough inhibition. I don’t recommend overdoing it, though, because you still want what you write to be coherent. I also don’t recommend combining copious amounts of this with #3 and #1. If you do that, we might have the first indication of a serious problem.
6. Stretch/Take a Hot Bath/Exercise – I have long been a fan of stretching before you write. As with any job or task, why go in tense when you could go in relaxed and limber. A hot bath might be a more enticing and soothing option for some of you. Exercise, especially jogging, has the double advantage of keeping you and shape and putting you in a sound state of mind, while ALSO giving you a nice 45 minutes to an hour to just contemplate your plot, characters, dialogue, etc. Keep a notepad handy while you’re on the treadmill; there’s no harm in it. I just hope you can read the sweat-stained scribbles.
7. Wear a Snuggie™ – What have you to lose? I wear a Snuggie™ and I feel like Gandalf when I write. Especially when it’s late at night, something about wearing a blanket with sleeves puts me in the zone.
8. Write While Standing Up – From time to time, I do get a little antsy and sitting in a chair writing just feels like Hell to me. Don’t be afraid to stand up and move about the room to gather your thoughts. Sometimes you just need to get the blood moving again and you might be surprised how much more spry your mind is while you’re on your feet. I like to pace the living room floor and when I have a good thought, I just pop my computer to type it out.
9. Try Writing Outside – This is kind of an extension of #8. Sometimes standing up isn’t enough; you actually need a complete change of scenery. When I’m outside, my rule is “No Laptops”, but don’t feel beholden to that rule. It only originated from the fact that I have a terrible time reading my computer outside because of the glare. However, I have rediscovered the joys of writing stuff out by hand and doing this outside… I don’t know, it just makes me feel so much closer to the long legacy of literature over the centuries. Chaucer and Cervantes never used a Mac.
10. Perform a Rain Dance – Obviously I’m joking at this point, but if I could prove that doing a crazy aboriginal dance would make the words come pouring down, I would adopt this in a heartbeat. I call dibs on “Toxic” by Britney Spears. That’s my writing rain dance song. Thinking about using it? Get your own! Pro Tip: Whatever you do, do not combine this recommendation with #1, #3, #5, #7, and #9. Now you just look like a crazy person and the second anyone sees you, you can probably expect a visit from the police. “Yes, Officer. The bearded man/unshaved woman is now dancing in the middle of the park wearing what appears to be a cheetah-print Snuggie™ eating applesauce out of a jar while downing a Colt 45.” Officer: “Don’t worry, Ma’am. It’s probably just a writer.”
Be careful out there, fellow indie authors!