In many writing manuals or blogs, you hear about writers who begin their days with silent meditation in their quiet study and then write all morning. You hear about the writers who have set aside evenings for their studious and solitary creation because they work best at night. Ah, the peaceful bliss of a writing life. Except, for a lot of us, these scenarios are just as unrealistic as the single young writer living in their own Manhattan studio apartment in every romantic comedy ever.
Most writers I know work at least two jobs, sunup to sundown, and many are full-time students as well. Most writers I know don’t have studies, or even a quiet desk or armchair, or live with so many people that it’s never quiet or meditative. Most writers I know can’t devote the time they work best to writing, because they need to cook their dinner or do research for a paper or commute for an hour on a crowded bus or take care of their children or maybe just sleep because they’re just too damn tired.
I’m not making excuses for us normal, everyday writers. I’m not saying we have the right to not create or to be less industrious. Quite the opposite, I’m saying we need to be more industrious, more creative, and not get discouraged when it isn’t glamorous or convenient or even very fun. We aren’t very romantic or very spiritual or very quiet. But as long as we remember to keep writing, we’ll be okay.
When writing characters, remember to consider not only their personalities but their psychological development. Not every character has to fit a completely different temperament profile. It is possible to have two extroverted optimists in the same story and keep them unique by homing in on where they are in life: make Character A young, naive, and dreamy and make Character B wise, determined, and practical.
This would be a good exercise. Pick three or four personality descriptors and apply them to two characters. Focus on differentiating them based on how their age/culture/class/history has influenced their psychological development.
I never believed in this sentiment. I thought that any story worth telling would pour out of you, unhindered and unadulterated by the influence of others. Until now. Thanks to a fairly intense editing class, I have been force fed an abundance of short stories by American greats, analyzing them to death in quick succession and without time to pause for breath.
I have also started writing short stories, coming out of a year-long writers’ block by breaking into a format I had not seriously attempted before. Coincidence? I think not…
Get on a computer and design the dream cover of your finished book. Print it out and tack it to the wall above where you write. Imagine the way it will feel in your hands, thick and heavy and hot off the presses. Imagine stacking them on shelves like bricks with their beautiful glossy spines shouting your name over and over in authoritative lettering. Imagine a stranger finding it in a bookstore and thumbing through it, wondering if they should buy it.
Repeat every time you find yourself losing interest in your work.
I am in a Starbucks, warm accent lighting pooling around me. The music is pleasant, but not loud enough to be distracting. I have a pile of newly checked-out library books on an arcane and thoroughly enthralling subject, coffee and a piece of sweetbread, and the rest of the night. I am a happy woman.
I realized that for a long time I have been thinking in terms of what audiences would want to read, rather than what I really wanted to write. Maybe this is why my writing has been suffering lately . . . Now that the problem has been isolated, it will be dealt with immediately.