How to Write When You’re Not Writing

Okay, so today’s post is a day late. No, it’s not because I spent ages trying to think of a pun for the title. As you can see I failed in that anyway. No, it was was to do with the fact that I was away at Download Festival in Donington Park all weekend. I fully intended to write a post when I got home yesterday, but energy and time escaped me. So, you can have it today instead. Aren’t I kind to you?

Today’s blog is in a way about Download Festival. Not directly as such, but more what happens when things like festivals, conventions, and other events get in the way of your writing. If you’re an aspiring writer then you probably will be, and should be, attending all sorts of conventions and events to meet fellow writers, agents, and publishers. Things like writing retreats are great to get away and put pen to paper. But what if the event you’re attending isn’t conducive to writing? What if it’s something like a festival where you are stuck in a field for days, cut off from the internet, and horror of horrors, having fun? *gasp*

Well, I would say that this is where ‘thinking’ comes in. Yes, it sounds silly, but it’s something I’ve talked about before. There is a lot more to writing than just typing words on a page. There’s research, planning, and plotting. All of which I’ve covered in previous blogs.

When I’m not by the computer, and even when I’m not carrying a notepad (this isn’t very often, but sometimes I forget it), I spend a lot of time thinking about my story. This can be absolutely anything to do with your story, but it’s a good idea to sometimes take some distance from the page and to just think about it. As I’ve said before before you start writing you need to know certain things about your story and characters.

A writer is always writing.

Right now, as I type this, I’m thinking about a few plot points of the novel I’m currently working on. Because to be fully immersed in it, to be able to write it well, it can never leave you.

I find it useful at the very least to run through dialogue. This can often be tricky to write, and young/inexperience writers often try and cram too much information into dialogue. It needs to be natural. Just sit somewhere and listen to how people talk. Most of what they’re saying is in what they’re not saying.

So, what I’ll do is run through the dialogue in my head, before I’ve even written it. What would that character say in that situation. No that doesn’t sound right, try again. Yes, that’s what they’re trying to say, but this is what they’re actually saying. By the time it gets to the page it’ll feel more ‘real’. As far as you’re concerned those characters have already had that conversation, you’re not making it up on the spot any more.

Dialogue isn’t the only think that you can think through. This weekend, I spent a bit of time, on the bus between Nottingham and Donington Park, thinking about the hierarchies in my novel. Who represents the main organisation, and what are their job roles? This all works towards having a workable, relatable world, even if it is science fiction. By thinking through this, it also brought up relationships between characters: if that was so and so’s job role, then actually they would treat so and so like this…

In short, there is so much that you can be doing, when you don’t have a chance to actually write prose, that will benefit your story. Try not to beat yourself up about not ‘writing’ and realise that actually what you are doing is ‘writing’, just not the physical side of it. I’m not saying drift off and waste time daydreaming and never get you’re writing down. But if you can’t write, then thinking through dialogue, characters, setting, or scenes can help you when you come back to the computer and that blank page that you left behind.

Thanks for reading, and if you liked what I have to say, or even disagree with it please comment below.

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How to right a blog?

No, it’s not a typo. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to write a blog post, particularly as I write here on my personal blog, and on The Brush and Boltgun. What makes a good blog? What should you talk about? Why would anyone want to read it?

I think I’ve spent a lot of time in the past really planning out a blog post and trying to have a particular message, or piece of advice across. While that’s probably necessary for something like Brush and Boltgun, which is about the hobby, this blog is to showcase my skills as a writer and keep people up to date with what I’m doing.

As I’ve talked about before, planning and writing a blog can take up a lot of time. Time which I would rather spend writing stories, or working toward my PhD.

For a story, novel, short story, whatever format it may take, planning can be really important. Today I’ve been working on the plot outline for a submission I’m about to make. It can be quite tricky, but that time spent in preparation can pay dividends later on. It definitely helps me to think about things in the story I wouldn’t normally talk about.

But what is a blog if not just a log? This space should be for me to talk to you, my reader. Planning it out can be useful, but I think sometimes I just need to take off that handbrake and type. Sometimes you just need to put your thoughts down on the page.

So I think from now on, that’s what I’m going to do: tell you what I’m thinking.

Today, as I said, I’ve been planning a novella for a submission. I don’t want to tell you too much about that yet, but I will do soon. (I often keep things quite, because I have a slight superstition that when I tell people abut projects they fall through.) But it is a publisher I have submitted to before. However, last time they said they liked my writing, but that it was too similar to something they already published. I take that as encouragement, and this time I hope that not only is the writing good, but it’s suitably different, and interesting, for them to publish. I have had successful submissions before (although not all of them have then come to fruition – once accepted there is still some way to go to be published) so fingers crossed!

Tomorrow is my last day on a contract as a lecturer. That might be quite a shock to some of you. But with my health, I have decided to spend more time on my PhD (which I am supposed to be doing full time anyway), and make sure that I do the best possible work on it.

In order to pay the bills I will still be doing some freelance lecturing. Although, I am on the look out for more freelance work. If you know anything that might be suitable for me, particularly freelance writing or editing then please do get in touch.

I think that will do for now. I’ll be back next week with a further update, and perhaps a book review.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

The Horror Goes South

So, I’m getting pretty good at this getting up earlier thing. I’m going to need to be once my day job’s working hours move an hour earlier and I may have to teach at the ungodly hour of 9.30 am (I don’t actually mind, it will be good for me). However I chose to shift my sleeping pattern around in order to do some writing in the mornings and then have more time in the day. I think I have successfully worked my transition in to a ‘morning person’, before now I was more of a ‘those-few-hours-in-the-middle-of-the-day-I-feel-like-doing-something…person’.

But I need to do some more writing. I’ve been pretty lax this week as I’ve had some other things on. I also haven’t written a blog since last week as far as I can remember. However that one at least was a story rather than my random ramblings. I’ve actually been busy sorting out my move. Yesterday I handed in the notice on my current flat, which is both exciting and scary. Exciting because I am now moving out of this flat which has caused me so many sleepless nights and moving somewhere new. Scary because the new place hasn’t actually gone through yet so unless it goes through by the time my notice runs out I may end up homeless.

So, what am I working on? Well, Games Day UK is coming up pretty soon, which I’m immensely looking forward to. Although my wallet is already silently weeping to itself in the corner. It doesn’t know what’s hit it yet! I do love Games Day, a place where like minded individuals all come together to have a day of pure geekyness about something they love. You will probably see me there running between various stands trying to catch as much new stuff as possible and take in all the atmosphere. Got to get to the Black Library, Forgeworld and I will also be checking out Fantasy Flight Games. I’m hoping to get hold of a copy of their new 40K game, Relic. I did have a few years out of going to Games Day and I really did miss it. I went again for the first time a few years ago and fell straight in to it without missing a beat. Though I don’t spend nearly as much money as I did when I was a kid. My poor parents!

Anyway I am digressing. The reason I mentioned Games Day is because, as the Black Library will be there, they have started to take submissions on the day. I am currently wondering whether to take something I have already written or begin work on a new 1000 word story to take with me specifically on the day. Any suggestions as to this will be greatly appreciated. If you really like something I’ve already written and think it’s worth submitting let me know.

I’ve also been given an opportunity of possibly having something published on Amazon. On a forum I peruse they are compiling a horror anthology and I have had my name listed as part of it. I already have a story idea; A Lovecraftian horror set on the Island of Portland in Dorset. That’s all you’re getting out of me for now. I just have to write the thing…I’ve not really written any horror before (except for Tyranid infested space ships) so I’m a little bit scared by it. I’ve done the leg work, I’ve written a plot outline, I just need to research the writing style and get to work on it. I will try and do that this week, look out for updates and wish me luck.

On Twitter the last few days I seem to have had a lot of authors follow me. I’m slightly perplexed, do they like my work? Is my writing starting to have some form of impact? If so, that’s really great, wow. Or maybe they have just seen that I have called myself an ‘aspiring-writer’ and have decided to see what I come up with. That’s also great. Perhaps they can offer me some advice? If you’re reading this, please send some twitter-esque tips my way!

Right, I really must get on with my day and some writing. This blog, amongst cooking breakfast and tidying some of the flat, has taken me the best part of an hour to finish. Ooops.

 

More stories soon, hopefully. Thanks for reading.