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Someone asked about taking courses on writing and I thought, there's a wealth of advice right here, why not ask the board?

So I'm asking - What is your favorite tip on writing? Make it a good one, so nothing like "show me don't tell me" unless you're going to go deep into explanation about it.

Here's mine -

When you stop writing for the day, DON'T stop at a logical stopping point, but rather drive right through the stop point to somewhere in the middle of the next thought or action. It makes it that much easier to start up again the next day. I try very hard not to stop at the end of a chapter or a big scene, but rather a few sentences or paragraphs into the next thing. That makes is much easier to get rolling again the next day when I sit back down to write.

Your turn -
 

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Well I’m a big fan of ‘write it before you read it.’

When writing the first draft I think the most important thing is to write. It may sound like an obvious statement, but it’s all too easy to stop writing and read what you have just written. Of course you just have to correct that one obvious little error, oops then there’s another one… or maybe that could be better said like this… and you are editing before you know it. When you return to the writing that ‘spark’ has wandered off somewhere. So when you are on a roll, stay on that roll… even if it ends up being a current-bun. The edit can come later.
 

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This is one of those common interview questions for which all writers should have a few answers mentally prepared, since it comes up repeatedly.

My most basic advice is don't wait until you "feel like writing." Write, even if you cramp at first - writing is a craft, but also a job (even if it doesn't pay very well), so push it until it starts flowing. If you wait for the perfect time, it may never come.

I am kind of partial to the 1k a day (it's a good low average that can encompass even really hectic days, so I aim for 1-6k/day), but everyone will have a different way of working - as long as you are working, though, that's what counts. Daily word counts don't work for everybody.

Connected to that, use deadlines as challenges and motivators. I write surprisingly well under pressure, and have amazed myself by how productive I can be.

The adage that writing is "10% talent, 90% not getting distracted by the internet" is very, very true.

Finally - coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.


ETA: In practical terms - I like to proof read while I'm on hold on the phone.
 

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I think the tricks and tips come after the first draft...butt in the chair is vital.

I think the best advice...is to get an ereader...I catch so many errors when the computer reads the story back to me!
 

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When writing the first draft, don't let the search for the perfect word slow you down.  As you're writing, you'll come to a point where you know there's a perfect word out there to exactly describe what you're trying to portray, but it's not coming to you.

Don't stop and pull out the thesaurus.  Use a word that's close to what you want, or just use 'xxxxxx' and keep on going.  Sometimes I'll use a mixture of a substitute word and 'xxxxxx', such as 'nervousxxxxx' to let myself know that when I go to edit it, I wanted a better word than nervous there.

Then, when you're ready to edit, the 'xxxx's will stand out, or you can even search and find all of them with the thesaurus open.  You'll find that many times the words will come to you while you're reading the section fresh.
 

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anne_holly said:
The adage that writing is "10% talent, 90% not getting distracted by the internet" is very, very true.

Finally - coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Oh yeah. Getting distracted by the internet is awful. I feel like I have to reprimand myself like I'm a little kid. "Turn off the TV and do your homework!" And coffee? Writing has turned me into a caffeine addict.
 

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Great thread! I'll echo the 'just write' tip. Don't worry about how the sentences flow, or show v tell, while doing the first draft, just get it down. In fact, I prefer to just Tell to get it down faster. On my second draft, I'll go back and Show where needed.

kea said:
Oh yeah. Getting distracted by the internet is awful. I feel like I have to reprimand myself like I'm a little kid. "Turn off the TV and do your homework!" And coffee? Writing has turned me into a caffeine addict.
My internet was down for a few hours last night, and the vast amount of work I got done on my manuscript was shocking and embarrassing. I didn't realise how distracted I got, doing the odd little surf here and there. :p
 

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The best advice I ever got about writing was the one I rejected many, many years ago: Live life. A writer can't learn about people and the real world - the human experience with all its ups and downs - by being apart from it. This is why I can't relate to James Joyce and so many other so-called literary writers.

Randy
 

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Someone beat me to "butt in the chair", so here's something else:

Everyone in the world who has written a novel has "their" way to write one, but it might not be yours (in spite of what they might say in Writer's Digest, online forums, etc.). The only way you're going to find out is to plant your ____ in the _____ and write your book.

The first novel is always a journey of discovery since you've never written a novel before and you're not sure if you can do it. Subsequent novels are a different journey, as you are (hopefully) telling a story you haven't told before.

Also, keep in mind that your writing style will evolve as you continue. I certainly don't write novels the way I did back in the 80's. The only way to find out for yourself is to do it yourself.

And, the more you write, the better you will get at it.
 

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I'm weird in this respect. I research and outline heavily before writing, then edit on the fly as I write. This would drive most writers crazy, but it works for me, since, as I say, I'm weird. Much of the creativity about characters and plot come out during my long prep stages.

That doesn't mean I am not creative during the writing process, though. The characters constantly surprise and delight me with their unexpected dialogue and actions, and new inspirations occur constantly that require me to jump around and make accommodating changes. Whatever works for you, folks.

To get back into the flow of writing at the start of a new work session, I find it useful to reread the previous few pages that I drafted. I start making tweaks and changes to improve things, and once into typing, it's much easier for me to just continue charging forward into the next passage, scene, or chapter. Rereading and "tweaking" past scenes is a no-pressure way to get my butt in the chair and actually start working each day.

When alone in the house, I also find that it stimulates my creativity to just pace around and talk to myself, aloud. About characters. About plot points. When you talk aloud, you don't "filter" as much stuff coming from your subconscious; it just flows automatically to the surface. I can't tell you how many sudden flashes of insight come percolating from the depths during these soliloquys and send me rushing back to my keyboard to record it.
 

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Robert Bidinotto said:
When alone in the house, I also find that it stimulates my creativity to just pace around and talk to myself, aloud. About characters. About plot points. When you talk aloud, you don't "filter" as much stuff coming from your subconscious; it just flows automatically to the surface. I can't tell you how many sudden flashes of insight come percolating from the depths during these soliloquys and send me rushing back to my keyboard to record it.
Haha I do that when I go to bed; I hit record on my phone and ramble away as if I'm the characters. It really does help me get past blocks!
 

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A perhaps slightly off the wall piece of advice would be to take more exercise.
I notice a definite increase in my writing productivity in conjunction with either the amount of walking, jogging or swimming I do. It seems to have to be low intensity exercise that takes more than fifteen minutes though, the sort of thing that makes you "zone out". When I'm finished whole chunks of plot can be mapped out in my head and the only problem is making sure I write them down before I forget them.

Lions of the Grail is a medieval adventure novel that tells a tale of violent intrigue set in medieval Ireland at a time when three nations went to war against each other.
 

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TimHodkinson said:
A perhaps slightly off the wall piece of advice would be to take more exercise.
I notice a definite increase in my writing productivity in conjunction with either the amount of walking, jogging or swimming I do. It seems to have to be low intensity exercise that takes more than fifteen minutes though, the sort of thing that makes you "zone out". When I'm finished whole chunks of plot can be mapped out in my head and the only problem is making sure I write them down before I forget them.
Yes, sometimes even the process of walking outside helps my thinking.
 

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This is almost exactly me. Add in writing sleeves, headphones, and a bouncy rubber ball to throw at the wall when I'm thinking, and there I am.

Robert Bidinotto said:
I'm weird in this respect. I research and outline heavily before writing, then edit on the fly as I write. This would drive most writers crazy, but it works for me, since, as I say, I'm weird. Much of the creativity about characters and plot come out during my long prep stages.

That doesn't mean I am not creative during the writing process, though. The characters constantly surprise and delight me with their unexpected dialogue and actions, and new inspirations occur constantly that require me to jump around and make accommodating changes. Whatever works for you, folks.

To get back into the flow of writing at the start of a new work session, I find it useful to reread the previous few pages that I drafted. I start making tweaks and changes to improve things, and once into typing, it's much easier for me to just continue charging forward into the next passage, scene, or chapter. Rereading and "tweaking" past scenes is a no-pressure way to get my butt in the chair and actually start working each day.

When alone in the house, I also find that it stimulates my creativity to just pace around and talk to myself, aloud. About characters. About plot points. When you talk aloud, you don't "filter" as much stuff coming from your subconscious; it just flows automatically to the surface. I can't tell you how many sudden flashes of insight come percolating from the depths during these soliloquys and send me rushing back to my keyboard to record it.
 

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Ditto on the exercise and taking regimented breaks. So if I have a large block of writing time, I work for 48 minutes, then I get up, do a bunch of sit ups or whatever, and think about anything besides my writing for 12 minutes. Then my butt goes back in the chair. Works like a charm.
 

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ilyria_moon said:
Great thread! I'll echo the 'just write' tip. Don't worry about how the sentences flow, or show v tell, while doing the first draft, just get it down. In fact, I prefer to just Tell to get it down faster. On my second draft, I'll go back and Show where needed.
My internet was down for a few hours last night, and the vast amount of work I got done on my manuscript was shocking and embarrassing. I didn't realise how distracted I got, doing the odd little surf here and there. :p
Same here. When my internet was down, I just sat there staring at the screen until I thought, I guess I could write instead. The amount of work I got done was staggering and a little disgusting, lol. I try to emulate that scenario by pressing my wireless button off, but I always end up turning it back on. :'(
 

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kea said:
Oh yeah. Getting distracted by the internet is awful. I feel like I have to reprimand myself like I'm a little kid. "Turn off the TV and do your homework!" And coffee? Writing has turned me into a caffeine addict.
I can't decide if the "total time logged in" at the top of the screen on KB is helpful or cruel...
 
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