Successful writers will tell you that you need to practice writing regularly if you want to get better at it. I have recently joined a challenge where we write 500 words a day without editing. We count creative writing (novels, short stories) and blog posts. Here are four lessons learnt that I would like to share with you.
1) Move forward, don’t look back!
Writing a book is comparable your real life (“RL”). You need to move forward and accept the past. Looking at what we have written the day before is not really necessary as it is not important in that moment. You will later edit and shape your novel in a concerted effort.
2) Forget format, focus on content!
Format is done last of all. Often in RL we focus more in format and presentation than content. (Also known as “management bullshit”). We produce content only and review presentation and format later.
3) Write from the heart, let your voice take over!
Even if you might feel a certain chapter or scene does not make sense you can delete it later but see where it takes you. As in your RL there might be stories you are not proud of but you can accept them as experiences that shaped who you are.
4) Find a regular time and atmosphere to write ZEN-style!
I love to write early in the morning when my brain is not distracted yet by the daily chores. If you hate meditation try writing. Maybe even before you have your first cup of coffee (or for addicts like me the second).
Vivienne M Sharma
PS: Thank you to @JeffGoins for starting this challenge. I have written 14k words now in my second novel which I left in the “drawer” since August.
Our lives have become so hectic. We think in terms of optimizing our time. We want to maximize output while reducing input. We give ourselves targets. We rush. We run. Sometimes we force ourselves to take a break and stop for a few minutes to meditate. Relaxation is forced upon us as well as a healthy nutrition. Sometimes I ask myself about purpose. What is the point of this? Where do we struggle the most? Breaking our own barriers, fighting against the slack persona in ourselves, the couch potato? Or is it the aggressive marketer within us that goes beyond shame, overcomes shyness and speaks to strangers on the train. I laugh when a child shouts out in the middle of a game. The child uses a swear word. It is so natural and so different from the other people on the trains. We, the professionals hide behind our laptops and smart-phones. We want to seem busy because busy equals important. Important equals successful. Successful means we will be loved. Ultimately. BUT:
- Tonight we are too busy to spend the evening with the man or woman we like.
- Tonight we miss dinner again and come home when our baby is already asleep.
- Tonight we have a pizza instead of the healthy salad we planned to have.
Maybe we will even have a drink because our boss was unfair, our husband did not call or our client just cancelled an appointment. If I feel like this I try to do something completely different like dancing. Have you tried?
Today I just drove around and got lost on the highway. A flash woke me up “Shit” I thought. I drove more than 20 km too fast. This fine will be huge and I am already broke as hell. The whole day I had been thinking about writing but somehow I could not sit down.
There seemed to be too much to do around the house and even after an hour I still cleaned up. I went for a walk. Half an hour into my walk I started to observe some people and words started forming in my head. This looks like a start for a new story. I slid into it easily. Actually, I had nothing else to do and I moved. My brain worked after the walk.
I learnt about writing is that you need to start at some point. You might be the type like me who needs inspiration from the outside world. I cannot always come up with a story from my imagination but once I have the start I can sit down and write almost without a plan. With “Double Happiness” I started like my driving today. I had no aim and I am free to fail. I did not write this story to become a novel.
At one point in time I woke up out of my trance. My writing voice had taken over. I gave birth to Vivienne M Sharma in the dungeons of a wildlife park, a tiger resort. Again, I had nothing else to do that day so I wrote and wrote. At one point either Lara or Anna asked me “What are you doing?” “I am writing a story.”
If you feel the same way about writing but you do not know where to start pick any ordinary scene. You can get an idea how I started when you look into “A winter journey…”. Never mind the English. (I used Google Translate for this one and it is hard to translate from my mother tongue). Describe what is happening around you. Start to build a story around the people you see. Use all your stereotypes about a person and let them come to life. You can. You are a writer and they will not sue you unless you know their real names (and use them).
Vivienne M Sharma