3 Things to Avoid While Writing

Music that makes you want to bust a move. Okay, maybe this is obvious to everyone else except me but when I first began writing, I went to great lengths to prepare the most well pressed arrangement of songs to accompany my pencil strokes. Ranging from Kings of Leon to the song I just shazamed in the movie theatre last week. Before I knew it, my writing was null and I found myself screaming “heyyyyyyyy, your sex is on fire,” over my headphones instead of actually writing. So you know what else was on fire? This project that is going nowhere because I am distracted by the mesmerizing voices of Caleb Followill.

My fix: I think playlists have the potential to be great. It is just a matter of what you stack them with. Find music that tunes out your surroundings enough but not too much that makes you want to sing along. Maybe pick an artist you like but don’t necessarily love or songs without any lyircs at all. My preference is Radiohead. Mainly because I like their sound but can never understand a word they say, so the desire to sing along or get lost in the words isn’t there.

Caffeine overload. Another rookie mistake on my part. This can be a challenge, especially because I do most of my writing in cafes or places that specialize in well, caffeine induced beverages. Sometimes I am not in the mood to write. Plain and simple. I used to think the fix is to load up on coffee. And then a few cups in, my vision is bouncing from wall, computer screen, back to the wall. There is a fine line between grabbing a coffee while you write and binging. You’ll know you’ve crossed the line when it begins to blur, and your eyes can’t even focus on it.

My fix: Say it with me now. Decaf. Call me crazy but I think a cup of coffee (or tea) alongside a writer can be used for pure comfort. For me, it completely is. Maybe you need that steaming cup o’ joe to set your ambiance, or maybe it’s all in your head. Either way, too much caffeine is a bad thing.

Taking breaks in the same spot you write. Deadly. This makes it hard to tell the difference between “work mode” and “play mode.” In this day in age, it’s easy to “step away” from writing without actually even taking a step at all. Say you are sitting at your computer and decide it’s time for a break. To free yourself it really only requires you to minimize your document and open up Safari. Or grab your phone and escape in another way.

My fix: Separate your work space from your break space, even if it means going into another room or stepping outside to browse the internet from your computer. Breaks are needed. What isn’t needed is taking them in the same exact spot that you write. Employers have break rooms for a reason. And writing is work.

Categorizing your novel

This is the way I see it:

See this brownie? The one I just baked in the kitchen and pulled from the oven? Describe this brownie. To me, it is delicious, fresh, warm, homemade, fatty, brown, gooey, moist. But no. This brownie can only be one of those things.

So if I had to pick just one word to describe it. I’ll say this brownie is warm. Yes, definitely warm. But it’s also delicious, oh yes, very delicious. Okay, so maybe it is warm with a heavy influence of deliciousness. Yes that works. But crap. It’s also very bad for me. MY POINT (because I do have one) is this: How can my novel just be one thing? Much like trying to categorize your novel, although much less tasty, I find this process tiring. Should your genre be determined BEFORE writing your novel? Or is this typically something that is determined once your novel is complete? Determining a genre beforehand might help keep you on a certain track, but I really don’t think you know what your novel is until its complete. Is there an answer to this?

Currently I am writing a young adult fiction novel that I would classify as a romance novel. But I am not happy with that. The genre, to me, is more than just romance, not to mention does not exactly fit into the category like a glove. It is a thriller with touches of science fiction. So when writing a query letter, the description “my romance, thriller, YA fiction novel” doesn’t really work. Of course I am exaggerating but as a first time writer, I want to know, is having a problem classifying your book a GOOD thing, BAD thing, or completely irrelevant? Is there some secret trick to help categorize a novel that doesn’t perfectly fit?

I have been going back and forth, flip flopping between genres. Also, I’m really craving brownies.