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.

5 Tips I’ve Discovered Writing My First Novel

Fine tuning my work? More like, chiseling away at this mountain of a manuscript.

Keep in mind, I’m no expert. Simply someone that has been sitting on a 200 page manuscript for the last several weeks, hoping to pass a long some tips for others in the same boat! During my process, I’ve found a few things that have worked for me.

Trust your previous writing – These have become words to live by. In order to move forward in a chapter you must trust your previous writing. At times, I found myself dwelling on certain things, questioning whether or not I touched on something too much or too little. But the only way to move forward in a story is to trust your previous writing and to be confident that your message is clear.

Silence the negative thoughts – To me, the only negative criticisms are the ones that you create yourself. There have been times where I am writing and suddenly I am my biggest enemy. That tiny voice in my head becomes more of a deafening scream. There have been times where I wanted to torch my novel, get rid of the idea, and start something new. But the second guessing has to stop. If you have a story you believe in, you are the only person that can tell it. Keep working through it, keep the doubt away, and replace those reasons of why it WON’T work with all of the reasons why it WILL.

Share, share, share! – This is a big one. For me, sharing my work has been pretty comparable to stage freight. For so long I have kept my work private and to myself. But with that, I have limited myself to only hearing one opinion… my own! Sharing your work allows you to explore the minds of different people. Where does your story take them? What do they think will happen next? It’s impossible for you to “wonder” where a story is going when you wrote it yourself. Reviewing your own work is like studying for a test you already have the answers to. You must share, good or bad! Which leads me to my next tip…

No feedback is bad feedback – There is nothing worse than sharing a novel, short story, or poem with a peer and having them hate it. Truthfully, not everyone is going to love what you write. The way I see it, some people like romance, some people like science fiction. Feedback is feedback, a necessary tool to move you forward in any form of writing.

Don’t force – As silly as it sounds, this tip has been one to move me a long when I’ve felt trapped in a 6-foot hole filled with writers block. I’ve tried all of the necessary suggestions to mend WB; bashing my head against the table, twirling in my chair, jumping jacks, coffee, etc. For me, the best way is to take a break and walk away. Not just from the computer you’re hovered over but from the story itself! Sometimes a great idea will come to you when you’re away from your desk, detached from your work, in the shower, out with friends, etc.