As our Acting Features Director, Corinne Redfern, embarks on the fifth week of her quest to write her first novel, she discovers how to feel inspired every day of the week…
As part of my attempt to do something more productive with my life than watching episodes of The Good Wife back-to-back on Netflix, I’m working on my first ever novel (with the help of Windows 10).
So far, it’s going well. I’ve mastered the basics of Young Adult fiction, and I’ve even started looking for literary agents. But you know that feeling when you’ve been staring at your computer screen for five hours, and have managed to write all of five words? This week, that’s my life. It’s less writer’s block, more writer-refreshing-social-media nonstop. And it’s doing my head in.
So I’ve researched the five foolproof tips for getting over it.
STOP WRITING CHRONOLOGICALLY
Chapter not quite going to plan? Time to stop screwing up your forehead skin and lower your eyebrows – just try writing a different chapter instead. It doesn’t matter if it’s the next chapter you’re about to get to, the final chapter of the entire book, or just 2000 words of filler about That Time Your Protagonist Went To The Shops. As long as it gets you typing again.
Realistically speaking, this might be a technique that works best for authors who favour the planning-every-single-element-of-their-book-in-advance technique, but either way, it’s a pretty foolproof means of hitting your word count. (After all, nobody said the words had to be in the right order, did they?)
FINISH HALFWAY THROUGH THAT SENTENCE
Channel your inner Hemingway, and book a train to Paris, then start leaving your sentences unfinished. Or don’t book the train. Either way, you need to ditch the full stops, and cut short your writing before you get to the end of that paragraph.
According to Ernest, ‘the best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it’.
(Sorry – that was too easy)
GO FOR A WALK
It might not be the most original advice, but a change of scene can do wonders for your writing. You could use cloud storage like OneDrive to access your documents on your phone whilst on the go, you’ll be able to carry on where you left off, without having to lug a laptop about.
And remember, inspiration can strike in the oddest of places. You don’t need to retrace your protagonist’s steps in order for the words to flow – some authors recommend transcribing the conversations that you hear on the bus, just to get yourself into a fresh headspace.
Just, er, don’t let them see you doing it.
WRITE SOMETHING ELSE
If you don’t fancy the bus, resent having to wear clothes other than pyjamas, or have just become so deeply ingrained into the author lifestyle that you’ve forgotten where the bus stop is altogether, you can still benefit from giving yourself a literary change of scene. Log out of your work desktop and into your personal one, and write your best friend an email describing your day. It doesn’t matter if your day was largely spent eating last night’s pizza, listening to Adele and rewriting the same sentence 500 times – just taking yourself out of the fiction-writing zone will clear your mind and get you typing fluidly again.
FIND A WRITING GROUP
It doesn’t matter if you’re the next Gillian Flynn or a direct descendant of Jane Austen – sometimes you’re going to have to face the fact that other people might just have better ideas than you. And even if they don’t, sometimes sharing your problems out loud is the best way to solve them yourself. Use Cortana to search for your nearest writing group, find out when they’re next meeting, and bring your most recent chapter with you. It might be embarrassing reading from it at the start of the night, but by the end of the evening, your guard will be down – and you’ll have smashed through the writer’s block in the process.
Check back next week, when Corinne will be speaking to published authors about their ultimate writing tips and how they got published.
To find out more about how to upgrade to Windows 10 visit windows.com/10