3 Mar 2011

It Ain't What You Do, It's The Way That You Do It - Word of the Week

(Method n: a regular and systematic way of accomplishing something, an orderly arrangement of parts or steps to accomplish an end. Ety from Greek methodospursuit, method : meta-, beyond, after; see meta- + hodosway.)

First of all I have to say that as soon as I hear this week's WoTW - Method - I immediately think of the rhythm method of contraception; not exactly writing related huh! For the record - and yet another insight into the crazy workings of the mush in my head - for a long time I thought the rhythm method involved having sex in time to the beat of a song. Yes, really. It hadn't really occurred to me how this would work - and what kind of song you'd do it in time to?! I have to confess that I only actually found out what the RM really entailed about 8 years ago. Oh de-ah.

Anyway, contrary to the above, tonight's post is not about contraception - although obsessive writing, blogging and tweeting is a fairly good contraceptive in itself! No, tonight's post is a little more er, technical than previous WoTW's. I've been blogging for over two months now and in that time ..... I have not written a SINGLE WORD of my novel. Nope, nada, nothing, zero, squat. It's sat at 50k words since around 25th November last year. To be fair, I have opened the file several times and started reading bits of it but I just keep wimping out of writing more. I even stopped at a good part - a sex scene. And after this you all know how much I love writing those...

So after my twitterview with the lovely Emlyn Chand last week, where I was asked about my writing routine, I thought that blogging about when and how I blog - and wrote my novel - might spur me on to getting back into it. As the definition says above, a method is a regular and orderly way of doing something - in this case - writing. I don't think I have a very regular or orderly approach to writing but the words below hopefully will give you so idea of what I strive to adhere to when I do write. I wonder if any of it will chime with you guys?

The first thing to say about Fight Club....oh no sorry, where was i? Oh yes, writing, routines, method. Well yes the first thing to say about that is that I have the concentration span of a gnat's toenail. Yes, in the time (30 mins) it has taken me to write this I have checked my twitter approx 8 times (thanks for the spanks people), looked at the views my new Yfrog account pics have had, picked my feet and also (why?) checked my work email (it's 7:05pm).  

So firstly when I really get my head down writing - and definitely when I was writing between 2-8k words at a stretch during Nanowrimo, I plugged myself into my ipod, listened to my special playlist (entitled, most originally, `Writing Music`) and shut off the social networking. I allowed myself to check twitter every 30 mins max. Otherwise write write write. If I got bored, I looked at my wordcount (NOT FUN). I need to physically make myself block out any distractions - even to the extent of forcing myself to type in time to the beat of my music (hey - rhythm method!!).  My first watch word for writing then is CONCENTRATION. Tough as it is, it does work and it's how I managed to churn out the words to be a Nano winner (any more of you out there btw - comments please!)

Next is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. No, not the TV show with the lovely Kirstie + Phil, but where do I write? Well this is a funny sort of question actually because certainly for blogging - and a fair bit for my novel - I kind of actually wrote it all, or drafted what I wanted to say in my head before I actually physically wrote anything down. With the blog - and WoTW in particular, around thursday or friday I just kind of start looking for inspiration for the following week's WoTW and I usually have it by Saturday morning. Then all over the weekend I kind of do a mental word association thing - and things just organically seem to come together in my head; weird experiences, images, blog posts, comments from people. This all then start to percolate into concepts and trickle down into words and sentences and paragraphs. Come tuesday night (or earlier if I'm organised) I just type my thoughts straight into my blog post. I rarely need to edit them. Is that weird? Do other people do it like that? 

So anyway, my point was LOCATION  - where do I write? Well when I do the thinking and percolating part I can be anywhere - often times I'm on my commute or doing something simple + repetitive which seems to let my brain go into a kind of free falling meditative state. So my first LOCATION  is public transport followed by the climbing wall (when I'm belaying husbando) and even sometimes at work if I'm doing something repetitive (expenses!).  Also I forgot to add, when I'm in the shower or cooking also. So that's a lot of locations - and places where most times I'm not doing anything else (aside from work + climbing obvs). 

When it comes to the technical side of getting stuff down on paper/laptop then I most often write at home on my lovely laptop. Right now I am sitting on my now-famous L-shaped sofa in my jammies writing this. I often also sit in bed and write - speshly on a saturday morning - it's warm and cosy and relaxing and my brain just kind of opens up! Less often I write sitting at our dinner table but also I write by hand in a lovely notebook that husbando got me for V-Day. I take it everywhere with me so I can jot down blog notes as they come to me - and often I start transcribing WoTW in it on the way home from work on Tuesday night.

My final part of Method is TECHNIQUE which I've kind of already covered above in terms of blogging but when it comes to the specifics of novel writing, I kind of planned as I went along if that makes any sense. As I said in this post, i woke up with the plot of my novel whole in my head last year. But it was very much a sketchy outline - I could describe it in about 4 bullet points - and I had to then figure out how all the stuff happened. The key scenes appeared as `pictures` - like film stills in my head. I just described what happened in the pictures and it was as if I unlocked them by writing them and each scene just played out in my head - I just worked out how to get from one scene to the next. I have to confess that occasionally I would scribble down the odd plot note or point so I didn't end up with a time-space continuum thingy problem in the novel :P

Additionally, one of the (many) benefits of partaking in Nanowrimo was that because you're writing to a word limit and thus that prevents you from editing your work - hand on heart aside from correcting a typo or the odd sentence, I did not edit mine - you are free to write and ramble on as you like. For me this was perfect as scenes grew organically from the last. I do realise this is going to require *tons* of editing and rejigging and replotting. I know for a fact that I want to delete my first four chapters. I kind of wrote them for me, to set the scene but really they're kind of boring. But still, I couldn't have written the other bits of the book without them!

So that's my method folks: CONCENTRATION, LOCATION, TECHNIQUE. The rest is up to you. I think how we write and way we write is as unique to each writer as their own fingerprint. No one can tell you that you're doing it wrong, they can only suggest ways to try to make it easier for you to reach your goal - whatever that may be.

Finally, here are a couple of posts from other bloggers that I found interesting and so might you if you liked this one: Novel Publicity, JM Tohline and Graffiti Living.

Thank you and good night

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS When I first started blogging this year I did post a tiny snippet of a previous WIP - click here to check it out


  1. Yes, concentration, location, and technique are very good tools to have in hand for a writer. And as you've said, writers are always "writing" even if they're doing things such as taking showers, eating, etc.

    Most important thing is to write. Even on those days when the spirit is not willing. Especially on those days.

  2. people should do whatever works for them. I stick to a routine. I write every day almost without fail. It just pours out all over the page. So far I rarely get writers' block. It's like I'm channeling. I know what you mean about spending lots of time on social networks though. They give instant feed back. One thing I must admit, since blogging (which is a means of drawing attention to our work) I spend little time actually trying to contact people and 'market' it. That's basically the bottom line. Therapy I could do into a voice recorder. Fun to trade ideas. At least we're all mushing along.

  3. I can relate to not having time to write WIP since I've been blogging. And I haven't even really started on the whole tweeting thing. There just isn't enough time in the day for me.
    I participated in the NaNoWriMo, but didn't end up winning. I don't think I even got to 10,000 words :(
    You sound like you have a good method. Keep it up and I hope it leads to publication!

  4. Perhaps you missed one: DISCIPLINE, that way your noverl might have progressed further ;-).

    I know what you mean about working over ideas in your head, so that you can put then down fully formed as a blog post. My trouble is that I'm forever doing that, but missing the typing up as blog post stage. *sigh*. I should make more use fo the excellent wordpress app on my Andriod phone so that I can at least get the germ of a blog post going when ideas come to me.

    The best ideas do often come when you're focusing on something elase, or just chilling. I find ideas, and solutiosn to all kinds of problems, come to me whilst I'm out on my bike. Sometimes the concious mind just needs to shut the feck up and let subliminal processes do their magic...

  5. LOLs at Scruffian - discipline is something I AM NOT good at at all in any aspect of my life! But good point :P Having a notebook does help with the random ideas too.

    Amy - thanks hon, it was so tough doing those 50k, like running a marathon but worth it actually. and I just finshed a book (Matched by Ally Condle) that has inspired me to keep writing.

    Marisa - definitely, you need to keep going everyday totherwise it all disappears!

    Will - yeah it's so individual isn't it!