I’ve got my idea and I’ve plotted it out. The next part can be the best and worst part of the whole process. The writing. The rollercoaster ride of scenes, emotions and adverbs.
Writing can sometimes feel like a chore. I have days where each word is like extracting a tooth. Oh so painful. And I will spend hours at my computer and only produce a page. Sometimes only a paragraph. It’s those days where I just want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. But then I return to my computer the next day, because let’s face it, I’m a glutton for punishment, and it may end up being as torturous as the day before or I might have a good day. One of those magical days where words flow, the characters work and it all just clicks into place. If I’m really lucky, I can string a few of those days together and get a huge chunk of the draft done.
My writing schedule is pretty straightforward. I dedicate the majority of my weekend to writing. So I pretty much have no social life unless my friends and family force me out. I have three places where the magic happens. The study, the kitchen table and the couch. I start at one and stay there until I need a change of scenery and then I switch to the next. It’s a constant rotation and annoys my dog, Poppy, who isn’t one for changes in her routine. I start in the morning, work through lunch and finish when my tank is empty. Some days are definitely earlier than others though. If it’s a good day I’ll take a break and start up again after dinner, but those days are pretty rare. Plus I try to give myself a break so I don’t burn out, which has happened to me before.
I’m a firm believer in music inspiring words and I can’t write without it. But in saying that, I have the volume so low that sometimes I can only just hear it. I have certain genres and artists that work for me and I rotate those depending on what I’m working on. Movie and TV scores are great to write to. The scores from Pride & Prejudice, Band of Brothers and Once Upon A Time are among my favourites. At the moment Taylor Swift, Lucy Hale and the Nashville soundtracks are my writing jams and I listen to them when I walk to and from work to stay in the zone.
A lot of advice I read mentions cutting yourself off from your phone, the internet and all distractions when writing. I don’t follow that advice. I work on a reward system. One where I write solidly for 30 minutes to an hour and then I’ll reward myself by checking Instagram or Facebook or googling something super important like ‘smoothies with almond milk’ or ‘fifteen minute recipes’. I’ll only do it for a few minutes, just to break up the time, and then it’s back to work. In saying that, it’s taken me years to get the self-discipline to do that and not then embark on a two hour googling session.
When I’m completely immersed in a story I’m pretty much useless in every other aspect of my life. I retreat into myself and only have room in my mind for the story I’m trying to tell. Case in point, my housemate had printed out a bunch of information from a website and was telling me about it while I cooked dinner. The next night, I walked past the printout and asked her what it was. I’d recalled having a conversation with her, but had no idea what we’d talked about. Needless to say, she wasn’t overly amused!
But that’s what I call my writing daze. Every waking moment is consumed by the story. When I’m not sitting at my computer, I’m wording a conversation or scene in my head, going over and over it until I’m somewhere I can actually write it down. I do eventually come out of my daze, usually after I’ve finished the second draft, and I can participate in conversations with more than just a few random ‘yeahs’ or ‘hmms’.