Thursday, 29 January 2015

Finishing the Race

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Finishing what you start can be tough - trust me, I know. I've been there. This is probably the biggest battle I face with creative writing. The idea is so awesome, and writing it is going to be so much fun and when you're finished it's going to be epic. And off you go, down that doomed lane of initial sunshine and rainbows. All of that malarkey. At first it is as epic as you hoped. It is as fun as you dreamed. But then, as so many others do, you get stuck.

This is where I come in. Stop panicking, stop flailing your arms at your computer screen. As a fellow pantser, procrastinator, tea drinker, I've learned some things throughout my writing career that usually help me find my way out of the pit of plotlessness. I hope you find my advice helpful, and good luck with your writing!

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1. Start small
If you often find yourself losing steam before the finish line is in sight, think about the size of the project you're undertaking. Instead of immediately going for the Great Novel when you have most of the plot unplanned, try a short story first. It's like giving yourself a bite size taste of the story you're might invest your time and effort in later. Manga artists create one shots of their stories before starting their series. Do the one shot, be the mangaka. I believe in you. 

2. Plan ahead
Personally I tend towards the wonderful art of pantsing. I love the free fall of making my plot up as I go along, never knowing what twists and turns are coming my way. However, as you might have gathered, pantsing sometimes causes me a bit of trouble. Free falling is fun and all, but the lack of parachute means that I have no security, no back up. You can avoid this by planning out the main points of your plot. You don't need to think about every single minute detail of your story; just plan the main things you want to happen and work around them as you write. That way you get the fun of free fall pantsing and the security of the plot parachute. 

3. Start at the end

Something I really enjoy is writing the last sentence of my project first. I love how it makes me think about how I get from the first point of my story to this point. Often it makes me work backwards, which is a lot of fun. This method also ensures that any plot twists or important plot points are properly set up. Working backwards is a lot of fun because you're looking at the story from a totally different perspective, which can add new dimensions and depth to your plot. It's not quite as rigid as planning, but it gives some structure. Out of all of the tips I use, this is probably my favourite.

4. Write the story you want to read

This is so simple, but incredibly effective. Sometimes, I stop writing something because I get it into my head that no one will want to read it. This isn't a good way to think about writing, and I've been trying to teach myself to stop it. Instead, I try to think about what I want to read. Surely if I enjoy something, there must be others somewhere who will enjoy it too. In addition, writing is something that you chose to do, something that you do to make yourself happy. If you're constantly trying to pander to other people, you're going to stop thinking about what you want to do and you'll lose the enjoyment. So keep enjoying writing your story, write the story that you want to read. It's great, I promise. 

5. To put it simply, force yourself to continue

There isn't much to say about this point, it's pretty self explanatory. Making yourself do something that you don't feel like doing really sucks, lets be honest. But it usually works with writing. I'll set myself a goal of writing only one page. Then, when I have completed my single page I can give up, regardless of the quality of the page's writing. However, by the time I've written a page I've almost always gotten over the block and am in the mood to write more - and so I do. This is the tip that takes the most effort, in my opinion, but it works well enough for me.


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