Writing, Getting Started Again

Writing, Getting Started Again

I get it. I do. For whatever reason, you stopped writing. What happened? Maybe you just finished up a big project and gave yourself a break. Maybe you just lost the lust for it and fell away. Did white screen syndrome hit you like a brick in the face and you couldn’t face it ever again? Maybe every time you sit down to write, the rest of the internet gets its claws into you and drives you into a YouTube/Wikipedia/Twitter loop. Whatever, it happens, and I get it.

I love writing, but much like most everything else on the planet, it’s about good habits. Good habits are hard to grip (unlike bad habits, which welcome you with open arms, latch on to you and refuse to leave you alone), and if you let go for even a second, they slip away.

The gym. Eating right. Meditation. Shaving. Showers. Speaking to people. Y’know the stuff – chores, really, that are ultimately good for you and quite irritatingly make you feel amazing.

I love writing, but I’m best at it when I’m knee-deep in the middle of a project. Getting up in the morning to write is the least stressful thing in the world when you did it yesterday, and the day before, and the day before. I’ve written previously about my loose-end struggle after Grim finished. I’m only just now shaking off that rut with some fresh ideas and a dodgy first draft of a short story in hand.

I love writing, and maybe you do too, but if you struggle to do any when you’ve been away from it for a bit, I’m here to help.

To be used in order or isolation, here are three ways to get yourself writing again.

Bet you missed that background image, didn't you? It''s so relevant to writing

Writing Rubbish

When I came out of Grim, I was in editing mode. Because of that, I found myself scrutinising absolutely everything I wrote. It slowed me down and it badly held back the right-side brain that was trying to do all the fun, creative work.

You gotta write some rubbish to calm down that left side that’s being all boring logical.

When I was learning about writing (believe it or not, I did sit down with some people to learn some of this crap) I was taught that the easiest way to write rubbish is to pick a subject at random, set a timer, and remove the safety net beneath what you write.

Open a dictionary and pick a word. Timer set to five minutes. Pop out your delete key. Go nuts.

This pulls the absolute coolest ideas right from the excellent creative side of the brain.

Does it make sense? Rarely, very rarely. It’s usually just gibberish, but the creative side of your brain fucking LOVES gibberish and you should occasionally feed it.

Writing What You Know… Because It Happened To You

If you’ve been a reader here for any length of time, you’ve seen me tell stories as opposed to writing anything of any worth or with any type of depth. Danny stole forks here, Jamie fell off a wall here, people nearly died on a jet-ski here – it’s all nonsense that’s happened to me. I do this for two reasons. The first is that I find it deeply amusing, the second is because it’s good, easy work that keeps me writing.

Writing a story that’s happened to you is an excellent way to help get you back on the horse. It gets you familiar with writing again, even if it doesn’t at all strain your creativity. It’s a great way to wake up any dormant muscle memory or try out a new style of writing without having to worry about what actually happens.

Imagine the funniest story you know, go write it down. You’ll want to do it again and again with different stories until you’re awake enough to make something up.

Writing on the Drink

…he said, sheepishly.

It’s not a new idea. Hemmingway said it best, ‘write drunk, edit sober.’ So… aye. When you’ve written rubbish enough to want something of substance, and when you’ve blethered out enough glorified non-fiction to start to crave fiction, just go to the off-license and get a bottle.

I’m not saying get absolutely brutal and sit down in front of a blank page. Just trade out your coffee for a can of cider. Or like… two cans of cider. Or, y’know. A two-litre bottle.

Seriously though. Yes, seriously. I shook myself out of a funk with a can of cider to hand as I wrote recently.

There’s science to it, I swear. Much like a little bit of coffee turns you into a working machine and too much coffee turns you into an easily-distracted, slevering and jittery mess, a little bit of booze loosens up the imagination. It allows you to worry less about common typos, sentence structure, plot-holes, uncharacteristic behaviour, how loud you sing, all that stuff. That’s for the second draft to sort out. First drafts are a drunk man’s game.

And once that first draft is out of the way, hey! You’re writing again. Look at that. Easy as piss, right?

What do you do to shake yourself out of a rut? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to throw me a follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest… most places, really.

Additionally, that book I kept referring to is still very much on sale, and it probably will be until the end of time – you can get it here if you’re into humour in your contemporary fiction about the grim reaper being crap at his job.

Catch you next week!

It’s Gavin

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