Now let’s talk about the single most important step of all – actually writing!
You would think that this would be the easiest, most common sense step of all … you’re a writer, so you just sit down and write until the story is done, but the truth is that for most of us, creativity just doesn’t work that way and sometimes can be a far more agonizing process than we’d care to admit when every other hour of the day we’re proud to profess that writing is our dream. 😯
Yet we procrastinate.
We screw around on the Internet.
We talk to friends, and colleagues, and go to writers workshops, and do extra research, and we convince ourselves that all of that stuff is fine and dandy because our creative process just isn’t ready yet, but in reality we’re just wasting time that we should be spending writing.
Don’t feel bad – I do it, too, and arguably sometimes a lot more than most! In fact, in an effort to try and keep myself on track this year, I posted a few inspirational quotes up on my wall – the most on-point of which is this:
“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing – none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” – E.L. Doctorow
And I love that quote so much because it’s really the truth – no matter how worthwhile whatever else seems to be that you’re spending your time on, at the end of the day the only thing that matters is getting words on the page. You can write the most amazing outline ever, but no one gives a shit about your outline – readers want to read your story, and they can’t do that until you actually finish it.
It’s tough to keep yourself grounded in the seat, especially when nothing seems to be flowing, but you’ve just got to do it. I’ve heard all sorts of different techniques that different writers use – some set a kitchen timer or use the clock on the wall and won’t let themselves up until either they’ve hit a certain word count or the time has passed, some make use of applications that try to disable your web browser and other distractions on the computer for a set length of time, and some take a more lax approach and just say whatever happens, happens, only writing when they’re truly in the mood to write…
That last one definitely doesn’t work for me because if I left it completely to the wind, I might go two months without writing my next story and that’s really no way to run a career! But here are a handful of things that I do try to follow:
- Try to plan ahead when I’m going to write. It may not be a regular thing like nightly from 8:00 – 11:00pm, but each morning when I plan my day, I try to also take writing (and any lack thereof from previous days) into account.
- Know in advance what I’m going to write. I don’t want to waste any time brainstorming for ideas if I can help it, so hopefully by the time I sit down to write I already have an idea of what story I’m going to be working on.
- Minimize distractions. Note that I said minimize, not eliminate because the latter honestly just isn’t reasonable. But I try to steer away from my web browser if I’m not using it for motivation, and my spouse knows to knock when the door is closed so as to not interrupt an idea in progress. You just do what you can.
- Write until it’s done. I hate breaking in the middle of a story because sometimes it’s tough to pick back up again a day later, so by all means if I can spend another hour and be able to call it done, I’d much rather do that and be a little tired in the morning!
- Don’t be afraid to re-write on the spot. As we’ll talk about in Part 4, I don’t really do a lot of editing because when I’m done I need to move on to the next thing, so if I need to make some adjustments while I’m going or even re-write a few paragraphs because otherwise I’m finding myself just plain stuck, then that’s something I have to be open to doing.
- Limit the good times while I’m writing. To be frank, I often masturbate while I’m writing erotica, but as great of a “motivator” as that can be, it’s one of those things that kind of slows you down if I get to the end before I get to the end of the story, if you catch my drift! Use it, don’t abuse it… 😉
- Keep the business in mind, but not enough to be distracting. While it’s ok to remember that I really need to finish this book because my sales need a boost, it’s not ok to then jump away for just a minute to check all of those sales channels to see if I’ve sold anything new in the last hour and a half!
Once I have the motivation to write, then it’s just a matter of making it happen. I work at a computer desk with two monitors, so if I have any motivational imagery contributing to a particular tale, I’ll put that up on one screen and Microsoft Word up on the other.
Fun Tip: If you work in Windows like I do (WinXP, anyways), you can actually have multiple images open using the default image viewer by opening your first image and clicking the print button to open up that dialog box, then going back to Windows Explorer and choosing another image which will open in a second instance instead of replacing the window of the first! You can do this as many times as you want – just keep your existing windows busy with dialog boxes … sometimes it’s a little easier than arranging windows in Photoshop or something…
As far as the nitty-gritty writing itself, I’ll openly confess that I honestly don’t really have much advice for that part of the process, and here what I’m referring to is things like sentence structure, spelling and punctuation usage, grammar, etc… because frankly, those are the types of things that you should’ve picked up in grade school! If you need a refresher or something, there are loads of resources online or maybe you could take a college course or something.
I will tell you that all of those things are very important because as the old saying goes, you’re telling two very different stories if you don’t see the difference between “Mary helped her Uncle Jack off a horse” and “Mary helped her uncle jack off a horse” … attention to details like that are crucial to getting the story out that you actually want to tell and right now it’s amazing how a writer can distance himself from a huge number of erotic writers out there simply by understanding how to form a complete sentence that’s grammatically correct.
It’s one of those things that I couldn’t really tell you where I picked up, but I truly and honestly believe that if you can’t grasp, you simply have no business being a writer. Readers deserve better than sloppy typos and bad punctuation when they take a chance on our work … I guess it’s one of those things in my mind that a person should kind of have down pat by the time you start publishing your work publicly, and especially once you start expecting other people to pay you for it…
But enough about the grammar police for now! If you want to be a writer, know the basic mechanics of the deed – enough said. 😉
Now that we should basically have a story more or less written, it’s time for those final polish-ups before hitting that big, shiny red Publish button! Proofreading, editing, and everything else to finalize that spit shine before kicking your baby on out the door – that’s what we’ll be talking about next time.
And just as before, if there’s anything in particular that you’d like to see me include before the end of this series, just send me a tweet and I’ll see what I can do. 😀