Do you have a great idea for a novel but can't seem to get it written? Sure, there are some people who say their stories “just flow out of them.” This enviable lot seems to have little trouble cranking out one manuscript after another, but for the rest of us, it's a lot of hard work. Here are some tips I recently used to get a big project done in record time.
Cloistering isn't just for monks! You can create your own special place of seclusion to help you shut out the distractions that keep you from your work. When I first explored this idea, I spent some time looking at pictures of cloistered structures to give myself a visual image of this idea.
There are lots of stories about writers who cloister themselves in exotic locations while they hammer out their next bestseller. Oftentimes, they conveniently solve a mystery or fall in love during this process. Here in the real world, most writers don't have that opportunity, but they can still create the feeling of engaging in a short period of isolation while they work.
My advice is to start with the simple things: turn off the phone. Shut down your e-mail and instant messaging. If possible, close the door to your workspace. The more distractions you can eliminate, the better!
The Dreaded Outline
Odd as this may sound, I wrote three books without the guidance of an outline. There were times when I found it necessary to create one mid-way through, but I never had an actual road map to begin with. It comes as no surprise that I floundered throughout the entire process, perpetually asking myself, “What happens next?”
I've wasted enough time now to realize that writing outlines saves time. It doesn't hinder the creative process as I once suspected. If an idea comes to me that wasn't part of the original outline, I just add it in.
I've talked about this before, but it is worth mentioning again. Rather than scold myself for not working on my manuscript, I reward myself for the days I do write. This shifts my thinking from a negative position to a positive one. On my latest project, I pasted a gold star on each calendar day that I wrote. I found those little aluminum stickers became an incentive for me to show up every day.
One miraculous thing I discovered was that it was easier to get my manuscript done when I worked on it every day. I started my latest project more than a year ago, but got the bulk of it done in about four months time. Back in the days when I wrote sporadically, I wasted a lot of time refreshing my memory on what I had previously written. By working on my manuscript every day, I was able to eliminate the review process.
Anyone who dedicates time and effort in creating a story for others to enjoy should be commended. Writing is lonely business, so my hope for the authors of the world is that they enjoy the journey!