I Wanna Six You Up

 Apologies to Color Me Badd for the title pun, but the need to use it was great within me.

Being involved in a long WIP gives you an ulcer (hell, any type of writing can do that to you). It gives you time to sob in the shower about plot lines and that damn character you have to kill off (I’m sorry Zack). It also gives you time to think about your writing process. What keeps the progress at steady propulsion or sputtering squirt.

For the last month or so I’ve been continuously working on my Zombie Pulp Novella (if that’s what I deign to call it), a piece of work that has existed for about a year now. I have no shame it’s taken me so long to finish a draft (a freaking draft, people). To do this and keep the pace up, I’m finally saying no to writing flash fiction and other stuff.

NO MEANS NO unless it’s over 30,000 words, baby.

Anyway…in doing so I’ve had time to mull around some thoughts, formulate some writing tips that work for me to get over the humps and roadblocks. And because sharing means caring, I thought I’d post what little I have to say. Maybe they’ll help you. Maybe they won’t. I don’t claim to be a pro or an expert writer or that these will magically cure your writers block or give you the ending you so desperately crave…

[*Side note: I did find an ending for my Zombie story last week while sudsing it up in the shower and singing along to Neko Case. Whether it will work…well, that remains to be seen, but hell, at least I know where I’m going now.]

…maybe you’ll enjoy and use one or two of these tips, or maybe you’ll finish reading this and spit vehemently at your computer screen, your spittle soaking and coating my gibberish.  

Um, gross. And you’re welcome.

 

1.Take a shower

Now this doesn’t mean climbing into the shower with your laptop or a pen and paper. Although, that would be hilariously awesome. This means move around; get the blood flowing. Do something else if you become stuck. Sometimes it’s as simple as heading into the kitchen to refill my drink and voila! There, coated in the fluorescent light of the fridge, chicken wing sticking out of my mouth, I’ll think of that perfect piece of dialogue or character name. Or better yet, hop in the shower. Here is where I really find inspiration. Crank the music (ahem, Neko Case) and just let your mind go. Keep a pen and notepad handy for those random hoppings-out and note-jottings.

 

This is not the kind of shower I mean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.Don’t read

Never fear, I’m not saying to swear of all your books while you’re writing – just the ones that are similar to your story. If you’re writing a romance, read a mystery.  For me, if I read something comparable to what I’m writing, I’ll endlessly compare my plot to what I’ve just read and won’t end up with something organic. In a similar vein, because I’m writing a zombie novella, I’ve sworn off watching anything zombie-related. You know that cool show everyone’s talking about “The Walking Dead”? Haven’t seen. I want to puke out my rough draft first before I’m influenced by anything zombie related.

 3.Act it out

No need to get kinky. This simply means I talk to myself like  the crazy person I am. Every morning when I drive to work I re-enact my story. I sketch it out, the parts I need help with, pretending I’m in the story. I go back and forth with dialogue, what sounds real and what sounds trite. It may be goofy but that 40 minute drive to work and the 40 minute drive home when I narrate are priceless. Never mind the stares of confusion and sheer disgust from passersby.

 4.Flash

As much as I would love to encourage any one of you don a trench coat and engage in random acts of flashing, this is not what I mean. When the longer stuff gets you down turn to something shorter; maybe a flash fiction piece in progress that needs fine tuning or start a new one altogether. By focusing on something else you get your brain off what it’s dwelling on and in no time at all you should be able to return to your current piece all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

 5.Friends in Low Places

What I really mean is Friends in HIGH places but I love Garth Brooks and just had to throw a reference in there. When I feel stuck I like to head over to a little place called Fictionaut (perhaps you’ve heard of it?), a great source of support. Read the posts, comment. Post your own piece, read the comments.  Getting a boost and giving others a boost usually gets me in the mood to pick it back up and continue my own writing.

 

6.Take a Break

It’s okay to take a few days off or a week. Really. I swear. I won’t judge you for it. I’ve never been one of those people who say “write 1,000 words a day”. And if you are that’s cool too. I just can’t do it. I have to write when inspiration hits. Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to write every chance you get. Try Hulk Hogan hard. Every time you sit down at your computer the aim should be to write. Let yourself stare at the screen. Repeat above tips 1-5. Hop on Twitter to bitch and moan about your lack of progress. Open all your word docs and scowl at them. Then, once you’ve tried, if you still can’t write, it’s okay to go watch TV.  Although, please watch something of substance. No Jersey Shore. If I hear you’ve been watching Jersey Shore I may maim you.

Aaaaand done. There. Those are my Top Six Tips. They work for me. And I wanna know yours.  Writers, tell me, what tips do you use to get in the mood (not that kind of mood), to get over the hump, to just write?

 

Before this blog post I had a sure-fire way to give writing tips.

No Comments
  • Reply

    Marda

    August 29, 2011 at 12:46 am

    These are all wonderfully refreshing tips – thank you for sharing!

    Oh and I dig the song references 😉

  • Reply

    Marsha

    August 29, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I’ve always listened to mood music when I write.
    If I’m writing something heartbreaking, I listen to soulful blues.
    For humour, light-hearted French music, Charles Trenet or alternatively, Al Bowlly, etc.
    Loved your tips. Please keep both hands on the wheel though !! x

  • Reply

    hcfitzpa

    August 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Music is a definite must, though no lyrics for me. But I’m always inspired in the shower or while having a bath. Thought I was the only one!

  • Reply

    susan tepper

    August 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Jules these are all great tips and they do work!!!
    May I add one more: take long walks where there are trees. I have often gotten “unstuck” plot-wise or come up with character ideas while on a long quiet solitary walk.
    I’ve heard that Joyce Carol Oates works out her stuff while she vacuums. Her house must be much more tidy than mine… I always want to kill while I’m vacuuming– maybe that means I should write a murder mystery.
    Hang in Jules!

  • Reply

    susan tepper

    August 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    ps– avoid the golden showers

  • Reply

    julesjustwrite

    August 31, 2011 at 2:01 am

    Yes, definitely music…somehow I spaced that one. But that is a necessity.

    Hmm…Susan, the walking + trees sounds interesting. I will have to try that. Could never do the vacuuming one though…not sure how one could concentrate.

    Great feedback…

  • Reply

    Andi Judy Black

    October 13, 2011 at 4:10 am

    Oh, take a shower has always been one of my favorites. After running from the bathroom naked and soapy to jot something down I’ve started taking pen and paper in with me (no, not in the shower, but close by).

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