Wednesday, October 12, 2016
But what if you have to write alone? How do you develop the discipline to face the tyranny of the blank screen?
This is a task made even more difficult these days because we have the internet and worse, Pokeman Go.
There’s no right answer; just various methods and tricks others have used. You have to find the one that’s right for you. But here are a few options:
Pick a specific time of day and force yourself to sit down and work at that time. Could be early morning or the middle of the day while the kids are at school. I’m a night person. I will tend to write late at night when the house is quiet and there’s nothing on TV but infomercials and GOLDEN GIRLS reruns. Many like to get up early, get their writing out of the way and be done for the day.
Pick a specific amount of time. An hour, several hours. Writer/goddess, Jane Espenson goes on half-hour or hour “writing sprints” where she clears the deck and works non-stop during those periods.
Some people need goals. They have to write a certain number of pages or scenes before they step away. If they finish that script by Tuesday they'll treat themselves to a Thai massage at that new parlor next to the bail bonds place.
I will tend to write until I'm stuck on something. I'll then stop, even if it's in the middle of a sentence. I'll put it down for the night. Usually, if I allow my subconscious to work on it overnight I will come up with the solution in the morning. Then I can go back to work and have a head start. Others must power through until they finish a scene, regardless of how long it takes. They need that sense of closure. Can't fault 'em for that. It's just not the way I personally work.
Does music provide some inspiration? A noted poet friend of mine has Jackie Wilson records blaring while she writes poetry. They all end up reading like “Lonely Teardrops” but still.
One method I don’t recommend but writers have been using it for centuries is getting completely shit-faced before writing. Get your supplies at Staples, not BevMo.
Another method that works for some (but not for me) is waiting until the last minute and then just blasting forward. They need that self-imposed pressure and prelude to their next heart attack.
Look, writing is hard. If it wasn’t then Kim Kardashian would be doing it (especially if she could do it in bed). But if you find the right way to work (for you), it can make the process far more manageable. Personally, I’m not the best person to ask. I checked my email twice while writing this post.
But how do you work and why? If we can't all write together, we can at least tell each other how we do write.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM