I note that the daily post @ wordpress is doing a serial blog on serial blogging, i.e., writing continuous blogs like chapters. While blogging and actual serious fiction writing aren’t the same, working in a format that has many interconnected pieces–like a novel, is fairly similar. As a writer, this is a topic I can easily pontificate on, so I will try to do so (briefly?) here.
First, throw away the notion that writers need to be published. This is not the case. Writing and dedication to that writing makes you a writer. Especially now that we can all write on the internet. But even then, the point isn’t writing expressly for other people. It’s writing to write. As a writer, I write nearly every day, and I write both seriously, and for fun. While all the stories and characters are important to me, it’s mostly about the amount of editing, and who sees it.
Writing or serial blogging is about doing it consistently. It’s about doing it every day. Even if you’ve only written a few sentences and spent the rest of the time day dreaming or frustrated. Consistency is the reason so many people talk about writing a book, but don’t. Consistency takes both time, and hard work, to build. Parents of young children rightly devote their time elsewhere, others to jobs, and others to hobbies they find more meaningful. Not everyone is a writer, and that’s okay.
If you do want to be a writer, though, consistency and serial writing is something you should aim for, for your own good. It will teach you to portion out your writing to avoid both manic writing and writer’s block. Many people think writing is easy, and sitting at home writing your next hit novel is a way to get other things done. But we know better than that. It takes hard work and discipline to build a writing regimen, and dedication to taking seriously the craft of editing. Things hardly ever come out right the first time. (I must admit I abhor reading something with abominable grammar, paragraphing, and lack of decent structure, but that’s another post entirely.)
I started writing fan fiction (for the Dragonriders of Pern series, by Anne McCaffrey) in middle school, eventually went over into original fiction as well, and never really stopped. So I’ve known I’m a writer for a long time. There have been times when I didn’t write every day, but I’ve always gone back to it. As a result of my own regimen, when I don’t write by 9 AM on a week day, no matter where I am, I want to write.
Creating a Writing Regimen
How does one build a regimen so that writing every day becomes routine?
1. Find a time to devote to writing. It should be the same time every day, whether it’s 20 minutes or an hour. You will eventually get used to writing at that time daily, and your brain will expect it. If you’re new to writing, you may want to start with a lower goal, like 20 minutes. Make sure your family knows when this is and to leave you alone. A good time to write is in the morning, as the mind works on things overnight. At bedtime is also a good time to write, especially if you’re a woman. Studies have shown that women who write before sleeping sleep better, as it gives them a chance to clear their mind. Actually, one of my favorite places to write is in bed. You don’t have to do anything else, and it’s conducive to daydreaming.
2. Find things that help you write. Some important this are (a) a place where you can ignore distractions and concentrate on your own little world. For example, I take 2 40-minute train rides a day to commute to work, and this is when I write. (b) Find the right music. It’s an extremely helpful tool, whether it’s keeping you from being distracted or setting the scene you’re working on firmly in your mind. (c) Find out what method you prefer to write in–with paper and pen, laptop, or other. (d) Take care of other distractions, such as hunger, putting the cat in another room, or trips to the bathroom, before sitting down to write.
3. Do it. Even when you don’t want to, don’t feel like it, or your mind is blank when you sit down. When you are stressed (this is a great time to write, even if it’s just getting out your frustrations). It doesn’t matter what you write, just write. Many authors juggle different projects at once, and this will keep you from getting bored. When you get writer’s block on one project, you can pick up another. If you’re stuck because you don’t know whether to do a or b next, write both, and see which you like best.
How will one know when the regimen has worked?
When you sit down to write on a daily basis, and look forward to it, and write. When it stops being a struggle, and starts being a normal part of your daily life. You may find that you’ve come to know when to have shorter sessions, and when to extend them, or at what point to stop for the day. Distractions may become less noticeable as you sit down and concentration is easy. Most importantly, when you know whether you are a writer or not. Not that this is a litmus test for writers. But if you’re not one, writing every day may be a nightmare. If you are, you will most likely love it.
But Wait! What do I write about?
I often have people tell me they don’t like to read. I tell them to find books in the same genre as their favorite movies and TV shows. Many people don’t like what they read in school–myself included–and so they thing they don’t like books. But stories are stories, and one can always find stories in any medium. If you know what kind of stories you like, that’s what you should start writing–and reading! As you continue to write, you may find your focus and topics or genre’s changing, and that’s okay. Just because you normally write fantasy doesn’t mean you can’t write a romance or an adventure story.
If you prefer non-fiction, write about something you know a lot about. For example, I am very knowledgeable on horses, plants, corsetry, and fashion history. DH is knowledgeable on Star Trek, science and tech, and Christian theology. Also don’t be afraid to write fiction stories which hinge on areas you are knowledgeable in.
Once you know what kind of story you want to write, you will need a basic (very basic, I promise!) plot, and a character. Because the character will determine much of your plot, I highly suggest spending your first few sessions on setting up and developing your character. I have both standard and in depth character sheets which you are free to use if you like. In my experience, it always helps knowing as much about a character as possible before going into their story. Sometimes the character will change a bit, and that is normal, as well.
Most importantly, don’t write a story or about a character that you don’t feel anything for. Your character should be someone who intrigues, fascinates, disgusts, or terrifies you. If you feel nothing, or that the character mystifies you, you won’t have a good sense of them and it will come through in your writing.
Well, I know I said I’d try to be brief, but clearly that hasn’t happened. Nevertheless, I hope that the effort is helpful to someone. If you’re a writer and want to share your experiences as well, please do! Same with questions, I’m usually always happy to talk about writing. The next one is unlikely to be as long, really…
Happy writing ^_^