Sometimes, when I sit down to write a scene, everything clicks. Even the weird twists and diversions that come up while I’m writing flow and mesh. When that happens, it’s awesome.
Then there are the other times. Times when I think I know what I want to write, but get lost trying to put it into words. The scene gets longer and longer, but doesn’t actually go anywhere. Continue reading
Megan Norris Jones
I used to be an A+, top-of-the-class, nothing-less-than-perfect-will-do student. I could study like a machine, get it done, and move on to the next thing. But I’ve realized something lately. I don’t study any more. I’ve graduated from school; there are no tests, and if I want to know something, I just look it up. So my razor-sharp concentration skills that I was so proud of? Yeah, they’ve gotten a little fuzzy, and it’s starting to affect my writing.
There are plenty of contributing factors. I have three children who ask me a question or need something from me approximately every ninety seconds. Ninety seconds is not a long time to develop concentration. And if they don’t need me after ninety seconds has passed? I remember something I’ve been meaning to look up on my phone. Or I check email. Or Twitter (follow me @mnj23!). Or I’m already plugged into a podcast. And then a kid asks a question again. I am essentially training my brain to be distracted. And if I’m distracted when I’m trying to write, my productivity plummets. Continue reading
Before you sit down to write your scene, list the characters in the scene and write out their individual goals. Even if you never state those motivations in the prose, knowing them will help you write more authentic character interactions and add complexity and richness to your story.
Make the most of the time you have to write by using your pre-writing downtime wisely. Are there character backstories that need fleshing out? Plot points that aren’t fully formed in your mind? In between your writing sessions, make a list of the details in your story that need attention. Then, when you find yourself commuting, walking the dog or folding laundry, work through the list in your head. By the time you’re ready to sit down to write, you’ll have the details fresh in your mind to get them onto the page.
This year, my Write by Midnight experience has been great. I didn’t reach all my goals, but I wrote every day and made real progress—which is something I haven’t done for a while.
I’d been in the writing doldrums for a few months, and my enthusiasm had evaporated. I’d struggled to make headway on my story, but I’m happy to say that I reversed that trend in February. Continue reading