In the past few weeks, I’ve been getting a few questions from budding writers, asking about the kind of ‘head space’ you need to occupy in order to write successfully.
Well, here’s the thing: there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this. At the risk of sounding like a pretentious git, you have to work out what kind of person you are, then go from there.
That said, here are a few questions and comments which might give you a good place to start. They worked (and continue to work) for me!
1. Are you a self-motivator? This is, undoubtedly, a must-have component for any writer who would like to write to any kind of deadline. If you’re happy crafting your magnum opus over the course of fifteen-to-twenty years, then this rule does not apply to you. Crack on at your own sweet pace! On the other hand, if you’re mortal like the rest of us and would like to see some fruits of labour before retirement, then you’ll need to have some ‘get up and go’.
2. Isolate when you work most effectively. Personally, I work best in the mornings and the evenings, with a sort of midday hiatus which coincides nicely with lunchtime and the lull which follows. It’s also a product of being forced to waken at an ungodly hour of the morning, thanks to my toddler son. However, if you are honest enough to know that you only get revved at around 1pm, then aim to do your best work from then and do other things in the mornings (social media, blogging, domestic crap).
3. Be clear on what you are writing, and for which audience. This applies throughout the process, whether you are at the beginning, middle or the editing stages. If you intend to write a novel which falls into an esoteric category or genre, then stick to that, but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t have mass appeal. Be happy when those who you intended to reach out to, appreciate your efforts. Likewise, if you intend to write a piece of fiction with widespread ‘holiday reading’ appeal, don’t get pissy when you encounter the odd negative review from a reader who prefers high literature with unhappy endings. Be happy when you sell lots of books and give people pleasure as they recline on the beach, or on the sofa.
4. Be honest with yourself. If you’ve spent three weeks writing 20,000 words which are absolute bollocks, don’t cling on to them out of pride alone. It’s about the long game, putting together a book which flows. Readers will be able to see if your book contains a section which goes off-piste, or frankly isn’t as good as the rest. Likewise, if you can’t see the wood for the trees and seek advice from others, be prepared for them to point out things you may not wish to hear. Don’t turn into a diva, just take it under advisement.
5. Be discerning. Having said all of the above, it’s worth bearing in mind that people have highly subjective tastes and what one person will love, another is bound to positively hate. It is not possible to please everyone at all times and that’s worth remembering. People with access to digital media can be ruthless, but they can also be kind. At the end of the day, the final decision rests with you and you alone know what you wish to convey with your words.
Hope this is a good start, if any of you lovely people have any more questions just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer 🙂
Bye for now!