Sunday, February 26, 2012

#11 Tips On Writing Fine and Saving Time

Lately I've been in a rut. Don't worry. Writers often get into those. I've often complained on this blog about how I don't have Writer's Block but I am now thoroughly convinced that I have Writer's Bulk. That's right, folks. The ideas are pilling up and they don't seem to be stopping any time soon. This is nerve-racking for a writer. Especially since it looks more and more that the bigger my idea vault gets, the lazier I become when mapping the stories out. So, I've decided to draw up some ultimatums for myself.

And after reading a book like Travis Thrasher's 101 Writing Tips, which was done remarkably well, I realized that as a writer you have to train yourself to be more goal-oriented. Please check this book out. It's only 2.99 and it is worth every penny.

So here's the list I've come up with for Writing Fine, Saving Time method. You can adapt it to your schedule if you like. Because as of today, I am implementing these rules right now. No more excuses, no more complaints from me. So here we go.

#11 Face That Book - To start, let's talk about distractions. We all have them and we're going to cover them in this list. If you want to be serious about being creative, you have to control the things that are just draining your time. Case in point, I used to be addicted to video games. Not anymore. Once I realized that I was spending more time gaming than I was writing, I quit altogether. I have been a retired gamer for years. Now Facebook has come along. While it's not gaming it can be very distracting. With all the notifications, requests and events to keep track of, it gets to be too much. Don't get me wrong. If you're an author and you feel that Facebook is a good tool that markets your books and is directly contributing to your sales then by all means keep doing what your doing. But if you're like me and Facebook has just taken up your whole day, every day then its time to take control. I've been off Facebook for over a month now and it has really made a difference. For now, Twitter suits me just fine. I haven't outright deleted my Facebook page. Just put it on hold. I may come back to it again but for right now a new book is waiting to be written. If you're serious too then you have to take a break from Facebook and Face-That-Book which you have been trying to write this whole time.

#10 The NetFlix Flip - If you're an ordinary joe like me than I know that you have done NetFlix at some point in your life. And if you're like me, you've taken advantage of a little thing called the Instant Queue. When I signed on, I thought it was the best thing ever. Now, however, it's become one of my biggest distractions when it comes to writing. Every time I'd watch three movies, I'd add twenty more. We've all been through it. So let's be honest. You're never going to watch all the movies you want to. Just like you're never going to listen to every song or eat at every restaurant. It's just not gonna happen. So, why bother, really? Every time I watch a show or movie, I'm entertained but I feel that I'm also draining the time it takes to write away. Right now, my queue holds 289 instant videos. Every day I'm going to delete 10 videos off that list. With less variety, I'll be more inclined to want to entertain rather then being entertained. The only videos I would keep are the show channels, which are around 40 or so and only the documentaries that can provide sound research when it comes to telling more stories.

#9 Listen Up - I'm a voracious reader but lately I've been slipping. I've read close to 400 books in my life but still I'm thirsting for more. 9 months ago I was reading 15-20 books a month! Last month, that number was reduced to 4 books. This month I've only read, again, just 4 books. In order to write you must be an avid reader. So, I'm going to start loading up on audio books. These things come in handy. I could drive, work out or clean up while listening to at least an hour of an audio book. Maybe I can break 30 books read by next month. I'm ambitious like that.

#8 Worth 500 Words - I've always set a goal of 500 words whenever I sit down to write. That's roughly a page and a half. It's just enough to make me feel satisfied. But its also a reasonable amount. Because I always surpass the number. There have only been a few times where I felt the writing wasn't going anywhere and I stopped at 400 or so. Regardless, this will be my goal every single day. Just last night I started work on a new novel and was able to get 687 words into it. So it's not impossible and it may work for you.

#7 Silence is Golden - I've written in many circumstances. I've written in an attic while there were verbal battles with my parents. I've written laying on my stomach. I've written while my room was flooded or when I was waiting in line for something. You know what I've learned? The quieter it is, the more work you'll get done. Some have said write in a coffee shop. Others have said the Library. Folks, I'm here to tell you that the library works every time. I've spent huge chunks of time at the library. One such stretch was an 8 hour binge of reading and writing. It's also the perfect place because you have all the reference material right there. I've been to Starbucks and Caribou. They don't cut it. Too noisy. People don't know how to use their inside voice anymore. And this is coming from a naturally loud Italian! But I'm serious. Plus there's just too many distractions. The songs are too loud or too annoying or, no matter how invested you are in that laptop, there's always a person who comes up to you asking, "Would you like to try a sample of our Caramel Mocha Vanilla Chi Organic Zesty Pumpkin Cinnamin Chocolate Fluff Drink?" The longest stretch at a coffee house? 2-3 hours at most. Sometimes I'd give up halfway. Not anymore. I'm going to be getting very familiar with the library in the coming weeks.

#6 The One Day Pitch - Say you're a guy who has got a great idea for a flick. We've all heard of people pitching ideas to Hollywood. Now we can use that enthusiasm to pitch an idea to yourself. Give yourself a full 24 hours to write an outline for a novel. Write two or three sentences on what you want to happen in each chapter. With this method, you'll find out how many chapters it takes to complete the story. The beauty part is that it doesn't have to be perfect. I've diverted many times from the outline. The surprises are a big plus.

#5 Four Book Influence - This idea was actually pitched to me by a friend of mine. I really like it so I decided to share it with you. If you're a reader/writer than chances are you have been heavily influenced by writers you liked. You may have read all of their work or just a couple of books. I'm sure that if we narrowed it down we can point to four of the best books we've ever read. So why not introduce that into your writing? Pick four great books from four of your favorite authors and study them. What are your likes? Dislikes? Is the format unique? Is it a High-concept idea? Or is it subtle? When you're in a room writing, you wanna cover every corner of inspiration.

#4 Five Book List - Take your five best ideas for novels and write those first, marking your progress by a dry erase board. When one idea is finished, cross it out and replace it with another idea.

#3 Time To Clock In - Writing is fun. But if you want to be more organized, you have to be more disciplined. Lately I've been entertaining the idea of treating the act of writing as a job. I'd still have fun, but I'd be more diligent with my time. I plan on picking up time cards, filling in how many hours I wrote and how many words I wrote. It would be nice to write 20 hours a week or even more. But it would be more productive to see how many times I've decided to clock in and actually get some work done.

#2 Listen More - This one should be a no brainer. Writer's are observers. Did you witness something awesome, funny, cruel or otherwise weird that took place on a train, plane or bus? Well, that could be the raw material you've been mining for in the first place.

#1 Write Now - That's right. We've come to the end of the list and this is the number one thing you can do and that is to start right now. What you doing? You have anything planned? You got some time to kill? Why not take that time and write something? All you need is a comfortable chair and your writing tools and your set. You can even set up an egg timer if you feel that you need to be strict with yourself. But the important thing is to start. I wanted to do something right now, so I chose to write this list.

Leave a comment below. Tell me if this list helped. I'd like to know. I'll update you guys again in two weeks. I bet you I'll have some more stories done.

Also, share this list with someone.

[P.s. Follow me on Twitter. @robertoscarlato ]

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Writing The Book - A New Series

Trying something a little different. Just to give you an idea of what I do when it comes to writing I have decided to chronicle my progress. That's right! From the germination of the idea to the inevitable print and ebook conclusion; you'll be able to track my trial and error of writing just one book. A lot goes into it and I've learned some things along the way. And who knows? Maybe this system of writing will work for you.

Song Choice is Martha and the Vendellas "Nowhere to run to."
I do not own this song. Just using it for the intro music.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tales From The Script

The most horrific thing I have ever heard of is a writer submitting his work to ten Hollywood business execs who know nothing about writing. This movie was an eye-opener. It also serves as a warning to aspiring writers; protect your work.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Death of a Short Story

I'm slowly learning that ideas, the ones that are malformed at least, must die.

William Faulkner once said, "Kill your darlings."

What he meant by that is that if your story is not up to it, whether it be a lack of character, theme or passion to write it, then you must get rid of it, my friend.

I'm in the midst of editing my short story collection which was over 60,000 words. After typing in the corrections for the last week and a half, half of the manuscript is finished.

And I've been able to trim 1,642 useless words. I can honestly say that those words were just fat. They needed to go. But, not only did I play snip-snip with my manuscript but I also decided that of the twenty stories which have been collected, one of them had to go.

It was a three paged story called A Rusty Decision. It was based off of a dream I had but that dream wasn't able to support a plot. I guess it was just me experimenting. Anyway, that story is now gone. And yet, I don't feel the need to replace it with anything. So, if this collection is one story light, then that's okay with me.

The important thing is that I'm on the right track, making progress and am amazed at some of the helpful/insightful edits that a friend of mine has made.