It's important to use senses in your writing. But what about the senses you use while writing?
Writing sounds like laptop keys clicking beneath fingernails. It sounds like a nearly empty pen scratching over paper. It sounds like a crayon fraying a restaurant napkin because you got an incredible idea during family dinner.
Writing sounds like a lot of things. But to me...
Some writerly, some not—here are a few ways to fill your days while your manuscript has a well-deserved nap.
You worked long and hard on your manuscript. You spent weeks, months, years fine-tuning. You stared at the pages until you came to hate them, until you barely remembered writing the words. Perhaps you're between edits. Perhaps your baby is off with beta-readers. Your manuscript is tucked safely in a drawer, and you are free to wrestle your life from its pages.
The first day after my current work went off to betas, I relaxed. I relished in my newfound freedom. The second day, I stared at the wall and chewed my fingernails. If you're suffering from writing-withdrawals, read on, here are ten ideas to try out.
I hear your protests. Writers are like squirrels? No, writers must be something majestic—deer, elephants, antelope.
No, my writerly friend, you are a squirrel. If you're not, you should be.
I often hear would-be writers complain of having no ideas with which to begin their world-changing stories. I will say it once and only once: That is a terrible excuse.
We live in a world teeming with ideas. Every stranger, every name, every image, every sound, every smell (stop me now; this list could get long). There is no reason to ever lack ideas if your mind is open throughout the day.
Here's where the squirrel part comes in (I know, you were waiting impatiently).
Take your little idea-acorns and hide them, scatter them, bury them. Leave them in tree trunks and beneath the soil. Stuff them in your mouth and carry them with you.
Okay, it's getting a little too literal. Here are seven real ideas of how to keep up with your idea-acorns (can we make that phrase a thing?).
I know, another editing post. Go on and roll your eyes. I'll be back to writing soon, and then this madness will cease. But for now...
Two quick disclaimers:
1. Take all writing rules with a grain of salt. You are the writer.
2. These are editing tips. The only red flag in a first draft is a blank page.
With that said, here are a few red-flag words. If you see these during revision (because I know you're not editing during your first draft) give them a second look, and make sure they really work.
It's traumatic, I know. You put time, energy, and pieces of your soul into your words. And then you're forced to (whisper it with me) edit.
You print your darlings (you'll never know true love until you hold your manuscript for the first time) and then you use your blue pen to tear them to pieces. Or your red pen, if your heart is made of ice.
I've discovered a shocking lack of literature addressing the grieving process following the mutilation of a manuscript (the "killing of darlings," if you please). To that end, I present the five stages of writer's grief.
Writers write. And writing is the absolute best way to become a better writer. Period.
But writers are obsessive. Sometimes we get so involved in a project we forget about the other aspects of writing, the ones that don't involve pen and paper.
Here's a quick refresher.
Author & Editor