Writing Tips Wednesday – Words = Candy!

This week: Dedicated writers get all the candy!

Every Wednesday I’ll be sharing some hints and tips about how to improve your writing. These are basic things I have learned over the years, from writers websites, published authors and constructive feedback from friends, family and online pals.

There is an argument that fiction writing cannot be taught because it comes from talent alone, it is in your nature to be creative. Whilst there is some truth in that, even the most creative person needs to learn how to use their ability and make the best of their craft.

Writers need a plan!

You’ve survived the Attack of the Christmas Turkey, ploughed through the Party Hard New Year Booz-a-rama and are now wearing one of two things:

A Day-Glo T-Shirt with the chirpy logo emblazoned across it: “CHOOSE LIFE!!!!”

OR

A hairstyle that’s given up hope, an expression of sluggish bewilderment and a t-shirt that states your level of enthusiasm with the logo: “meh.”

For those of you proudly wearing the t-shirt – Good on yer! Go to it! You already have the zest, buzz, sparkle and all wide-eyed excitement you can eat! You’re ready to grab the world and shake it until good things cover you in a mountain of applause & happy fun times! You are treating your brain to a wonderful bath of fluffy bunnies, hot creamy cake and fizzy mind bombs!

However, if you’ve chosen to slumber in your comfy state of apathy, not only will your t-shirt quietly state your disinterest in the New Year but it will also have a tiny tag that says: “Huh? What’s next? Writing? Now? Already? Aww but can’t I just settle into the New Year with a bit of Facebook while I slouch in my favourite armchair and stare at the TV like a big slice of cake?”

NO! NO COMFY ARMCHAIR FOR YOU!

AND NO CAKE.

YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH CAKE.

You’re a writer. Writers don’t slouch around. They don’t ease themselves into things. They don’t mooch around on their PC’s, fiddling with a bit Facebook and Tweeting until their “free time” has been squandered on socialising. You call it socialising, or social networking, but what it really means is blindly staring at Facebook, either whilst watching TV or just filling in time until you’re ready to say you’ve been slaving over the PC for ages and should probably take a break.

YOU NEED DISCIPLINE!

If you took part in NaNoWriMo in November 2011 and cranked out a novel, or at least the bones of one, you may find that your enthusiasm for writing has waned somewhat. Your fictional well is dried up. Maybe your blog is wilting from apathy. Think of your words, your creations, your babies, sat alone and unloved in a file on your PC gathering digital dust. They’re yearning for your attention. Are you really that callous as to ignore their plight?

And if you haven’t written a novel? Don’t think you’re off the hook that easy. All this applies to you as well. Yes. You in the corner. You with the laptop on the arm of the sofa. Got one eye on the screen and another on the TV doncha? I see you. HEY! PAY ATTENTION!

You’re a writer! Right? So write!

Here is a short list. You might have guessed a list was coming. I like lists. This list will help motivate you. Maybe not a lot, maybe a whole lot, but hopefully at least somewhat. I’m guessing you need a slither of inspiration, a shot of glamour or a clash of colour to get you motivated. Before we start the list that will propel you down the runway of literary excitement and wonder, take a moment and enjoy the vibrant cheer of The Muppet Show!

Hey, you mentioned candy. Get to the candy!!!

Sheesh. Okay. Okay. The candy is coming. Now pay attention to the list!

#1 Be Positive!

“2011 is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s a stiff, bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies. 2011 has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. 2011 is an ex-year!”

Okay, so the Monty Python line started out well, but I reckon I lost it with the nailing down bit. But you get the idea. 2011 is gone. It’s history. 2012 is a brand new year, fresh out of the box. It’s so fresh you can still smell the freshness – think fruit, bubble wrap, coffee, new-born baby smell, anything fresh. The point is that you should be looking at the new year with a twinkle in your eye and an itch in your fingers. It’s time to make your words sit up and dance to your tune!

You may have written some jolly funky stuff in 2011, and for that I applaud you. But it’s likely you cranked out some total shite too. I know I did. But that doesn’t matter. Forget about that. Learn from your mistakes and move on. The horizon is calling you. It wants…no, it needs you to chase it. And the rainbow, oh man, that rainbow has never looked so crisp and beautiful. Chase that too! Chase everything!

No need to worry over dead words, sloppy dialogue, poor characters, plots that dried up, ideas that fizzled out far too soon.

Screw that! You don’t need those burdens!

Rid yourself of those evil 2011 Doubt Demons!

  • Tie them up with heavy-duty tape.
  • Drive over them with your car a few times.
  • Fling them off a cliff.
  • Lock them away in a box.
  • Wrap it in something dark.
  • Then encase it concrete.
  • Dig a big hole.
  • Bury the box.
  • Then blow it up.
  • After that gather all the bits together and set fire to them.
  • When that’s done gather the ashes together and make an ash milkshake.
  • Now wait.
  • —–> Sometime later go take a whiz.
  • THEN you can flush all that bad juju down the pan and be done with it!!
  • DOUBT DEMONS BE GONE!!

Now grasp that keyboard. Wriggle those fingers! Flex that fictional muscle!

This year is gonna be ace! Your words are going to be on fire!

# 2 Trust your imagination again.

Remember all those times you visited Imaginationland in 2011? You had some good times there didn’t you? The rides were fast, action packed and never-ending. The sweet highs of the adventure roller coaster were breathtaking. You rested with a tasty corn dog or candy floss (isn’t that Cotton Candy in the US?) and enjoyed those blissful moments of scene building and exquisite narrative.

Imaginationland was an amazing place. But did you tire of it after a while? Did it lose its charm? The rides grew samey and repetitive, right? The food of creation became stale and boring. The characters you met were starting to get you down. They all lost their spark, yes?

Worry not!

2012 HAS AN ALL NEW IMAGINATIONLAND!!

New yummy food to feed your characters!

Ride the Action Packed Roller Coaster of Dizzy Plots!

Experience the thrill of The Haunted House of Crazy Characters!

Take a leisurely ride through The Tunnel of Romantic Interludes!

ENJOY THE DAILY PARADES & EVENTS:

SubPlot Dance Troop!

Cliffhanger Supremes in the Big Top!

Happy Harry’s Humorous Punchline Clown Show!

Mesmerizing Dialogue Mime Company!

There’s something for everyone at Imaginationland!

It’s going to be wild ride in 2012! Twists and turns at every corner, and the best part is that it’s all powered by your imagination! You can create whatever you like, whenever you like, however you like. The Doubt Demons are history so there’s nothing stopping you!

Imaginationland is never closed. You don’t even need to be at your PC or have a pen and paper to hand to visit it. You’ll find all the inspiration you need if you just let your imagination soar. The sky’s the limit. Well, actually it isn’t since your imagination can zoom beyond it to reach for the stars, and even then your imagination can create something beyond that…and then…well, you’ll see.

# 3 Reward Yourself!

Yes. This is the part about the candy.

A few years ago a good friend gave me a marvellous Christmas gift. A Jelly Belly Jelly Bean dispenser. It’s awesome! I’ve never actually filled it to the top but it’s been half way a few times. I keep it next to my PC. I’m careful not to scoff those sweet nuggets of scrummyness willy nilly. I could. I so want to grab handfuls and chuck them in my mouth. But I don’t. I savour them.

Whenever I’m writing and I’ve knocked out a line, paragraph, chunk of dialogue, scene, or chapter I’m particularly pleased with, I crank the handle and let a few Jelly Belly Beans clatter into the tray. That’s my reward. It doesn’t happen often. But when it does I lean back in my battered chair, pop a couple of ever so sweet pearls of delightfulness into my mouth and have myself a grin.

Not all of you will have a fantastic Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Dispenser of Awesomeness like me. Not unless you go buy one. Then you will. Obviously. And it’ll be totally worth it! 😀 But if you don’t then find another way of rewarding yourself. It has to be something good. Something precious. Preferably tasty and consumable.

When you’ve written something jolly decent, reward yourself. Have a cigar. A glass of vino. A snifter of Port. A peanut. A shave. I had a shave the other day. First one in about a year. It was pretty cool. Seriously. My face was freezing!

Where was I?

Yes! Rewards! Be good to yourself. Imaginationland can offer up all sorts of wonderful inspirational treats, and when you’ve enjoyed them, when you’ve hit that high and flown through The Zone – give yourself a pat on the back and a treat.

Candy doesn’t just come in sugary format. For a writer, Candy is a metaphor for enjoying a productive whirlwind ride through Imaginationland.

There’s more to come about Imaginationland. Next week we’ll explore how this dazzling theme park of the mind can be your best adventure and closest ally when it comes to writing.

That’s all folks! I’m off to eat yummy food! Tweet ya later!

Write for you. Write with passion. Love it. Live it.

###

Do you have any New Years writing motivational Good JuJu?

If you have any writing tips and advice and feel like sharing, pop me an email or rant in the box below!

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15 thoughts on “Writing Tips Wednesday – Words = Candy!

  1. Candy floss = cotton candy in US, yes.
    Enough cake? Can anyone ever have enough cake?
    I love Jelly Belly jelly beans, only jelly beans I eat, wish I had me one of those dispensers!

    As usual, good points! I did write some complete shit last year & thought “wow, can’t believe I posted that” but then realized it is all part of the process of ‘practicing your craft’, as they say (whoever ‘they’ are). However, there are also some posts where I can see just how much my writing has changed and grown.

    Although, I confess, don’t take my Twitter away! I am more addicted then ever…but I still write. I do write poetry and have fun with the six-words hashtags. If you are good about it, you can keep your addiction but use it to jump start your writing. I tend to write little snippets in the mornings to get the juices flowing then later at night it keeps the imaginationland rides going longer. You never know what snippet might turn into something longer. Quite a few of the poems on my blog started out as experiments on Twitter.

    I do sound like an addict, defending my Twitter usage… oh no.

    • Twitter is awesome sauce! I suspect there are plenty of people who really do slouch back, not really paying attention to the TV, or family chats, and not really Tweeting either. It’s the idle browsing around the net that’s the killer.

      The other day I realised I may have a YouTube addiction. I watched a few funny videos, then decided to get on with some editing. Then I clicked another. Watched that too. 1 hour later I was still there, endlessly watching video after video of junk. Every so often I’d come across a comment that said: “Oh, I’m in the weird part of YouTube again.”

      I’m so glad my sister phoned me! It’s sad to admit I would have been there another hour if she hadn’t!

      I wrote some junk in 2011 too. Like you say it’s all part of the learning curve, like building a bridge, watching it fall into the river and building a stronger one in its place. 2012 is going to see some stunning bridges, some poopers too, but we’ll lock them in a box too at some point!

      • So far I’ve, mostly, avoided those weird places of YouTube! I’ve fallen in the black hole once in a while though. It just happens, without your knowing, a 30 second clip becomes a 1:42 clip & next thing you know your watching some hour long strange animated movie in a language you don’t even speak! You try to look away but the weirdness, the weirdness! It is just so weird you can’t look away even though it makes no sense & you aren’t even sure you like it haha!

        Twitter can be like that if you start clicking all sorts of links. But I have gotten good about getting the writing done first, then wasting my time 🙂

        2012 is already some awesome sauce and it is just going to get better. I predict some fantastic writing news on our horizons.

  2. I have a total social media addiction. I’m learning so much, it’s hard to stop long enough to put that to use. It’s seriously time to buckle down and do just that! Thanks for this, Dave!

  3. That Muppet Show video has given me a laugh before breakfast (unusual) and put me in a good mood for the day 😀

    I like the idea of the jelly beans, but hope it leads to sufficient writing productivity to pay the dentist’s bill.

    Thanks for that Wednesday post, even if read on a Saturday.

  4. First of all I want to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in
    getting my thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure out how to
    begin. Any recommendations or hints? Kudos!

    • Thanks for the comment. One of the hardest parts is getting past those first moments, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever gets you into the flow. Write garbage and total jibberish to get you moving on if that’s what helps, so long as you make a start. You can always go back and edit later.

      In regard to being centred, well, for me that’s about a mixture of things – attitude, frame of mind, emotional state and so on. Like Stephen King says:

      You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names.

      You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

      I can’t think of a better way to say it. A big part of writing is discipline, and training yourself to work on the craft of writing, yet for all that dedication you need the spark that sets you off – love, anger, fear, loathing, elation – whatever you have that you want/need to bring to the page, bring it in buckets because without it the act of writing can feel stale, stunted and devoid of creativity.

      Other than that I guess you have to love the act of writing, whether you’re tapping complete garbage or line after line of gems, if you don’t love it then why do it?

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