I live in the Bronx but work in Manhattan so I take two trains and a bus to get to my job. That type of commute might sound outrageous but it isn’t so bad! Oddly enough, and this will be the only time I do this, I would like to thank the MTA. Despite numerous delays and “train traffic ahead of us” when I get the feeling the conductor just stopped to play Words With Friends, you have allowed me to do a butt ton of writing. I’m actually composing this post on the train right now.
It’s a good thing, too, that I have this time to write since I am working on the next great American novel. Well…at least I’m trying to write it. You see, I get these bouts of writer’s block and then suddenly I begin freaking out that I’ll never write again. It is one of the most frustrating things to have your ink pen poised above a fresh sheet of paper and have nothing materialize before you. The pressure.
If you are a novice novelist like myself, check out these three tips on how you can take the pressure out of writing.
#1: PULL INSPIRATION FROM YOUR REAL LIFE!
Does the phrase “You couldn’t make this up” sound familiar? That’s because it’s totally true. Sometimes you just couldn’t make stuff up. Working in the fashion industry has given me countless whackadoo characters to fictionalize and a bevy of outrageous experiences to draw upon. I bet if you take a closer look at whatever field you work in, I bet there’s a story you could pull from it, too!
Don’t believe me? Freeman Hall wrote Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store which is all about working in retail to pay the bills until he hit it big as a writer. Totally his life story! Hell, Tyler Perry has made an entire career out of real life inspirations.
The reason why I suggest pulling material from your own life is because it is ripe for the taking. With this great novel that I am writing, there’s a female character that I introduced because I was becoming bored with the two main leads (more on this later) already in development. Almost immediately I decided to base her on two chicks that I used to work with and this character exploded onto the pages.
If you haven’t tried this already…do it! I think you might be surprised.
#2: DON’T EDIT ANYTHING UNTIL YOU HAVE EXPUNGED THE ENTIRE STORY FROM YOUR MIND
Remember how I just said I was bored with two characters I have been writing? I could very well go back and erase them or drastically alter who they are to make them fresh. But I get the feeling that all of that editing would drive me absolutely crazy. That is why I say expunge a character, and a story in general, in their entirety before you go back and change things.
By pushing through with your own personal issues with a character, you run the chance of unlocking a new layer you may have not originally envisioned. Also, don’t be afraid to introduce a new character like I did, either! This can be a great way to inject a completely new life into your other characters as well. How do they react to this new energy? What conflicts arise? Friendships formed?
If you write one page of text and then proceed to try and edit it to perfection, you are going to be stuck writing your story for a long time! Blogging and being a freelance writer has been an incredible learning tool for me. It has taught me to simply write and edit after.
#3: TRY WRITING A SHORT STORY
When I am able to snag a seat on the train, I’ll pull out my 5” x 7” notebook and scribble notes for short stories. My personal method? I write a very vague outline that covers the story from start to finish. I even include certain bits of dialogue if it comes to me. I generally start with an idea but from there, I just let my ink pen do the talking.
Short stories can also be even more difficult to write because you want to flesh out your characters so they seem believable and put them in an environment that makes sense to the reader. Even still, I think they can serve as great writing exercises that stay as short stories or develop into something a bit more expansive.
For instance, I have my Fictitious Fashion series here on That Fashion Dude and I wrote a post featuring an image of Carine Roitfeld titled “The Woman with a Heart.” The moment I hit “Publish,” I knew I wasn’t quite finished with this female narrator. I went on to write numerous posts about her character, the final being my favorite in the series. I’ve grown to like the character so much that I have considered taking what I’ve done here and fleshing it out even more.
Okay, those are some of my tips! I hope they help you in any way possible on your journey of crafting a world of words. Tell me, do you have any tips for taking the pressure out of writing? I actually want to know.