Fantasy Writing. A Set of Tips and Admonitions to the Unwise. No 1/ Time and Place

I don’t assume to be a great writer. I thought though that I might share some of the experiences I’ve had in writing as it might be of help to others. The most help you are likely to get from me is motivation. I am only writing this short piece to motivate myself to write something more edible. What follows is mostly a series of don’ts learned through bitter experience and a couple of ‘wow, that workeds’.

Everyone says set aside time. I’ve read this myself so many times I keep thinking if I stopped reading it I’d have time to write. Ideally, if you are busy, you should plan to get up that extra hour early. Try to write for two hours straight before breakfast. Or set aside an hour in the evening when the kids have gone to bed. Protect it like a favourite child. Don’t plead; boss everyone around. ‘This is my writing time! Didn’t you listen yesterday. We can do that later. Leave me alone’.

Now comes the confession. I never do any of this, I write on the spur of the moment in between making more coffee, staring out of the window, wishing I’d won the lottery. I’m even writing this because I can’t face the next chapter of the novel.

Don’t despair. There is hope. I discovered a cure: Change of setting.

Easiest thing is to take your laptop – or better still your pen and paper and go to a cafe. If the weather is nice sit outside on a bench. You are stuck there. No way out. In the middle of nowhere. No excuse to make coffee, no family bothering you. The air invigorates your lungs. Writing starts.

Make sure you don’t take a novel with you. The essence is utter boredom with no escape. The beauty of this method is that if you are stopped at some point – say an old friend passes and starts to talk. You put the pen down with an indulgent smile. He twigs –

‘What’s that?’ he says, feigning interest.

‘Oh nothing,’ you reply with a cerebral glance at the four inarticulate sentences you have spilled on to the page.

‘Oh, that!’ Look of wry humility. ‘Well…the new novel.’

See, already you are a writer.

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