"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: November 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sustaining the Motivation to Write a Long Work

Dear Fellow Writer,

Thanks for being a valued subscriber to my weekly newsletter.
I hope things are going well for you and that your writing is bringing all the joy you desire.

In today's article we look at finding the motivation to keep writing a long work.

BTW: The Easy Way to Write a Novel is still at #1 in the Education section on Amazon Kindle. Go here for that. 


Write Here, Write Now

Writing a long work is really about turning a whim into a compulsion. There’s no other way around it. You have to decide, early on, that you will finish your novel – at least the first draft – and you will keep going until it’s done. That’s the trick – the easy answer – DECIDE. Commitment follows a firm decision.
Personally I give myself time limits – deadlines. Having an end-date seems to be the only way I can visualize completion. Sometimes I go past my deadlines – who doesn’t? - but at least I’m aware of that and I use the previously desired end-date and the time stretching beyond it as a way to chastise myself into doing more work.
I think you need to create a compulsive attitude in yourself because, let’s face it, there’s no real reason to keep writing novels. Your family and friends don’t really care if you write another one – even your publisher is not really that fussed: there’s plenty of other writers out there to publish. Your agent might be concerned – he or she has a vested interest in your productivity – but I’ve never known an agent, given a blocked writer, who doesn’t just move on and find another writer who’s completed their magnum opus and try and sell that instead.
As Dorothea Brande once said in her great little book "Becoming a Writer"”, you have to create your own ‘sense of emergency’, and use it to motivate yourself.
But how do you do that? I think the most pain free way is to absorb yourself completely in your work. Get to know your characters as though they are your best friends. Care about them. Love them. Cultivate in yourself a desire to see their stories told, and told well.
Write and, as you write, be aware that you are the only person that can tell the story you want to relate. No-one else can do it. You’re alone – and the fate of your characters’ world rests in your hands. Without you, they will cease to exist, their world will crumble. To them, you are God. What kind of god lets his creations, his stories, suffer, fade away and go unresolved?
It’s okay for you to take your time, as long as you keep returning. As long as, word by word, you keep creating the work that will one day soon become your novel.
In much the same way as you set long-term deadlines, you need to aim at a daily word count. Believe me, if you don’t set yourself a regular daily target, you probably won’t find the motivation to keep going. It’s that simple. Promising yourself you’ll catch up doesn’t cut it. You have to force yourself to produce at least your minimum count every day, even if it’s just a sentence or three. It’s the only way to stay on top of the business of writing a novel.
Most professionals, I would say, want to write at least 500 to 1000 words a day. Less than that and you’re not really getting things done. Write around 2000 to 3000 words a day and you’ll be up there with the big boys in no time.
Don’t see it as penance, see it as your life.
Writing is what you do – it’s how you occupy your time. It’s not hard. It may be draining sometimes but it doesn’t have to be exhausting.
Robyn and I work around tea breaks and meal breaks – and the naughty afternoon Judge Judy break. One of us will get up and make tea or coffee every three quarters of an hour or so. During these breaks we’ll stop writing and talk for a while. I make lunch every day at noon and that provides a chance for me to catch my breath. Plus we have an indulgence – we stop to watch Judge Judy at 3pm every work day!
I’m sure you get the idea that writing is about rhythm - and not pushing yourself too hard. If you’re writing full-time, you need regular breaks to punctuate your writing day.
If I’m stuck for ideas or in between projects, I’ll often get up to walk around the garden. I take the dog for a ramble twice a day. I’ll use that time to think of reasons to continue with my writing projects. This helps build enthusiasm for the next piece of writing – and is a good example of what you need to do to reinforce the writing habit. Consciously give yourself lots of reasons to write your novel. Give your reasons weight by imagining the positive outcomes that will be achieved. Let the anticipation of those future events get you excited – and let that excitement brew in you and spur you on.
Till next week.

Keep Writing!
Your Success is My Concern
Rob Parnell's Easy Way to Write

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How to Write a Lot and Quickly!

Dear Fellow Writer,
I read a fascinating report yesterday.
Apparently one in ten self-published authors now make over $100,000 a year. 
That's amazing enough - and something that would surely have been impossible even just ten years ago. 
But there's more.
The other 90% of writers make less than $500 a year. 
Interestingly, the average daily word count of the 90% is less than 1000. 
BUT, the average daily word count of the top ten percent (those earning $100K+) is over 2000 words a day!
The inference is clear: write 2000 words a day and you're much more likely to move into the big league - and become a bestselling author!
But how do you increase your daily word count?
Funnily enough, that's the subject of this week's article.

How to Write a Lot and Quickly

I’d like to introduce you to the concept of ‘Easy-Writing’
I can’t claim to have invented the technique, although my students and subscribers often refer to ‘Easy-Writing’ as if it is unique to my teaching. 
Besides, it’s not so much a technique as a mindset.
There’s a common misapprehension among many people that good writing should be hard. 
That you can’t have substance as a writer unless your words are extracted from your soul, one at a time, and that there is some requisite amount of suffering, angst and pain involved in writing well. 
Indeed, over the years, I’ve heard this argument frequently - and many writers who prefer to suffer as they write have emailed me to assert that ‘there’s no such thing as an easy way to write’
Writing well, they say, requires torment and unpleasantness.
Well, all I can say is that if you find writing in any way uncomfortable or stressful, you probably shouldn’t be doing it - or that you’re not doing it correctly.
Pain is the body’s way of telling you to stop whatever you’re doing.
And writer’s block is your brain’s way of telling you to stop calling yourself a writer!
Honestly, writing should be easy for you.
As natural as breathing.
Learning how to write well might entail some study and a fair amount of practice but once the writing habit is firmly part of your being, the process should then become effortless and fun.
Otherwise, why would you do it? 
You wouldn’t expect a good musician to experience pain every time he or she played an instrument. 
And you wouldn’t expect an actor to hate acting - or find it overly difficult once their lines are learned and he or she is in the throes of a performance. 
So why would you expect writers to be consumed with agony when they’re writing? 
It doesn’t make sense.
Writers should enjoy writing in the same way as an artist enjoys painting, or a bricklayer enjoys laying bricks.
The main difference between writing and most other vocations is that writing also requires constructive thought - and it’s thinking that is hard for many people - and not the actual writing.
But this is where Easy-Writing will help you.
Because the easy way to write is to stop thinking so hard - and to let your subconscious write for you.
The brain is a fabulous item. 
Not only does it juggle a million thoughts simultaneously, it also houses everything you have ever experienced in your life. 
Literally, it knows more than you. 
It knows better that you. 
But it also cleverly shields you from all it knows to enable you to get on with important things like living in the present and getting things done.
When it comes to writing, the problems start when you try to use your rational, conscious mind to piece together ideas, thoughts, concepts and abstractions into words and sentences. 
The rational mind is also the critical mind - and will reject ideas as quickly as you can think of them - creating a self-defeating circle of inactivity or the sense you are forcing every word. 
The way to bypass this phenomenon is to go deeper and rely on your subconscious mind which, to a large extent, already knows what you need to write - and has it all neatly packaged and ready. 
All you need to do is to access the steady stream of output the subconscious delivers naturally and transcribe what it’s saying to you.
How do you do that?
We all have a "commentator" inside our heads. 
You know what I mean by this. 
The commentator is that incessant voice that likes to talk, make observations on and analyze everything happening in your life - including your actions, emotions, thoughts and memories. 
It’s constantly weighing up what it sees and experiences with what it knows and then tells you what it thinks. 
It’s as irritating as it is useful. 
But the commentator is really the metaphorical conduit between your conscious and subconscious mind. 
It’s the valve that accesses and regulates both. 
It is both wise and frivolous. 
Essentially, it is the voice of who you are. 
So when writing, all you need to do is listen to that voice and record what it’s saying. 
Then, writing becomes easy. 
The hard part, if there is one, is keeping up with the voice - as in writing fast enough not to lose track of where the voice is heading!
You need to trust this commentator’s voice because it’s much more coherent than you probably believe. 
Not only does it know what it’s talking about from one moment to the next, over time it can present entire arguments, sophisticated propositions, whole chapters, and even books in a much more coherent way than your rational mind could ever hope to do.
Because, you see, your subconscious mind is designed to create order out of chaos. 
That’s its function.
To work against the inherent logic of your subconscious is to give yourself pain, angst and unnecessary suffering. 
That's when writing is hard: when you let your rational mind fight your subconscious.
But when you work with your subconscious mind, listen to the commentator and merely write down what it’s saying to you, then you’ll find writing easy, fun and rewarding.
That’s Easy-Writing.
Till next week.
Keep Writing!
Your Success is My Concern

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!