This is the fourth part of a series of posts. To read previous parts, click the links below:
Hope you're having fun so far!
We've spoken about how to put the story together. Now, let's talk of ways to simplify the process of writing the story. There are a lot of articles on writing tips, but I have outlined those that have been very useful to me on my writing journey.
Let's talk about some tools...
#1: Use a word processor or document creator that automatically saves your work
Back in the day, when there were no cloud-based software or tools, I remember writing documents and stories in Microsoft Word. Sometimes, due to a loss of power or just corruption of the file, ALL my work would be gone - and I would almost tear out my hair in frustration. Now, there are a lot of tools that automatically save your work, like Notes on Mac which does not require a connection to the internet, as well as Google Docs, my personal favorite.
#2: User a spellchecker
Yes, it is your first draft. And yes, it does not have to be perfect. In fact, you are gunning for finishing quickly with a lot of dirt and mistakes, which is how you should approach the first draft. That said, having a spellchecker can help to start to catch some typos, spelling errors, and grammatic errors, meaning there is less to deal with when you start polishing your story.
Personally, I recommend Grammarly, which is amazing as it is compatible with Google Docs and a lot of other word processors and tools for creating documents.
#3: Use a thesaurus
There are times you are looking for another word to express a thought in your head. This is where a thesaurus comes in handy. A thesaurus arms you with alternative words to avoid word repetition or just add a punch to your narrative.
And so, "Sword drawn, he jumped towards her", could also be "Sword drawn, he lunged towards her" and also "Sword drawn, he charged towards her". And then, depending on the tone you want to convey, you can choose the most suitable word - thanks to the thesaurus! I use Thesaurus.com because, well, Thesaurus is in the name!
#1: Read a lot - and read authors you want to write like
The more you read, the better you get at writing - IF you are actually writing. You begin to notice some nuances around the choice of words and expression, character development, and the use of punctuation. So, while this is about writing, read, read, read.
#2: Think about the story even when you are not writing
I cannot emphasize this enough. You are writing about characters that people will have to relate to if the story is going to be interesting. The more you think about the characters, their interactions, and their personalities, the more you begin to "see" them more clearly in your mind's eyes. This allows you to paint a clearer picture to your readers, which is what draws them into your narrative and makes for a great story.
#3: Write consistently with specific goals. Short and consistent beats long and erratic
The popular advice is to write daily. This is a great habit, but may not be sustainable for many. That said, the emphasis is on writing consistently; it may not be daily, but it may be every other day and it is important to keep it consistent. What makes this less daunting is not trying to write so much at once. The way the brain is wired, repetition makes you get better at a task and carry it out with less stress. So I normally advise that you write short and specific word limits, doing so consistently. For example, you may write 200 words daily, or 300 words on your writing days, which may be three times a week. What is important is to keep it consistent and have a MEASURABLE and REALISTIC target. You can always increase the word count as your writing skill improves.
#4: Eliminate distraction and clutter; there's magic in DEEP WORK
The best writers and professionals are able to carry out "Deep Work", which is focused work that generates great output in a short amount of time. If you are going to write effectively, get yourself a space where you can write without distraction, switch off phones, close unnecessary browser windows and tabs, set a timer - and write. I talk about this a bit more in my podcast on the magic of deep work. There's also a link to it at the bottom of this article.
#5: IF it works for you, use music to get you into the mood
This may not work for everyone, but music can be helpful when you write. I find I can use melancholy tunes to write melancholy parts of a story, upbeat (and even Hard Rock) music to write fight scenes, etc. That may be something that helps you get in the mood as you write, and creates a pleasant and immersive writing experience for you.
#6: Write QUICK. Write DIRTY. And finish your first draft!
I used to get stuck writing stories because I wanted every line perfect, wanted all plot holes eliminated, wanted every dialogue piece to be realistic, the first time... It's not an efficient way to write. The best way is to write the story as quickly as possible and FINISH the first draft. There will be future opportunities to polish the stories, fill in gaps and take out unnecessary parts, but you need to focus on finishing so there is actually a completed story to edit. So write FAST and FINISH the first draft.
With the first draft complete, it is now time to begin the steps to publishing your book.
The next series of steps are extremely critical to your book being successful - and we will cover flow and how to go about editing in the next article. If you haven't, subscribe to the newsletter so you get notified when that post is out.
And if you want to learn more about how to be effective when writing, listen to my PODCAST on The Magic of Deep Work
See you on the other side.