Dear plotless you, where’s your Muse?
Wednesday 22 July 2015, 4.00pm HKT
2.18pm local time, 27C (81°F), squally thunderstorms (yellow rainstorm warning)
THERE you are, sitting there all forlorn and lonesome looking out the window pelted by the piss-stream of heavy rain, wondering where your Muse had gone — or, more accurately, why she has done a D.B. Cooper on you or “GTT” (“Gone to Texas” — absconded — the Muse, not your girlfriend).
LOSS OR LOST?
So you’re dying to write a novel. So you now find you’re wholly without a plot to get started on. Plotless, and probably clueless too.
So far, your level of inspiration has been to come ask for advice from some random personage who cared enough to answer you because they enjoy correcting other people’s spelling mistakes…
If you actually rely on my advice, that doesn’t inspire much confidence, I don’t think.
Never mind. We all have our bad-hair days.
YANK IT LOOSE
(via Laurie Varga)
If you don’t have a morsel of an idea to write about, then don’t force yourself.
You don’t wait for inspiration to come either — that could be forever, or never.
I’ve been in publishing for a long time. I’ve also been blogging for a long time too. I’ve done stints in newspapers and trade magazines as a copyeditor and as a journalist. I also wrote two books (non-fiction) back in The Egregious Eighties and never want to repeat the hellishness of it again. I am in some position to advise in my own small way.
Plus I know you won’t take the advice anyway, so the problem just doesn’t exist.
(via EST Facts)
If your inspiration has dried up a bit, go out and get flexible with people and things out there.
There’s no other more practical (and practicable) alternative.
In Greek mythology as it is in real life, your Muse doesn’t come to you — the Muse will humour you if you make the effort to meet her halfway.
Inspiration comes from living a little, even dying a little.
(via Learning Mind Education)
While you’re out there getting flexible (or drunk) with others and living (or dying) a little, you make notes to yourself. You don’t actually try to write “the piece” itself.
(You don’t have to write in perfectly formed sentences either. Moot point if you’re drunk.)
Depending on your own unique working methods and habits, you don’t write notes constantly but periodic roundup notes.
In a quiet moment away from ‘distractions’ (like your nagging spouse, screaming kids, schizophrenic pets, pushy in-laws, overspending mistresses, etc), you organise your notes and sundry bits of illegible pieces of napkin paper. Don’t organise on the fly, please.
You then try to notice a pattern from your notes — and then you’re in business in most probability.
SHOEHORNING THE LOT
Once you have that germ of an idea to write about, you go straight into drafting the stuff.
Depending on a whole lot of factors unique to your life and person, you just write out the stuff to completeness or near-completeness — at least as far as each ‘section’ goes. You don’t try to ‘perfectionalise’ the draft in spelling, grammar, etc — you’d be wasting time (since you’ll have to revise it anyway).
Then you leave the wretched thing alone (“to let the copy marinate”) for a couple of days or weeks, and then come back to rework it. If you still remember having done it.
Or just push on and draft the next ‘leg’ (section).
(via Curious Meerkat)
Notwithstanding the alternative opinions of some people, writing is not about self-expression.
Self-expression — and that deathquest called “finding your own voice” — is about enrolling on a Creative Writing course and paying the fees. Cynical, yes. Inaccurate? Not entirely so.
No, writing is about solving your attitude to a problem — the problem of producing something that the reader will have the highest chance of mistaking it for self-expression.
I think people who are fans of Hemingway, Albert Camus, Dickens et al. and scriptwriters in general will understand this generalisation more than most.
Other than that, I can offer no more useful or usable advice. We all have 24 hours in the day; the rest is up to you.
In short, clean your sewers by hand.
I dedicate this post to my grandmother, Winifred, who was born on this day, 22nd July 1882.