Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Write NOW!

This past couple of weeks, I have mainly been distracted from writing scowling at swirling snow shenanigans. 

Not, of course, that my disapproval makes any difference. I do realise that; I just can't quite help myself. There are moments when I can appreciate the wonder that is our weather and respect the fact of IT taking charge but mostly I get frustrated that it gets in the way of plans I've made. 

One plan I have stuck to, however, is my newly-established daily writing routine following the advice from Dorothea Brande's book which I mentioned in my previous post. Reader, it works! Writing everyday, FIRST THING everyday has improved my writing stamina and, I am pleased to report, I am finding that I am not only able to write more but what I am writing is occasionally more interesting too.

Brande's advice is that it is absolutely critical for the aspiring writer to invest in themselves and how they feel about writing and not just invest time in studying the technicalities of the craft of writing. In fact, too much attention to the technicalities of the craft of writing can, in the early stages, prohibit the capacity of the writer to write anything. (VERY) Basically, the technicalities of the craft of writing are developed in our 'conscious writing brain' - this is where stories are crafted BUT we need to nurture our 'unconscious brain' which is where the stories start. If we jump too quickly into the conscious crafting we allow our self-editor to dominate too quickly and, all too often, before our unconscious creative brain has even had the chance to get-going. 

Have you ever had an idea for a story that was absolutely BRILLIANT in your head but completely impossible to write down? I've been struggling with this for the past few years! It's a clear sign that you need to clear space for your creative unconscious to become liberated. Writing every morning is the very starting point; liberating the unconscious before the conscious (and often hyper-critical) wakes up. 

The morning writing routine: the gateway to creative success?
Brande says that whilst you're establishing this early morning writing routine, you shouldn't read over what's been written. I have had a brief scan back at mine. Much of it is absolute rubbish! Less interesting to read than a timetable suspended due to adverse weather conditions, sadder than a pair of theatre tickets doomed to be unused because you can't get off your drive (have I mentioned my frustrations with snow?!). However, I do know that I am able to write more during these 30 minute sessions and I also know that it has an impact on how I feel about myself for the rest of the day. 

Starting my day writing reminds me that writing is what I want to do. In doing the morning write, it feels like my unconscious creative brain gains some confidence and this confidence continues throughout the day where my newly liberated unconscious feels free to heckle out all kinds of ideas - not all of them completely crazy and/or libellous.

The next step, following Brande's instruction (and why wouldn't you?) is to train yourself to write at a given moment. The plan goes like this:
  • continue with the daily morning writing
  • at the end of the morning session (after a pat on the back for sticking to it and recognising how much better you're getting!) review your plans for the coming day
  • identify a SPECIFIC time that day when you WILL sit down for another 20-30 minutes and write
  • importantly, this daily 'scheduled write' should be at different times on different days
  • the aim is to train yourself to be able to write NOW
  • Brande stresses how STRICT you have to be with this 
  • No excuses, once you've promised yourself it's what you are going to do you need to get on and DO IT!
I'm going to be giving this a shot over the next couple of weeks and whatever the weather I will let you know how I get on. 


  1. Wow! Impressed with your determination!Umm....... also want to say, as George Orwell memorably wrote at the end of his 10 Rules for Writers: 'Feel free to break any of the above.'
    I have no routine, proscrastinate hugely and still manage to write what I want, when I want. xxxx

    1. Thanks Carol! I know what you mean about feeling free to break ANY of the rules but I think, as a novice, I need the structure. Brande is definitely right about the 'inner writer' needing to be nurtured in my case. I think it's all about developing confidence. I'm getting there ... slowly! Support from 'real' writers like yourself REALLY helps xxx

  2. Good for you - sounds like a great start to the writing year. If only I could turn myself into a morning person... I have to agree though that trying to find a time to write every day is invaluable for flexing those writing muscles.

    1. Thanks Rebecca. I think it's probably about finding something that works for each of us ... Early days for me, of course, but I'm further on than I was ;)

  3. hahaha don't hold your breath on the 'real'... but support is always there for you. From me and from all of us.

  4. Does Dorothea Brande say it has to be as soon as you wake up? I have to shake daughter out of bed at 6.30 to make sure she catches her train to school - I'm not sure I could face writing before 6. Would the whole process be ruined if one did it after going to the station and back?

    I really should get this book, I've read so much about it.

    Love the photos of your snow, no matter how annoying it was! All we've got now is rain - & gales. I suppose at least they're not slippery...

    Thanks for an interesting post, and good luck with your writing.


    1. Hi Rosemary, it's a great book; accessible and inspirational. Can't recommend it highly enough!
      She is very insistent on it being FIRST thing - the idea is to write befor the 'voices' get in. So writing before reading, she says, is particularly important. That said, I think we all have to do what works for us. I have to feed cats and I can't do ANYTHING before coffee!
      For me, I think the success has been in establishing writing as a part of my morning routine - amongst cat feeding and coffee and sometimes a 'work' email.
      I think the critical thing is doing it every day!
      Let me know if you decide to give it a go. Would be interested to hear how you get on.
      Thanks again xx

  5. Oh great post. Never heard of Dorothea Brande before, but I will definitely look her up. And I totally agree about morning writing. First thing is my best time to be creative. I think it's something to do with brain waves... Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your WIP.

    1. Thanks Wendy. Yes! The morning writing 'thing' just makes good sense, doesn't it!
      DB is fantastic!!! Her explanation of why it works is fascinating, especially given the time in which she wrote. An inspirational read.
      Thanks again for your support xx

  6. As soon as I wake up my mind is jumbled with all the things I need to do, so although I tried the morning thing it lasted about a day. I also don't like that fuzziness when I first wake up, which often lasts until way after breakfast. I think my biggest problem is getting rid of this feeling of guilt when I'm writing - that nagging inner demon that tells me I should be doing something more important with my time, like washing the dishes!