When to Burn Everything

Writers struggle with this more so than artists working in visual mediums.  It’s understandable.  We spend days, weeks, on a single project before we realize things aren’t going as planned.  A trap many of us fall in is thinking a massive revision will fix it.  In some cases, this is true.  Things like potholes, character arches, can and should be worked over.  But when the overall story seems lacking, or, it just doesn’t fit your initial idea, delete everything and start over.  Continue reading

Set; A Factor to Consider

I suppose I’ll come across as counterculture, yogi spiritualist, but mindset is critical for writers.

Thoughts dictate action.  The concept is simplistic, yet people often remain ignorant of the inner cacophony.  And yeah, for the unreflective mind, the torrent of random ideas exist and are useless.  Is it a wonder why most books go unfinished when so many lack the discipline to remain still, trained on a single idea?

I understand, we’re programmed to absorb content every waking moment.  It’s innate, a ubiquitous trait among our species.

Before you write, remind yourself that everything else can wait.  Dinner, bills that should have been paid yesterday, that knock at your door, let it go, it will be there when you’re finished.  If it’s not, than the old man that needs help opening his pill bottles found another lid-twister – or he died because you didn’t help him with his heart medication and you’re a monster.

When you write, you’ve transformed into a Benidicting monk who’s chosen lifelong isolation.

Set a timer.  Until it goes off, and unless you smell smoke or a grizzly bear wanders inside your living room, do not get up.

Be mindful of your emotional state.  Personally I don’t think a writer should sit down utterly content with the world and their place in it.  Otherwise, what the fuck are you going to say that’s worth reading?

I may seem hypocritical – because I am.  My point is, all day we basically talk to ourselves, in essence that’s what thoughts are.  I lack the expertise to lecture this point, so I’ll just encourage curious readers to look up Sam Harris, or Terrance McKenna on the subject.  Youtube has several brief excerpts from lectures they have given.  Just be selective and actively choose the thought to cling too.

Okay, back on track.

Some helpful tips to achieve clarity.

I’ve touched on mindful meditation, and if you haven’t at least looked into it by now, what the hell?

Caffeine has had positive effects on my writing.  Obviously when you write will determine if caffeine is a viable option, and most writers are already addicts, but it’s worth sharing.  When infused with enough coffee, there are moments where I cannot type fast enough.  Whether this translates to “good” writing, I do not know.

Fellow writers I know in person enjoy alcohol to “take the edge off”.  Yet I cannot recommend such a destructive substance.  There are good and bad drugs, and alcohol, in my opinion, falls into the later (hope I got that right).

Music.  I fucking love it.  While my neighbors bounce around like hyperactive children dosed with Redbull all hours, I have found music instrumental in being able to concentrate.  Slip on an encompassing set of headphones, turn the volume up until the fat guy upstairs is transformed into a skillful ballerina, and pound away.

Have a stressful job?  Give exercise a shot.  I’m a strong advocate of physical fitness not just for stress reduction, but also for general health purposes.  And yes, stress will absolutely inhibit your mindset.  Just participate in an activity that gets your heart rate up and you will be amazed how stress dissolves.  Not a fan of exercise?  Well than, seek cathartic physical pleasure elsewhere – yeah I’m talking about getting laid.

Start by becoming aware of your emotional state, where your thoughts migrate, and take things from there.