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Finding a Technique of writing that is right for you

Everybody is different and every novel is different. So it is safe to say that every writer is different and every writer has a different approach.


When you are writing you have to remember this. There isn't one best way to write. There are many ways. Don't stop writing because you are blocked. Blocked is a fictitious term. It just doesn't exist. The only thing that can stop you from writing is a shortage of pencils. Although this can be overcome. If you are having difficulty writing here are tips and techniques to help you get the creative juices flowing.

Part 1 Visual Help
Part 2 Advice From The Masters
Part 3 Keeping a Daily Journal
Part 4 Organizing the Clutter


Part 1: Visual Help with writing

We as human beings are very visually oriented. Looking at things can help you tremendously in your writing. I am obsessive about the visual aspects of writing and I constantly draw little pictures in the margins of my work. I always make maps of the journeys my characters take and I always keep a sketch pad handy. It is amazing how, for me, my drawings have inspired a story or changed the course of a story. There are ways to inspire your writing through the visual medium.

Inspiring your Writing through Visual Means

There is a great book that I own and really love. It is called: "The Art of Looking Sideways" It is written by a graphic designer and it is a big hardcover book packed with so much amazing stuff about looking at things, observing things and thinking about things. This is a rare gem. Let me give you an example of what is so special about this book.

There is one two page section in it that really struck me. Spread across these two pages is a picture of a hand drawn map, kind of like a flowchart. The left end of the map is titled "The End of Civilization" The right end is titled: "Love of Creation and Creative Society". So the map progresses from left to right or from bad to good. A series of lines, boxes, and ideas move across the page and interconnect the ideas and ideals.

The author tells the story of how he came across this map. This is a quote from the book:

"I was working on an exhibition abot the creative discoveries and technological inventions of the twentiety century. One day an unsavory, dishevelled stranger suddenly barged into the studio, said he'd heard about the project, wanted to be involved, slapped a diagram down on the table, and shouted at me, 'that's what it's all about,' and left. I never saw him again. This is his diagram. Maybe he was right?" -Alan Fletcher, The Art of Looking Sideways

If you want to inspire your creativity you have got to get this book. It will open you up. This is one of those books that took me a year to read. I just read and looked through a few pages every day savoring what it brought. Learn more about: The Art of Looking Sideways

Other Peoples Journals

Drawing from lifeWant to peek into what other people are writing. This is a fantastic book that shows pages from a diverse group of peoples journals ranging from artists to scientists. This book is very light on the reading and very heavy on the visual aspect of journal making.

When you see how different the people are, how different they think, and how differently they express themselves you will be inspired to find your own voice.

Drawing From Life: The Journal As Art

Part 2: Some advice from the Masters?

If you want to learn how to do something right you really should talk to someone that does it right. Someone who has been doing it for years and is successful at it. This is just as true for writing as it is for anything else.

Here are three books I own and have read many times. Each author says it in a different way but let me encapsulate what they say into a quick summary:

  1. Write, write, and write some more
  2. Cut, cut and cut some more
  3. Edit, edit, and edit some more
  4. Trim it down, take out the flowery stuff
  5. Show, don't tell
  6. Write, write, and write some morel
  7. Repeat steps 1-7 again

Hey, What did you expect? I'm no Stephen King, Ray Bradbury or Ursula K. LeGuin. If you are serious about writing and you don't own at least one of these books then I am telling you that you are not serious about writing.

There is also one beautiful thing that these books all have in common: They are all extremely small. This reinforces points 2 and 4 doesn't it?

Part 3: How about keeping a daily journal?

Journal keeping sometimes bothers people. This reminds me of an old Brady Bunch show where one of the girls has her diary read. I think it was Jan. Don't live in fear that you are going to write all your deepest secrets and somebody will find it then post it to the internet and the next thing you know Tom Brokaw is knocking on your door because of the scandal.

To dissuade you from this image (and this fear) we are not going to call it Journal keeping anymore. We are going to call it Daily writing.

Daily Writing

Get yourself a notebook, a sketchpad, a roll of wallpaper, anything at all and mark it "My Daily Writing" Now write something in it. It doesn't have to be long and it better not be good. It's just writing straight from the brain to the pen. There is only one rule to Daily Writing and that is that you write. You don't even have to write Daily -just often.

Now you might be wondering what you should write in your daily writing. The answer to that is "Anything at all". This is all about you, inspiring your creativity and finding your voice. Do you want to write about what you did the previous day? Maybe you want to write about work or about things you think about or maybe you just want to complain. All of this is fantastic!

My Daily Journal is a mish mash of thoughts, ideas, stories, feelings, doodles, sketches and what not. It doesn't follow any theme or any recognizable train of thought.

Daily Writing serves two very important Purposes:

1. It gets you writing

If you have read through this article you know that one of the most important lessons that the masters teach is that you gotta write. Then you gotta write some more. Then you gotta write even more. From all of this writing your voice will strengthen, your thoughts will clear and you will improve. Regular writing without the pressure of having to create a publishable work is perfect for this. It gets you writing.

2. It soon becomes a well of ideas, thoughts, and inspiration that you can return to time and again
I make a lot of notations in my daily writing books. I circle things, put stars, underline, and even write snippets of things I like on the inside cover. My inside cover has notes like this: Great idea for new sense organs that sense honesty in people. Would be great idea for a story - on page dated 9/17. So when I am looking for ideas or inspiration I can glance through the inside covers of my daily journals. Just casually looking through your journals can also be a means of inspiration. To see all that you have written is encouraging. And you will be able to see the progress you are making.

If you feel that you need more help in keeping journals and in encoraging your creativity this book is exactly right for you. It has lots of exercises and workshops for writing and one of the things I like best about it is that it espouses something called "morning pages". This is the technique of writing three pages every morning. The author recommends you do these three pages almost immediately when you get up because your mind is in a very open and receptive state -the creativity will flow. And she says the same thing I have been saying. It doesn't matter what you write, just that you write. This book is all about getting the creativity to flow.

Part 4: Organizing the Clutter

I have a lot of different interests as I am sure you also do. So my writing takes a lot of different twists and turns. In one day my writing can run the spectrum of ideas between fiction and non fiction. You are probably the same way so how should you cope with this?

Organizing your writing almost feels like housework and I know a lot of us avoid housework. Don't think of organization of your writing as a chore that must be done. Think of it as an opportunity to make YOUR writing available to you. Organizing your writing, which is in effect, organizing your thoughts and ideas is a very worthwhile pursuit.

It is too easy to think of writing as productive time and of organizing your writing as non-productive time. This just isn't true. You are making your thoughts and ideas from the past available to you in the present and the future. Is that non-productive?

Some Practical Advice:

If you do all of your writing on the computer then you should spend the time to organize your folders and your notes. I am chronic for quick ideas so I often open up notepad real quick,jot down a note then save it into one of a set of folders that I have created. Something like this is a good start:

  • Action items
  • about writing
  • fantasy stuff
  • characters
  • interesting words and phrases
  • daily journals
  • website ideas
  • etc
  • these need to be categorized
  • machines and inventions

You might even want to include a text document that explains all the different categories. This is your own little help file.

If you do a lot of writing by hand then you should take a similar approach. I have at least a dozen different spiral bound notebooks and another half dozen sketch pads that I use. Each one is labeled with a topic or genre. I also have a note book that is labeled "Anything" .

If you have a topic that should be broken down into sub topics then get a three ring binder and use page dividers or insert several spiral bound notebooks into it.

If your creative pursuits intertwine between computer, writing, art and music; or any other mixing of medium you might want to get some organizers.

I use an organizer for my video game design work. It allows me to keep large and small notebooks, floppy disks, cd's and sketch pads all in one place.

Organizing your writing is extremely important. Your writing over time becomes a very valuable asset -this is a body of work that you created. You want to be able to access it quickly and easily. There is nothing worse than rememberering you had a perfect idea to fill that hole in the plot you are stuck on and realizing you will never find it.

Amazon.com has a great selection of organizers.

Cases, folios and organizers



If you enjoyed this article about writing I have other articles for writers in the writers section