(Keep on Writing! An order that needs to be heeded by aspiring writers)
How do you go about writing a story that’s several hundred pages long? “Seriously, how do you do it? “some people ask me in astonishment, as if writing were some kind of magic and all those pages of text just erupted from my mind within a few days. I usually answer: Write a page a day for a year and you’ll have 365 pages.
Another piece of advice: Make your goals digestible. Don’t think “Oh, my God, I have 400 pages to write”; think instead “Today I’m going to write 2 pages about my main character coming home from work and opening that letter from her childhood friend whom she hasn’t heard from in twenty years.”
Keep on writing! If the result isn’t quite as Nobel Prize-like as you hoped for in your megalomanic fantasies, keep on writing anyway. You won’t become a better writer if you don’t write.
If writing is difficult, if your mind seems to have taken the day off, write anyway. Write badly. There’s a pretty good chance that through that lousy work you will figure out how to write the chapter and the scene you are struggling with. You might find out after one page of crap, or you might find out the next day. Erase the bad and write from the start, now that you know how to do it.
Stick to it!
Always keep on writing. If you’ve been sloppy with preparations: concept development, characters, research, etc., you might need to go back to that stage and work more with that area. Staring out the window, having coffee with your pals, or taking long walks usually doesn’t solve any problems. I’m not saying those things can’t be important, too, but never do it instead of writing. Think on paper/screen.
Write every day. Or at least five or six days a week. In the long run, it’s probably good to have some time off now and then, even for a writer. But every day away from the text means it’s going to be harder to get back into your fictional world.
Find your perfect writing environment. Personally, I like it quiet when I work, a closed door; I am in that way easily distracted. For a period of time, I shared my office space with a colleague who created some kind of sound bubble for himself in which he could focus by playing the same music over and over again. Sometimes it was composer Maurice Ravel, other times “machine rock.” It worked very well—for him. (But as you’ve probably guessed by now, I had to kick him out.)
The successful Swedish crime writer Camilla Lackberg is said to have the TV turned on when she writes. (The famous pianist Glenn Gould used two radios tuned to two different stations to create focus when rehearsing.) Only you know what works for you. And if you feel inexpressibly “inspired” by long walks, by all means, I think you should start every workday with a long walk. But I suspect that what’s really going on during that walk is that you, more or less consciously, go through and structure the work you need to do that day. When you get back to your computer, all you have to do is write it down.
To figure out when and how you write the best is one thing, but then you have to make sure you have the time to do it. It can be tricky, especially if you have to write in your spare time. But if you’re going to write a novel, you can’t do everything. You can’t be the great pal who never says no to a party or a cup of coffee, the helicopter parent, the nice daughter or the perfect partner who always vacuums all the way into the furthest corner under the sofa. Something has to go.
Make sure you savor the little free time you have with either your family and friends or yourself. Make a deal with your family (if you have one) regarding how much time is reasonable that you spend on your writing (without ruining your marriage). Now, I might sound like a family therapist, but to tell you the truth, this is not a neglectable part of getting a script together.
Just remember to KEEP ON WRITING.