When I have a Bad Writing Day – and let me tell you that I have them ALL OF THE TIME – I can go barmy very quickly. Barminess is not fertile ground for good writing. So I’m offering a series of tips from my own personal experience to help you with your Bad Writing Days. Take what you like and leave the rest…
Tip #4: STOP TELLING PORKIES.
Before writing for a living, I was a TV producer. Bear with me while I use my TV experience to better explain this tip.
So. When you’re editing together a TV programme you will generally get to a point where you begin to realise that one of your stories – or, worse still, the main story – is shit. Either it was never very strong in the first place, or you don’t have enough sync to cover it (sync is TV wanker for ‘talking’) or it’s just been really badly shot.
When that used to happen to me it was tempting to just soldier on and then see what my Executive Producer thought when they came to view my rough cut.
I’ve discovered, as a writer, that this head-in-sand approach does not work. The longer I push a story that isn’t working, the crapper my writing becomes. It gets to a stage where my characters are having to speak in gigantic paragraphs to explain things (people don’t speak in paragraphs, unless they’re making speeches) and my ability to describe a scene is reduced down to such shite as ‘It was a really nice day and the sun was out and there was sun on my face and my face felt like there was sun on it and I felt really happy but really sad because the sun was out and I was feeling sad.’
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is my belief that the solution to a writing problem is NEVER to throw some more writing at it.
Stop. Stop writing, stop telling porkies to yourself. IT’S NOT WORKING! I know it’s terrifying, the thought of having to go back and unpick it all. And I know it’s terrifying to think that you might not be able to solve it this time.
But you can.
So tell the truth. Accept that you’re shoving a square peg into a round hole. Because it’s that that’s sending you mental, not the fact that you’re a crap writer. You’re not a crap writer. You’re very normal. Talented, even.
Fix it at the root. Not all the way up the stem where it’s meant to flower. And trust that you can do it. OK?