Tag Archives: procrastination

Pearls of wisdom for budding writers…

Colin Nissan wrote this for McSweeney’s. It’s bang on. He also wrote an excellent “Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Tiny Fucking Ship Inside a Tiny Fucking Bottle”, which I haven’t read, but really enjoy its title. You can read it here.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WRITING BETTER THAN YOU NORMALLY DO.
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WRITE EVERY DAY

Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about.

DON’T PROCRASTINATE

Procrastination is an alluring siren taunting you to Google the country where Balki from Perfect Strangers was from, and to arrange sticky notes on your dog in the shape of hilarious dog shorts. A wicked temptress beckoning you to watch your children, and take showers. Well, it’s time to look procrastination in the eye and tell that seafaring wench, “Sorry not today, today I write.”

FIGHT THROUGH WRITER’S BLOCK

The blank white page. El Diablo Blanco. El Pollo Loco. Whatever you choose to call it, staring into the abyss in search of an idea can be terrifying. But ask yourself this; was Picasso intimidated by the blank canvas? Was Mozart intimidated by the blank sheet music? Was Edison intimidated by the blank lightbulb? If you’re still blocked up, ask yourself more questions, like; Why did I quit my job at TJ Maxx to write full-time? Can/should I eat this entire box of Apple Jacks? Is The Price is Right on at 10 or 11?

LEARN FROM THE MASTERS

Mark Twain once said, “Show, don’t tell.” This is an incredibly important lesson for writers to remember; never get such a giant head that you feel entitled to throw around obscure phrases like “Show, don’t tell.” Thanks for nothing, Mr. Cryptic.

FIND YOUR MUSE

Finding a really good muse these days isn’t easy, so plan on going through quite a few before landing on a winner. Beware of muses who promise unrealistic timelines for your projects or who wear wizard clothes. When honing in on a promising new muse, also be on the lookout for other writers attempting to swoop in and muse-block you. Just be patient in your search, because the right muse/human relationship can last a lifetime.

HONE YOUR CRAFT

There are two things more difficult than writing. The first is editing, the second is expert level Sudoku where there’s literally two goddamned squares filled in. While editing is a grueling process, if you really work hard at it, in the end you may find that your piece has fewer words than it did before. Which, is great. Perhaps George Bernard Shaw said it best when upon sending a letter to a close friend, he wrote, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” No quote better illustrates the point that writers are very busy.

ASK FOR FEEDBACK

It’s so easy to hide in your little bubble, typing your little words with your little fingers on your little laptop from the comfort of your tiny chair in your miniature little house. I’m taking this tone to illustrate the importance of developing a thick skin. Remember, the only kind of criticism that doesn’t make you a better writer is dishonest criticism. That, and someone telling you that you have weird shoulders.

READ, READ, READ

It’s no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t read, your writing will often suffer. Similarly, if you can read but have to move your lips to get through the longer words, you’ll still be a pretty bad writer. Also, if you pronounce “espresso” like “expresso.”

STUDY THE RULES, THEN BREAK THEM

Part of finding your own voice as a writer is finding your own grammar. Don’t spend your career lost in a sea of copycats when you can establish your own set of rules. If everyone’s putting periods at the end of their sentences, put yours in the middle of words. Will it be incredibly difficult to read? Yes it will. Will it set you on the path to becoming a literary pioneer? Tough to say, but you’re kind of out of options at this point.

KEEP IT TOGETHER

A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.

Make that and party (courgette Norway disco)

THE INGREDIENTS:

4 large courgettes (not enormous though – if you’re American you won’t call them courgettes either, you’ll probably call them zucchini or something)
1 big-ass egg
1 fresh red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped)
1 heaped tablespoon of flour
a handful of fresh mint
1 lemon, zested and quartered
a good handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
sea salt (Maldon of course) and some pepper
olive oil
half a tsp of cumin

Optional extras: maybe a bit of tinned sweetcorn or some bacon bits that are nice and crispy but not too big

THE METHOD:
Thick-grate the courgettes (scoop out the middles if you are up to it). Then put them into a clean tea towel and wrap them up and wring them out – loads of water will come out. You want this to happen. The more you can squeeze out the better. Plus it’s really satisfying.

Separate the egg and put the white in one bowl and the yolk in another. Add the courgette, pepper, flour, chilli, mint, lemon zest and parmesan to the yolk and mix it up with your hands. Don’t be shy. Get really stuck in. Whip the egg white up with a pinch of salt until stiff. Carefully that add to courgette mix (for fluffiness, you see, otherwise it gets dense).

Put a good couple of glugs of olive oil in the pan and put 5 or 6 fritters into your favourite big frying pan. They’ll be about a serving-spoon size each. The heat should be sizzly but not burny. They should need about 2.5 min on each side to go golden. Pop them on a bit of kitchen paper to degrease. Eat them up with maybe some creme fraiche or something. Bit of nice crisp salad.

AND FOR THE MUSIC:

Norway’s nu disco king Bjørn Torske. Low slung disco vibes with percussive change up and and bubbling bass lines give us a window into the type of tunes his new album has in store. Out on Smalltown Supersound on November 15th you can find out more here.