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Get writing - Part 1

I’ve neglected this blog shamefully in the past year, but I’m planning to revive it. I’m trying not to be so perfectionist, so some blogs will be long and meaty, others will be quick and frivolous, some  will be about what I’m up to apart from writing, and the occasional pretty picture, just because. As well, I’m going to put up a series of articles for writers or aspiring writers, because I love thinking about and writing about the process of writing.

Danger, Will Robinson . . . 

So…getting started on your novel, or whatever you’re working on. We all know how to do that, right?

1) Carve out the time to write. You go into your workroom, close the door, saying in a firm manner to whoever you live with, “Don’t interrupt me, for the next two hours I’m writing.”

2) You sit down at the computer. How long is it since you checked your email? Better check it before you start. Yep, half a dozen emails. Answer them quickly so you can clear your mind for your book. Oh, your email tells you you’ve had some FB mentions. Quickly pop onto FB to respond—don’t want to be rude.

So, FB done with, your click off your web browser and open a new document file on the computer —so exciting, a new book! You name your file – hmmm, what are you going to call it? You brainstorm some titles. You think of something fabulous. You start to type it—but wait, what if someone else has already used that title? Better check on the internet. You Google your title. Damn, someone else has used it. Google the alternatives. Finally you settle on your fourth choice, but at least it’s yours. You name the file. Excellent. But while you’re on the web you quickly check Twitter to see if any of your friends are tweeting. They are. You drop in a few comments.

Back to the new book. You set up the page, type your title in the header and put in the page numbers. You type Chapter One. You stare at the screen. You bold Chapter One, centre it…

You frown at the screen… The first line is important. It’s got to be really good. You write the first sentence. It’s crap. You delete it. You write another one. Still crap.

You think, Hey, a lot of people use Scrivener to write with. You go online to check out Scrivener. And you think, while you’re online you’ll just check your email…or Facebook…or Twitter…or your Amazon ranking…Or Google your name… Google your friends’ names… Whole chunks of time disappear…And your writing time is gone.

It’s a trap, isn’t it? And so many of us fall into it, battling with the procrastination demon.

Next week: Dealing with the procrastination demon.

The Happy Ending

I  participated in a symposium on Genre Fiction at Melbourne University last week. It was a fascinating day and I enjoyed myself immensely. I was on two panels and took part in a debate — “In the battle of the genres, romance will always win.” It was lovely, lighthearted fun.

One thing that surprised me though, was that some of the other participants confused “romantic books” (in which one or both the lovers end up dead) with “romance novels” (in which the lovers end up alive, together, and happy.)

It was as if they weren’t comfortable with the notion of “a happy ending” — which is part of the definition of genre romance. 

It’s an attitude I’ve often experienced elsewhere in the literary world, that books with a happy ending are somehow a cop-out, or unrealistic, or even flat out unbelievable — that tragic endings make for a more “real” experience.