This post by Chris Brecheen originally appeared on Writing About Writing on 9/6/12.
Ready to do some things for your craft that will terrify you even more than a sewer-dwelling clown?
Tired of the same ten articles online giving you the same twenty bits of advice about writing punchy verbs or sitting down at the same time each day? Are the thousands of clones of “How to be a Better Writer” articles getting you down? Do you think, “Okay, already! I’m already carrying the damned notebook everywhere I go. What’s next?” Ready for some new advice?
Then this list is for you!
But be warned. This is not a happy list, an easy list, or a list filled with fluffy easily-implementable things you can do in an afternoon to make yourself feel incredibly productive. It’s not a list for those who want to think themselves writers without doing the work. I have a list like that over here. This is a list for people ready to take their writing, and possibly their craft to the next level but aren’t sure how. Maybe they’ve run into a wall or two or maybe they just feel like there’s something they could be doing to write better. Many of these things will not be fun or enjoyable or may even add an “unpleasant” dynamic to your writing.
But they will make you a better writer without ever using a word like “punchy.”
There are hundreds of craft books that will help you dissect every word choice of your prose, and there are millions of articles with those same 20 bits of advice. But somewhere between those two is this list: things you can do that are less well known, but that writers swear by.
1- Write When You Don’t Want To/Keep Going When It Hurts
This is the flip side to “write every day.” This is the side no one talks about. This is the shitty reality of that plucky wisdom.
Eventually even the best writer doesn’t feel in the mood. No matter how much joy and pleasure the simple act of writing brings you, one day, you will face the fact that you won’t want to. And you won’t want to a lot. Some days it’s like your desire to just take a day off is Aragorn wielding Narsil and your motivation is one of those comic relief orcs. But these are the days when it’s most important to do push through and do something. Even if you just write a couple of pages. Even if it’s just a freewrite.