Notes from a lazy writer
‘Don’t get it right, get it written.’
an article by Ian Tovey
2015 was a good year, I had my first short story published in the first edition of Diodati magazine and a second in edition 2. To really ‘put the icing on the cake’ the story I submitted to their Christmas ghost story competition was declared the runner up and posted on their website on New Year’s Eve. From nothing published to 3 stories successfully ‘out there’ in less than a calendar year – not bad. If only it was as easy as it looks.
I have always been a reader, but I haven’t always written – I’m not one of these prodigies who wrote their first book at 8 and had a publishing deal at 16. In fact the only story I can remember writing at school was complete rubbish!
So how did I get here?
About 30 years ago I started telling myself stories on the walk to work, I wrote some poetry, a couple of short stories and started work on a novel. Then kids came along and life in general got in the way, the few chapters of the novel I had laboriously handwritten, and everything else, languished in a dusty drawer unheeded but, not quite, forgotten.
A couple of years ago a friend used one of my short stories on his wargaming blog, it got some good reactions which inspired me dig out the old stuff and ‘do things seriously.’
So what are my tips? N.B. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong way to approach writing, only what works for you. This is what works for me.
Never throw anything away, you never know when you may use it – the story that appeared in Diodati edition 2 is an ‘improved’ version of one from the drawer.
Tell yourself the story first, it saves staring at a blank screen/sheet of paper – I tell myself the story, or parts of the story, several times over – while doing the washing up, walking from the car to work or on a long car journey (as long as I’m not driving). This gives me the story’s basic skeleton.
Get it written down – once I have an idea of where the story is going I write it down, longhand, in a hardback A4 exercise book that I carry around. At this point I can start editing, adding extra detail etc.
Type it up – when I have sizeable ‘chunk’ of manuscript, or I’ve finished a short story, I type it up and do a second round of editing at the same time.
Edit again – and again if necessary.
Try and write something every day – I’m bad at this (hence the title). It can be very hard to get back into the habit when you stop.
Finally, my favourite quote about writing is from the children’s author Bernard Ashley, ‘Don’t get it right, get it written.’
Did I finish the novel? Yes, but as for getting it published, that, as they say, is another story.