Thursday, 20 December 2012

Six ways that I didn't write anything, and one way that I did

As you can probably guess from the title, I have been spending far too much time reading fanfiction lately. As though of you who pay close attention to my posting schedule have probably noticed (although I doubt you exist), I have been posting more haphazardly recently than I originally was.
So, to excuse myself for not sticking to the post-every-Tuesday plan which I had when I started, and to assure myself that my life is not wasted, since it serves a warning to others, I present you with a list of what not to do if you intend to write (or do anything, for that matter) productively.

Read Les Mis
In the past two weeks, I have been doing this with my life. A lot. An awful lot. I never fully understood how much writing 1300 pages was until I picked up this book on the ninth of December and decided I should read it before I see the movie this Sunday. On the plus side, you – my lovely, although I suspect largely imaginary, readers – will get a review of this enormous tome at some stage in the next few weeks. On the minus side, it’s time consuming. If you want to get anything else done, do not read this book in a short space of time. Or more broadly, if you like – if you know a movie is coming out at the end of the year, read the book at the start of the year, or in the middle, or at some other normal time that doesn’t require you to set page-per-day goals. Leaving things to the last minute turns out not to be conducive to doing other stuff at the same time. Blogs, fanfiction, and that legit novel I sometimes pretend to be writing tend to fall by the wayside.

Discover Deviant Art
Don’t do it. Never go there. Ever. For the nine years of my life since I first discovered the horror that is fandom, I have managed to avoid this website. I always knew it existed, and I never felt any desire to go there. Life was good.
And then, the other day, I decided that to accompanying my reading of Les Mis, I needed pictures of the characters. You know, to visualise them properly in my head. Important and entirely legit stuff.
It’s like TV Tropes. Once you arrive, you will never, ever, leave. Because how can you abandon dashing young Frenchmen such as this?

Why hello there, Montparnasse.
(Colonel Despard, Deviant Art)
Fall behind
I said to myself, when I began this blog, that I would write a post every Tuesday. It was an excellent plan, and it lasted several weeks. And then I missed a Tuesday. So then I wrote on Wednesday. And then I didn’t know whether to do the next week’s on Tuesday or Wednesday, and so I figured it didn’t really matter. And so I wrote it on Friday. And then on Tuesday I’d written so recently that I figured it didn’t really matter if I missed today, because I could write one tomorrow. This is how it works, until you suddenly realise that you haven’t written anything in weeks. It applies to writing novels, as well as blog posts, and it is very dangerous. Unless you have a good reason – the end of the world, for example – if you set yourself a writing goal, keep it. It’s for your own good, truly.

Do research
xkcd understands.
Last week I posted about how much research is too much research, in terms of historical fiction. I don’t know the answer, but I have worked out that there’s a point when research becomes procrastination. When onne begins by reading through lists of names to decide what the murder victim in Is-it-Republican-Rome-or-1800s-France ought to be called, and ends by learning that there is a text adventure game in Latin (Are you excited? I’m excited too!), one is procrastinating. Wikiwalks are not a way to get things done. Remember: the Internet is a dangerous place, a lot like a black hole.

Forget your writing exists
Yes, I did this the other week with this very blog. I’m lucky I have a sister around to remind me. If you spend too long procrastinating, and reading long books, and telling yourself that you will be able to write (or perhaps edit) the next scene tomorrow, this will happen. It’s true. And then the novel that you’re working will slowly become forgotten, and be relegated to that folder of documents that you sometimes look in, and open, and you’ll go, “Oh, I remember this. It was actually pretty good. Too bad I can’t remember what was going to happen. I wonder why I stopped writing…” And that will be the tragic death of what could have become the next Harry Potter. Alas.

If you don't have an iPhone...
Yes, I went there. It’s cliched and possibly the most said thing in the world of writing, but honestly, it’s a lot like owning an iPhone. If you don’t write anything, you won’t have written anything. I don’t think it has to be lots of writing, or anything scary like ‘You have to write every day or else you will die’, but the moral of this story is that if you don’t write anything, you will eventually forget it was there to write. And while nineteenth century Frenchmen are very distracting, and I’m greatly looking forward to playing Labyrinthus Latinus, I would trade definitely browsing Deviant Art for pictures of Les Amis L’ABC today for potentially being able to browse Deviant Art for fanart of my own characters in the future any day. And if I don’t write a novel first, there will be no characters for my legions of future fans to draw. And that will be a great loss to the world.


  1. Well now that you were so insistent about not going to Deviant Art, I just must. :)

    I haven't read Les Mis. I've thought about it. And then I said, uff, that'd kinda long. :) Someday I'll read it.

    1. Kind of long is a understatement! But I really feel it helped to have read at least most of it before seeing the film. =)

  2. So I'm not the only one who has the occasional wild dream about seeing her characters on DeviantArt? Whew. ;)

    1. I should also mention that I'm super-impressed that you read all of Les Mis in one month! Talk about accomplishment! I read the first 300 pages or so and that alone was amazing...

    2. I haven't actually finished it yet... But I'm so close!
      And no, I'm sure you're not the only one. To have my own fanart and fanfiction - although I'm sure that would be absolutely terrifying - is definitely one of my life goals. =)