While writing this blog series every stupid thing I have done on the internet has been research. Usually I just sit around watching the surfing swan videos my brother sends me and that time amounts to nothing. But for three weeks these things have been fuel to the fire of also wasting a lot of other people’s time. It’s been awesome.
Things I know about myself and my writing after this first year full-time:
- I’m more productive the more I have to do
I can’t work on my novel all day every day. Having other stuff – like these blog posts – to write, makes me focus and helps me feel accomplished, even when I only do one or two hours of work on my major project. Because, as long as it’s solid work, that can be enough. There are other things I can do to progress my writing, which is a great point made in this piece about how to make a living as an artist – work can take many forms and some of them might not feel like work. Decisively stopping to read a good book is usually better than absently spending two hours on Tumblr. Maybe Tumblr could be work too. The real lesson I think is that it’s good to do things on purpose.
- Good workspace is vital
It’s great to be versatile and you can’t always control your surroundings, but SORRY I KIND OF HAVE TO.
- Structure is literally the backbone of everything
It is better for me if I stop work every day at 4:30 to go for a jog or organise dinner, even when I’ve done diddly squat. Having a designated stop time takes away some of the guilt that can come with writing difficult stuff like novel outlines, where progress is slow. It really helps that I have three awesome housemates working regular five-day weeks right now, because I can structure my day around the time I’m alone and pretend I have a normal job with clear parameters and health benefits. Some days I just don’t achieve the things I set out to, but forcing myself to put the work away means I can come back the next day fresh. If I don’t make myself stop, I just keep going and going until each day blurs into the last. People with regular jobs are allowed to have off-days and I am too.
- My book sounds stupid to me, but that’s how it works. Someone else will still always write something stupider
While searching for hints on planning a novel I found some real doozies. This snowflake method isn’t a batshit crazy idea, but the guy who wrote it is called Randy Ingermanson and he did openly admit that the plot of his first novel is: “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.”
Which is a perfectly cromulent thing to write a book about. But, like the kung-fu fighting video of week one, you just have to sit back and appreciate that maybe even if you feel like a fraud and that you’re wasting your time, you’re doing it in your own special snowflake way. To really hammer home this point, I leave you with an excerpt of the blurb of my favourite self-published find of 2013, Blue Corn Woman:
“BLUE CORN WOMAN animates the desert lesbians in the rugged Superstition Mountains of Arizona where the character of Blue Corn Woman operates her trading post to feed her and her two wolf-dogs, Peyote Two Buttons and Kachina Four Corners. Played out in a seductive game of Desert Monopoly with life-size tokens of affection, Blue Corn Woman must pay attention to their contents to understand her journey.” (Read the full excerpt here.)
The internet is a magical thing, you guys. Just look at all the crap it’s helped me find – all of it strangely motivating in it’s own special snowflake way.
Bridget Lutherborrow is a Sydney-based fiction writer, studying for a PhD at the University of Wollongong, with a thesis on unusual narrators and a novel about lumber jills. She tweets @birtiledge and sometimes blogs about food at Straight-Talking Vegetables [www.straighttalkingvegetables.com].