Tag Archives: Hemingway

This is how I (try to) write… or… This is what I do/what do you do?

 “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit”

– Ernest Hemmingway

Ernest there, telling it like it is. Everyone needs to find their own method for making it happen but one thing’s for sure: the more you write, the more chance you have of writing something of merit.

I always begin by reviewing my previous day’s efforts. I’m currently writing in free verse, which (apart from being a huge risk) takes me a little longer than writing prose – and so I probably don’t have as much to review as a lot of other writers would. However, I don’t do massive re-writes at this stage: I change the odd word and mainly just help myself to get back in to the flow of the story.

“Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day”

– Norman Mailer

Like everyone, I have good days and I have bad days. But I’ve learnt that, no matter which of those I’m living through, if I want to be a writer then I need to, you know, write. Not just talk and think about it. I’m not going to pretend… I don’t actually manage to write every single day but, if necessary, I force it even if I’m feeling uninspired and that there’s no point in my putting pen to paper.

And that’s another thing. For me, the first draft of anything is hand written. I find it a much more organic process that way… things just flow much more easily.

“Nothing magical. You just sit there and keep typing.”

– Stirling Silliphant

You keep writing and sometimes stuff happens. I started off writing screenplays (and I want to do more of that): I wrote a couple of short film scripts and was half way through a feature length script when something unexpected happened… I found a three-page synopsis I’d written a few years ago as the basis for another screenplay. It grabbed me all over again – this is what I wanted to write about – so I decided to write up a fuller version of the synopsis. And the words just started coming out in verse… all by themselves. Honestly, that’s the way it felt. And it’s turned in to the novel I’m writing at the moment. Whether it ends up working or not, whether it turns out to be a foolish experiment, it’s something that I completely believe in.

Anyways, that’s rambling ol’ me.

I’m always interested to hear about what other people go through to get the words out. Let me know if you feel like sharing…

For the love of god, please just finish the first draft

or

It’s all about me (in which I don’t apologise for a ridiculous over-use of brackets and italics)

So here it is. I’ve started the blog. That’s Part 1 done.

Part 1: Begin a blog to share your work thereby ensuring that you absolutely must, no matter what, avoid procrastination and keep on writing

It’s a start. But here’s the thing… I’m still in the process of writing the first draft of my novel. That’s Part 2.

Part 2: For the love of god, please just finish the first draft

As Hemingway is famously alleged to have said: “The first draft of anything is shit”. Now clearly that needs to be interpreted correctly but what he’s getting at is that you just need to get the first draft down on paper (slash computer screen). You have the concept for the story, your characters, your theme, your outline etc – now just get the damn thing written up.

Here’s another quote for you (don’t worry, I have loads; I won’t run out): “The first draft is nothing more than a starting point, so be as wrong as fast as you can” – Andrew Stanton

I know, I know, these are all soundbites and open to absolute misinterpretation and critique. The important take-out is that you do need to just write the thing. Anyway, this is all about me so let’s get back to me…

I’m sharing bits of my work on this blog to motivate myself to write more and to get some sort of response on what I’m writing (which, if it’s positive, will motivate me to write more)…

However, I’m sharing excerpts from my first draft: my unpolished, ‘just get it down’ phase. This is a scary thing. And may not be a true representation of how the work will end up looking. I’m really not sure that it’s good idea.

Also, I’m attempting to write a novel in verse (please don’t call it an epic poem – that just weirds me out). This is unusual and open to (here’s that word again) misinterpretation – and is also something that I could screw-up very badly… can I maintain a narrative thrust while being ‘poetic’? How do I blend in the dialogue without it feeling forced?

Ok, ok, I’ve already started to lose myself in a self-absorbed ramble. I guess what I’m trying to say is that blogging extracts of a first draft of a novel in verse is silly. I am silly. Be nice to me.

(And remind me to actually plan my next post in order that it will actually have… a point)