Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Omily Tips for Writing Right, or, Five Ways to Write Omily

So, I've been thinking a lot about writing lately.  This has a lot to do with the fact that I've been doing a lot of writing lately.  And this has a lot to with the fact that I always feel like writing, and I'm beginning to see more of my future in that field than in the others I enjoy so much.  I thought today I would share with you some of the things I have learned about writing.  Doubtlessly they don't apply to everyone, but I think they're pretty basic, useful gems...

1. "Write drunk.  Edit sober."
-Ernest Hemingway

I don't find it necessary to get a good drunk on everytime I write, which is good, because I'd have to adopt Amy Winehouse's (God[dess] rest her soul) last chart-topping hit as my mantra if I did.  That said, the best cure for writer's block I know is a generous pour of Jameson on the rocks, or for the extra strength version, skip the rocks, and just do a splash of water. 
See the quill and ink?  Obviously legit...

And contrarywise, if you tend to fall in love with every word that drips from your pen or flashes across your screen, get drunk before doing vast cuts to your manuscript to give you courage...do be sure you're cutting and pasting to a spare document, not deleting...just in case.

2. Keyboards are really freaking important.

I have a laptop.  It's seven years old, and it has seen better days, but as a word processor, it works just fine...except for the 'A' key.  It has to be hit several times at just the right angle before it will produce an 'A'.  I cannot write on this keyboard.  It stops me up faster than having the harsh critic of my nightmares reading over my shoulder.
It's the old thinkpad my college gave me.  Those are fruit stickers, mostly acquired in Paris, where I started my current novel.  Obviously legit.

  This is sad, because in general, laptops tend to have the best keyboards: compact in size, and with responsive keys set low and even...sigh...
Notice the compact size, and low profile of the keys.

When I was younger I had a love affair with good pens, the kind that glided smoothly, and always had enough ink.  Now that I'm older, and wiser, it's keyboards.  I found a computer on the curb, and rescued the keyboard thinking I could resuscitate my laptop.  No such luck.  The keys were too big, and too hard to press to allow for the smooth flow of thought to words I was looking for.
Yes, I carry this shit to the coffee shop.

  I found one of those floppy, waterproof, rollable keyboards at Old Navy for only $4, which, admittedly, should have tipped me off, but, the keys were small and not raised much, which is a very desirable characteristic in a keyboard.  But, since it's squishy, hitting the corner or side of a key doesn't type a letter.  You have to squarely make contact with the center of each key.  My hands aren't that big, and I am in a hurry, dammit!   This keyboard, too, was leaving much to be desired.  Especially in the shift key department.  Ever try to hold down the center of the shift key, while flailing wildly for the actual letter you want?
I tell myself this is less dorky for coffee shop writing.

  If you have on your hands, the perfect Writer's Keyboard, please mail it to me.  I'll pay postage.

3. The internet's power as an evil distraction far outways any good it may do as an advanced spelling and fact checker.

Unless I'm in a really really really good workflow, I find myself all too often losing my train of thought and somehow thinking that facebook is going to give it back to me.  I should know better, as I'm really no fan of facebook, but there it is, beckoning me, assuming there's nothing in my inbox to keep my busy.  It's amazing how quickly I can make it through those pauses between inspirations if there's nothing for me to do but reread what I just wrote!   Simply amazing!  I've got a novel to turn out, and no time for your damn notifications.  This is why I use a seven-year-old terminal laptop, instead of the flashy iMac that serves as my husband's work computer, and our family computer.  Which, might I mention, has the perfect.  Fecking.  Keyboard.  Easy to press keys, small in size, eminently moveable to find the perfect extension for my arms while maintaining a straight spine (at least some of the time...).
Gotta hand it to you, Apple.  That is a sweet keyboard.

  But, of course, it uses stupid bluetooth technology to connect to the computer, so there's no way to hook it up to the laptop, and if there was, it wouldn't be compatible with Windows xp.  Yeah, go ahead and laugh...

And yes, that's right, my yearning for the perfect keyboard is outweighed by how unproductive I get when I work on the same computer I do meaningless internet tasks on.

Here she is lying on my bookbag so I can't load it up and walk to the coffee shop!  Thanks, cat!
4. The same goes for cats.  (Wait, what useful thing do cats do?)

Save your cat cuddling urges.  They pair nicely with that whiskey I was discussing earlier.  My cat seems to think writing time is cuddling time, and the monitor is a big silly backdrop for her beauty.  She is perhaps the number one reason I write better in the coffee shop down the street.  On my crappy keyboard(s).

5. That said, like booze, cats are mandatory for the writer.

Don't ask me why I have a cat if she's not helpful to the writing process!  I'm a writer, dammit!
Simon made a better muse (God[dess] rest his soul).  I hope he's chilling with Amy Winehouse.

Bonus Tip: Lady Gaga's discography on shuffle is the other ultimate Writer's Block/Blues/Lack of Faith in Yourself cure.  Thanks, Mother Monster.

Hmmm...a bit early to resort to the bottle of Jameson...and I have to finish cleaning the house, anyway, but at least the cat's asleep!  Do you have Writers' Rules, either that you've articulated, or are now doing so for the first time?  Do tell!

Live Omily,
~em


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