What I learned about writing without the internet

On Wednesday evening our internet cut out because the bill hadn’t been paid. We only got it back this morning (Sunday for anyone in a different time-zone).

After the initial shock of not being able to check Facebook 14 times in an hour, I got pretty bored. Bit my nails a lot.

Typewriter

Okay, it wasn’t exactly like this.

That night, I set myself a goal of writing 500 words of a work-in-progress. Small and achievable. When I hit the 500-word mark, I just kept going. And going.

On Thursday, I opened up a file, a short sci-fi story I’ve been chipping away at for a long time. It’s the longest story I’ve written so far and every time I went to work on it, it seemed like such a mammoth task I chickened out and did something else.

This time I felt the same anxiety about getting stuck in, but printed off the whole thing and went through it page by page, making edits with a red pen.

On Saturday I sat at the kitchen table with my laptop, propped up the pages with a stack of books and a bit of blue-tack, and went to work, editing, cutting, re-wording sentences. Adding scenes and taking out ones that didn’t work. I think I started at around 2pm and didn’t stop until I’d reached the last page at 9:30pm.

Even in between the writing, I did things like make breakfast for everyone and offered to go to the shop for trash (if you know me well, you know these are not things that happen often).

Now the internet is back, and while I’m glad I can look up whether or not they make secret cameras that are undetectable to security scanners (they don’t) and what the word ‘runnygazoo’ means (n. nonsense), I’m a little sad. I have absolutely no willpower, so avoiding the internet completely is a hard sell. What I am going to try though is giving myself an allowance of internet, an internet-free zone during the day and only double-clicking that little icon in the evening. Can I do it? God knows.

Tomorrow is Day 1…

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READING & RUM

This blog post started life suffering from depression.

It opened with the sentence “Let me begin by saying that 2015 was, for me at least, like a silent fart in an elevator.”

There was a completely asinine title: “New Year, New Me (Or Something to That Effect)”

There were cliches: “picking up the broken pieces” and “dotting the i’s”.

There was evidence of failures taken to heart: “I made big plans at the start of the year…”

There was passive voice.

It wasn’t working. It read too much like someone else, some cookie-cutter type who Googled the phrase ‘a deep and never ending sadness’ and regurgitated the results verbatim into a text box.

I became twitchy, easily offended, a touch insane. I asked a friend to read a story of mine. He said “Sure – but I’m busy right now.” I stomped around the house for a bit. Drank two glasses of milk and ate three Drifter bars in quick succession. I belly crawled to the Playstation for help, diving into GTA V and unleashing an artistic rage bomb on the artificially intelligent people of Los Santos. I drove around aimlessly, got a terrible haircut, smashed up a bus stop with my (Michael’s) bare fists. I lit an oil tanker on fire at a petrol station with a jerry can. I met up with two members of the Epsilon Program in the mountains, was abducted, drugged, robbed of my clothes and left in a field in the hot sun, stumbling around like a sick antelope. I got a text from Marnie of the Epsilon Program asking me to donate $500.

I donated the $500.

Then I switched it off. Nothing seemed to appease me.

Then I picked up a book and started reading. I’m a writer. I should be reading, a LOT. Or at least a lot more than I’ve been doing.

But, Netflix. You know how it is.

FUCK IT, I said. Off went the TV. And I felt sort of, kind of, a bit better. Also, I held a games night and got people I liked round and drank rum and shouted and let off steam.

So let it be known:

READING (& RUM) SAVES LIVES.

 

Leslye Headland’s Writing Process

I may have to try this technique…

theOffice

tumblr_mkktuoFy7u1r6kz6uo1_500“I feel so much that writing is like chopping wood. I’ll always say to aspiring writers, it’s time logged. Just sit down, ink out however many hours you can in the day. Turn the phone off. Just write. I usually have the script open in one window, and then in another window I have a Word document where I free write. So, as soon as those voices start to come up, like, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re an idiot. This is going to be terrible,’ I switch over to that and I start free writing. I write out all of the fears that I have and all of the negative talk that’s in my brain, and then I’ll go back to the script.”

Leslye Headland

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