Tag Archives: writing tips

The Art of Suspending Judgement during the First Draft

typewritersIf there is one thing that puts me in a writing “analysis paralysis”, it’s to be editing a first draft at the same time as I am writing it. What seems to work for me is to metaphorically send the “editor” part of my brain away to another room in the house and to let the creative writer in me just do his thing.

The first draft is that time when I feel completely free, knowing that the incompatible elements will drop off later if they are not meant to be. But the critical first step is to get those ideas on paper and to not break the flow.

Even in business, suspending judgement is a key ground rule for a great brainstorming session. In writing, I like to think that this translates to leaving the editor’s hat alone until a solid foundation of ideas is established.

Only then is it realistic to determine whether ideas are viable, to rearrange the order in which the ideas are presented and finding the best ways to articulate them.

Viability of ideas

With my blog, there have been times that I thought I had a dynamite idea for a blog topic, but after a few writing sessions, I found out that the idea lost momentum or fizzled out after 300 words. Most times, I would park it to see if other ideas might hit me later, but when they don’t, it may just end up in the graveyard of blog posts. The topic still seemed like a good idea in my head, but after trying to work through it on paper, it didn’t quite make it. Continue reading

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Behind the Scenes of Blogging – Then and Now

In a recent review of my blog statistics, I was delighted that so many nice people took time out of their busy day to check out my “About” page. Then I shrieked with fright at the realization that I was so busy building my content that I had not updated that page since I first started blogging in the fall of 2013. It was time to have another look.

When I read it over, it wasn’t too bad. A little wordy, a few long paragraphs, it wasn’t horrible but it needed a little work. At the same time, I realized that my writing style for blogging had already evolved in just a couple of years.

In doing so, a walk down memory lane emerged, much like those retrospective episodes of “The Golden Girls” that took place around the kitchen table over late night cheesecake…

Wow! I have been writing this blog for almost two and a half years. How much has changed in that time.

Blogging – Then

“Picture it, Ottawa, October 2013, an aspiring young writer takes the plunge into the world of blogging. He isn’t quite sure about his blogging voice, his point of view as a writer or even what to write about in a blog. All he knows is that he wants to write more than life itself.”

I was not entirely a novice at it as I was already the author of a web site back from 2000 to 2002. It was my space for posting funny stories and observations, before blogging had really taken off. But still, the same apprehensions emerged: Where do I start? What do I write about?

The obvious answer was Continue reading

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Top 10 Solutions for “Literary Constipation”

When I launched the blog in October 2013, I admit there was a bit of apprehension in terms of putting my works in the public domain. The apprehension did not come from the content itself, I was proud of my work and really looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and starting my work as a blogger. What concerned me was the ability to keep at it and to keep posting consistently without sacrificing quality.

How’s that for a little pressure for a new blogger?

But I was lucky in never really suffering from writer’s block in the 18 months since the launch. The more I wrote for the blog, the more I tapped into the inspiration I drew from the events around me, and in turn, the more I was trying to keep up with the flood of ideas that kept coming to me. And they still do.

However I have been experiencing a little bit of “irregularity” of words: the words are still coming, the ideas for stories keep coming and my inventory of blog posts in “first draft” is still growing. My challenge lately seems to be in taking a post and finding the right words to finish it and nail it like a gymnast dismounting from the balance beam for a “10.0”.

The passion is still there; the fire is still there; I still need to write as much as I need to eat, sleep and breathe. It is perhaps just a minor case of “literary constipation”. I just need to dig into my arsenal of solutions to keep it fresh, keep the momentum going and to keep coming back to my passion for writing with a fresh pair of eyes.

Here are my top 10 solutions for literary constipation:

10. Are you physically comfortable?
Are you hungry? Are you dehydrated? Are you too warm? Are you too cold? Is your chair comfortable? Distractions in our physical world can also create distractions in our creative world. Take a moment to take stock and adjust accordingly.

9. Switch your background music/silence
In some cases, I found that just changing my background music can help bring on a creative spurt. Sometimes, turning the music off and just writing to ambient noises (birds chirping, falling rain) or writing in complete silence can help the creative process. Switch it up. Continue reading

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Top 10 Things That Short Circuit My Writing Process

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For writers, staying focused can be challenging at the best of times. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether life is the thing that happens between writing sessions or vice versa, but generally everyone has a lot going on. As a result, it is no surprise that life can sometimes distract us and keep us from what we love to do most, so we must persevere.

However, despite an extensive arsenal of techniques to stay focused in putting pen to paper or to keep the computer keys clicking, there are some things that can completely derail my ability to write.

Here they are, the Top 10 things that can short circuit my writing process:

10 – The sound of a vacuum cleaners
At the office in particular, it can sometimes be like a living game of Pac-man as I try to hide from the housekeeping staff running the vacuum cleaner (invariably, at that precise time, I always seem to have an urgent request that requires just the right words at the right time to get the tasking right), yet the vacuum people always seem to find me. I hide in another cubicle, they find me again, and so on.

9 – The sound of leaf blowers
While I am most grateful for the fact that my condo has a lawn maintenance crew, I don’t know how I defy the odds in that whatever day of the week I might choose to take a day off work, it always seems to be the lawn maintenance day that week. I seem to be able to write while they are mowing the lawns but the overpowering wall of sound by leaf blowers is like kryptonite to me.

8 – Hunger
When my stomach growls louder than a leaf blower, words will not flow. Period. Continue reading

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