jhepburn: (Default)
It's advice that floats around and occasionally bobs up to the surface like a fruit fly in a glass of beer.

But why?

Not the edit sober part - if you can't understand why you should edit sober rather than drunk, you need to learn a lot more about editing.

But why write drunk? Is it only that writers are expected to be perpetually drunk but should sober up to edit? (And that may or may not be, you know, a valid possibility, we certainly seem to talk about it a lot. Follow a writer on twitter for a week, and you have some idea of his or her preferred beverage.)

Or is there something about writing drunk that is an advantage over writing sober?

Well, there are three basic reactions to having a drink that are relevant to this discussion - get sleepy (bad), experience an uncontrollable desire to play loud music and dance (counterproductive), or experience a sloughing away of all mental blocks, controls and inhibitions that result in a massive outpouring of creativity provided you can hit the right keys, grip the pen properly, turn the recorder on and, the next morning, while sober, understand what it was that you said.

And that's the key part about writing drunk. You start to care less. As somebody or other said, "You can edit shit, but you can't edit nothing." You have to "Keep the cursor moving to the right" (just about everybody) so that you have something down on paper - you can change it, or throw it out and start again with the realisation that you need to avoid doing that next time, which is in itself a valuable lesson, or you can leave it there for the next complete edit in a month. Or next week. Or when your head stops pounding, you can stand up without shaking and you can afford to be more than ten metres from a toilet.

Take last night - after slowly starting something I wasn't quite sure about that was going to be a novella length story, I sat down in front of 1,800 words and accidentally wrote about 3,000 words and finished it up as a contained short story because it clearly wasn't going to work for the target market. Then, I accidentally wrote another 2,000 words of another story, before going to bed.

And thank you, homebrew pear cider.

Writing drunk is not always a good idea - you need to avoid cirrhosis of the liver or Korsakoff's syndrome, for a start - but damn it can help you get over literary blocks.
jhepburn: (Default)
I have not, for some considerable time, been the sort who could sit in front of a computer, open up a story, and write for an hour or two, wander off to do something else, come back ...

I consider it one of the biggest things I lost since I stopped being young and had to do things like study hard and work. The other things include my naivete and the opportunity to lose my virginity earlier than I did.

Anyway.

After returning to writing - far, far too late - my efforts and outputs have been patchy, sporadic and slowly increasing in quality, but far from fast enough. A long way from fast enough.

And then I saw a call for submissions to a serialised collection, 10,000 words or greater, any genre, to a theme, deadline - 28 February, which was four weeks.

Well, I thought: I can fucking do this. Stop giving yourself an easy ride! Get on to it! Fucking write! Okay, I had just struggled to write a 5,000 word story for a submission deadline in the same time period but stop making excuses!

So I committed to writing 2,000 words per day, absolute fucking minimum, come hell, high water or the zombie apocalypse. ("Keep down the gunfire! I'm trying to write, in here! Oh, for fucks sake, can't you die quietly?") That would mean 10,000 within a week, so I had plenty of time to find out how long the story would end up actually being (top end 50,000) and edit it a few times.

Right?

Right.

Per day? Welllll not exactly. But I fucking did it. Finished. Edited. One set of feedback - edited. Second feedback - edited. Edited again. Sub-fucking-mitted. All while working full time and not neglecting my girlfriend (that was important).

Done.

Word count? 22,600, in the end.

One month.

Go me.

That's, like, half a novella. A third of a short novel. A quarter of a decent novel. A fifth of a quart of single malt!

Plus, I wrapped it up sooner than expected, excising part of the planned plot, when I was at 10,000 and realised how far along I was, and had to replan because, honestly, I wouldn't get the extra week I'd need otherwise. In fact, if it doesn't get accepted, and even if it does, I'll probably just rework it into a novel anyway. And get more sex in. Because that scene was like a reward for finishing reading, and it could be ... Where was I?

At the same time, I accidentally got challenged to a 1,500-word flash fiction thing, which I wrote in two hours one night after work and posted as the first entry in this non-blog, so you can go and read it, if you like. Don't look at me like that, I have no religious affiliations and care less.

Now ... Now, I'm kind of meh.

Story finished, story sent off, use that momentum to find somewhere to submit something else I had lying around to submit, realise I could be revising something else I haven't finished rewriting after Aurealis rejected it with very helpful feedback, which has so far involved creating two tiles in Scrivener and then moving around around, and ...

Can't get moving, now. I'm all "Yay! Done that! And ... now I don't have the energy." I knew I should get stuck into The Next Big Thing. I even know what The Next Big Thing should be. I've got a sketch and the opening scene in my head, even! Haven't written it down yet.

I know I should keep the momentum up, but actually, I was neglecting the brewery, so I guess I'll go and clean that. And I need to roast coffee. And walk the dogs.

And, frankly, lie around playing Skyrim for a day because, fuck it, I haven't had a proper lazy day in a month.

Sooner or not quite so soon but still quite soon, I'm going to have to start knocking out more thousands of words again.

Soon, dammit!

But, maybe not tonight. Tomorrow, if I'm lucky. I mean, really lucky. I mean, it is March, after all. That's a whole new month.

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j.hepburn

February 2014

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