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Bad Habits To Avoid While Writing, by Andy Briggs

For this post I thought I’d give you a simple checklist of bad habits that writers can develop. Like most habits, it’s not always apparent that you’re doing it, so here are some warning signs to look out for.

1. Procrastination. This is the ultimate creative killer. The one that causes stress and makes you miss deadlines. Stare at a blank page and you are staring into a void. You have to type to get the words down, but to do that you need motivation. What tends to happen is emails are checked, then Facebook and Twitter, then perhaps the news and any other website I happen to follow – and before long I have wasted hours and it’s time for another coffee. The peril here is that the moment you make that coffee and sit back at the computer – you simply repeat the process.

2. Email. I could be midway through the most thrilling scene I have ever written and the moment my inbox goes BONG, I am yanked out of the story and straight into my email, burning with curiosity over who has validated my existence by emailing me. Usually it’s a piece of spam, which I’ll delete and return to the page. But that slight distraction suddenly propels me back to step 1, above.

3. Reading. When I open up the document I am working on, I may read the last couple of paragraphs to refresh my memory but I won’t read any more. If I read everything I wrote the day before then I will start finding faults, typos, or better ways to express myself and will immediately fall into re-writing syndrome. This is a writing tailspin that could end up costing you the entire day. Instead of looking at an increased word count, you have less than you started with because of your meddling.

4. TV. I know some people who work best by listening to songs. I can’t do that as the lyrics always distract me. Likewise, I can’t have the TV on in the background because my attention will always stray to it – no matter how bad the show is. I often find myself camped in front of the TV, pretending to write – but if I pay attention to what I have been doing for the last three hours I will find I have accidentally entered step 1 without realizing it. I prefer to write with movie scores on in the background. If I’m writing something fast and upbeat, I will but on an action-packed score. If the scene I am writing is sad and slow, I will find something melancholy to listen to. I find the music seeps into my writing and helps set the correct mood on the page.

5. Fact checking. I’m a big believer in research, but I will attempt to do it before I start writing the scene – otherwise I will be surfing the web for hours, or worse, heading out to the local library just to find a trivial piece of information just so I can complete the sentence.

Watch out for these insipid habits and you will automatically improve your writing and, perhaps, enjoy the writing process a whole lot more.

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Andy Briggs’s author website: www.andybriggs.co.uk

Andy Briggs’s bio page

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Tarzan: The Greystoke LegacyTarzan: The Jungle Warrior: Bk. 2Tarzan: The Savage Lands     The Girl Who Was Supposed to DieThe Traitor's KissA Coalition of Lions

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. You are so right.

    A wise man once told me: “Procrastination is the thief of time.” WhenI was old enough to understand what was meant I made time work for me.

    Writing any novels, whether for Teenagers or Adults is not easy and can’t be done from just your own thoughts. I wrote three novels about Australian Scouts and had to experience many new activities and adventures so I could get into the psyche of my characters.

    My novels for Teenagers are Only The Brave Dare, Canyon and A Rite Of Passage. They explore everything from caving; abseiling, bushwalking, camping rock climbing and scuba diving. Without my research I could not have mastered the various descriptions needed for the different scenarios.

    I changed tack and wrote two standalone novels about the afterlife, Finding Thomas and One Last Concert. For these books I had to have a series of sessions with some Mediums which in themselves were disconcerting.

    In short, as authors we must research, research and research so we can can write authoritatively about our subject. Don’t procrastinate, write whenever you can.

    The joy in your readers’ responses will say it all.

    Christopher

    December 15, 2013
  2. Jenn J McLeod | House for all Seasons #

    Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto (she says, sitting with iMac on lap in front of TV and on Facebook!!) 🙂

    December 19, 2013

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