What makes writing feel good? In line with that: What makes writing successful? Ask any writer (or blogger too, in this case) and you’ll get different answers. Writing for both fiction and this blog (and other blogs as well), I’d say that my answer for the first question is this:
Writing feels good when it feels right. But then again, what makes it feel right? Oh, boy. Do I have three or four answers to that.
One: I need a notebook that FEELS right.
It can’t be just any notebook. Sure, the cover is awesome but what about the papers inside them? I need to be able to feel a connection with the notebook. It is, after all, my personal conduit for transposing my ideas for story.
Second: A trusty pen, preferably black (unless I’m editing what I have written).
Just like my notebook, this one also has to feel right. When I’m holding the pen between my index finger and thumb, the grip has to feel right. Otherwise, the pen feels heavy and I stop writing.
Third: My environment.
I have tried writing in coffee shops, in restaurants (both fancy and fastfood ones). None came close to giving me the concentration I needed when I write in my own space at home. The space is nothing fancy, just a table and a plastic chair but it gets the writing going. I think it’s safe to say that for me to feel good enough and thus be able to focus on the story I am writing, I need to be in a place where it is private and with as little distractions as possible.
The fourth answer is pretty optional but it’s always nice to have more than one option.
Here’s my fourth answer: Coffee or milk tea.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? I am sitting on my private space, my trusty pen hovering above my hand-picked notebook and I am almost ready to write. But then something feels off. Something that a cup of coffee or milk tea can solve.
Once I have all those things I deem necessary for writing, I start. I’m not going to lie: Half the time, I write for less than half an hour. I have then produced roughly five hundred words. But have I created something good, something meaningful? Most probably the answer is a big no. But if there is anything NaNoWriMo taught me, it’s this: Just write. Keep on writing. Don’t even glance over your shoulder and review what you have just written. Focus on the story, the characters, the settings. Write and lose yourself in that moment. You can always edit or change whatever it is you don’t like at a later time. But for that time you have set aside? You sole purpose and focus is to keep on writing. Because finishing one more scene or chapter brings you closer to finishing your story.
Bonus: Here are some writing quotes to help strike some inspiration:
Yes, I get dry spells. Sometimes I can’t turn out a thing for three months. When one of those spells comes on I quit trying to work and go out and see something of life. You can’t write a story that’s got any life in it by sitting at a writing table and thinking. You’ve got to get out into the streets, into the crowds, talk with people, and feel the rush and throb of real life—that’s the stimulant for a story writer.
– O. HENRY
What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.
– C.S. LEWIS
When you’re writing and come to a rough spot and the ideas just aren’t flowing, put down dummy text and keep on moving—especially if it’s at the end of the day and you’re going to stop. Your brain will never stop for the day, even if you have stopped working, and there’s a very good chance you’ll come up with something better. Also, at the very least, you’ll have something to come back to the next day, instead of a blank page. That’s important.
– LARRY GELBART
Postscript: Shameless plugging for my all-time favorite writer, Stephen King: Read his “On Writing” book. While it does not cover grammar and composition in depth, it is very good for tidying up your talent in writing. He talks about the tools you’ll need in starting your story. Plus, it’s interspersed with his personal stories about growing up and becoming a writer. It’s very inspirational and motivating.