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Mtl_zack's avatar

How do i just sit down and write?

Asked by Mtl_zack (6751points) September 14th, 2008

ive had an idea brewing in my head for a novel for the past 3 years, but i never wrote it down because im lazy/i lack confidence/i think no one will take me seriously. now, i think i should at least get the story on paper.

i always get distracted with a computer, so thats why ill write my first draft by hand. but theres still the problem of my add. im on meds, but i cant still cant focus as much as i want.

should i just take 120 hours straight, with coffee, caffeine pills and take out? i heard the best solution for people with add is to just “get it over with”. or should i try a different approach. any tips would be nice.

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19 Answers

sarapnsc's avatar

Try using a tape recorder and do it verbally. A tape recorder can be much easier to take anywhere, when you get those brilliant writers thoughts, and not as cumbersome as a laptop. Then you can always play it back and type it out, or have someone type it out for you. Just a thought.

Hobbes's avatar

November is National Novel Writing Month, which is aimed at getting writers to sit down and hammer out a novel.

cyndyh's avatar

I think it’s good to remember that no one knows how many times you got distracted when they read it. You can get up and come back to it hundreds or thousands of times. It’s ok if it comes out in large chunks or if it comes in bits and pieces. You can get distracted all over the place and still end up with a great finished piece. The editing is a different process than the writing.

Hobbes's avatar

Er. Also, I don’t think trying to write a novel on a caffeine binge is conducive to health, much less to creativity.

ljs22's avatar

Write a little every day, preferably in the morning. Ass in chair until you have at least a page. Or five. When you feel it flowing, go with it. When you don’t, force yourself and you’ll have something horrid to revise later.

gailcalled's avatar

Whang out one page. Reread in AM. Do not change meds or get into weird unhealthy habits. Writers are disciplined and have a schedule.. They don’t dash off the world’s best novel in a frenzy.

And heed both Hobbes’ and cyndyh’s sage advice. You can write one lovely paragraph in ten minutes.

Perhaps do an outline…you can always change it but there would be an initial road map (that’s known in the writing world as a mixed metaphor. Avoid at all costs.)

SuperMouse's avatar

Pick up a copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. It should help you get started then help keep you going.

stephen's avatar

u dont need to care about others if they dont believe u, its about u , none their business, and if u wanna do then just do it, and always tell urself “I can do it!”,thats the way i always do when i lose confidence.

cwilbur's avatar

Do it. Just sit down and write. How do you handle any other sustained task with your ADD? Apply that here.

The romantic notion of a writer typing nonstop for days on end is utter bullshit. Writers who succeed professionally do it regularly and consistently—they treat it as a marathon, requiring pacing, rather than as a wind sprint.

AlaskaTundrea's avatar

I’ll perhaps address this in a more detailed manner later, but will simply say that as a writer, I do lots of writing in my head. I may not write anything formal for days, but I’m always writing in my head. Yes, I might frantically search for a pen and piece of paper, often the back of an envelope or even napkin when that “perfect phrase” pops into my mind, but it’s what I’m writing in my head that counts initially. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that words on paper makes you a writer. It has to be the right words, not just words that you wrote to meet some nebulous “daily word requirement” you’ve set for yourself. If you write a sentence a day, good for you. If you write a whole paragraph, yipee. If all you’ve done is think though a situation for your book for days on end in your mind, equally good for you. You’re writing. We all write in different ways and what works for me may not work for you. Use the answers you get here but adapt as needed.

lifeflame's avatar

I second @SuperMouse’s suggestion for “Writing Down the Bones”

gailcalled's avatar

As I have mentioned before, another excellent book about writing well, by a writer who writes well, is BIRD BY BIRD, by Anne LaMott.

Her little brother puts off a science project until the last minute and then goes weeping to his father. Father says, “Buddy, do it bird by bird.

jballou's avatar

Set aside time every single day, the same time each day, to sit and write. Don’t worry about anything. Don’t worry about being witty or clever or profound or anything. Just write whatever comes out. Eventually you will have material. Then you can mold that material.

Think of it like sculpture. You need your material before you can make anything out of it.

marinelife's avatar

Different approaches are better for people depending on their difficulties. For me, just banging it out works best, because it thwarts my inner editor.

For others, it is sketching out the characters and their motivations so that the characters whom you now know intitimately write the book themselves.

Everyone above who said write daily is right. Find the time and place that works best for you. Be faithful.

lapilofu's avatar

I’m going to second Gail’s suggestion for reading LaMott’s Bird by Bird. There is a writer who has all the same neurotic problems you and I do, and she’s not shy about sharing them or how she overcomes them. And she’s funny, so it’s a pleasure to read all the way through.

Here’s a lovely little excerpt:

“You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or 10 every night. You put the piece of paper in a typewriter, or you turn on your computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind. The other voices are banshees and drunken monkeys. They are the voices of anxiety, judgment, doom, guilt. Also, severe hypochondria. There may be a Nurse Ratched-like listing of things that must be done right this moment: foods that must come out of the freezer, appointments that must be canceled or made, hairs that must be tweezed. But you hold an imaginary gun to your head and make yourself stay at the desk. There is a vague pain at the base of your neck. It crosses your mind that you have meningitis. Then the phone rings and you look up at the ceiling with fury, summon every ounce of noblesse oblige, and answer the call politely, with maybe just the merest hint of irritation. The caller asks if you’re working, and you say yeah, because you are.

“Yet somehow in the face of all this, you clear a space for the writing voice, hacking away at the others with machetes, and you begin to compose sentences. You begin to string words together like beads to tell a story.”

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shadling21's avatar

Mark Twain’s rule of writing: “Apply seat of pants to chair.”

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