There’s a lot of writing advice out there, some good and some not so good. As writers, we have to pick and choose what works for us. Stephen King has a ton of great writing advice floating around out there, but this particular gem resonated with me this week and helped me overcome some serious barriers to getting my book finished.
“You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right – and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain – or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don’t have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it … but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.” ~ Stephen King, Everything you need to know about writing successfully.
This advice might not mean much to some of you, but for me, it’s incredibly helpful. Here’s what happens when I break my train of thought:
Mr… Mr…. What did I name that drama teacher I mentioned back in chapter three? I’d better check my spreadsheet. Fredericks. That’s right. Mr. Fredericks. While I’m taking a break, I might as well check my email. Oh, look! Susan has a new blog post. That looks intriguing. I’d pop over and check it out. Better leave a comment too while I’m here. And Tweet. I should tweet this. Oh, it looks like I have some new followers on Twitter. That’s nice. I’d better check out their profiles. Well, this lady has a book that looks interesting. I’d better add it to my Goodreads shelf. Okay, now back to writing. But, while I’m already on the internet, I should go ahead and check Facebook. You know, so I don’t get distracted again. What an adorable picture of Grumpy Cat. I swear she gets cuter every day. Oh, there’s a message from Maegan. She says she sent me an email. I’d better go check…
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what one of my writing sessions looks like. I know some of you are wondering what the hell’s wrong with me. But for some of you, my writing session might look kind of familiar.
Today, I wrote 3600 words. When I got hung up on something, I made a note in parentheses and highlighted it. I can always go back later to find out how far L.A. is from the Mexican border. I can always go back and look up the name of that girl who sat next to my main character in History class. Or the name of the drama teacher (it’s Mr. Fredericks, by the way). If I’d stopped writing to look stuff up, well, I might never have written 3600 words today.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?