Friday, October 14, 2011

Pre-Writing Preparation

You'd rather be writing, but first you have to...

10. Reach into the freezer and get something out for dinner. WARNING: You may discover things in your freezer older than your youngest child. This has happened to me. This brings up all sorts of other issues that may further delay your writing.

9. Organize your desk - including all the drawers. This could take hours, if you're lucky. But don't think of it as luck, think of it as being thorough.

8. Vacuum the cat. Yes, scratches and a certain amount of blood loss with probably be involved. However, you can use the pain and suffering to enrich the detail in your current work.

7. Do more research. You're not wasting time, you're getting your details correct. Keep repeating this - it helps alleviate the guilt.

6. Have a snack. Go to the kitchen to discover you are out of snacky foods. Go to the grocery store. Don't forget you're out of milk. And cheese. And toilet paper.

5. Reread your previous few paragraphs to remind yourself where you are in the plot. Try to read them with no judgment. Try. Try harder. Now step away from the delete button.

4. Have a staring contest with your pet. NOTE: With a dog, you have a fair chance of winning. With a cat you have less chance. With a fish, you have no chance. No pet? Stare at a picture of one in a magazine. You're not wasting time, you're sharpening your concentration.

3. Close your eyes and imagine the blockbuster movie that will be made based on your current manuscript. Picture a scene and hear the dialogue. WARNING: This exercise may lead to actual writing. Approach with caution.

2. Think about what your characters were like in high school as a means of exploring their histories. Think about what you were like in high school. Think about what your friends were like in high school. Do you remember some of the names? Hello, Facebook?

1. To pick up dialogue tips, watch a movie or television episode written by one of your favorite writers. WARNING: This may cause severe depression and self-loathing. More snacks may be necessary.

This article was written for The Blood-Red Pencil by Elspeth Antonelli, the author of twelve murder mystery games (available through Host Mystery Games and Parties ) and two mystery scripts that have been performed world-wide. You can find out more about her on her site, It's a Mystery.
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  1. Love this! A writer can never have too many snacks... especially chocolate!

  2. Ha, fabulous! Someone has been sitting on my shoulder!

  3. Oh my...this made me laugh! Thank you for sharing. Now I have to print this out as a way of assisting in my writing. lol...

  4. This just made my day :) So true! Time for fruit snacks! Wait...they're all gone...

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  5. Wonderful! Had me giggling at number 10...

  6. Oh man. I'm guilty on so many counts!

  7. How do you know so much about me? loved it, and smiled a lot.

  8. Thanks, all of you, for your kind words!

  9. Elspeth, thanks so much for letting me repost this. I got a huge kick out of it!

  10. I enjoyed this very much and think you will get a kick My Novel Writing Formula, enjoy.,

  11. If I'm not feeling the writing, I read other writers. Within minutes this gets my literary guns blazing.
    If it's just about taking a minute to get focused I deliberately get on Twitter or Facebook. It sounds counter-intuitive, admittedly. It works though. A fellow writer's post or a lit mag's post helps tune my mind like a tuning fork, which can then be redirected to my own writing.
    Do these work for you?