Keeping It Fresh!

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Paul Whybrow

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Jun 20, 2015
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Cornwall, UK
Even if an author avoids writer's block, it's quite possible to feel jaded by one's output.

There's a lot that's rather mechanical about the writing process, when it comes to multiple read-throughs of the manuscript, editing away, thinking that you've finally created a version that's faultless, at least so far as punctuation, grammar and repetition are concerned—only to discover a glaring error that you somehow missed fifty times! :rolleyes:

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Some writers love the task of editing, but whatever your attitude, there are various proofreading apps such as Grammarly, Hemingway Editor and Typely to assist you.

When I returned to creative writing in 2013, I did so after four years of depression, which my brain cells plainly got pissed off with, as suddenly I had a freshwater spring of writing ideas bubbling from me. Titles, sentences and fragments of verse erupted: I had to sit down at the keyboard to turn down the noise in my mind.

Initially, I wrote short stories, poems and song lyrics. Some of these were about aspects of life that were of concern to me, such as bereavement, being a loner, the after-effects of having fought in a war (PTSD), mistaken identity and the search for love. Several poems became the inspiration for short stories and novellas.

I turned to writing novels in 2014. I'm close to completing the fifth story in my Cornish Detective series, after which I'll be trying to sell myself and the books through querying literary agents and maybe returning to self-publishing. In between novel writing, and even during, I've created flash fiction, poetry, short stories and novellas. Some of these were for competition entries, but working in shorter forms is stimulating.

Even if you don't normally write poems or stories that are 50 words long, there are benefits to trying. For one thing, it forces a writer to consider word choice, refocusing your imagination. With no intention of releasing this work on sensitive readers, you might still get inspiration from it, that will intensify your novel.

Unexpected Benefits of Flash Fiction

Another advantage of compressing or condensing ideas into verse or flash fiction is that when you return to longer forms you're more aware of the logline and tagline of your story....

Altering perspective in this way helps me to stay fresh. It's very easy to get obsessed with the characters in your main project. But, changing tack doesn't always provide clarity.

With the overbearing influence of technology and forensic evidence in 21st-century criminal investigations, I was starting to feel rather constrained in how to simply tell a story, so I took a break and returned to the 19th-century to write the second novella in a series about an American Civil War veteran. Far from being simpler to create, there were so many complicated issues to do with race and politics, that it was even trickier to tell in a cogent way. I began to yearn for the solid certainty of CCTV and autopsy evidence.

How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

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If I get tired, or something isn't quite clicking with it, I tread water. The back brain is still working on it.
 
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Just fucking write.
Just fucking edit.
Stoicism is my friend.

Might come across as harsh and not a little brutal but it is the only way that works for me. Ultimately I see writing as a craft but when it boils down to it, if you ain't willing/capable of actually blasting the words out and then making the effort to knock them into a shape that another person can comprehend without too much difficulty, then there is little point to this odd little addiction of ours.

When I gave up wanting to be a writer, I started to write. Not sure if that keeps it fresh for me, but it certainly makes it real.
 
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