Procrastination often makes us spending our valuable and productive time doing meaningless things and everything else but writing. Famous writers know it very well.
Sometimes, you sit down at the table and it just doesn’t happen. How often do you find yourself procrastinating, unable to come with a single good damn sentence? This may be common for you, or it just happened for the first time (though not the last one, trust me). Moreover, it happens to famous writers too.
Every writer has found themselves in this situation, and even famous, true masters of the pen are no exception to this. But what really distinguishes a talented author from the absolute genius is the ability to find ways how to start, continue and finish the story no matter the obstacles.
And that’s what we are going to talk about today – motivational writing tips from famous writers, to help you stop procrastination.
1. Ernest Hemingway. To get started, write one true sentence.
It’s always the beginning, the most difficult part. You write a few sentences, present a situation, or introduce readers to the first character. Then you read it and feels so artificial. This phrase doesn’t look natural and you start all over again. This is what Ernest Hemingway says about it, and how he dealt with it:
So finally, I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.
This technique obviously comes from his journalism career, but he implemented it to fiction writing. And as a writer, you can not come up with any more realistic setting than the one you experienced.
2. Francis Scott Fitzgerald. You must begin by taking notes.
This may sound strange, but a good writer doesn’t really know when they start writing a book. Ideas, personalities, catch-phrases spark in your head, fuel your imagination, and then… they are gone. All this precious baggage, which could be the basis of your future top best-seller, is floating somewhere inside your brain and rarely sees the world from the pages of your book.
F. S. Fitzgerald realized it and stated:
You must begin by making notes. You may have to make notes for years…. When you think of something, when you recall something, put it where it belongs. Put it down when you think of it. You may never recapture it quite as vividly the second time.
The successful writers never leave the house without their notepad and pencil because they never lose even the smallest detail that could make their novel a hit. Many famous writers were known to follow this advice.
3. Stephen King. Have time to read.
Though it’s just an extract from the original quote,
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.”
The main idea may be cut to these 4 words. First of all, don’t be surprised that every word is coming from you with the pain of ten gunshot wounds if you dedicate all your time staring at the blank sheet and having drinks at the bar down the street.
Read good books, read crap, read everything. Just don’t waste your time and stop procrastination. A writer who doesn’t read is a musician without hearing. And if you can’t appreciate the great writing, how can you give something heart-touching to a reader?
4. George R. R. Martin. Write what you know.
Let’s take a closer look at this one. You’ve come to the point where you are not sure what kind of motivation drives the character you created. He or she has lost someone, or vice versa accomplished a long-time dream. The advice that the author of A Song of Ice and Fire gives you is to recall your personally closest emotion and this way, you will understand what your character should feel and do next.
We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. That’s why to turn to yourself if you seek any answers, write what you already know. There are not so many human emotions and we get to know most of them at a young age (believe it or not). In this case, your childhood memories are a great source of inspiration.
5. William Faulkner. Don’t be a writer; be writing.
“And what the hell should I do with this?!” – every normal human being asks in confusion. W. Faulkner did not give a proper explanation of this, so let’s dig into it. You believe in something – write about it. You don’t believe in something – explain why. You started to write a serious novel on social issues and got stuck – write a comic book.
You can’t finish a drama play for the theater – come up with a funny anecdote. Train your literature muscles. Expand your horizons. Try different genres and break the rules. Just don’t stop being a person that once decided he or she has something to say. Such an approach will help you kill procrastination.
Writer’s block is a known problem and touches even the most genius and famous writers.
These tips – though they come from famous writers – are not a panacea. And of course, they don’t cover all the internal demons that writer faces on their way to finishing the book. But this is a valuable experience of those who found a way to continue sharing their knowledge and craft with the whole world. And it will definitely help you in your fight with procrastination.
Featured image: Ernest Hemingway at “La Consula”, Bill Davis’ estate in Spain, 1959. Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
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