Tag Archives: memoir

Writing is dangerous

Image by Kev Howlett
Image by Kev Howlett

Writing is a pretty safe occupation, don’t you think? From an insurance point of view it’s definitely deemed ‘low risk’. But just like any employment, it has its risks and health hazards.

On a brisk wintery day like today, it’s nice to be inside with the heating on and if you’re a freelancer, you may even be at home in your pyjamas. This daily life can have drawbacks though. Being inside, working on the computer can mean that physical activity is low and oxygen isn’t moving around your body and working on a computer is quite a health hazard if you don’t go about it in a structured way.

The computer set up needs to make sure that it looks after your back. Working on a desktop computer is better for posture but if you are on a laptop, try to set it up so that you aren’t craning over the device. Whatever computing device you’re working on, your screen needs to allow for you to be reading/writing at eye level. Bad posture can cause all kinds of neck, shoulder and back issues, some of which can be very debilitating causing headaches, or chronic back problems later in life.

Moving away from the computer is very important so that you stretch your muscles and get oxygen moving through your system. This will stop you getting cramped muscles and aches and pains as well as give your eyes a rest from the screen. Half hourly breaks are ideal and don’t need to be long. A few minutes are all it takes to stand up, stretch and do a lap of the room before sitting down again. Better yet, go make yourself a cuppa or walk outside and take some big breaths of fresh air.

Writing can be hard on the brain because you live inside your head a lot. When you experience writers block this means that you need a break. If you aren’t taking breaks often and trying to stay chained to the computer to get work done, you’ll find that you’re no longer productive. You will get stuck and start to second-guess everything that you’re working on. If you’re really struggling to get the words out, taking a 10–15 minute walk will clear your head and the ideas and thoughts will come much more freely. Doing something different or what I like to call ‘mindless’ is the best way to refresh your brain so that you can come back to it with clearer thoughts.

What will happen if you don’t do any of this? You’ll become a bent over old crone with crippling arthritis and you’ll go mad from being inside your head all the time! Who knew that writing could be so dangerous?

Blaise, the book chick

Write with your heart

Image by Kev Howlett
Image by Kev Howlett

Why do we like to read other people’s stories? Because we want to know how other people tick. We want to know that they have flaws, just like us, and that these flaws don’t make them (or us) any less human or likeable. Aren’t the most flawed characters the ones we like after all? This is true for fiction as well as biography because even in fiction the characters need to be true to life. Otherwise, who cares?

For a lot of writers, there is reluctance to go deeper, to expose the person behind the words. This usually stems from fear. Fear of rejection, fear of ridicule, fear of failure.

What usually happens though, is that the deeper, more authentic the writing, the more it resonates with the reader. This results in a greater connection and the reader applauding the writer for their work.

So how do you go deeper? How do you access that part of you that will expose your true self? It’s a bit like peeling an onion. Each of us is multi layered, multi dimensional.

So where do you start? Write without thinking about it too much. Just get your story out. Get out of your head and into your heart. Don’t think about what anyone thinks or if there are issues with spelling or grammar. All of those issues can be dealt with later. Don’t skim over things, get to the heart of them. Don’t write ‘I was devastated’, tell the reader what that devastation felt like. Did it make you (or the character) physically ill, pained in the stomach, unable to sleep? Don’t write, ‘he was angry’, tell the reader what that person did to convey anger. Was he red in the face, was he aggressive, did he raise his voice? Don’t worry if some of this comes out as clichés. This is normal and if you worry about it too much, you will lose the flow. Grammar, cliché, spelling and details can all be fixed in the rewrite.

Essentially, to get to the heart of the story, you need to ask yourself, ‘how does it make you feel?’ If you’re truthful about this in your writing, the rest will fall into place.