Tips for Writing by Victor Catano – Guest Post
Tips for Writing by Victor Catano – Guest Post
Victor Catano lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, light designer, and technical director, working mainly with dance companies.
His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles.
Tips for Writing
One of the “easy for me to say” phrases I hear a lot as a writer is how you have to write every day. Yes, I know. It’s right up there with “keep your eye on the ball” in the rankings of less than helpful advice I’ve been given.
Unfortunately, it has the advantage of being true. These books don’t write themselves! However much I may want them to.
Still, it’s frustrating for me. I grew up reading Isaac Asimov. The grand master wrote over 400 books in his life. That’s second only to Cotton Mather! (And unlike Cotton, Asimov’s books are fun and don’t get people killed by accusing them of witchcraft!) I’m over 40, and I’ve written one.
And now that I managed to get that one published, the first thing my publisher tells me is to not stop! Write another book? Again?
So I turn to fellow authors for support. And they post updates with #AmWriting hashtags to let me know it was a rough day, they only wrote 8,000 words.
Writer’s block is a thing. Everyone knows this. Getting stuck in plot holes is a thing. Rewriting a good chunk of your book because you had the bright idea to change the tense from first person to third person is totally a thing.
And staring at a blank computer screen is definitely, most certainly a thing. Oh boy, is it a thing.
So, since I had free reign on writing topics in this post, I thought I’d share what I find successful in getting the words on the page.
1) Routines are helpful!
When I was writing Tail & Trouble, I found I got a lot of writing done in Florida. My wife works part of the year at Universal Studios in Orlando, and I would come and visit her from New York when I had a break from my job. Most days I would drop her off at work, drive over to the nearby Einstein Bagels and abuse their bottomless coffee policy while I wrote a couple chapters. Then I would go and ride the Hulk coaster.
So, what do I credit with this burst of productivity? The Florida sun? The vanilla hazelnut coffee from Einstein? The g-forces of the Incredible Hulk? It’d better not be those things, since I’m back in New York, the nearest Einstein Bagels is 45 miles away and there are no nearby roller coasters I can go to on a daily basis. (Well, a couple, but they aren’t as hulk-tastic.)
No, I credit it the sheer repetitive routine. I wrote for an hour or two each day, got a lot done, and then gave myself a reward. That I can repeat.
2) Don’t get hung up on having a PERFECT place to write.
I like writing in coffee shops. (Because I am a human cliche.) I love coffee, I find there are fewer distractions, and I get more focused. Does that mean I can’t write at home? No! I’ll try and write with the laptop on my knees while on the couch with my wife. It’s less productive, since there are always reminders about the laundry and housework that needs to be done. But hey, I’m real good at ignoring chores!
3) It doesn’t matter if it’s good
Don’t worry if it’s finely crafted prose. That comes later. The first draft is not going to be Pulitzer material. The important thing is to get words on the page. That won’t happen if there is constant judging and second guessing. Just write. Stuck? Have your character do the stupidest thing you could imagine. Have them stop adventuring and go to a zoo. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a kernel of something interesting in there you can use.
4) You are a Time Lord. Jump around!
Are you stuck on one particular chapter? Jump ahead! You don’t have to write in a linear fashion! Skip ahead to a part you want to write and then go back.
For example, I’m not one to do overly detailed outlines. I look at it as a loose framework, because I want to have the characters dictate how things move forward. I have a rough idea of where I want the story to go. If I get stuck at point A, but I know I want to be at point C, I’ll jump ahead and reverse engineer it backwards through point B.
Remember to double check your work! The readers will go forward in a linear fashion, so make sure everything tracks through.
5) Ass + Chair = Writing
This is a quote from a highly respected teacher at a highly respected college. I’m not just saying “ass” just to say it. Ass.
What he means is, you need to sit and pound it out. (Um, let me rephrase.) Sitting down and TRYING to write counts. Even if you only write a hundred words, that’s still a hundred more than you had before. But you need to sit and write.
6) Support and encouragement are helpful!
My book started to take shape once I had my wife and mom read the first few chapters. They loved it and wanted more. Mom shared it with her friends, and before long I had a bunch of people bothering me (politely!) for new chapters to read.
I personally find events like NaNoWriMo helpful. (That’s National Novel Writing Month.) Some of the other writers at my publishing house (Red Adept Publishing) get together and do the Camp NaNoWriMo months as well. I find the self imposed deadlines helpful.
Even if you find the thought of writing 50K words in a month daunting, try it out! You might surprise yourself. Even if you don’t finish, you’ll still have more words written down than you did at the start. I tried it last November. I didn’t finish because work and life got in the way, but I did get 15K words into a story that I will finish up this year.
Find some writing friends on facebook or elsewhere. Get together and read and critique everyone’s stuff. It’ll help.
So that’s how I power through when I get dry spells. I am now going to put them to use and finish up the second volume of Tail & Trouble.
Thanks to Whispering Stories for having me!
Publisher – Red Adept Publishing
Pages – 221
Release Date – 10th May 2016
ISBN-13 – 978-1940215686
Format – ebook, paperback, audio
When Gabriel’s witch girlfriend doesn’t return from her latest trip, he gets on the road and heads out to find her. Sheila’s coven is secretive and distrustful of Gabriel, so the only help he has is Sheila’s familiar, a bulldog named Orson, who is psychically linked to both of them.
In Florida, they walk right into an elaborate plan to steal Orson. A mysterious wizard named Yareth is behind the plot, and he may also know where Sheila is.
Gabriel and Orson will have to fight for their lives as they navigate around all the magical roadblocks to force Yareth’s hand. They won’t give up until Sheila is safe.