Your Writing Environment

I just started to pick up where I left off in one of the best books for writing out there- How to write and sell your first novel. By Oscar Collier and Frances Spatz Leighton. Amazon shows the old cover, but you can do a look inside and see pages from the revised edition. I have the same in soft cover. It's a great general book that takes you through the process of creating/writing and eventually to selling/Publishing (haven't gotten that far yet!)

I decided to post some of the tips from Chapter six so all you budding authors can create the right environment! I thought these were too good not to share. I like how the end of each chapter sums up all you've read in a handy-dandy 'Tips' section.

I figure if I can plug pages upon pages of Fan fiction, then I can surely start plugging an even rougher version of a real novel that can one day be published. You can even set a goal to have a first rough draft of a novel in 3 months time if you stick to your plan.

• Set yourself a daily writing quota of three pages. (Cut out the heroics and stick to three, you can gradually work yourself up to 4 or 5)

• Write during the time of day when you feel most alert. Set aside the same time in the same place every day for writing. Writing should become part of your daily routine.

• Pick a location where you can be productive, whether you require background noise or absolute silence to write.

• Take a few minutes every day before you start writing to visualize what you're going to work on.

• Think positively. Get enthused and excited about writing every day.

• Avoid all interruptions during your writing time.

• Work out dialogue by speaking it aloud.

• Reward yourself after you complete your daily three pages. (A pint of Ben and Jerry's or Breyers ice cream should do the trick!)

• Keep writing--even through writer's block. Switch to another chapter or section of the novel if difficulty persists.

• Count the number of pages you write every day. Just because you wrote extra pages yesterday is no excuse to fall short today.

• Use different color folders to hold your manuscript and your outline.

• When you reach the end of your novel, take time to review what you wrote and fill in any gaps you might find. Check any dubious facts. (SO IMPORTANT for those like myself who want to create a rich historical atmosphere.)

• Relax. Let your manuscript "cool" for a while. (This could even be for weeks! Don't talk about your novel either, so you're not tempted to go in and edit to the point of death.)


  1. All so organised! There's words, they get typed. Some may be good, some may be bad. Actually, let's not blame the words, as there's nothing wrong with them - just the order I happen to put them in. This is the extent of my planning. ;) Different coloured folders?! No interruptions?! Hello, I have cats. That doesn't prevent me using different coloured folders, though, admittedly. Me being completely disorganised takes care of that one.

    I don't think me and the author of that book would get along too good. Of course, this might be why they're published and I'm not. :)

    Saw a video on YT earlier, btw. It's a QL one that rather appealed to me.

    Worth watching, I think. :)

  2. there anything Scott can't do? Act, sing, that man.Thanks for the link. :D
    And as for all these rules of editing..I'm all for them, but I am disorganized too. I don't know about those color folders either. I'm lazy when it comes to handwriting these days, I'm all about MSWord, I need to take time to hand write too.

  3. Looks like my last comment didn't get posted somehow, so I'll just repeat and then get on to a new one.

    I'm with Swordz. I've never worked well with outlines. Even when they tried to make us use them in school, I'd write the composition, THEN write the outline so I'd have one to hand in. And a set time for writing? HA! Not in this house! ;D

    A "writing environment" in general is not something I even need. I was once told by an instructor, "You could write anywhere, anytime...maybe even upside down!" How true. I've mentioned before that I always carry a little notebook in my pocket; I wrote my first sci-fi novel in that book on a forklift, between loads!

    As for handwriting...I highly recommend it, especially when you're having problems getting a scene to flow. The very slowness of it gives your brain time to catch up with the words on the page. The only time I write directly into Word is when I've got a scene complete in my mind and it's clamoring to get out NOW. Otherwise, its handwriting all the way. It also means you don't lose your manuscript if your computer crashes when you're in the middle of working on it. Of course, I'm also one of those weirdos who simply likes the feel of a pen gliding across paper...especially a fountain pen. ;D Seriously, though, you definitely want to give it a try.


  4. Thanks for your tips too, Jake. I used to handwrite a bunch of my early fanfics like my very first Voyagers story, Voyagers Aide, I handwrote my first 'My Bodyguard' story and even made a little cover for it and everything. When I wrote the Phantom of the Paris Opera I hand wrote scenes and a lot of notes...after that I started using the comp more. I just didn't want to keep piling up notebooks.
    It is a nice feeling to let the words flow across the page from the's leisurewear. I need to go buy some nice pens. Being a lefty, me and fountain pens never seem to mix. LOL. I've had a few. But I love the smoothness of the gel pens.
    I don't think I've written an outline..not in the 'ABC' '123' sense..I would just write chapter 1-and then hammer out explanations of each scene..much like a movie director I thinks. These days I get the feeling I should be doing that. lol. Sometimes I feel like i think like a director when I'm writing my stories.

  5. Oh, I was wrong, my first Voyagers story was 'The Seacole Voyage' Voyager's aide was my first 'Epic' and the start of all those wacky series. haha.

  6. I'm a lefty, too. I think the biggest problem most people, even righties, have with fountain pens is the way they hold a pen. I was drilled in the old Palmer method of handwriting, which had a very specific way of holding the pen. If you don't hold it that way, a fountain pen is just plain not going to work, no matter which hand you use. If you want to check to see if your manner of holding the pen is the problem, check out some books or websites on calligraphy. Its very nature demands the use of a fountain pen of one kind or another, so any site that provides decent instruction in calligraphy will illustrate the proper method.

    Ah, yes, gel pens. They run a very close second to a fountain pen. If I have to use a ballpoint, I find I prefer Parker or Papermate. I just don't use ballpoints much anymore, because I have trouble seeing what I've written unless the ink is very dark; hence my exclusive use of fountain or gel pens these days.

  7. All these comments are so interesting and helpful, my father would use big thick pencils when he was writing and I once heard that Thomas Wolfe would write on top of the refrigerator! I guess the most important thing is just to try and write. EmilyW


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