When learning about writing, I frequently come across succinct little pieces of advice, which can be helpful, but also misleading. “If you want to be a writer, just write, there’s nothing more to it.” “Writers need to do two things; read a lot and write a lot.” But what does it actually look like? I’m a firm believer that writing requires many skills, and I also believe it’s important to continue to work at each aspect each week (at least a little), but what are the categories, and how should I divide my time among them?
On a basic level all stories are a combination of 4 components; characters, a plot, a setting, and one or more ideas, which in this case refer to the underlying questions being explored. Ideas can be as simple as “how will the protagonist accomplish their goal”, or as complex as the purpose or meaning of life.
Use What You Have
Most stories start small; a character, a conflict, an interesting place. Whichever piece you have, start with that and build out.
MICE & LOCK
Some authors refer to it as the MICE quotient.
Milieu, the setting or location, the diegetic (fictional) world of the story
Idea, the concept, question, or topic being explored
Event(s), the plot
Other authors refer to it as LOCK
Lead, protagonist, POV character
Objective, goal or motive
Confrontation, obstacles or opposition
Knockout ending, clearly establishing whether the lead succeeded or failed
Finding the Time
Choose how you’re going to write, whether you prefer to carry a pen and notebook, a recorder to speak into, or a portable computer or smart phone that you can type with. Make sure that whatever you choose fits your needs. It should be small enough for you to comfortably carry it with you and it should be your preferred method or medium for writing. With portable tools you can write anywhere; while waiting for an appointment or meeting, during a break or intermission, or when inspiration randomly strikes.
There will be times when you don’t know what to write, or just don’t feel like writing. It’s easy to find other things to do instead of writing. Other times you may feel exhausted or suffer a headache. Here are a few common causes and solutions for writer’s block.