Ask Us Something: Elizabeth and I Reply Questions About Writing

In episode 438 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, Elizabeth and I answered listener questions on writing in an “Ask Us Something.” Listed below are some highlights:

How does writing a novel differ from writing TV? Is doing one preparation for doing the opposite, or are they actually totally different?

Elizabeth: They’re very totally different, very difficult in numerous methods. Writing a novel proper now feels tougher, as a result of I haven’t accomplished it as typically as I write TV. It’s quite a lot of enjoyable, however I discover it extraordinarily intimidating, as a result of I feel it’s exhausting to maintain somebody’s consideration. It seems like a giant accountability. 

Writing TV is all about utilizing as few phrases as doable, being temporary. In novel writing, you should use quite a lot of phrases, and I’m wondering “How am I going to refill all these pages?” Then I discover myself overwriting, and I’ve to return and lower. 

In tv, all the pieces needs to be in dialogue, whereas in a novel, you may actually get into the inside monologue, which I like. 

And likewise, one factor that’s enjoyable about writing a novel is that you simply don’t have to consider the price. One thing can explode, you may have 5 hundred characters, you may journey the world, as a result of all of it prices the identical quantity to print the web page. Once we’re writing TV, we spend a lot time desirous about manufacturing. 

Do you sit at your desk at a prescribed writing time even for those who don’t have a transparent concept of what you’ll write?

Gretchen: Sure, I do. If I don’t know what I’m going to jot down, I’ll putter round with one thing. I’ve all the time received quite a lot of stuff to jot down.

Elizabeth: I don’t, however I in all probability ought to. Once I’m working, I’ve so many issues to do this writing will get slot in wherever I can. That’s a part of what I battle with writing the novel, I don’t have these prescribed occasions.

How do you restart a mission that’s been languishing for some time?

Gretchen: I’d say: Get again into it. Put aside a while daily. Use all of your habit-formation methods to make constant time for it. Learn by way of the entire thing with out modifying it, and work out the way you need to begin partaking. Do you need to choose up and begin writing once more? Do you need to begin at first and edit? 

This might be a scenario the place “It’s not a bug, it’s a function.” If they will, many writers will put one thing away for six months, in order that once they come again to it, they’ll have a recent eye. Ultimately, it would profit your artistic mission that you’ve a little bit of distance from it. 

What suggestions do you will have for solo writers who want inspiration, collaboration, accountability, and simply plain assist to maintain going or get by way of a tough patch?

Gretchen: Each of us are huge followers of being in writers’ teams, however this to me feels like a straight-up accountability downside. Unfurl the record of accountability methods, use the Happier™ app, the Don’t Break the Chain Habit Trackerthere are many instruments you should use when you notice you want exterior accountability. 

Elizabeth: And the last word accountability: Take an internet writing class the place you must flip stuff in. Most of us need to be good college students.

How do you’re taking your work from a single concept right into a full fleshed-out piece?

Elizabeth: That’s the million-dollar query. For me, as a result of I work with a associate, it’s quite a lot of speaking. We go from an concept, to notes for a pitch, to a pitch, to a top level view. We’ll discuss a scene and go off and write the define for that scene, taking turns, after which go to script. It’s a protracted, many-step course of, and I feel it’s related for the novel as effectively.

Gretchen: For me, typically I’ll have an concept or a query I need to reply, and I all the time begin with the analysis. Tons of studying and note-taking, typically throwing spaghetti towards the wall: something that appeals to me, something that strikes my curiosity, something that surprises me. I take quite a lot of notes that by no means find yourself paying off, as a result of they characterize dead-ends. At a sure level, I’ll know the topic effectively sufficient to have a principle—as an example, with with habit-formation.

And there’s the issue of the construction, which is all the time very troublesome to determine. Should you take a look at any of my books, you would possibly assume I simply picked the obvious construction, however each time, it was months of labor–after which I’ll notice I have to do extra analysis. Then there’s typically an enormous quantity of reducing. For my e-book Life in 5 Senses, I lower out in all probability thrice as a lot completed materials as what seems within the e-book. Individuals typically ignore that half when speaking about writing: quite a lot of it’s reducing.

How do you strategy writing a couple of private expertise that shut buddies or household is likely to be offended by?

Elizabeth: One factor I do know folks do is change greater than the identify. Change different particulars—job, gender, the place the particular person lives—so that you simply actually can’t inform who it’s. That particular person, relying on the story, nonetheless would possibly acknowledge themselves. It’s important to ask your self, “Am I okay with this?” 

Writers really feel very otherwise about this. Some folks really feel, “That is my lived expertise and I’m going to jot down what I need to write,” and different folks will present somebody a chapter of their e-book and ask in the event that they’re okay with publishing it. It actually comes all the way down to your private philosophy.

Extra questions I’m typically requested:

How do I spark my creativity?

What’s my course of for taking notes?

How does an individual grow to be a broadcast writer?

How do I learn a lot?