Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated – I’ve just been working hard on the second draft on the new novel. We’re close – we’re very close. Anyway, my bad for letting the blogging duty slip. So, here is a little list of writing hacks that I use that may be helpful to you.
For those who don’t know what life hacks are this sums it up nicely:
Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem of a person in a clever or non-obvious way.
- Character names: Stuck for character names – pick up a phone book, a registry, a membership list or anything that lists names. Believe me, real life can offer up names that you couldn’t think up in a million years. Also, pick up a couple of baby name books from the used bookstore.
- Make notes as you write: Sometimes when I’m writing, I remember things I have to add or change but I don’t want to stop what I’m doing. In Word, you can use the INSERT feature for making notes on manuscripts. To make a note, click on INSERT and then COMMENT – write your note and keep going.
- Visit locations from your desk: If you can’t visit a location, you can use Google Map street view feature to help you describe physical locations. Depending on the location you can find an amazing amount of detail by arrowing around the area. Of course you can’t get the feel, sound or smells – so do visit locations when possible.
- White noise: Need background noise in order to write but don’t want to drag your laptop to Starbux? Try this
- Capture your flashes of brilliance: Always have the best ideas when you’re walking the dog? Use a digital recorder or your phone to record your sudden bursts of brilliance while you’re walking.
- Describing physical action: Great tips on describing body language
- Use props to get in character: If your character is French, put on a beret and striped shirt and play Edith Piaf on your iPod. If your characters are in Italy, play opera and eat Italian food. Is your hero a bicyclist? Get into those biking shorts and a helmet. No, I’m not kidding, dress like the character, walk like her, talk like her, listen to her playlist, eat her favorite food – immerse yourself in her world (as much as possible). You’d be amazed at the difference it can make.
Well that’s the short list anyway. I’m sure there are many more and when I have time to think I may do another list.
What are your favorite writer hacks? Share your tricks, tips and advice in the comments. In the meantime, keep writing people – the world needs your work.