September 26, 2023

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

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

Elizabeth: They’re very completely different, very difficult in numerous methods. Writing a novel proper now feels more durable, as a result of I haven’t accomplished it as usually as I write TV. It’s loads of enjoyable, however I discover it extraordinarily intimidating, as a result of I feel it’s arduous to maintain somebody’s consideration. It appears like an enormous accountability. 

Writing TV is all about utilizing as few phrases as potential, being temporary. In novel writing, you need to use loads of phrases, and I ponder “How am I going to refill all these pages?” Then I discover myself overwriting, and I’ve to return and minimize. 

In tv, every part must be in dialogue, whereas in a novel, you possibly can actually get into the inside monologue, which I really like. 

And in addition, one factor that’s enjoyable about writing a novel is that you just don’t have to consider the fee. One thing can explode, you possibly can have 5 hundred characters, you possibly can journey the world, as a result of all of it prices the identical quantity to print the web page. After we’re writing TV, we spend a lot time fascinated 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 loads of stuff to jot down.

Elizabeth: I don’t, however I most likely 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 venture that’s been languishing for some time?

Gretchen: I’d say: Get again into it. Put aside a while day-after-day. Use all of your habit-formation methods to make constant time for it. Learn via the entire thing with out modifying it, and determine the way you wish to begin partaking. Do you wish to decide up and begin writing once more? Do you wish to begin in the beginning and edit? 

This could possibly be a state of affairs the place “It’s not a bug, it’s a characteristic.” If they will, many writers will put one thing away for six months, in order that after they come again to it, they’ll have a recent eye. In the long run, it’d profit your artistic venture that you’ve a little bit of distance from it. 

What suggestions do you’ve for solo writers who want inspiration, collaboration, accountability, and simply plain assist to maintain going or get via a tough patch?

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

Elizabeth: And the final word accountability: Take a web based writing class the place you must flip stuff in. Most of us wish 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 companion, it’s loads 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 comparable for the novel as effectively.

Gretchen: For me, usually I’ll have an concept or a query I wish to reply, and I all the time begin with the analysis. Tons of studying and note-taking, usually throwing spaghetti towards the wall: something that appeals to me, something that strikes my curiosity, something that surprises me. I take loads 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 concept—as an illustration, with with habit-formation.

And there’s the issue of the construction, which is all the time very tough to determine. In the event you take a look at any of my books, you may 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 usually an enormous quantity of reducing. For my ebook Life in 5 Senses, I minimize out most likely 3 times as a lot completed materials as what seems within the ebook. Individuals usually ignore that half when speaking about writing: loads of it’s reducing.

How do you method writing a few private expertise that shut associates or household is perhaps offended by?

Elizabeth: One factor I do know individuals do is change greater than the identify. Change different particulars—job, gender, the place the individual lives—so that you just actually can’t inform who it’s. That individual, relying on the story, nonetheless may acknowledge themselves. You must ask your self, “Am I okay with this?” 

Writers really feel very otherwise about this. Some individuals really feel, “That is my lived expertise and I’m going to jot down what I wish to write,” and different individuals will present somebody a chapter of their ebook 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 usually requested:

How do I spark my creativity?

What’s my course of for taking notes?

How does an individual turn out to be a broadcast creator?

How do I learn a lot?