Archive for June, 2010

Are you wasting time while writing?

Do you feel guilty while wasting time during your writing day?


I’ve just read the results of a survey where workers across many different occupations indicated that the average worker wasted 1.7 hours per day while they were at work. That’s 102 minutes every day. And for that to be an average, some were wasting far more – some as much as 3 or more hours per day. While employers might find these results staggering, many respondents indicated that boredom and not having enough to do were high on their lists of reasons. That must give employers some room for creative thinking, planning and changes to the work day and environment. You can read a report of the survey here.

Do you find yourself wasting time during your writing day?

I do. I check my email, Facebook, Twitter and favourite websites several times during the day. Generally this is a waste of precious writing time. I’ve learned to… let me correct that… I’m learning to limit how many times each day I access my email and social networking sites. I’ve streamlined my email in-box so emails now go into categorized folders. Some need to be dealt with quickly, others can wait and some newsletters may get read if I have time.

Unless it is research, or the distraction moves your writing project along, it is wasted time. But when I do read my emails or check those social networking sites I am trying not to be too guilty about it. Writing is a lonely occupation and I need some contact with the outside world each day. I find some of my Facebook friends, for example, quite stimulating and they are also very encouraging. I need that. They cheer me on – and I cheer them on with their WIP.

It’s all about priorities I guess.

Good writing.

Who said that? Some thoughts on dialogue

Dialogue is one aspect of writing fiction on which many inexperienced writers stumble.

I know I did.

In my early years my dialogue was… well… to be frank, it was appalling. I didn’t know what I was doing. Years later I still struggle, but it comes more easily and, I hope, sound more natural.

Some thoughts on dialogue

  • Dialogue is tricky – it takes plenty of practice to get it right.
  • Dialogue is not like conversation, so don’t record everything a character says.
  • Make dialogue authentic and realistic – this takes practice.
  • Dialogue must move the plot along.
  • Dialogue can show character in a more powerful way than mere narrative.

For a longer discussion on this aspect of writing, Joanna Penn on her blog The Creative Penn has an article called My Dialogue Sucks: tips for improving dialogue in your novel. It’s well worth a read.

‘Good writing,’ said Trevor. ‘I hope you get the dialogue right.’

‘Thanks,’ said his readers. ‘That was most helpful.’