mental attitude

Mental attitude by Rosie Walsh

Rosie Walsh novelist writing room

This is my Hmmm. Something about that sentence isn't quite right face.

Things can escalate quickly, when you're stuck in a silent room with a disastrous manuscript and no idea what to do about it. In the early days I'd go quite crazy when things weren't coming together (and as a general rule, it takes about a year for things to come together. So that's a lot of crazy.) 

Writing is my job; I have deadlines and contractual obligations. Crazy puts all of those under threat. It also diminishes the quality of my work and makes me think I dislike writing. (I don't dislike writing.) Staying positive and calm, therefore, have become as important to me as owning a computer or eating my lunch. 

I think there's a lot of guff out there about positive thinking. It's not about smiling joyfully through a bereavement, or congratulating the person who just mugged you. Nor is it about squashing down valid feelings, or pretending things are fine when they are not. Positive thinking is simply about getting into the best possible mental state for the situation you're in. The most helpful state. The most appropriate state. And as a general rule, tearful hysteria isn't a helpful or appropriate response to a plot problem - I've tried it enough times to be certain. Grim determination might be the best you can manage, on a day like that, but it's a lot more helpful than the alternative.

I won't go into the tools I use to stave off the crazies. They're just what works for me, and everyone's got some way of lifting their mood: meditation, affirmations, music, doughnuts, yoga, phone calls to good friends, NLP,  visualisation - if it works for you, it's the right one. The important thing is to do it!



Reading by Rosie Walsh

Rosie walsh novelist writing tips

I couldn't write books if I didn't read as much as I do. Even if I'm on a deadline I'll be reading something - I've even been known to put reading into my pomodoro breaks.

Of course, there are difficulties with reading-while-writing. The worst being that you're halfway through a storyline when you realise that it's remarkably similar to one written by someone else. You stop writing; panic; try to re-imagine your entire plot. (My advice: forget about it. Whatever you're writing, there will always be someone in the world who's written something similar.)

Or there's the one where you realise you've spent a week writing in the style of the author you've just read. (My advice: go back and delete all those bits. Your own voice will inevitably return and you'll be left with a strange and stylistically incongruous outburst in the middle of your manuscript that your editor is bound to spot.)

But these pitfalls are minor compared to the idea of a life without books. Read! Read! Read! ALWAYS!