Blog Hopping, Giving up, Giving In.

Welcome back to another BlogHop, with#OpenBook. Read on for this week’s prompt.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

What? I need to quit one of my vices? Which one? Coffee, going out for lunch with my wife, fish and chips, cream teas, watching my DVD collection of X-Files episodes (series 1-9), 1970s heavy metal music. Which one of them would I be willing to sacrifice?

Or how about one of my writing foibles? Could giving up one of them make me a better writer? Let’s see, there’s my tendency to write in different genres, start too many projects, waste time on social media when I could be writing or marketing.

And then there’s the big one, the pachyderm over there in the corner. I refer to my tendency of getting side-tracked while researching facts, or even going off on a tangent when I’m supposed to be writing about a specific subject. Meaning that I end up writing about something else.

Like I’m about to do here; if I’m not careful.

Being more selective in my research, stopping the search for ever more fascinating facts and obscure knowledge would certainly improve my output.  Although not all of it, Obviously. Because some of my novels have come from side-tracking.

Incidentally, when I was researching the sequel to Life and Other Dreams, I found an interesting place in Belize It’s called Magnetic Hill, or Gravity Hill. It’s on the Hummingbird Highway and gravity appears to be switched off. If a car is stopped at the bottom, it rolls back to the top. I’m sure I can use that in the novel. In fact, as I type this I can visualise where it might fit.

See what I mean? The question is, why do I inevitably seem to end up getting side-tracked? It’s a combination of things, my desire to know all there is to know about the things that interest me, the fact that I’m constantly amazed by the amount of information available, my inability to concentrate.

As I’ve said before, I thought that writing Sci-Fi would be easy. I was confident that there would be no need for research, you can’t research the future, you just need to invent it.

I’m much wiser now, I understand that to create the future, you have to understand the present. You need to know the way things work; so that you can adapt them and move them into your worlds. If you start with something believable, you can take the reader with you when you present him with the new, improved version that comes from your imagination.

To my surprise, despite never wanting to do any, I’ve fallen in love with research. I can spend hours getting all the facts about something that might only take up a few paragraphs, just to make sure that I’ve got it right.

BUT… the problem is, in my thirst for knowledge, I wander off when I see an interesting topic.

Several hours later, I know everything about some niche subject, sometimes more than one. Trouble is, I’ve forgotten what I was looking for AND I’m nowhere further forward on what I was actually writing.

I actually wrote a post about the problem, back in 2017, as it related to a book that I was writing at the time. You can find it here.

Back to the subject, again.

if I could change one thing, secure in the knowledge that it would make me a better writer, which would I choose? I’d have to say that I can’t decide. I’d love to stop getting side-tracked; if it wasn’t for the fact that it has led me on a wonderful journey of discovery. In fact, all of my annoying writing habits have enriched the experience for me.

Could it be the end of the X-Files on repeat? Or should I start drinking tea?

I’d love to get your thoughts, please leave me a comment below. Then go and visit all the other great blogs on this hop.

Just click the link to join in


22 Responses

  1. Frank

    I gave up my name when I started. I considered that I was ready to sell my soul to become the writer I needed to be. Frank Faust, I was.

    My (now) wife reacquired it, returned it to me and told me not to be so damned silly.

    • Richard Dee

      Hmmm….. I’m not Richard Dee, although my real name is not a secret. I just thought it looked better than Richard Dockett on a book cover, maybe that was my big mistake?

      • Lela Markham

        Lela Markham’s not my real name either. I touched on it when we talked about googling ourselves. My real name /married name has collected some baggage and I didn’t want to haul it. And, the way my husband sees it, if I pull a DJ Salinger, folks can’t just hit Fairbanks International Airport and look us up in the phone book (do they even still have those). They’d have to do some real homework to figure out my legal name and then figure out where we live. And, technically, I have a claim to Markham. It is a family name. Edwin Markham the poet was a cousin of my grandmother.

        • Richard Dee

          After 40 years at sea with a surname like Dockett, it was a relief to become Richard Dee.

    • Richard Dee

      If only, the voices in my head keep giving me ideas. So do readers, with all their what happens next or what happened before. comments. I used to think that I hadn’t given them enough, now I realise that I haven’t given them too much.

    • Richard Dee

      I couldn’t survive without black coffee, and to be honest, I don’t think they write them like they did in the 70s (or 80s at a push).

      • Stevie Turner

        Unfortunately they’re all getting old or are dead through excesses. There were some good songs from that era though.

        • Richard Dee

          I saw most of them back in the day. I’ve since seen Ritchie Blackmore (of Deep Purple) in new incarnations as both Rainbow and Blackmores Night. And Camel, when they reprised The Snow Goose in 2013. Brilliant.

  2. Sally Cronin

    It is easy to become distracted when there is so much information laid out before us in all its glory.. Instead of getting a book out of the library on the subject and getting one opinion, online there are 101 differing views… doing research these days, and finding a way to bring a unique twist can be time consuming.. but I do love it.

    • Richard Dee

      Distraction is one of my (many) middle names!!! Which explains why I have so many half-finished projects. But I do like where it takes me, even if I have trouble getting back.

    • Richard Dee

      That’s right, there are several in the UK. Happening to find one where I was researching took up an hour of my time watching youtube videos.

  3. Lela Markham

    Some of the best stories come from a random bit of information dug up as research for another story. It’s like a treasure hunt.

    • Richard Dee

      That’s right, I’ve also found that an overheard conversation in a coffee shop can provide inspiration.

  4. Amy Miller

    All good points, and I get it. And now I need to watch X-Files and drink coffee. 😀

  5. Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    I really love the way everyone went in such different directions with this topic, Richard. I also do a lot of research but I am very focused so I don’t get distracted by other topics. I just have to many things I enjoy doing.

    • Richard Dee

      It’s finding a balance, sometimes I think I over-research. Although it can give me ideas for more new projects.

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