There is one thing that has helped me write. It's called FocusWriter, and it's free. I've heard about a bunch of writing programs with virtual sticky-notes and chapter-thingys and all kinds of organizational and helpful applications, programs like Scrivener but these cost money and quite simply, I would not know what to do with all those helpful applications. I feel like all those doo-hingies would simply get in the way of me actually writing. Though I'll admit, organization and planning and perhaps outlining a story might help me actually finish one...But regardless, I do not feel like I need something that complicated. That is where FocusWriter comes in. It is a simple program that eliminates the distractions on your screen. It provides a simple background and page to write in, completely covering the screen so you cannot see when someone instant-messages you, you cannot see when someone updates their facebook, and you cannot browse the web while you're writing. It's simple, with as many features as I need. (It even has a feature where it sounds like a typewriter when you're writing, which is pretty awesome). So check it out if you're a writer who wants to write more but get too distracted by other things on your computer. Like I said, it's free and I've enjoyed it so far. I will definitely be using it come Nanowrimo.
Speaking of Nanowrimo, I will be participating in it once again. This is the fourth time, I believe? I have yet to actually achieve 50k words, but maybe this year is my year. If you don't know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and occurs in November. This link should help, Nanowrimo info. Essentially, you sign up on the website and attempt to write a novel in the month of November. Hundreds of thousands people have been doing this for many years now, and it's always fun to try. You write 1667 words a day and attempt to surpass 50,000 words, the size of an average novel. It is extremely difficult as you have to constantly juggle your schedule and write like a maniac as much as you can. At the end of it all, you have quite a bit of writing, a solid chunk of something resembling a portion of a novel. The most I've achieved is around 30k words. Like I said, hopefully this year is my year. I also have a couple friends attempting it with me, so I think it will be easier with other people that I know participating. If you're thinking about trying it out, let me know, it's always better knowing others that are doing it as well. It's good to have people to talk to about writing.
I have (very slowly) been reading through the What If? book on writing fiction. The latest exercise was about writing a story with a given first line, working on fleshing out the 'starting a story in the middle of things' idea. Their line was: Where were you last night?
Here's the beginning of a story with that line that I wrote:
In a bit of a Bind
“Where were you last night?” The question is followed by a swift punch to the stomach, knocking Damien to his knees with a groan. Hands grab his arms and pull him up only so he can receive another blow. He wheezes, gasping for breath.
“It’s...rather hard..to answer...whilst having the air...knocked outta me...” They give him a moment to catch his breath. “Now,” he smirks, “what was the question, again?”
A hard fist wipes the smirk off his face and sends him sprawling to the ground.
“So.” The voice is hot with anger. “You think this is a joke, Damien?”
Hands once again grab him and hoist him up. His face aches and he can taste blood in his mouth. The man in front of Damien is huge, at least six and a half feet tall and heavyset besides. There is no anger in his face, however, only cold hard eyes beneath a bald head. His fists are clenched, ready to unleash more pain, should Damien deserve it, and Damien is pretty sure he’s going to deserve it very soon.
“Not bringing me my money is no joke.” The voice does not come from the large man, but from a much smaller man at his side. The size difference between the two would’ve made Damien laugh under other circumstances, perhaps if his face didn’t feel like it just got smacked with a ten-pound hammer. The small man is barely four feet tall, short arms and short legs, and short black hair. At the moment he’s wearing a black business suit with polished black dress shoes and he’s shaking his head. “Damien Damien Damien...This is no laughing matter.”
A midget mob boss, who’da thunk it, right? Damien can’t help but burst out laughing despite the midget mob boss’ words. In a flash he’s on his back, unsure of how exactly he got there so fast. All he knows is his face suddenly hurts alot more than it did five seconds ago. The dark room, lit by only one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, swirls in Damien’s vision. A boot catches him in the side and he vomits on the brown-stained carpet. The dwarf says something but he can’t understand the words as he dry heaves. Boots suddenly come from all sides, kicking. One in the chest sends him gasping, one in the back makes him squeal. As the boots fall, he flops on the ground, struggling to find any position where the feet won’t hurt. He wonders if this is the end, death, the final scene of the movie of his life, when a hard steel-toed boot connects with his forehead.