Monday 18 December 2017

The Trials of a Crime Writer - Getting Merry With It


Something I know a lot of people struggle with during the holidays is keeping on top of their goals, as well as all the other stresses that come from Christmas, the new year and all of that. If you're like me and someone who still writes during the Christmas period and still has page counts to meet and murders and crimes to plan (fictionally of course!) then you'll know that sometimes it means writing about the gruesome sides of the human condition while everyone is mostly out celebrating the time of year. I thought I would do a piece about how I handle dealing with the gruesome while also staying in the mood for Christmas and all that comes with it.

This is my number one tip for so many reasons. Not just because it helps you stay focused and on top of everything, but also because it means you're listening to your body about what it can and can't handle. So if for example, you've got presents to wrap and a child running around all excited, then make sure you set yourself a manageable goal. There's nothing fun about stress and there seems to be a lot of it go around this time of year.

Say you have a character you have to kill, or a crime to plot out and you know it's gonna be gruesome and difficult. If you're someone who can channel that stress into your writing, then use it to write that scene. Not only will it be doing something positive, like getting a difficult scene out of the way, but it'll also help your stress levels once you're done. If you're someone who can't write when they're stressed or you don't have a scene you can use, then sit back and see if any of the other tips will work for you.

Yes, it comes once a year and it's huge and difficult, and you've got the kids home from school and all your relatives are wanting this and that from you, but remember to breathe. Before long the day is over, the season is done and life will return to normal. The best thing you can do is have fun and enjoy yourself while you're there. I know it's easier said than done, but yet it is true. If you find you can't write during the holiday period and that crime you were planning to research seems a bit too much, just breathe and either work through it, or set it aside for a few days time.

So those are my three top tips for getting through the holiday period and still having a shred of dignity left at the end of it. I plan to have a quiet Christmas, but I've also planned to get some serious writing done. If you find that you're thinking your storyline is a little too dark and horrific to be writing over this period, then take a breath and realise that it's probably going to feel like that come the new year. One thing I've learned in my years of writing dark fiction is that it's always going to be dark, bar possibly Halloween time, and sometimes you just need to buckle down and get on with it.

The big thing to remember is that it is fiction. Whether you bang away at the keyboard or mull over scenes in your head during some quiet moments, there's nothing wrong with that. I remember once getting a comment on a blog post that because I wrote young adult and also wrote crime, that I was making the young people of today more likely to get into a murderous rage and carry out the crimes committed. I raised an eyebrow and shrugged, laughing a little because that's not how it works. There's nothing wrong with writing dark fiction, whether that's crime, paranormal or anything like that. As I've grown as a writer and author, I have found that I have a taste for the dark side of fiction, and I do love telling it. It's not for everyone and that's completely okay, but it's also okay for those of us who like it, to enjoy writing it.

So that's all I've got for you today. I hope you have a wonderful holiday period and I will see you again after the big day. Since Christmas falls on a Monday this year, the Monday blog post next week will be up on the 26th instead. Hope you all enjoy yourselves, and as always, feel free to leave a comment below.

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