A Survivalist’s Guide To Writing

Survive

You need to think like a survivalist when you start out on a writing adventure. The only goal in this first draft is to survive.

Survive image from airman magazine via flicker creative commons

Survive
image from airman magazine via flicker creative commons

The key to surviving your writing project is all in the preparation. Traditional survivalists are a sturdy lot who know what they are getting into before they step out into the wild. Author survivalists can learn a thing or two from their outdoorsy cousins, like what to bring when you take that fist step into the frozen word tundra.

The Vast White Wasteland

The Vast White Wasteland

The Author Survivalist Backpack:

The basic tools of survival are adapted from the items found in a survivalist backpack. The best part is you don’t need to be like Bear Gryls and drink your own urine, unless you really want to. If you do go down that path, please keep it to yourself and do not share with the rest of the class, thank you.

Map: Every quest starts somewhere and hopefully you have an ending for your novel, or short story, in mind. Your map map not be a fully rendered outline with markers for each step on your journey and that’s fine. My map might only have the beginning, ending and a few key waypoints along the way. Without some kind of map, you may end up wandering in the dark reaches of the keyboard jungle forever. The deeper you go, the loster you get. (I like loster, it should totally be a word)

Your map is unique. Don't leave home without it. image by enrique flouret via flickr creative commons

Your map is unique. Don’t leave home without it.
image by enrique flouret via flickr creative commons

Fire Starter:  The outdoorsy types will bring something to light a fire to keep warm, signal a plane, or cook that freshly caught wood rat. The author survivalist will burn away distraction, torching Facebook and Twitter feeds to focus on the story work. Fire is also purifying. Burn away the self-doubt and the urge to edit as you write. Follow the path of the smoke and create.

image by jeff turner via flicker creative commons

image by jeff turner via flicker creative commons

Water:  Stay hydrated. Coffee, Scotch and Cabernet are acceptable means of writer support.

photo-1

Rope:  Don’t bring enough to hang yourself — because you’ll want to. Instead use the rope as your plot line. A knot here, or a couple of inches there, doesn’t make for a very strong story. Use the plot line rope to bind you story together in one continuous thread from beginning to end. You can always find the rope and give it a tug for momentum on your travels.

image from gillie rhodes via flickr creative commons

image from gillie rhodes via flickr creative commons

Flare Gun: The flare gets attention. Don’t be afraid to send up a flare from time to time to take a step back from that box canyon you’ve written yourself into. The flare is a small pause, to refocus on your story’s direction. Did you wander away from the path? Recalibrate your compass and head off in a new direction that will put you back on track.  If that means a new character, or ending one, you get to decide what works best to navigate your trail in the wilderness. In the event of a writing emergency, your chair cushion may be used as a flotation device.

image by peter stinson via flickr creative commons

I know I left my plot around here somewhere                   image by peter stinson via flickr creative commons

Don’t give up on your journey. Keep moving and survive.

What else would you put in your author survival backpack?

It's your backpack image by lida via flickr creative commons

It’s your backpack
image by lida via flickr creative commons

 

 

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10 comments

  1. Thanks for reminding em I need a flare gun. I’ve been banging my head against my keyboard all day.

    1. Don’t forget to open a window when you use the flare gun.

  2. Hilarious – thanks for the tip about my seat cushion! I’ll try to remember it when I fall overboard!

    1. Thanks Jan. I should have added the part about keeping your seat back at tray table upright.

  3. This is kinda brilliant, and maybe very brilliant when factoring in the art. I’m off to shop now, as that’s always my favorite part of undertaking any adventure. Must have newest, best and least loster proper tools and materials on hand.

    1. Thanks Jann! Have fun prepping for your next project. Don’t get loster.

  4. This is not at all how I work – but I loved the metaphor anyway 🙂

    1. Thanks Lori. You could take the Prepper approach to writing – barricade yourself in a bunker until you’re done. I’ve tried that one too.

      1. I’ll try that – once I get a better bunker. The wall doesn’t work so well – people keep chucking their garbage over it. 😉

  5. stephanie710 · · Reply

    Grat post, and perfect timing on my end. Seems you and I are walking side by side these days. I personally do not trust myself with ANY rope because I will find a way to hang myself. Love the survivalist ideas, and yes, lay off urine as a beverage. 🙂 I would add black licorice and peppermint bark to my backpack. Oh, and a pizza….always need pizza. xx

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