When you’re writing, whether it’s a short story, a novel, or a poem, do you pay attention to what is going on around you when you aren’t writing? Sometimes I’ll write down what I hear/see in my journal for later use and sometimes I don’t. Most times I remember. I know what you must be thinking. “How can you remember all that?” Well, I don’t. It isn’t until I’m writing a scene, and what I’m writing triggers a memory of something I saw or heard, then if it fits the scene, I use it. But, most often it’s only snippets of a conversation or something I saw that I end up using. Journals are a wonderful thing though and can contain a treasure trove of useful info. Take what you can from real life and mold it like clay.
The pictures below of are my journal for my novel The Triunix of Time. As you can see from the warn tabs and such, it’s been used quite a bit.
While you write, you accumulate many many pages of writings. Some of them you use and some of them you don’t. You may even keep a journal with your ideas in it. Or, you might also have a three ring binder you keep notes and writings in. After some months or years, you publish a novel or two. What do YOU do with your notes and writings after you’ve published your book(s)? Do you keep them? Do you throw them away?
If you throw them away, that’s your choice. You are well within your rights to do that. BUT, that means later you can’t go back and look over them when you need inspiration. Yes, inspiration. Let’s say you’re in the middle of writing book 3 and you are stuck. Will you have those old writings to draw from? You never know what might get your “gears” going again.
That moment before you start. Your mind is filled with so many thoughts. How do I begin? I know what I want to say; but how to write it in such a way that hooks the reader? Will what you write be good? Will it hook the reader? Will it inspire them? Will my beginning be as good as the beginning of my last book/story? What if I “sink”? What if it “takes off”? Yes, I can do this.
It’s all so thrilling isn’t it? You may have written many books/stories before and still have these questions going through your mind before you start. You want to make your readers happy, and you want them to have fun. Not to sound pessimistic, but we can’t please everyone. Many will enjoy your stories/books and many won’t. So, relax. Have fun. Don’t stress yourself out. The truth of it is, you have what I call “Your Circle”. These are the people who you trust to give you an honest critique of your writing before you publish your work. If your beginning, middle or end or anything in between doesn’t sound right, they will tell you. Listen to what they’re saying, take it into consideration, and go from there. If you’re new to the writing craft, your self-confidence may need to be built up more. If you are more experienced, you may have more confidence and so on.
Trust yourself. Based on your writing experiences you will come to know what is good and what needs to be scrapped. So…..DIVE IN. Enjoy.
I just learned that, if you click on the book link for my book located on the BOOK page of this blog site, it didn’t take you to my book on Amazon. Instead it gave you a Page Not Found with a picture of a dog on it. I have since fixed this problem. So now, if you click on the link, it will work.
Today as I was climbing the steps up to my apartment, I happened to notice two yellow jackets fighting on one of the steps. I mean they were going full force. I stood there and watched them for a minute. Eventually, they parted about a centimeter, but their legs were still going at it. No, I didn’t stomp on them. They weren’t bothering me; just each other.
Isn’t it like that when we write sometimes? We fight like mad trying to find the right words to use in our writing projects. Just when we think we’ve found the right words, we back up, re-read it with our mind still fighting with the idea, ‘Did I get it right this time? Did I not? How do I know?’ Yes, we all have writing days like that. The answer is to tough it out. Leave your work and go back to it a day or two later. If you still don’t like it, continue fighting to get it the way you want it. Or, you can ask advice from someone else.
Stick with it. Don’t let that fight get you down. You can do it.
On Twitter the other day an author I follow asked this question: ‘In four words, why do you write?’ I tried to answer this in four words, and I couldn’t do it. Why? I couldn’t find the right words. My mind went blank. Then later I realized, I couldn’t quite capture the joy writing gives me using any amount of words. It makes me feel that great internally. Inside, when I write, my self-worth heightens, my joy and excitement about creating something heightens. Yes, it may need to be worked on and rewritten later to perfect it, but that’s part of the fun. So, if I had to choose four words to explain why I write, I would choose these:
You are up in the mountains hiking with a friend. Along your path you come across a lone pint size milk carton. You’re a fiction writer, and you’re looking for ideas for another story but coming up with zilch. The hike in the mountains you feel will do you some good and perhaps get the wheels of creativity going. The milk carton accomplishes this goal as soon as you see it. It’s as if an electric spark shocked that story center of the right side of your brain. In an instant, your mind has a‘What if ‘ scenario in place.
What if the milk carton had drops of blood on it, and the blood belonged to someone who vanished without a trace 50 years ago? The blood is fairly fresh too.
In reality, the milk carton is just a milk carton and it most likely belonged to another hiker. They finished the milk and didn’t want to take the carton with them, so they left it there. BOOM. That’s it. BUT, what you did with your ‘what if ‘scenario is put a twist on reality. That’s what fiction does. I love to put a creative spin on things. It makes life interesting.
Do you warm up your writing engine before you start working on your writing project? I guess I would have to say, for me, it’s split 50/50. Sometimes I will warm up and sometimes I won’t. It all depends on whether or not the creative juices are flowing when I sit down to write. If I know what I’m going to write next in my work in progress (WIP), I don’t do a warm up. If I’m stuck, I do a warm up. That will get the ideas flowing again.
Types of Warmup Exercises
Writing a blog article
Write a poem
Look at a painting/picture:
Describe the setting
Describe what’s is going on (Remember, a picture is worth 1000 words)
Write a poem using your descriptions (Who knows, you might be able to use it in your WIP)
Take a walk in a cemetery. Speculate about the people who once lived. What do you think they looked like? What do you think they did for a living? How do you think they died and/or what’s the story behind it? Come up with scenarios/stories regarding random people. Did they know each other? If so, what was their relationship? You could go on and on with this.
Go to the beach. What do you see? What connections can you make with what’s in front of you? Maybe the people you see walking along the beach are sea people. If so, why are they there on the beach? What’s their story? (FEEL FREE TO STEAL THIS IDEA IF YOU LIKE)
Don’t be daunted by the blank page ever again. The only reason the blank page is a stopper is because nothing is there. So put something in your head first before you look at that blank page, then you’ll be able to readily transfer it to the blank page when you look at it.