This is something some writers don’t have. Okay. Well, maybe not some. Let’s just say me. I try hard to have it but ….
My head is filled with stories. It’s full of scenes, dialog and … things. I sit and as I write, it flows so much slower. I can spend a full solid morning and only have a few pages to show but in my mind, I’ve seen the beginning, the middle and the end.
So, with the patience comes focus. With that head so full of stories and ideas, its hard to stay focused on just one. I easily get something else caught in my imagination and start to document that. And typically, as I’m working on that, a new idea bursts forth.
I’ve learned that patience comes with discipline. To ease the chaos of my mind, I try to satisfy it by working on more than one project at a time. I’ve been asked if that isn’t confusing or difficult. To be honest, not really. But it does do, is: it slows down the process and extends the completion of the story.
So, I’m trying to focus on only 2 or 3 projects. I can rotate as needed but I feel it will help me and my blocks. But its not rigid. If I find that I spend all my time on 1 project, then so be it. And congrats to me. The only benefit to a slow process is that I get to think more about the story. I find places to make changes and fix problems. In the end, maybe thats the reward….
Oh, and with that: I use a notebook to catalog all those new ideas. Let’s just hope I can get to them one day!
I feel like I just woke up after spending all weekend immersed in authors panels and looking at art and reading about new writers.
I met so many fellow authors and new literary adventurists.
One of my favorites this weekend was Cinda Williams Chima, writer of the Heir Chronicles, Seven Realms, and Shattered Realms. My daughter was introduced to her writing back in junior high. She had read a lot of fantasy books and was sitting on her wall that the best book in the world was Harry Potter. Well, she read The Warrior Heir and the changed overnight. She brought the books home and introduced them to her parents. We became instant fans. Cinda was very nice and supportive.
Other writers: John Scalzi, Pierce Brown and Tricia Levenseller. All of them were very positive. All were more than willing to encourage you and your writing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you want to write for more than yourself, you need to find a community. And don’t be afraid to seek out even the big authors. Those that have New York Times Bestsellers books. Those that have the Hugo or Nebula or Locus awards. You’ll find most if not all are very humble. Yet, be respective and don’t try to be the new best friend. If you’re not careful thats where restraining orders come into play! (Just a little joke folks!).
I find that other writers inspire me. I’m sure they inspire all of us. So have fun and find time to meet your favorite authors.
Back in college, I had a writing instructor instill in her students – and me: to be a good writer, the writer must read. This is the key research of a writer – any writer.
So, I’ve taken this lesson and been using it for the last couple decades. I read novels on a regular basis. Sometimes, when working on my own stories, I may just read a few pages of a similar style/story/book. This will trigger the creative juices but it also gives me insight into how other writers produce pacing and structure to their story. Call it a confidence builder too.
While at the local Starbucks this morning, I placed a few pages of three novels in front of my wife. I asked her to read each. My goal was to see if she could see the obvious style differences. And the one instance of a writer that may have not been writing very long vs. an author that has honed their craft. One of the authors was a Nebula and Hugo Award winner, one was a standard popular author and one of them was a self published novel on Amazon. She quickly identified the self-published writer and immediately stopped reading. She knew (as did I) that it was so badly written it was hard to continue. Now, I’m not trying to belittle or insult the self-published author but it was very evident to both my wife and myself that this writer has not done the lesson I described in the first sentence of this blog.
So research isn’t just learning about locations, science, careers or the technicals needed to convenience the reader that you know what you’re writing about. Research can simply be reading other authors. After reading similar stories by other authors, analyze and review why the story worked? What didn’t work? Could it be better if something was done slightly different. What kept you reading? Was the characters or the pacing of the story that hooked you? These components will help you in your own writing. It has helped mine.
So my daily routine: get up, read for an hour, think about what I read and then sit and write for an hour. I’ve been distracted from this routine, but my new goal is 365 days of not deviating. Thus, I will not only produce more this year but advance my own style and art….