My last post was about reading and how it is a necessity for a writer to read as much as they can to learn about the process, flow, sparks, and all the necessary ingredients needed to keep the reader involved. This post will be about what comes from all of that reading – the writing piece.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me. If I were pissed off at someone, I would sit down, write a letter, and, more often than not, never send it to that person. It was more for me to use as a way to get whatever the issue was off my chest. I could put whatever I wanted down on that paper, even things I know I would never say to that person’s face. It’s amazing how well it worked for me, to relieve the pressure of being upset with that person. Feeling such a sense of relief, like a weight was lifted from my shoulders once I got it all out. It also settled me down and I did not feel as upset with that person. It cleared my head and let me know exactly what I should say to that person and what would not be part of the conversation.
Writing stories and novels are entirely different than blowing off steam and for me, much more enjoyable. They are both varied types of writing but they tap into different emotions. I love to create and to bring characters to life, to figure out their backstories and lives that made them who they are in the time of the story. Using my own life and people in my life as templates for characters and storylines, it's fun to bring them to life in character and fictional stories. I feel fortunate to have all the ideas I have for stories and novels but it doesn’t always come easy. I get stuck with each novel I write, at some point in the story. It’s inevitable and it can hold me up sometimes for months on a story. But I can always write something else; another short story, start another novel or write character bios for the current novel or future novels. There is a lot you can do when you get hung up. You can write anywhere you are and can do it longhand or type it into a device if that’s easier or more convenient. The important thing is that you continue to write, to get the thoughts down to use later. It may be later that day or months down the road but capture those thoughts and ideas as I guarantee you will use them at some point.
Ideas come to me quite often from things I see in nature or everyday life, around town, or on vacation. Inspiration is everywhere if you want to find it. All this life surrounding you can get your creative juices flowing but you have to be observant and open to seeing these things around you. This is where my phone comes into play. On my memo pad on my phone, I write these ideas down in a list. My memory is not so great so the memo pad is a necessity. With everything I have put into my phone, I have enough ideas for short stories, memoirs, and novels to keep me going for years to come. If I hadn’t written them down on my phone, they would have been lost. My mind is certainly no steel trap!
The other great thing about writing down ideas, words, or phrases that you want to use is that you can combine many of them for one story. I have had separate ideas for short stories but sometimes, these ideas can be woven into one of my other stories to give it an additional layer, making the story a bit more complex, giving it extra depth. But only if it’s a good fit. Keeping a running list of words, phrases, quotes, short story ideas, ideas for novels and the like is such a great way to keep me loaded up with more things to write than I have time for at this point in my life. I don’t mind having that kind of an issue.
So just write. Sit down and write. If you do not have a story on hand, write whatever is on your mind. Start typing or actually writing if you prefer longhand. Just get yourself into the habit of writing. One thing I’m sure many of you have seen or read is that most of your successful authors set aside a certain amount of time each day to write. Most have a goal of -X- number of words to complete for that day while others will just write for -X- number of hours per day and be satisfied with whatever comes within that time. I try to sit down and write for at least an hour each day but it usually goes way beyond an hour. My goal is at least 2000 words per day. Some days I have written 1500 words and others I have written 7000+. When I have the opportunity to make this my full-time gig, I plan to write for at least 4 hours a day. It should be easy to fill in that amount of time.
Remember that everyone approaches writing novels differently. Some have an idea and sit down to create the story. Others must sit and think out the whole story before putting pen to paper. Still, others write an outline to follow for their story. Of course, you might use a combination of these styles. Whatever works best for you, use it. Just write, get whatever you can down, and worry about changes later. You will edit, make changes, edit, shorten, edit, lengthen, edit, adjust, and reconfigure your novel many times over before it is ready to go to an agent. You are going to edit your writing so much it's insane! Write and write some more. Get it down while it is fresh in your mind and worry about the adjustments later.
Have a goal of -X- number of words per session or to write for a certain amount of time. When you get on a roll and have the time to keep going, get it out while you can. Be disciplined and make time to write every day, if possible. There are days when nothing seems to come, my brain is at a standstill. It’s bound to happen and even though it can be frustrating, that’s okay because it will be balanced out by those days that you feel like a writing machine.
In the end, you’re going to get some great stuff down on paper (or, more likely, a computer screen) if you get into a habit of writing consistently every day. Creating a habit, on average, takes just over 2 months. That is not a long time and if it’s something you truly enjoy, it will go by in a flash. Think about all the fun you will have in your quest to create that habit and the cool stories that will be the end result.
Happy reading, happy writing!