Fluid Inspiration

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I’m thinking back to the times that I have been the most productive writer. I need some key factors to work in my favour if I hope to complete a novel within a matter of months.

Space

Truth be told, I must spend a lot of time alone in order to be able to stay in tune with my story, my characters, and my inspiration. When I wrote my first two novels years ago, I would walk on my lunch breaks by the river, listening to songs that fuelled my imagination. I sacrificed forming closer relationships with my coworkers as a result, but when you’re serious about writing, then the writing comes first. Always.

Rain

A good dosage of rain is necessary for my inspiration. Some writers may find this trivial, but rain and fog are catalysts for my creativity. Sunshine is good, but too much of it actually zaps my creativity. I think one reason for this is that I’m instinctively more social when it’s warm and sunny. it kicks me out of my creative cave.

Music

One reason why I rarely listen to popular music is because it does nothing for the type of books that I prefer to write. I need deeper, richer songs in order to thrive in my world of make believe. I think that most writers need music to spark and maintain their inspiration.

Film

Watching films or even TV shows in the genre that I hope to write in always gets me in the writing zone, especially because I would love the opportunity to write a film script (once my writing matures!).

Peace

I can write well when I’m feeling melancholic, but when I’m feeling anxious or depressed, the process is going to suffer. This may sound weak to some people, but, regardless, in order to stay in tune with my work, I can’t have anyone or anything nagging on me. I need a stable job, a good quiet home, supportive people within reach (but not too close), and enough exercise.

Setting

Setting crosses over into a few of the aforementioned factors, but living in an area that you can appreciate aesthetically is important. Living in the mountains for the past two years has certainly been like a dream for me. Here in Western Canada, there is a good balance of rain and sun. It seems to be the perfect climate and I think that for creative people, setting means the world.

So, there we have it. I imagine some sort of “How To Care For Your Creative Writer” meme being inspired by my choosy behavior. I’ve realized how much I really do live my life based on how I feel. Such are the whims of a writer.

So, writers, what helps you to maintain some semblance of “fluid inspiration”? Or, are you able to write regularly no matter how you’re feeling?

My Writing Progress After Working in the Wilderness

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In June, I took a long bus ride to northern British Columbia, which took another four hours by car to reach a wilderness lodge where I would work for the rest of the summer. The view was spectacular and I had my own room, so after my long days working with customers and guests, I was able to get a significant amount of writing done. It rained a lot, which fuels my creativity and inspiration.

I ended up revising one of my short stories, Eve and Adam. I was also able to edit and write several more pages of my novel, which is not yet titled. Speaking of which, I really need to work on that!

I found that I was able to focus much of my time on writing when I worked through the day, but on the weeks that I had to work a split shift, I mostly napped because I couldn’t sleep well. I do find that I tend to write better after working during the day. So wherever I end up moving to next, I will do my best to work a day shift so that my writing will not suffer.

How has your writing progressed over the summer?

Writing by Hand

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The feel of your hand sliding across the page as you pen the words birthed from your imagination. Seeing a story handwritten in a notebook is an art in its own way. Watching your ideas and characters form into sentences by your own hand is simply breathtaking.

Writing in a notebook allows you to travel anywhere and sit in the most interesting places that might be awkward if you carried a laptop. Of course, writing on a computer is certainly poetic as well, as writing is writing. But one cannot compare the magic that takes place as the writer pens her or his heart out onto the page as they lean against a tall oak tree or sit upon a rock at the top of a mountain.

Write What You Love

Write what you want to write about. Write about what inspires you. Write about what you think about when you’re walking under the stars or in the rain. Write the story that you have always wanted to tell. Write about the characters that won’t leave your mind.

Then, have the courage to write what you love. Then, re-write it until it works.

Do not worry about its marketability or who will like it. If you like your own work, it’s all that matters. Someone else will treasure it if you treasure it first.

Don’t just write about what you know, write what you love.

I Write Like…

Thanks to Miss Writerlicious for mentioning this most fun site called “I Write Like”. You cut and paste a portion of your writing (At least a few paragrahs from your WIP) to see which author’s writings yours most resemble.

You can give it a try here.

My results show that I write like H.P. Lovecraft.

According to Wikipedia, “Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) — known as H. P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.”

I am flattered. :) I have no idea how accurate this is supposed to be, but it is interesting that, in my case, I tend to write darker stuff and have always preferred stories with fantasy or horror elements. Cool. And I like to describe myself as weird quite a bit. I will have to purchase some of his books now!

If you choose to try this site out, let me know what results you get. :)

First Person Narrative

For the first time since I have started writing novels, I have made the decision to write one of my books in the first person point of view. Normally, I love writing from multiple points of view – where the story is told from at least four different characters’ perspectives.

Sometimes, first person just works best. I was a little nervous to do this at first, but I think it will be great to try something new and challenging. I say challenging, because it’s going to be different for me to portray the other characters’ personalities and behaviour through just one person’s eyes. Though, I do enjoy reading first person sometimes, because it can give such an intimate portrayal of the protagonist as though you were reading her/his journal.

Interestingly, my current work in progress is a sort of survival tale, much like The Hunger Games, which was also narrated in the first person.

I’d also like to add that one of my favourite bloggers and writers, Lauren Waters, does a fabulous job of writing her books in the first person, because I can imagine everything that is going on around the main character with great detail – from plot events to the other characters. So, first person can certainly be very effective.

So, writers, how about you? Do you ever write in the first person? Do you write in both first and third narrative? Which do you find works the best?

Beta Readers

Before sending your work to a professional editor, I highly recommend having at least two people (fellow writers or avid readers) read over your book and let you know what they thought of it. Editors are amazing at fixing grammatical errors, sentence structure, and some will even comment on things like characters or the flow of the story, but you really need to have a few people give an honest opinion of your story to see if the concept works well.

I have had two beta readers go through my work and they have been absolute life savers. They pointed out some considerable flaws like continuity errors (i.e. forgetting one character dyed their hair and mentioning that they had their previous hue – oops!) and there were some significant historical inaccuracies I had missed, despite research. It would have been so embarassing to have my novel out on the market with such errors. Having two writers go over my work was the best decision.

Something to learn about self publishing: There is no rush.

Take the time to edit and tweak your story line until you are absolutely satsified. Then, edit it again. Have a few people do a peer edit after that and then, when everything makes sense and the details are in order, send it over to the editor.

Do you have a certain number of beta readers go over your story before sending it to an editor? Tell me your thoughts on beta readers. :)

Handwritten words

One morning, I thought it would be really inspiring to walk to a secluded area of the park near my home and write in my notebook rather than on my laptop. I sat on a bench and wrote an entirely new story idea. The quiet, natural surroundings provided the perfect whimiscal setting. Sun streamed through the tall trees above me and I wrote for a solid hour.

In the past, I have been exclusively a laptop writer. “You have to type up your story eventually, so why not start out that way? It saves the time and the work of transporting the words from the paper to MS Word,” I said.

I used to think that words flowed better when I typed, which can be true at times, but in the right setting, handwriting your story works wonders. Gripping the page as I wrote down the ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for days gave me this sort of symbolic freedom to pour everything out.

In that single hour of writing, I got over 1,000 words into the story.

I think it’s good to always challenge ourselves to write in different settings and to switch it up between handwriting and typing. Every time I take a break from the computer and pen the words on the page, it feels so natural and rewarding. I may even try writing the entire first draft that way and see if the whole story process flows faster. Plus, as one transfers the words from notebook to computer, you are editing as well. So, that takes care of the first edit right then and there.

What is your ritual, fellow writers? Do you handwrite often? Never? Just sometimes? Be heard. :)

Novellas

Two years ago, I was horrified when the first draft of my third novel sat at a mere 24,000 words. That was back when my life’s dream was to get an agent. I thought at the time that all the energy I put into a story I really had written from the heart was all for nothing unless I added a whopping 50K or 60K more words. The thing is, the skeleton of the story was good the way it was. Sure, it needed some work. With some editing, I have added more depth to the story but it still only sits at just over the 30K mark.

Some stories are just meant to be novellas. With Amazon and smaller presses, it is far easier to publish a short story. I am comfortable that this third book will never be a full length novel.

Now the question is, how marketable/desirable are novellas these days? I have been thinking about this with every edit.

I came across an article about novellas whole doing a Google search. It’s two years old now, but it is an interesting take on the step child of books. Apparently, they are no longer considered the “ugly duckling of the literary world”. Woot!

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/08/04/the-novella-is-making-a-comeback.html

A lot of people might enjoy a quick yet intense read. Others may feel cheated and wish there was more. Or, maybe some people that wouldn’t normally read might pick up a book if they noticed it wasn’t super thick.

I am curious to hear your opinion about novellas. Would you purchase one? Have you? Do you like reading shorter stories?