Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"What If?"—A Most Useful Writing Tool

Occasionally, the characters that lead the stories I write come to a halt, peering in every direction, confounded. Or they stand still, staring blankly into space, unable to move—and I experience the dreaded writers' block. My muse has abandoned me. But, rather than sitting and wracking my empty brain for something to write, I know what to do.

The remedy for my ailment is to draw a tool from my bag of writing tricks and put it to use. I call that tool my what-if list. I've just come to a standstill that threatens to turn into a writer's block in my current novel, "Fugitives on Planet Eden" (working title). Instead of turning away, I pick up pen and paper to write in longhand, as fast as I can, listing all the "what-if" scenarios I can think of to get my characters moving again.

The "what ifs" can be as outrageous or as mundane as my mind can conceive them. I keep the pen moving, writing everything I think of. When I run out of spontaneous ideas, I evaluate the list and choose one—or two or three or four—of the scenarios that my brainstorming suggested.

This is exactly what I did just now, and voila! I'm back in business. Not only do I see the path my characters will take and the situations they must confront in chapter 24, I also know what is likely to happen in two or three subsequent chapters.

I may even be looking at a sequel or two. And that's okay. It's happened to me before, giving me a six book series, Miranda and Starlight, and the trilogy of twins about Kendall and Kyleah Ralston. (Kendall's Storm and Kyleah's Tree)

Yep, I predict that David and Lletia (my protagonists)—and their possible offspring—will confront many more obstacles, dilemmas, and dangers on Planet Eden. But, we'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Daily " tudu"(to do) list

I love it when I hear rhymes in my head. Sometimes I write them down. This one has become my daily to-do list. Let me explain how it works—at least how I am applying it today.

Schedule for each day:

Something new, something old,
Something quiet, something bold
Something selfish, something kind,
Something strengthening the mind.

Something new: write a portion of my new novel first thing every morning.

Something old: edit and rewrite one of the two novels I have finished but need to prepare for publication.

Something quiet: reflect and listen to my thoughts and my subconscious mind (meditation or at least rumination.)

Something bold: Promote Raven Publishing titles! Put my company and my products out there for the world to see. (Marketing seems frighteningly overwhelming, so for me to venture forth in this endeavor is bold.)

Something selfish: It seems as if almost everything I do is selfish, for I love my job, my life, and all the people in it. I'll just list three specific things I do for myself each day. 1) I soak in a warm bath in the beautiful, spacious, and well-lit bathroom my husband designed. It is here that many of my ideas, thoughts, and stories are born. (2) Some days—and I strive to make it every day—I enjoy hikes in the nearby hills or walks in the country side. Not only is this good for my health, it stimulates my mind as well. 3) I go to bed early each night so I can read another novelist's story, as much as I can each night, before falling asleep.

Something kind: These are usually just little things, a kind word, a comforting hug to a grandchild, a sympathetic ear, and time spent looking after the little ones when parents need a break or have to work.

Something strengthening the mind: There is always so much to learn and I enjoy learning. I research facts to support ideas that come up in my stories and I learn a lot from just that. Also, I read and study to improve the skills I must use everyday. Right now, that is mostly focused on areas of marketing and promotion.

With a lot going on in my life, organization—something that does not come easily for me—is a must. This little ditty helps me plan my days.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A planned schedule is important, a daily writing habit, essential.

The more I have to do and the more varied the projects demanding my attention become, the more I realize the importance of a plan of action. Being a morning person, I reserve the earliest morning hours of each day for creative writing time. Or, at least that is the plan. However when other duties are on my mind, it's easy to skip the writing, "just for today," and jump right into the marketing or design or editing or whatever it is on my mind that "must" be done right now.

I have learned, though, that skipping my morning writing wastes time, because the longer I am away from my book, the longer it takes me to get back into it. I have to go back and reread what I've already written. If I've missed a day, it may not take a few pages of rereading to get my mind—and muse—back into it. If I've missed two or three days, it will take longer. If I've missed weeks or months, I will have to reread from the beginning, or keep going back as I write to check on what I've already said or haven't said.

So, my renewed resolution is to write EVERY DAY. Even if it's only a few minutes to a half-hour, it will keep me in touch with my characters and their place in the plot. I find it's best if it's two or three hours, but that isn't always possible. Not having a big block of time, does not mean that I cannot write at all. Making writing my first activity of the day is very important to me. If I don't write then, the chances are slim that I will get to it at all.

Only after I've finished writing, should I move on to other activities. Then I must, to the best of my ability, keep to a schedule that will get it all in. (More on a daily schedule tomorrow)