How do I find time to write?
What do I do to overcome writer’s block?
What if I’m not writing a good story?
The questions go on and on, but the answers are often easier than we think.
I’ve found several strategies that help me. An important fact is my first novel is gathering dust in my computer. I hope to drag it out, blow off the dust, and go about all the revisions I need to do. My point: ALLOW YOUR FIRST BOOK TO FEEL LIKE PRACTICE.
Since then, I have published three highly acclaimed historical fiction novels. The second one is the 2018 Laramie Awards First Place Winner.
Oh, no! you say. My first book can’t be practice. This is the Great American Novel! There can never be another one like it. It’s the only idea I have. If you are a fiction writer, that can’t be true. Something about fiction writers’ brains is that they are always creating stories. It’s in our DNA. Besides, if you allow yourself to treat your first book for practice, then the pressure is off. Just write it. If it’s to be a great book, you’ll find a way to hone it to perfection later.
Often, for me, the ideas for a plot twist for my books come at night. Then I lie awake thinking about them, then forget them in the morning. Maybe you are wiser, and you have a notepad by your bed to jot down some thoughts. I tried that once, but then I couldn’t read my own sleepy scribbles. Make it a point to keep a notepad with you always.
One of the things that helps me produce ideas for my books is to go on walks in the fresh air. Scientific research shows that walking outside is a good way to work out problems, to calm your breathing and heartbeat, and to invent new ideas. If you’re like me, long walks also make me hungry.
Another bona fide help for writing is find your reward food. That’s the treat you allow yourself when you write. Maybe two different treats. Set that coffee, or Danish, or candy bar, or apple by your computer, and you’ll find it will help you write. You may get so involved in writing that you may forget the treat is there. Just don’t set a whole package of cookies.
Post some inspirational posters by your computer. And books that inspire you. Your brain, like everyone’s brain, is attuned to subliminal messages. There’s considerable research about that aspect of our brains. Do you ever see billboards on the highway? Even though we don’t pay attention to them, advertisers know their messages are getting into our minds. Why not use that truism to your advantage. I do. The inspired writer is a good one.
Playing music that you pick to match the scene you’re writing can help, too. Romantic music for a romantic scene. Vibrant music for fun scenes. Battle music, like the soundtracks from war movies, for battle or fight scenes. It sure helps me.
That brings me to the second most important point. Try emulating the style of great authors. That’s right. According to my own experience, and from research – reading something that inspires you or deepens your thoughts just before setting about the writing task generally helps the words pour forth. Think of it as a trigger for your writing, or maybe the grenade to get you going.