“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” John Steinbeck, interview with Robert van Gelder in April 1947 as quoted in John Steinbeck: A Biography (1994) by Jay Parini
This is the fifth piece in my Project… series (and the title chapter in my next book about writing). For anyone who hasn’t read the first two books in this series or the relevant posts on my blog, here’s a refresher for you:
*Project October is all about intensive writing.
*Project November is all about rewriting, polishing and finalising.
*Project December is all about publishing.
*Project January is all about starting all over again.
So what is Project June? For the purposes of this series, there had to be another Project… piece. I toyed with the idea of Project February, mostly because February comes after January. But I didn’t know what Project February was. I still don’t.
Eventually, I realised that the advice that I wanted to give and the month that went with it was all about the middle. I’d addressed the start, the sprint to the faux finish and the actual finish; the only thing left was the part in between.
“I was drinking a case of 16-ounce tallboys a night, and there’s one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing at all.” On Writing, Stephen King
One of the persistent stereotypes about writers is their fraught relationship with alcohol. For some, it’s absolutely accurate. But for most of us who write, we know it isn’t true. While there may be plenty of creatives who struggle with sobriety, it’s no greater in percentage terms than members of the general public experience. Still, why let that get in the way of giving it go?
Stephen King is the cautionary tale but what he did was alcoholic writing. Drunk writing is less intense, less destructive to life in general and a much more rare occurrence.Continue reading
Just because everybody loves a good listicle (so I hope it qualifies), here’s the A to Z of writing.
A is for Authenticity – you don’t have to know what you’re talking about. Write what you know, write what you don’t know but just make sure you sound like you know what you’re talking about. If you write about the police force and someone actually in the police force reads your book lacking in accuracy or verisimilitude (the ring of truth), then that person won’t hesitate to tell the world. And you’ll just come off as someone who couldn’t be bothered doing a little bit of research.
B is for Brainstorming – it’s one thing to have an idea but to bring it to life with all the little details that give it depth, you’ll have to do a lot of brainstorming. If you want to write about a man who kills his father, great (maybe not for your father, who might wonder why). But it becomes two very different stories depending on whether the son had a happy upbringing or an abusive one. And only brainstorming will get you to the point where the story makes meaningful sense.Continue reading
An updated dictionary? A new laptop? A stylish writing desk? A comfy writing chair? A virtual assistant to help keep the virtual scraps of paper under control? If only it was as simple as wishing for our two front teeth. These days, with a quick trip to the dentist, it’s an entirely possible dream. Reference books, computers, furniture and PAs are just as achievable. But a writer’s wish list is a little harder to fulfil.
Time When you’re working and raising a family and keeping a house clean and maintaining a network of friends and trying to find some you time amongst all that, trying to find some writing time can be near impossible. And if you’re confusing you time for writing time, then you’re doing either yourself or your writing an injustice.
Time is essential to writing and every writer wishes they had more of it.Continue reading
Over the past year and a bit since starting this blog, I’ve written a lot. At the beginning it was easy. I had so much material that had never been seen anywhere except writing classes and quite a bit more that had never been seen at all. Bit by bit, I would dole it out along with whatever else I came up with along the way.
I still have plenty of novel chapters, poems, song lyrics, creative pieces in reserve. But posting them all would be indulgent. So I try to sprinkle them sparingly throughout blog posts that offer something more to others who also write.
And I always have opinions, so a steady stream of articles and advice on writing and editing was the inevitable result. Until this month. The ideas boards were starting to get empty. The remaining ideas on them were starting to get less inspiring. I had to admit a hard truth. I was running out of ideas for blog posts…Continue reading
I’ve written before about my ideas board. I’ve had it since July when I went out with the specific purpose of purchasing an actual whiteboard to replace the scraps of paper I was writing my ideas on and struggling to keep track of. It now has pride of place in my bedroom (where I do most of my writing); in fact, it’s sitting on a bedside table that is no longer at my bedside but between two windows across the room so I have a good view of it at all times. (There’s a lamp abandoned forlornly on the floor.)
As writers, we can sometimes lose sight of the little things that help make writing easier. My big picture was to write a lot of blog posts. But the small step of buying and implementing the ideas board is what has helped me to do it. Here’s why.Continue reading
I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience this: family, friends and even people you barely know who all have an idea for your next book. We listen politely, nod half-heartedly and agree indifferently, “Yes, that sounds like it would make a wonderful novel.”Continue reading
I’ve posted previously on when inspiration comes to me and how I turn it into an idea for what to write about. But I know some writers still struggle when it comes to brainstorming for the next great story.
As I was trying to sleep one night (which is when almost all good ideas strike), I had an idea for how to generate ideas. It’s a seven-step process that can be applied to a lot of stories already out there, which is why I think it will work for developing new stories.