Having a Writing Life

Two and half years ago, my life changed with a dream.  Literally—I woke up and began to write down the events of a dream.  It was not the beginning of the story, or the end, and not the high-tension action scene, just a girl torn between two immortal brothers seeking her affection.  One brother, a moral and Godly soul; the other power hungry and siding with the devil.  Oh, and the dream took place in a swamp.

That is about all I knew when I started the novel.  What swamp, what type of immortal?  That came after I did some research on swamps, anchoring my story in the Okefenoke Swamp, GA.  History is full of real events to play into your fictional world, giving your reader the believability that it could have happened.

I wrote my first draft of A LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS in thirty days.  I know, it seems impossible, but it really isn’t if you set personal daily goals and follow some simple tips I’ve learned from writer blogs.

  1.  Forget grammar!  Number one suggestion—editing is going to happen.  No one can write a novel and get it published.  Even established author’s have editors.  So allow yourself to make mistakes—write broken sentences and mess up your tense shifts—allow your soul to write and don’t hinder the story.  Then, when you have finished the novel, you will be able to really understand your characters and where they are going, making the editing process much easier.  Writing and rewriting the same chapter repeatedly only stops you from completion.
  2.  Set a realistic daily writing goal.  A typically novel is 70-100 words, so take the days you want to complete your novel in and divide the word count.  Mine was 1600 a day.
  3. Think about what motivates you to write.  Is it music?  Is it a quiet place?  Or maybe it’s sitting in a bookstore/coffee shop.  Where are you most productive?  (Where ever that might be, keep in mind your posture and sit in a good chair).
  4. Keep a notebook with you at all times.  Waiting for the oil change or for the kids to get out of school; anytime is a good time to scribble down the next part of your story. (I’ve recently acquired a net-book which fits neatly in my purse.  I wrote sitting in the dental chair before my root canal.)
  5. And every writer should always have a book on their nightstand!  Keep reading and it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the Writer’s Digest Magazine!  Chalked full of great advice and suggestions.

The next problem is being stuck and you’re not sure what to do next.  Here are a few things I’ve either done, or have heard others say worked for them.

  •  If your novel was a movie, what type of music would you hear?  Make a soundtrack for your novel.  When stuck, play the tune, close your eyes and see where it takes you.
  • Where does your novel take place?  Is it real, fiction, or fiction based on real?  Develop some physical and mental pictures of your world to help inspire what comes next.
  • Do you have a ‘bible’ journal for your characters?  I have to say, I do not.  (However, I can see for my next new novel, I should establish one.)  This includes all aspects of each character, where they are born who their parents are—what makes them who they are; whether or not you use it in the novel, it can help spark you out of a rut.
  • Another way to break out of a stuck mind, get active!  Jump on a dread-mill, take a walk around the block, get the blood flowing.

Finishing a novel is not beyond your reach!  Set your goals, follow through, and before you know it, you’ll be staring at your first complete novel.  And congradulations in advance for accomplishing what most people only talk about.

For more about me or my road to publication, you can click on my website at www.shellygoodmanwright.com  or email at swright011699@msn.com

Shelly Goodman Wright