Just turned in We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. It is going through the final edit before production, and I am fried. It is a really good feeling to, not only finish something, but to finish something you are proud to call your own. So what now? On to the next book.
I have two non-fiction books in mind to write. That won’t be for a while. I miss working on my fiction. Need something else to wrap my mind around. My goal is to pitch my novel this February at the DFW Writers Conference where I will be teaching. I figure I‘ve edited enough authors and gotten enough other people published, it is time to do it myself.
But, I am finished with the social media book and that’s good. Been resting. Also been reading fiction. I haven’t done that for a long time now. I feel that the best writers are insatiable readers. We love stories, crave them. Writers must study. There is no way around it. We must read and read voraciously because the more stories we are exposed to the better we get at our craft.
I study everything. I watch movies over and over looking for plot arc, character arc, pacing, setting, symbols, and Jungian archetypes. I write in all my books, use sticky notes, and highlight. I break plots apart and put them back together. If a movie or a book sucks, I see if I can figure out why it sucked and if I could fix it. I eavesdrop when I’m shopping or at restaurants for dialogue. I study people’s body language and make notes. There are no random events in my life. I have stories swirling through my gray matter at all times.
Last week I found a driver’s license in a parking lot. Instead of bringing it to customer service, I decided to put it in a nice card and mail it so it didn’t wind up in the wrong hands. Then I thought, What if a Good Samaritan mailed back a driver’s license, and, out of habit, put a return address? And what if the person who lost the driver’s license then decided to hunt the Good Samaritan down and kill her? Don’t ask me why I think these things. I can’t help it. And I have no idea if that would even make a good story, but it had me occupied the entire time I was grocery shopping.
Why would he want to kill her? Serial killer? She is blonde. They always kill blondes.
Who is she? Hmmm. Kindergarten teacher. Pollyanna personality. Naïve. Believes the best in everyone, which is why she used her Nature Conservatory sticky address label when she mailed his DL in a cute kitten card. Okay, well, at the end she will have to blow him away with a shotgun. Cool. Now she can do a REAL good deed. This guy has been killing young women for years and now he’s a red mist. Double cool.
Saran Wrap. Make sure you pick up more Saran Wrap and paper towels, you have a coupon. Okay, back to the shotgun.
Yeah. We aren’t normal. Suffice to say that I hear a lot of writers bemoaning that they can’t have five hours a day to just sit and create. That does stink. I love it now that I write full-time. Best job in the world. But the weird truth is that I have always been a writer full-time, and believe it or not, so are you. Writers study everything. We are sensitive to every detail, emotion, and event. We see the world through eyes the rest of the world doesn’t comprehend…which is why we never truly fit in.
Writing is more than word count, although you do have to sit your butt in a chair and get it done. Crappy writers never run out of drivel to put on a page. The great writers are always working even beyond the desk chair. They read, watch movies, eavesdrop and their minds are only gently tethered to this plane.
So don’t feel guilty for reading or sitting and enjoying a movie. When you read articles, pick out what might make a good plot or a scene. I happened to watch a documentary on the Devil’s Bible. I had a writer at WWBC who was able to use that information because I thought it would be neat in a story. Don’t bemoan the time stuck in traffic. Slow down. Breathe and study what other people are doing while they wait. What do they look like? What is their story? Exercise those story muscles so when you finally do get time at the keyboard, you are stronger and stronger and stronger. Embrace the weirdness. It’s what will make you a great writer. Normal makes boring fiction.
So we have all admitted we are not normal. What are some ways you guys work your creative muscles when you aren’t at the computer? How weird are you?
Happy writing. Until next time….