Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Plotting and researching

It's nearly November, which means it's time for NaNoWriMo! There are plenty of blog posts about whether NaNo is any good or not, so I won't bother with one of those - suffice to say that I love it, and participating in NaNo is one of the highlights of my year.

This weekend I started plotting my new novel (using Scrivener), filling in scene outlines, making character notes and various bits of world-building. I began with a premise and some basic plot points, but by the end of the day I had a much more detailed understanding of my novel. My characters were starting to fill out, my world was becoming more intricate and the plot was taking shape.

The internet is a wonderful thing. I don't think I could write my novels without it! Of course, I'm prone to procrastination because of it, and some of my random ideas lead me into rabbit holes that waste several hours of my time, but it also really helps to stimulate my imagination. Everything from the adoption forums on the NaNoWriMo site to the results thrown up when I accidentally mistype something in a search engine - it all sets my mind working.

For me, a big part of planning a novel involves letting my mind wander down these pathways, finding new and interesting bits of information, investigating websites that are new to me or throwing strange ideas together to see if they work. It's so exciting, seeing a plot form in front of my eyes, out of such disparate elements! It's no wonder that this is one of my favourite times of year, because I enjoy this process so much, and it will soon be followed by the thrill of writing that first draft.

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm off to look up obscure alchemical symbols and see where that leads me...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Give creativity a chance!

I once heard someone say that the majority of people who think they have insomnia don't actually go to bed and try to sleep. This week I've wondered if the same thing applies to some people with writer's block.

For a couple of weeks now I've only had three or four new scenes to write to complete the rewrite of She Made Me, but it has felt like one of the most insurmountable challenges I have faced. Maybe there was a part of me that didn't want to finish it, because I know how much editing work will come next. I think the biggest problem, however, has simply been that I haven't sat down at my laptop and attempted to write. I've come home from work and thought "Oh I'm too tired to write," or "I can't think of what needs to happen in that scene". I've put off writing certain scenes, skipping over them because they're not quite clear in my mind, to the extent that I've left them until last. When thinking about them, I know what I need to write, but I just can't think it through.

In these situations, however, I've not put myself in a position that's conducive to writing. I've been thinking about writing whilst doing other things, things that have taken up a lot of my mind and haven't allowed me to think through the scene. But above all, I haven't actually sat my behind on my desk chair and attempted to do it. I haven't given the creative part of my brain a chance to come to the forefront and act. How is it ever going to get written if I don't open my laptop? How am I ever going to sleep if I don't go to bed?

Today, I sat down at my laptop. I opened the scene I've been struggling with, the scene that would finish this rewrite. I wrote. I finished it.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Healthy mind in a healthy body

I've not been well over the last two weeks. I'll spare you the details - it's nothing major but I've just felt a bit crap. Consequently, I've not written anywhere near as much as I wanted to.

I've seen writers on Twitter beating themselves up about not writing when they're ill - they've got all this time, they're doing nothing but loll on the bed or sofa, so shouldn't they be writing? My answer is "No!"  Or at least, not necessarily. When you're ill, you can't operate on the same level, your energy is being expended in different ways and your body is very busy fighting off the nasty little bugses that are attacking you.

Ok, it might sound like I'm making excuses - maybe I am! Procrastination is definitely my strongest skill. But there have been days lately where I've opened my laptop, stared at the screen for ages and nearly cried because my mind cannot stay on my novel. I'm doing all I can to help my immune system out and trying to keep healthy, but sometimes you just have to accept defeat.

Right, I'm off for a walk in the fresh air in the hope it will stimulate both body and mind!