I consider myself lucky – by the time I get about half-way through my current work in progress (WIP) I start getting the almost annoying idea intrusions for the next book. Yep, it’s true. I might start yearning to write Native American or maybe ghost towns are haunting me. It happened again while working my fifteenth book, Thunder, which I just finished. A month ago my hubby and I were driving into town to grocery shop when the sentences; “I never thought about killing anyone. It just happened,” popped into my head. Yep . . .that was it. I told my husband, the two sentences and asked, “Wouldn’t that be a great way to start my next book?”
His said, “That just popped into your head, huh? Dang, maybe I should start being careful what I say around you?” We chucked . . .because he knows me – after forty years he should – and things like this happen all the time.
I don’t have anything more to go on. I know – you’re asking, “Are you nuts? There has to be more to it than that!”
Sorry, there isn’t. I’ve been stewing these sentences around in my head for a month now – and I’ve done a good job trying not to think about it. Why? I need to concentrate on the book I’m writing. I’m just not one of those people who can work on several WIP at a time. That would drive me insane for sure!
Now that I’ve sent Thunder off to my publisher, I can start working out the ‘what ifs’ scrambling around in my head and see what is striving for attention.
Once you get – what I call ‘bitten by the writer bug’ – you are in for lifetime of story ideas whether you’re reading, watching TV or a movie, or maybe you’re just walking down the boardwalk of a ghost town. Characters and scenarios interrupt your thoughts, dreams, and creative writing time.
Suddenly you’re reading a lot more, blogging, you’ve joined social media, you’re taking grammar classes, attending writing conferences, joining writing groups, and emailing with other authors . . . sharing joys and disasters. All this takes energy and time.
The main question here is how do you boost your creative spirit? What gets you excited and inspired? Like anything else – writing can fall into a rut. That is a writer’s disaster and will end your career in no time.
Here is a method that can be useful – if you find yourself spiraling down – instead of up in your writing excitement level.
Take a box and cover it with wrapping paper – leave the cover off . . . but wrap it, too – we want this suggestion box to grab your attention and be fun. So what goes into the suggestion box?
· Titles for books (come on – you can’t tell me you don’t come up with titles all the time!)
· Snippets of story ideas. (If you’re listening – you’ll hear them crowding your mind constantly.)
· One liners – that catch your attention. (You won’t write them verbatim - but they will direct you into creating your own take on them – you’ll be amazed how they fit into your current WIP.)
· Scenarios –
o Sibling rivalry
o Work conflicts
o Family conflicts
o Friend conflicts
Of course the list goes on and on. Drop them all in your suggestion box. You get into a ‘slump’ reach into the box and pull out a piece of paper – It might not be the right thing for your book – but it just might steer you in the direction you weren’t planning on going. Expect the unexpected and keep going!
If that doesn’t work – bounce your story off your favorite editor. I have a friend, Karen, who reads all my books and edits and reviews. You need both! You need someone who will be honest. Nothing I hate more than the, “I liked it. It was a good read.”
I’m sorry- that just doesn’t help me. I want to be told what could make the book better. Did it slow down anywhere? Was there a time you didn’t believe what was going on? Do you care about the characters? Did any part of the story make you laugh – or cry? Come on … get nitty-gritty with me!! We learn from our mistakes – so what are those mistakes?
And finally – I want to be charged and feel good about myself! So I have a crystal dish that has slips that have colorful slips of paper with positive writing feedback on them. Comment from a reader. Comments from other authors. Book # and the title . . . after all . . . I’m excited to be starting book sixteen! Included on these slips of paper are positive reinforcements and goals. Nothing will stop me from reaching my goal of twenty-five book written by the age of sixty-five. There you have it! Get charged and get writing!