Novel Creativity

I feel like I’ve been ignoring this blog.

*Checks last post date*

Yes, yes I have.

I swear that this wasn’t intentional. As you might know from my posts and many tweets about it, I’ve been writing a novel. Now, I know that I have a bad habit of not completing personal projects because I had another good idea. I didn’t want this to happen with my novel. I didn’t want a great blog post idea to derail me from the excellent novel writing progress that I was making. So I focused all my creative energy on the novel.

The novel is done now. Or, at least, as done as it’s going to be for now. I’ve entered a very nerve wracking phase called “Giving The Novel To Beta Readers.” During this phase, I give copies of my text to people to read over. They will tell me if there’s a plot hole I’m missing, if the characters seem realistic enough, or if there’s a problem with the story flow.

Once I got over the nervousness of “wait, I need to let other people read this?” I was confronted by the torturer that is the waiting game. At this point, my beta readers have begun their task but haven’t had time to finish. Do they like it so far? Are they shaking their head with every word? I want to know but don’t want to pester them with twice daily e-mails asking for their opinion.

In a couple weeks, I’ll get the reports in and will likely need to make some changes to improve my story. Then it’s time to format my book for printing and get a sample copy to make sure everything looks good. Finally, my book will appear on Amazon. If everything goes well, it’ll be available in early October. (I’ll definitely post when I get a firm release date – also, if anyone is interested in doing a review, feel free to contact me.)

In the meantime, though, I can use this “novel downtime” to catch up with some blog posts I’ve wanted to do.

Thanks to all of my readers who were patient with me while my creative energies weren’t blog bound.

Book Writing Insights

4362686814_0c76b989d6_zI might have mentioned this a few times, but I’m writing a book. My personal goal was for it to reach 50,000 words, but obviously it’s over when the story says it’s over. Right now, I’m over 48,000 words with at least another 5,000 to go. If everything aligns properly, I might even hit 60,000.  Along the way, there are some book writing lessons I’ve learned.

Get Inspired

For years, I’ve started the same pair of stories only to stop writing after a few weeks. The general world I was building my story in was fine, but I just didn’t feel the drive to finish. This time, though, I have JSL driving me on. He’s been so interested in my story that his enthusiasm has pushed me on when I might otherwise have let the writing slide.

Always Be Writing

I’ve written my story primarily using Google Docs. Not because it’s particularly well suited to novel writing (it really isn’t), but because it’s always available no matter where I am. If inspiration strikes at 1am, I can open up the file on my phone and type out some notes without getting out of bed. If I’m on the go, but need to wait for a few minutes, I can open my story and add to it.  Eventually, I’ll move the story to a more conventional word processor for final touch ups, but for now Always Available trumps Perfect Formatting.

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Back in college, I wrote quite a lot. People liked my writings and I decided to try to get something published. I sent a story to a well-known magazine that published stories like my submission. A few weeks later, I got the news.  My story was rejected.

What I should have done was shrug my shoulders, write more, and submit to other magazines. Instead, I took the rejection personally (despite the fact that it was a standard form letter) and decided I wasn’t going to write anymore. I picked it back up here and there but not with the same gusto.

Had I not let a single rejection derail me, who knows how many stories I could have had published by now.

Publishing Has Never Been Easier

Back when I was rejected for publication, there was only really one way to get published. You sent your work to a magazine publishing house and hoped they picked yours from their giant stack of submissions

Nowadays, it’s simple. You format your file and send it off to CreateSpace or another on demand publisher.

Talk To Other Writers

When it became clear that my short story was expanding to novel length, I mentioned my project to some co-workers. They revealed that they had written and published their own novels and gave me some great advice on going from "The End" to "This is my book in my hands." At the very least, when you encounter a writing roadblock, it can help to know that others have been there before

Stories (And Characters) Have Minds Of Their Own

I first learned this when my short story decided to veer into novella territory. It turns out that telling your story just how long it needs to be is a useless endeavor. It will end up as long or as short as it decides to be. You have very little control over this.

The next lesson came with one of my characters. Without giving too many spoilers, one of my characters has the ability to see the future. He gives a prophesy at one point that was based on my idea of how the book would end.

Unfortunately, the story had other ideas. Now the prophesy is going to wind up being incorrect. This means that I’m going to need to go back and rewrite the prophesy after I’m done with the story.

Finally, characters can invent themselves. I was at a point in my tale when all of the important main characters should have been introduced. What was meant to be a quick intermediate scene with just my main character turned into my main character and a new character. This character won’t be a big factor in the current book but might just play a bigger role in the next one. (Yes, I’m already planning the sequel. I might even make this a trilogy.)

Read (And Reread) Your Own Work

I’ve been reading the book to JSL as I write it. Although he’s fallen behind. It’s forced me to reread my own writing. Not only does this let me pick up on autocorrect induced mistakes, but it shows me sections that flowed well in my head but not when read aloud. When this happens, it’s usually an easy matter of correcting the mistake or rephrasing a few sentences. Then the passage flows better and my entire work winds up improved.

I’m really enjoying the entire writing process. Sure there are days when I get stuck but those other days when it feels like I can’t stop writing are wonderful. I just love the feeling of the story flowing from my fingertips as if it were alive and I was just a conduit for it to come to life. I can’t wait until I’m holding the finished product in my hands.

NOTE: The "book and pen" image above is "Of Words and meanings…" by Trilok Rangan.  The image is available via Flickr.com under a license that allows commercial use with attribution.

JSL The Story Writer

StoryLast Friday, B’s parents took JSL and NHL to dinner.  When they got back, JSL showed us a story he had written.  Yes, in addition to learning how to read, JSL’s been learning how to spell and write.  He put it together, along with some inspiration from Lulu And The Brontosaurus (which B had read to him recently), and wrote his own story.

Here is what he wrote (with creative spelling intact and only his name changed to "JSL"):

JSL and the Brontsarus

One day JSL went to a frorist for a brontsarus but the nit came and JSL go to slef and wen JSL wok up he fawd a brontsarus but the brontsarus riley fawd he and they trd into fres.

And here’s the grammar and spelling-corrected version for those who find Kindergarten creative spelling hard to read.  (I did leave the giant run-on sentence intact, however.)

JSL and the Brontosaurus

One day JSL went to a forest for a brontosaurus but the night came and JSL went to sleep and when JSL woke up he found a brontosaurus but the brontosaurus really found him and they turned into friends.

I’m so proud of JSL for writing his first story.  This is definitely one project of JSL’s that will be kept for years.  I can’t wait to see what other creative works he comes up with.

Recipe For Creativity – Leave Your Comfort Zone

IMGP2139The daily grind can be draining when you need to be creative.  When it feels like you’ve done the same thing over and over, day after day, it can be hard to come up with new ideas.  The same-old-same-old can make it hard for new ideas to bubble to the surface.  When this happens, it’s time to break the routine.

On Sunday, we went for a hike on the Indian Ladder Trail in Thatcher State Park.  For those who don’t live near here, the trail winds around a mountain’s side.  You climb up and down the trail.  You pass under two waterfalls.  You carefully tred over rocks, mud, running water, and branches.  You are, at times, mere feet from a big drop-off.

IMGP2177In other words, *NOT* a normal day for me.  Hiking this trail was very freeing.  Walking along the ledge, your brain focuses on finding where your next step should be.  Should you place your foot on rock on your right or left.  Which is slicker or shaped right to give you the proper traction to move on?  When I did stop worrying about footing, I was too busy appreciating the wonders around me.

After the hike was over, I felt tired, but energized.  My feet ached and my knees kept threatening to give way, but my brain was going a mile a minute.  Getting out of the same old routine had lit my mind on fire.

What do you do to leave your comfort zone and spark your creativity?

Aloha Friday: Private Journals

write

When I was young, I kept a journal.  In it, I wrote about all of the private thoughts, fears, and feelings that I felt I couldn’t tell anyone.  Well, that was the general idea.  By "kept a journal", I really mean I wrote in it for about a week, rediscovered it a month later, wrote in it once more and then forgot about it for another three months.  I was never very good with writing things with paper and pen.  My love of writing only flourished when I was first introduced to computers.

Fast forward to the present.  Sometimes there things we feel the need to write about that we just can’t blog about.  Perhaps family members read your blog or perhaps the issue crosses a TMI boundary.  However, despite these misgivings, there might still be an urge to write about it, just not in a public manner.  After all, writing is a very good way of organizing your thoughts on matters.

At one time, I considered setting up a private WordPress blog for my son for this very purpose.  He could use it to express his thoughts on anything and everything.  The posts would not be publicly visible.  After all, he’s only 8 and doesn’t need a public blog.  However, B and I would be able to read it.  I actually got it all set up, but never showed him it.  Perhaps when he’s older he’ll use it.

As for me, I’m thinking of setting up a private blog for some of my thoughts.  They might be matters that I don’t feel comfortable shouting out to a random mix of strangers, friends and family.  They might be matters that I feel don’t interest my TechyDad.com audience (or my Twitter or Google+ followers).  Or perhaps it is something that has been on my mind that might be a blog post at some point, but hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet.  In any event, it would be nice to have a place to record my thoughts privately and a non-public blog seems ideal.

My Aloha Friday question for today is: Have you ever had a journal or a private blog to record your thoughts?

P.S. If you haven’t already, go visit FollowerHQ and let me know what you think of my Twitter application.

P.P.S. For a bit of fun, try my other Twitter Application, Rout. It’s a +F in Fun!


Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #122

Disclaimer: The “Paper,Write,Pen” clipart above is from OpenClipArt.org.

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