I’m a curious person.
My intense curiosity propelled me into a writing career. So when I read Bernadette Jiwa’s post, The Relationship Between Curiosity and Business Growth, my curiosity meter spiked into the red zone.
Jiwa tells about going to her local florist one Friday night and being surprised by the sheer number of roses she found in the shop. Buckets of roses filled almost all the floor space. She assumed they were for a wedding the next day and questioned the florist. The florist explained that the roses were for a customer who bought 110 bunches of 10 roses every Friday evening. The florist didn’t know what the customer did with them.
As a person who lives a life of curiosity, I could hardly stand not having the answer to this question.
Curiosity is what drives children to develop skills, scientists to devise groundbreaking inventions, and writers to write best selling novels by asking “why,” “how,” and “what if.”
The good news is we’re all born with this trait and developing and embracing it can make us better writers. Exercising our creativity can help us be attuned to story ideas, build out better characters, and think of more creative plots.
Make a practice of pursuing your inquisitive nature each day with these tips: Read more
Congratulations to all the NaNoWriMo Writers who have completed their challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November! I wasn’t able to participate this year due to family concerns so I decided to do my own challenge in December. My goal: finish the first draft of my manuscript-in-progress.
I’m putting together my plan and compiling bits of inspiration to help me stay focused (they get printed out and pasted around the house). I came across a great quote on how to write fast by author Ian Fleming.
Confession: I haven’t followed his advice in the first half of my book–I’ve been doing A LOT of editing and fixing which is probably a bad idea until the entire story is finished. In my defense, the time and attention spent on the first half has made me a stronger writer and craftsman. Maybe it will all wash out in the end and the second half’s first draft won’t come out sounding like a drunken chipmunk? Oh, a girl can hope!
So…on to Fleming’s advice that I think is spot on:
In the May 1963 edition of the long-running ‘Books and Bookmen’ periodical published by Hansom Books, Mr. Fleming penned an essay describing his creative process for the James Bond novels.
Here’s his advice for writing fast first drafts:
“I never correct anything and I never go back to what I have written, except to the foot of the last page to see where I have got to. If you once look back, you are lost. How could you have written this drivel? How could you have used “terrible” six times on one page? And so forth. If you interrupt the writing of fast narrative with too much introspection and self-criticism, you will be lucky if you write 500 words a day and you will be disgusted with them into the bargain. By following my formula, you write 2,000 words a day and you aren’t disgusted with them until the book is finished, which will be in about six weeks.”
Read the full essay.
Part of my love (vice) of books includes an addiction to notebooks and journals. I imagine it goes along with my deep need to write, which showed itself on the walls of my childhood home. (Sorry mom.)
For each new writing project, I like to select a notebook to track my wild digressions, character ideas, and anything else that could be important for building in themes, plot, or subplots. When I was writing my memoir, I kept a list of research and ideas I wanted to pursue and questions that I needed to answer. I used my project notebook as a place to park them so I could free up my brain for the task at hand.
A NaNoWriMo notebook is especially helpful because in the heat of writing 50,000 words, the ideas will be springing out of your brain and you likely can’t address each one in the month of November. So having a place to track them will free up your brain. And if you freeze up somewhere along the 50,000 mad word dash of NaNoWriMo, you can look in your notebook for a jolt of inspiration.
If you’ve been writing your ideas on scraps of paper, just tape them onto a page of your notebook. Once you finish your draft and are ready to go into revision mode, your notebook entries create a sense of direction. If you come to a place where you aren’t sure what to do next, you may find a clue in your notebook.
I like to pick a notebook that has a distinctive color or style, so I can spot it in the avalanche of paper that can accumulate on my desk. It helps if you can carry the notebook around when you go out, so pick a size that suits you, whether it needs to go in a pocket, purse, or computer bag. Many of my best ideas and insights happen after I’ve stepped away from the keyboard.
Do you have notebook love? What is your current favorite notebook? Describe it in the comments below.
For more NaNoWriMo tips, check out Three posts to keep the words flowing.
If you’re one of thousands of writers joining in National Novel Writing Month, you’re likely knee-or-neck deep with ideas and currently in that wonderful zone of writing hot. You’re 8,000 or so words into your story and everything’s flowing until…well…until it’s not.
But not to worry. When you reach that point where your brain has turned to mush, when you’re asking yourself what the heck you’ve gotten yourself into and where did your normal, real life go….that’s when it’s time to take a deep breath and read these posts below for inspiration in getting back on track—or on an entirely new track–but hey, words are words, right?
Three posts to help you find your flow:
Four quick tips to increase your NaNoWriMo word count
A little inspiration for NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo or not, boost your word count
Fight the blank page!
In previous posts, I’ve suggested ways to pre-plan for National Novel Writing Month, where writers strive to produce a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. While some writers create an outline, nail down character sketches, devise a story question, and outline their novel’s setting, others like to dive in on day 1 and just start typing.
Regardless of where you’re at, the blank page can be a terrible thing.
You may be saying, “How can I not have a blank page? It starts out that way — blank.” True. But just don’t let it stop you.
Don’t let the blank page stay blank for more than a second. Type something. Anything.
- The date
- A random sentence
- A description or a few words of the setting where your novel begins or your first scene takes place.
- A list of your characters’ names
- A working title for your novel
- A logline if you’ve created one.
By the way, this mental trick can be a great way to start any writing project. A letter, an essay, a marketing piece, a work assignment, or a blog post. Write something that you already know will be in the piece, even if it’s just a paragraph or a random idea about the project. If you don’t know the beginning, start in the middle or the end. You’ll come back later and fill in the gaps, because every piece of writing begins as a draft.
Don’t let the blank page deter you from your NaNoWriMo or any other writing goal.