Wednesday Writing Tip

I’ve said it before – I write down all my crazy and weird dreams, and most if not all of my books have come from said dreams. But I’ve filled two small notebooks – so you can imagine how many dreams I’ve had that stay in those notebooks, tucked away and waiting for a chance. Recently, I read through my notebook and my email folder that contains the middle-of-the-night messages I sent myself via my cell phone after waking up from something worth remembering. There was a LOT to read. Most of it is gibberish or is already being applied to my current WIP’s and that got me thinking about the projects I’m working on. So I thumbed BACK through my notebook and emails and started playing around with combinations (this would go awesome with that, etc…) and now I believe I have some stronger WIP’s and future projects that are pretty well fleshed out (in my head, of course).

Why does this matter? I think every writer should jot down notes, ideas, dreams, etc…and hold on to them. Because you never know when one of those ideas or dreams might actually be able to sneak itself into your current WIP. And if you are ANYTHING like me, you’ll forget most of what you wrote down at 1am or 4am in that notebook that you surely keep beside the bed as soon as you put the pen down. At the least, regularly going back over these things can help you with a new plot twist, or even writer’s block.

Plus, sometimes it’s just hilarious to see what your mind is doing in the middle of the night. What goes on in there while you sleep is private, sure, but also great fodder for writers, even if you’re embarrassed to slip a dream scene into a book scene – it’s okay. It’s not like anyone is reading your ACTUAL notebook verbatim. Right? *clears throat* Right.

On that note. I will never share my notebook. NEVER. *clutches ratty notebook to chest* But I have no issue pulling snippets from my sleep-deprived ramblings for a current project. Decoded, translated and cleaned up like a shiny new coin, of course. 😉

 

Happy Dreaming!

Where do you get your story ideas from?

This is the most commonly asked question I get from not only fans and readers, but from friends and family! Even my nine year old daughter wants to know how my story ideas are born. In the past I’ve said that most of my story ideas have come from my dreams, and this is absolutely true still, BUT, as a writer I also pay attention to the stories played on the news. Humanity is brutal – if you ever need a new concept for a thriller, horror or post-apocalyptic story – watch the news. Seriously. Or if you need help creating a new world for your next Science Fiction piece, put the Discovery channel on or watch Planet Earth for a bit. There are some amazing things here on our own planet that most of us have never seen before.

My point is not to copy exactly what you see (or hear) but you can look at something with your Writer’s Hat on and say, ‘Wow, that plus that would make an awesome story!’ And then, there you go – a new idea is born. It’s simple, yes, but it seems everything I experience nowadays gives me a new story idea. Taking a walk, shopping in the grocery store, hopping out of the car at the ATM, people watching at the park, petting a dog, grounding my kids, watching HLN, sewing up the hole on my favorite Ikea pillow, polishing the wood table, chasing the cat down the street, getting the guts to go outside and investigate that strange thumping on the roof, calling friends, weeding the garden and freaking out over the stick that looks like a snake, walking face-first into the wall, etc…It’s not only happening in my brain anymore during my REM sleep cycles. 😉 If I follow this policy and also rely on my actitve imagination that never sleeps, I will have stories for the next decade. At least, this is what I hope for. 🙂

Happy Writing!

The Notebook

 

No, I’m not talking about the movie. I’ll allow a few seconds for your disappointment to wear off. Ready? Okay, let’s move on…

‘The Notebook’ is what I call my writing journal. But I don’t like to refer to it as a ‘journal’. That word sounds too organized for what my notebook actually is. I can’t say ‘collection’ either, though that is much more accurate, since my notebook surely is a collection – of sorts, but it’s not just a collection. It’s where I jot down my writing ideas, which come from my crazy dreams 99% of the time. It’s usually next to the bed so I can roll over half-conscious and badly spell out what I can remember of the torment my brain just put me through. It doesn’t stay in the bedroom all the time though. It travels. When I know I’ll be sitting in the car for an hour during my daughter’s Tumbling class, I usually take The Notebook with me. You know, for company and light reading. I also try to jam it in my purse when I go somewhere alone like the beach, but I almost always end up ignoring it…since a spiral-wrapped block of papers is way less inspiring than the Pacific Ocean.

When I’m feeling particularly good about something I wrote down in a partial coma-state, I’ll take The Notebook to the computer and transfer my notes into a document. This is actually pretty entertaining. YOU try writing multiple pages in the dark with the first thing you grabbed (crayon, pen or eyeliner pencil – whatever works) while your eyes fight for proper forward alignment as quickly as you can because it’s fading fast – the dream won’t last in your memory for long. It’s not the spelling errors that make me laugh, it’s the fact that I usually don’t remember ANYTHING that I wrote when I read it the next day. Unless it’s a dream I’ve had several times before. Ask my husband. I’ve read him some stuff from The Notebook before; he knows it’s a funky collection. But I don’t care what OTHERS think of my collection. The Notebook is one of my most prized possessions and I’d probably die if I lost it. No joke. I love it so much in fact, that I have two. Yep, two. One for notes and now one for organizing my notes (pictured above in all it’s glory, sticky notes and all). Soon, I’ll need a third.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Because I was shocked recently to discover this isn’t something ALL writers do. And I don’t know why! I live a busy life…two young kids at home 24/7 that I homeschool and try to keep alive. Animals that act like…well – animals. A large house that never seems to be clean or presentable. Weeds in the front lawn that are blooming. Blooming. Family…friends…you know – life. All writer’s have a life outside of writing (you can gasp in shock…it’s okay) so how could anyone possibly know what to write about or organize their thoughts without their own notebook?! I haven’t been a bona-fide writer long enough to be able to dish out advice like dessert…but I can say this: If you don’t have a notebook – get one! Write all your ideas in it as you have them and take it with you when you know you’ll have down time! Leave it by the bed at night so when you wake up after having that nightmare or sexy dream and you don’t want to forget it – you have a place to immortalize it forever…in print! Yes, I’m yelling! Because you should do this! Especially if you are a relatively new writer with obligations that go further than just making sure you call your mom once a week!

And unless you want to spend hours, if not days, attempting to read your middle-of-the-night scribble…please, leave a pencil or two dozen in your nightstand. You will thank me for this later. Crayons melt. Eyeliner smears. Pens run out of ink. And lipstick – well, just don’t do this.

Happy Notebooking!

 

The Dreams are Baaaack…

It seems I might actually be starting a THIRD writing project this year. No doubt, this is ambitious to say the least. And why would I start another series when my first just came out and my second is still in editing? Well, because the dreams won’t go away. I’m not exaggerating either…three times in the last week the same dream has popped up which means I’m getting little to no sleep and am waking up grumpy. The only benefit is that having multiple dreams, with slightly different scenarios means I’m basically writing the plot out in my sleep.

What shall I do about this, when I’m already busy enough with other projects and life (there are two kids in this house…somewhere…)? And then it dawned on me – what about a writing calendar with a writing schedule? DUH! I’m sure many other writers do this very same thing, but I like to write when I feel passionate about a certain part in the story, when the house is quiet enough and well, when I feel like it. I don’t use a schedule, and now that my schedule is crazy-busy, I need one.

Does this mean I must organize my life a bit more? Yes, yes I think it does. Ok, so many of us are familiar with Google Calendars and I use it already – not as often as I should, but I do know my way around them. But if you don’t, I found this blog most helpful! Thank you Words on a page for the tips. Now what I need to do is figure out how best to manage my time between life (you know, parenting, chores, etc…) and writing. And now blogging. Plus there’s research to be done too. And…and…a whole lot of other stuff I’m not prepared to remember just in my brain. Which is why I need a calendar. And a schedule. Yuck but necessary.

Now if only I could schedule my dreams…that would be perfect!