Monday, February 10, 2020

A Beginner's Guide to Writing a Novel

No one is born as a novel writer. But do you believe that we all have the capability to be writers? Impossible as it may seem but the answer is yes! If we have a passion for it and if we strive to make it happen, novel writing can be as easy as writing ABC. Writing is actually not a very complicated thing. It is just like drawing, painting, and even cooking. It is art! Your imagination is all that it takes to get it started. What makes it hard is not writing itself but how people make it hard than it really is.

The first key to writing a novel is the ability to dream and imagine. Think back to when you were a little child and dreamed. Your imagination took you to places you've never been to before. It made you do things you never thought you could do. Having superpowers...being in strange places...the conditions are limitless. Writing a novel is actually imagination translated into words. You close your eyes and let your thoughts drift while creating a web of consequential ideas. Afterwhich, you write them down on paper.

The second key to writing is formulating the premise of your novel. Let's say you'd start with a huge asteroid moving about in space. Then suddenly it collided with another asteroid and instantly created an explosion. Some of the explosion's debris fell down into the earth's atmosphere. By accident, a person comes in contact with it. These sequence of events could be your initial start in which you let your mind take hold of and run with to produce the succeeding events.

The third key would be creating a stream of spontaneous ideas. Once you have the initial idea, sink down into it and allow yourself to be completely absorbed. Let's say after the person comes in contact with the asteroid debris, he gains supernatural powers! And then he notices some new changes in his being, not just physically but also emotionally and psychologically. This is where an avalanche of new ideas start coming in. You will notice that you are no longer directing your story but your story is directing you. That makes writing now so easy. You don't need to analyze anything because the story now starts to play like a movie. All you have to do is put them into words as the story plays in your head.

Next, make sure you are able to retain your daydreaming and concentration as one event goes after another. This state is now called the "alpha state". According to Judith Tramayne-Barth, this is the place between consciousness and sleep. Time stands still when you are in this state. Words keep coming to you until you start to feel pain in your legs and in your waist and then you suddenly flick consciousness and you become flabbergasted because you've not only written one or two pages but five or more without even knowing it!

The next key would be to practice flipping in and out of the "alpha state". You can do this by rereading what you've written and internalized it as if it was your first time. It might take you time, as much as hours or even days before you are able to go to your "alpha state" again but once you're adept at going into the zone, it would only be a matter of minutes before you start writing a new dialogue.

So, you've finished your story! Now it's time to do the final touch-ups. There is still one last thing that you need to do. Yea, you guessed it. You need to check the entire story again for spelling, punctuations, grammar, correct word usage and coherence. You might even need to revise it a few times before you are able to arrive with the final output. But don't fret, it's not much work really compared to writing the entire novel. What's important is you now have your own novel, written by yourself, using your very own imagination. How much more proud could you get?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Carving Out A Home Writing Retreat

Credit: Uknown

The phone rings. The laundry pleads to be stuffed, cycled, dried and folded. Chaos reigns in the kitchen, e-mails queue for attention. Our lives are at once mundane and undeniably seductive at the same time. When we sit down to write at home, suddenly everything that marks our existence as tedious becomes compelling. Writing at home can seem tantamount to training for the Olympics past age nineteen.

Yet carving out time to write at home is possible. You can even design a home writing retreat. This weekend, I have staved off all other obligations and have Friday and Saturday free. I look forward to delving into my writing revision with hours of uninterrupted time. How to make sure I don’t veer into work mode. I’ve developed a strategy for an at-home writing retreat. Here are the ways that you, too, can carve out space for uninterrupted writing bliss.

Look ahead a month or two in your calendar. Find a day or two that are free and X them out for your retreat. When people suggest a get together on those days, say no. They’re full with something more important. It is vital to guard these days.

The week before, act as if you are going out of town. Take care of all the work and home obligations that need your attention. Think about what needs to be taken care of when you are flying the coop – pet and plant care, clothes for the trip, etc. Make sure your work is done by the day before so you can take the time guilt-free.

Devise a plan. Consider your ideal writing retreat. First, think about what you are retreating from. Make a list of the roles you play in life: mother, spouse, employee, and writer. Give yourself permission to take time off from those roles to focus on one role. This weekend, I will set aside business owner, writer and teacher to be novelist for two days.

Have a focus for your time. You may wish to work on one creative project or several but know beforehand what this time is devoted to. This will help when you enter the writing zone to get down to work right away.

Enroll allies. Alerting your people to your plans will make it easier to keep your boundaries. If your retreat means simply that you are stowed away in your bedroom or office while the rest of the family goes about their day, make sure they know that your do not disturb sign means just that. Better yet, help plan an outing for them so they can have their own adventure while you write. Who do you need to let in on your plan so they don’t inadvertently try to thwart your efforts?

Get your vittles lined up. Plan for your nibbling needs. Make sure to have healthy snacks on hand. Prepare meals in advance or plan to order out so you can eat well but not get distracted by food preparation.

Be more than a walking head. Have a plan for being embodied. You may plan walks into your retreat, simple yoga or your regular workout.

Commit to tuning out. You may want to unplug the phone, commit to leave your e-mail program off for the day and silence your cell phone. What other things do you need to set aside to be on retreat?

Give yourself a break with evening recreation. You’ll want a break by evening. What activities will nurture your writer? You could rent a film about a writer or artist to inspire you. You could have a juicy book waiting to read.

Consider other activities that support your writing. If you went to a retreat center devoted to writers, what would you want to see? Inspiring books about the writing life or writing craft, favorite quotes, photos of writers who are role models may all be part of your writing retreat. Background music that encourages your creativity might help.

Being on retreat doesn’t mean being holed up at home. If working in a cafe or at the library supports your writing, plan for excursions out of the house... Watch out for the errand monkey, who will try to yank you around town on a bunch of his missions!

Give yourself permission to step out of your norm. Take this time to focus and be in full creative mode. A retreat of even a few hours can be a huge boon to progress on your writing. Have fun and make it work for you.