11.14.2011

in my mind's eye

I took such a long break from writing, not only here and but also from my book, that I became disenchanted with the whole thing. I thought I was doing great, beginning to work on plot. I found a few tools online for developing plot, and tried to work it out. It sapped the energy right out of my writing, though. I felt like I'd already written the whole thing, and it died right there on my doorstep. So I took a longer break, not being able to write something that was essentially roadkill.

I read "On Writing" by Stephen King. I can't speak highly enough of this book. I loved the look into his life as a writer, the first half is a memoir which focuses on his writing, beginning in childhood. The second half was his advice on writing. He talked about creating a toolbox with which to work from, including vocabulary, grammar, and style. He offered great tips such as "write with the door closed," literally and figuratively. This really resonates with me, as does this quote I read yesterday over on Amber's blog: "Write your first draft with your heart.  Rewrite with your head," from Finding Forrester.

King also describes his writing as character-driven, beginning with a situation. This made me emphatically nod "yes" and feel reassured that I am not doomed as a writer if I just can't get behind plot-driven writing. To be honest, I can't get behind it. I love characters, first and foremost, and I don't like to figure out the plot beforehand. I have a "situation" in mind, so to speak. My novel begins with something that sets the rest of the story going, but where it goes, I don't yet know. And I like it that way.

I have been taking King's advice to heart. I sit down every day, same time, to write my 1000 words. I sit down and hope the muse shows up, and usually he does. If not, then I write boring stuff. But it's okay, I can always take out the boring stuff later. This way, without a plot drawn out, I am surprised with my characters. They show me what they are doing, and I jot it down. I am beginning to see them in my mind's eye. I catch glimpses of clothing, I hear the emotion in their voices. It's really quite exciting. And so I plod along, 1000 words at a time, in the back seat, taking notes, as I watch my characters go about their lives.

In my life, I strive to be in the moment, and to soak up the details around me, as they work like mental compost to eventually enrich my writing. Also, as cooler weather sets in, I start needing to bake. Thus the cookies begin to be a staple on my counter top. Soon it will be pies, and apple cake. What's your favorite fall treat?
Another question, I may have asked before, but I want to know again. Do you have a book on writing (or your creative outlet of choice) that really speaks to you?

5 comments:

Nanowrimo said...

The 3 am epiphany has a lot of writing exercises that have helped me!

Ivy Bliss said...

Oh Jess...again, you speak directly to me.
I am obsessed with On Writing as well. I have the audio on my ipod and go through it at least once a quarter. The coolest thing...Stephen King narrates it, so it's as if he is talking to me. It truly feels as if we are in a conversation as I drive down 75.
I've been a bit of a slacker lately. I let life get in front. I have written about a million words in my head on my novel, and very few have actually made it to the paper. Mine is also character-driven. I know where I want her to go. I hope she gets there.
Thanks for posting this and reminding me that my heart has to do the writing. I love that movie.
Kiss the kiddos, and hug your husband for me!
~Ivy

jiamei said...

This isn't a very long comment but here are my thoughts:

1. I think it's great that you're being so open and honest to yourself and your audience as to what's going on in your mind.

2. Your mind creates this world in your book, so when you create, allow your story to react. I love how you are so considerate of the emotions in your characters voices, and how they behave, rather than trying to force them into it.

3. I'm again obsessed with pumpkin. Why? Because when I think of pumpkin, I think of that poor gourd that you brought home to sacrifice, and the pleasures you, Scott, and I had carving and eating roasted seasoned seeds. Those are beautiful memories that still inspire me. :)

Thanks for posting Koi, your musings bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. We will reunite soon. <3

Now back to lurking. Lurklurklurk.

Lainey Seyler said...

i'm right there with you on this one. i'm busy, it's true, but who isn't. and so i don't create time for writing. just showing up is such a big part of it. thanks for the encouragement and i'll definitely have to check out that book!

Mare said...

My favorite autumn treat has to be hot apple ciders, with a stick of cinnamon in it. I don't have a favorite book on writing, but based on your recommendation, I am going to have to go out and buy Mr. King's book, "On Writing."

I, too, have had a novel in my head for years. Good luck, I'll be first to buy your book when it publishes.