Mind Stretching

So today’s Daily Writer entry is about mind stretching. The prompt isn’t to write, but to choose a topic you enjoy and spend a month learning as much as you can about that topic. While it’s interesting, I’ll likely not do it. What I HAVE been trying to learn more about is the practical elements for writing a novel.

This week I spent time with a novelist friend writing together in our favorite hangout. She shared a few resources from classes she has attended and taught, and walked me through how to use Scrivener — a software program/app that let’s you organize your story. I just dropped $115 on Microsoft Office so I’mma stick with that for now, but it was interesting to see her digital files of novel research, photographs, story parts, and outlines.

One of the things she helped me with was a relationship map. Since I wrote my novel in a hurry, one of the things I’m finding as I revise is that I need to do more relationship building between the characters and understand who they are to each other. I often struggle to write emotions into my stories and perhaps this is a first step into really understanding how my characters get along and how they feel about one another.

In related news, I shared a story with another friend today and asked for his feedback. One of the things he reported back was that he not only liked the story, but also that he could feel the intention between the two characters. He sensed the nuances in their relationship that I had written without even knowing it. Win!

I was nervous to open myself up to criticism, but moments like this really help me better understand how people read my writing. As my stories evolve, I’m hopeful having fellow creatives to give me feedback and some basic tools of the trade will help me become a stronger creative writer. I think it will take longer than a month to let it all sink in, but that’s fine by me.

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Motivated by Ideas

Today’s Daily Writer assignment is to start a file of ideas; they suggest index cards, but that sounds like a mess, so I’ll maybe try a notebook or a folder on my computer. That doesn’t make for a very interesting blog post …

I took a couple days off from writing over the weekend and worked on revising a novel I’ve been working on rather lazily for the past several years. I wrote the first pass during NaNoWriMo November 2010. I got 50,000 words on the page in just over three weeks. It wasn’t quality, but I hit the quantity goal and was proud to finish.

Since then, my life has changed considerably. I have changed too. My child was diagnosed with brain cancer just three months after the contest ended. While living in the hospital for months, my writing focused on daily blog entries about her progress, hospital happenings, or just little things about the intense experience I didn’t want to forget. People loved reading my writing at the time Many people followed the blog closely until recently — about 6 months ago, when I stopped writing all together after several long periods of not posting anything.

I feel like I could fill an entire box with ideas for motivation just thinking about the time between the novel and now, I’m just not sure I want to. As I ready myself for another scan in a couple weeks, I find that while I was finally starting to open up and recognize my feelings of loneliness, fear, and even despair, I have once again begun carefully tucking them away — or maybe just jamming them into an already too full suitcase of repressed emotions.

My idea file might remain thin — or maybe it will never happen. At least I’m writing again. Even if my ideas aren’t so novel (pun intended), I’m writing, and sometimes just showing up is all that counts.