Well, a mea culpa is in order right off the bat. My original intent in creating this blog was to write at least one post a week, and I’ve failed miserably at that over the past few months. I apologize. I will do better. I promise.
On the plus side, since I do try to be optimistic about things, the reason I haven’t been blogging is that I’ve been devoting nearly all my spare time working on the new WIP*, a murder mystery-suspense novel started back in February and mentioned in this post. Since then, I’ve reworked the plot a bit, keeping the same basic premise (a man is found dead in his home by his estranged wife just a few weeks before their divorce is to be finalized) but changing who the killer is and developing the three main characters in a completely different way.
By the end of February, I had 20,000 or so words; now, the draft is over 70,000 and likely to grow a bit more before it’s finished and ready for the first serious edit.
After having struggled so long with the previous WIP, why has this one blossomed and grown so quickly? (And it has indeed grown quickly, considering that I have a full-time day job that interferes considerably with writing.) In reflecting on this question, I think there are four key lessons learned from the experience of the past five months, in no particular order of importance.
First, write what you know and where your passion is. Now, I’m not in law enforcement, although I’ve worked with a few LEOs in my day job over the years. But I love mysteries—absolutely love them—and have read them more than any other genre since my childhood. (I barreled my way through Nancy Drew starting at a young age and just went from there.) If given the choice among various types of works, murders and suspense novels are the ones I’ll almost always pick to read or to watch as a movie.
Second, find a supportive community to encourage you and keep you engaged. I’d joined the Absolute Write discussion boards about two years ago and promptly forgot all about it until February. But with the new WIP, I decided to be a full participant in AW and started reading the discussion threads that most relate to what I’m working on. This was one of the best decisions I’ve made lately with regard to writing because it has given me a connection to other writers and a supportive online community that encourages each other and offers terrific advice. Check it out; you’ll find me on the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense threads a lot.
Third, seek out things that boost your creativity. This could be writer workshops or talks or even websites for writers—any place and any thing that helps get your creative juices going. I recently met up with two other AW members here in my area for drinks and dinner, and one of them mentioned a wonderful website called writerswrite1.wordpress.com, which has daily prompts to help spark creative thoughts. The prompt for today, for instance, was “Write about the shape of your antagonist’s mouth.” What I like about this is that it really makes me think about my antagonist. What does he look like? What kind of person is he? And how does his personality show up in his physical features? The idea here is to read the daily prompt and then spend 15 or 20 minutes writing about it. It’s been great!
Finally, just write. And write. And then write on some more. One of the most important things we can do as budding writers is to carve out time each and every day to simply write. It’s hard, really. Awfully hard some days, especially when life and the Day Job start pressing in. But it’s critical to just write something every day, even if it seems that the ideas have dried up and that we have to pull the words out of our brains with pliers. I’ve started keeping a small notebook in my purse that I write in when I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or when I’m having lunch at my desk at work or even when I’m out for lunch or dinner with my husband and friends and spot something interesting that would add a little color to my WIP. I’ve even started getting up early whenever I’m plagued with insomnia (which happens all too often) to take advantage of those early morning hours that otherwise would be spent staring up at the dark ceiling.
So, there you have it, for what it’s worth. My own personal ah-ha moments. Hope something in this post has been helpful for you.
Oh, and there’s actually a fifth lesson: Don’t neglect the blog! (Duh.) We’ll see how well I keep that one up!
Cheers, everyone, and happy writing!
*Work In Progress