Do you ever fear that you will run out of ideas? I am not one who has a million ideas jostling for paper time. I have a number of unfinished short stories that could use my attention. But I'm not busting at the seams full of ideas... yet when it comes time to write, I don't usually have too much trouble coming up with a story. You might be like me, or you might be the kind of writer brimming full of ideas. Both are okay. Both come with their own set of problems. Often people full of ideas have trouble focusing on one story. They will often have stacks and stacks of unfinished stories. We'll talk about that another day. Today I want to focus on idea generation and brainstorming. Often my best ideas don't come while I'm at my desk; they come in the shower or in the car. If you are curious about why, check out this article. In pre-pandemic days I used to drive to work for 40 minutes with traffic, which gave me a lot of time to think. Exercise is a good idea generator, unless like me, you are allergic to exercise.
I saw that an Instagram friend of mine was doing a 90 Days to Your Novel challenge thing, based on this book. I was intrigued. I mean, who wouldn't want to write a whole novel in 90 days? Can you really do that? Would it be any good? I know there are indie authors out there that crank out 4-5 novels a year. Something I've learned in the last year is that consistency and frequency really help when it comes to growing a following. For example, I started this blog in August 2016. Then, I decided to start grad school to become a librarian. So, from June 2017-Aug 2019 while I was in school and working full time as a teacher, I posted infrequently. Since August, I have (for the most part) posted every Friday. The number of followers since then has nearly doubled and views on the website are way up. I expect by the end of 2020 the views will more than double from last year. BUT that is not nearly important to me as quality content. I try to be consistent. But sometimes I've got stuff going on in my life (my MIL and my Stepdad passed away in the last 9 months) that prevent me from writing quality content for you, so I skip a week or two. Maybe that hurts the SEO, but I refuse to put junk out there attached to my name.
Sarah Rhea Werner released a podcast about her creative process. That is something I've touched on but not completely, so I thought I'd share my process to see if perhaps this might help you discover a process that can help you.
Fairytale has such a childish connotation, but bear with me on this. You don’t have to be an author of children’s books to get something from this post. I find that the best way to get better at something is to learn from the masters. I would love to sit down with any of these authors and learn all their secrets, but I doubt they would agree to meet with me. Even if they did, they cannot impart their years of toil upon me in a quick interview. That is best done by study.
Finding a critique group that is a good fit for you is HARD! You might want to create your own group. But where do you start? I have it all laid our for you here in this post!
For beginning writers, one of the most difficult things to do is to finish the story they'd started. There is always another story that promises to be better. But that creates a big problem for writers.
When I was little the doctor used to prick my finger to test blood for something I didn’t understand. The prick never really hurt that bad, but the doctor squeezing my finger to get enough blood out into the tiny capillary tube hurt like crazy! That is what writer’s block is like. The type of writer’s block I’ve had was more of a 10+ year paralysis. After college I wrote 1/3 of a novel. I decided to research the craft of writing. Great idea in theory. It was like drinking from a fire hose because I decided it would be a good idea to read every book that I could get my hands on. I had no idea there was so much to learn. I became overwhelmed and didn’t know how to implement ALL that I had learned ALL at once. So I stopped writing. Life got busy anyway. I changed careers, got married, had a child, moved a couple times. Ya know…Life.
It has been a while since I’ve written about what is going on in my writing world. So things are starting to settle down a bit now. *Knocks on wood* Grad school is done! Middle school is in session and I finally feel like I got my head above water for the moment. So I can focus on writing a bit. I have three projects in mind. 1- A novel based on the short story I published, 2- a nonfiction book, 3- short stories.
Ray Bradbury said "Write only for yourself" This is excellent advice! At times I've gotten stuck in my writing, and after thinking about the cause, I usually find that I'm attempting to write for the wrong reason. For the past couple years, I've been writing short stories in hopes of getting published in one of the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association) recognized magazines so I can become a member of SFWA. Sometimes I catch myself trying to write not from my heart, but with an end goal in mind, publication. This means I'm on step 2, but thinking about step 12.
Writers throw around terms like alpha and beta readers. But really what is that? Why two different groups? Alpha readers Part of the confusion is that there are subtly different definitions depending on who you ask. Some will say that an alpha reader is simply the first people to read it–no other qualifiers. That’s how I defined it for many years. Then I read another description of it which made sense. This definition distinguishes between readers who are writers and readers who are readers. Both types of readers are critically important.