Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Strategies to Writing: Part 1

Any blog or article that talks about how to become a more productive writer or how to write a breakthrough novel has one flaw: it doesn't work for everyone. No matter how much an article or blog is lauded as the "one", it is never the "key" or the holy grail of writing.

So what does work? Discipline.

I'm going to chart 14 discipline strategies that help me--if and when I obey them. It is determination and self-control that makes a writer more productive.

--1. Make yourself sit at the computer (or notebook), even when nothing happens. Don't sit there with the idea of writing a novel. Just write: one scene, one chapter, even one page. Start in short spurts, but follow these rules: 
No email.
No internet.
No phone.
No getting up.
This is your time.

--2. Play with ideas before you begin the actual writing. Juggle scenes or write scenes from different points of view. Rearrange the plot. Sketch out those future scenes that's been in your mind lately. Basically play around with your baby before you start working.

--3. Start writing at the point you left off. This is the part of the project where you have the best idea and feel most confident.

Also, don't worry too much about content. Write the shell, and then add the filling later. 

--4. Set reasonable goals and stick to them. Determine the number of pages or the amount of hours that you will write. Start off low then gradually increase.

Use your first 15 to 20 minutes to play around with your story and ideas. (see advice #2)

Here's an example I use:
During homeschooling lessons I give myself 1 hour to write or 3 to 5 pages a day, which ever comes first. I don't worry about word count. I utilize the time or amount of pages. At first I play with my ideas of scenes. I shuffle post-it notes. I chart what my characters may do. Sometimes I even jot down notes on conversations they have before I start to write. The first 15 minutes for me are to focus my brain on my story.

Dean Koontz said it best: "Some days, those hours will leave me with 2000 words; other days with 200."

--5. Write to discover!

You don't wait until you already know what it is that you want to say and then start writing. You write to discover your ideas. You write your way through difficulties. You don't think your way through.

Readers read to discover. Your best writing comes when you write to discover.

Next week I will give 5 more strategies to increase your writing time and quality. The more you utilize these points, the more disciplined your writing becomes.

So keep writing and keep discovering.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Too Good to be Kept

When you think of stories, what do you think about? What do stories mean to you?

Think of the Bible stories: how do they impact you as a reader? The Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son, David and Goliath, Ruth and Naomi--these stories whet our appetites and arouse our curiosity to the point that we are compelled to share. Stories are like secrets, too good to be kept.

It is the similarity of the stories to our lives that bind us into an universal family of readers. They help us to remember that past history, glory, shame, love, etc. They communicate in a language we all understand. Stories are the bridge between reality and dreams.

Good stories evoke our imagination and provoke our hearts by providing an escape, and an escape is good. We all want to get away from life's tyranny, loneliness, feeling unwanted, love, hurts, and so forth. We all need subliminal affirmation and escape, and novels are the addictive drug.

Beyond escapism, stories can promote healing. Look at the story of Saul of Tarsus. Even the stories of Jesus and Peter can bring about hours of conversation, but most importantly these stories show healing and forgiveness.

Go beyond healing and forgiveness, and stories can offer hope and morality. This is the "me" generation. By writing a novel that includes biblical and real-life stories we hook the reader. Giving ourselves to God's gain and be willing to tell the story, the Holy Spirit is released.

A story written for God's glory will hold the reader accountable like nothing else will. And a great story written for God's glory will become the secret that cannot be kept.