Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Faster Way of Writing

Boy Writing
Do you want to write fast and furious? Or do you have bits and pieces of dialogue or important plot ideas on different slips of paper?

You don't always have to make your fingers fly across the computer keys. If you have an iPhone or maybe another smart phone with the free Google Docs app, you can use the microphone icon next to the space bar on your phone's touch keyboard to dictate your words into a Google Doc.

Even dialogue can be written into a Google doc this way! All you have to do is say "Begin Quote" and say whatever words you would like your character to say and then say "comma," "period," or "question mark" and "End Quote." (This will save with lots of editing time later.)

Tonight, I wrote 1000 words for my new book this way and didn't even suffer from finger cramps!
Another thing this method helped me with is writer's block. A couple of days ago I brainstormed scene ideas for the next point of view section of my latest book. This section has been alluding me for the last three days. Grrrr...

I decided to dictate my brainstorming ideas into Google Docs this evening, and an amazing thing happened! I added more ideas as they popped into my head, and I came up with the plot twist that would fuel the rest of my book!

Now, I can begin again tomorrow and have a clear direction for this section of When Dreams Will Come, the third book in my series.

I am so excited to share this idea with other writers! Happy writing!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What Strategies Do You Use When You Get Stuck As a Writer?

As a teacher of writing, I get this all the time from my students. It's difficult to get unstuck, but sometimes, especially when you're writing a novel, you have to let your ideas bounce around in your brain and run into other ideas and thoughts until your characters work out their struggles for you. Or you could just go with the flow of your writing, and not resist what the characters want to do.

For instance, one scene I just finished tonight, I had actually envisioned when I first tried to write the chapter, but I edited it from my mind and tried to come up with something different. I wasn't listening to what my character had to do, what he was driven to do. Maybe I just didn't want him to fail. But I knew he had to fail to put everyone in more peril than they were previously. 

There are some strategies that I use to get myself unstuck. Here they are:

  1. Read another book. Get completely immersed in another world, the language of the author, the flow of ideas. Now look to see how many other books that author has written. Have they written more than you? Then, start writing again, so people will get immersed in the worlds you create and your language.
  2. Brainstorm in a journal. I think about the place, the senses, and what I envision happening in that place with a certain character or characters. Sometimes the act of writing in ink in a book, another medium, can get your mind working differently, less editorially, more creatively.
  3. Freewrite. I did this a bunch of times with this chapter. It really helped me because I was so stuck, I didn't even have anything envisioned in some places. So, I typed as fast as I could for five or ten minutes. If you're a NaNoWriMo writer, this would be referred to as a "writing sprint."
  4. Go to a movie based on a book you've read. Similar to getting immersed in a book, but seeing someone else's interpretation of the author's words may get your mind thinking more like a director. You see the big picture or you see details brought to life in a different way to convey the same idea, emotion or scene. I recently saw Divergent by Virginia Roth.
  5. Take a shower. My best ideas come to me in the shower. I actually read an article on the Internet about why taking a shower or driving seems to open up creativity. Both are kind of routine activities, which puts your mind into an Alpha state.(I've read a lot about brain activity because of my main character, Cassie, and her mind-reading abilities.)  Alpha brainwaves are more relaxed and open to think about ideas without censorship. Theta brainwaves lead to drowsiness and possible extrasensory perception.