And so we come to the end: I’ve said ‘thank you’ nicely. I’ve wrenched the star from the Magic Dog’s grinning jaws, fondled it one last time, cut it into four pieces, and sent all four baby stars bouncing on their way. All that remains is offer up ten things I do to jump start my writing.
The problem with this is that writing is such a part of my life that what I do might seem simplistic. Still, though, a promise is as promise. When I received the star award a I promised to send the star on, and to list ten things I do to prime the writing pump, as it were.
1. I dream. Often I dream stories, with plots, settings, and characters which do not include me. In the morning, when I arise, I strive to write these out. Often they become the basis for a short story, or even a novel. (The YA novel I’m writing now started that way.)
2. I IM. And when I IM, I get silly. Ask my good friend Gene, who was present and participating in the silly IM session that gave birth to Stanley, who became one of the central characters in my first published novel, Redeeming Stanley. (You can read about it here.)
3. I journal. Have done for years. My journals provide a rich source of what we shall call “fertilizer”, since this is a G-rated blog.
5. I listen. I listen all the time. I used to listen to my grandparents’ stories, which they told me over and over again until I could repeat them, word, intonation, and gesture-perfect. I listen to strangers in restaurants, on the bus, in the doctor’s waiting room–everywhere. Every voice holds a different kind of music, and if you listen long enough, you can hear it.
6. I write Finn stories. If you’re not sure what that is, you can read about them here. And it occurs to me that I’ve neglected to hold the promised drawing for a free book cover. Get your entries in this week, and I’ll include them in the drawing (check out the tab for specifics).
7. I talk to my son. It used to be that I invented stories for him. Some were lovely, and featured us doing fantastical things. Some were crazy, and made us laugh like hyenas. But as the years have passed, a wonderful thing has happened. He’s started coming to me. “I’ve got a good idea for a story,” he says. And then he tells me about his good idea.
“You should write it down,” I tell him.
“Nah, you do it,” he tells me. “That’s what you do.” And so I write the ideas down, and when I need a jump start, I go read them.
8. I do past-life regression exercises. The jury’s still out on whether I’ve lived before or not, but doing the exercises invariably results in strong, compelling images. I take my journal to a coffee shop, get something hot and sweet to drink, and start to write. When I begin, I have no idea where the image will lead. When I finish, coffee cold and hand aching, I have a story. And it’s good.
9. I live my life. I’ve always had a facility with words, but let’s face it; any monkey with a keyboard can put words on paper. The trick is having something to say. As I’ve grown older, I am starting to understand what that is.
10. I lie to myself. Stupid as it sounds, when I get stuck I trick my brain. I tell myself, “I’m not going to worry about writing this right now. I’m just going to think about settings, or character, or plot. I’m not writing. I’m just taking notes.” And so I begin “taking notes,” and before I know it, I’m writing again.
So that’s my top ten. The promise is fulfilled. The star is gone. The Magic Dog and I are saddened by its passing.