Not to say you could not break this down any way you choose, but these are the categories that I came up with. I broke it down into the six ‘legs’ of the writing table.
The first leg was love of story. Ideas really propel me, but it often takes a bit of inspiration to drive them: interesting non-fiction, good books, films, other weird ideas or what ifs. Character is another driver. I don’t think most of the MGC writers need help to get their characters to come out to play, but often mine do get a stale kind of feel. To try and reconnect I often let myself go a little left of field and explore their backstory a little more extensively – it’s amazing how often this helps to solve plot problems.
Putting more humour into your story or dialogue is another fun thing to do. Depending on your inclination, plotting out maps and drawing the street plans of cities, or painting characters and settings is also a good way to get enthused. Look for movies or books or art that inspire you for the piece you are writing.
My second leg was the excitement of a potential market. Where are you thinking of sending your work? What publishers are doing great things in your genre? I find having a potential market in mind – a deadline is even better! – to be really motivating. I love writing with some destination in mind, like a themed anthology for example. Hunt for books at the local bookshop or library. Find something that excites you then research the publisher. Think of this as a potential market.
The third leg was health and energy. Yes, we are human animals. Health is often neglected by writers, but has a huge impact energy levels. Sleep. Strangely most people need it. The quality of your food, the amount of rest you get. What do you do for stress reduction? That’s important as well. How about exercise? Small amounts of low impact activity have been well demonstrated to have large positive effects. Walk the dog.
The fourth leg is support. Share your dreams with the people you love, reach out to other writers. Go out to crit groups even if its just for coffee and a bitch. Open as much communication as you can. Go to cons. Meet other writers. This is important, and also neglected, often by new writers. That’s why the impact of your first convention as a writer can be overwhelming and a revelation at the same time.
The fifth leg is belief. Dream. Don’t be afraid. Create your future in your mind. Look at your stories critically, examine their strengths and their weaknesses. When you send out your work, know it well enough to believe in it – if you know it well you will be able to immediately rebut unfair critique or review. Stay positive. One thing is for certain, if you don’t have your work out there you will not publish.
And lastly, the sixth leg, celebrate! Many writers are perfectionists with impossibly high standards. When you do achieve a success milk it for all it’s worth! Take the family out for dinner. Go to the cafe and have that piece of cake. Take 10mins and just look wistfully into space. Take the time to recharge. Have a break and rest – knowing that you have taken one more step on the path.
OK. Well there is my brain dump for this week:)
Have I forgotten any legs? Remember – leave off one leg and the writing table falls over! And I’m not coming over to clean up the mess!