Writing advice to a friend

This advice is taken in part, from a conversation with a friend on messenger. I thought it might shine some light on my writing process. The question was, how do you motivate yourself to write a full length novel?

Hiya, I had the intention to write every day, but didn’t always manage. I didn’t beat myself up about it though, what’s the point.

Posting on Facebook was a great way to hold myself accountable, if only to myself.

I have a friend, (a non booky friend), who read each chapter after I had finished, errors and all. Her response to the writing, (and I mean response, not feedback at this stage), assured me that what I had written made sense and worked. I have a Helen too, who gives me the more honest and good feedback.

I had a loose plot, but it was loose. I let my imagination guide the shape of the novel and, regularly altered the plot line as I went. I guess the main thing for me was to think of why I wanted to sit down and write and, what I would get out of it. When I found the answer, I began to sit down and write purely for the love of writing. I wanted to enjoy the process, and have fun. I never gave myself pressure, I didn’t beat myself up if it seemed disjointed or went in weird directions, I just kept writing.

I had a rough idea of word count, but not a solid ending so that was changeable, and I did make some major changes in the last chapter and I think it gave the whole story a twist.

But I guess I went at it with a want to write, a real desire to bring my idea to life, to slow down in order to really enjoy what I was writing, and the actual act if writing itself. And with no publishing goal in site at this stage, I found the act of writing, for writings sake, fun. I guess that the process would change when working to a publishing deadline.

Summary

A maliable plot.
Facebook accountability.
A strong desire to bring my story to life.
An intention to write.
Writing for the love of writing.
A desire to enjoy each part of the process.

Another thing. Finishing each chapter on a hook is great for the reader, but also for me as it made returning to the story exciting.


I always leave myself notes of ideas at the end of a chapter too. Scrivener is a great piece of software that lets you break the novel down into wee chunks. It’s not too expensive either.
Also, I take notes of loose ends so I always tie them up.

Don’t edit as you go, it’ll slow you down and you’ll get stuck. You’re going to have to edit anyway once it is written. Try just writing and ignoring the mistakes. It is liberating. That’s when your real voice comes out and the magic happens. That’s when you’ll love it for what it is, a weird fucking delve into the unknown.

If you are still struggling, meditation is a good way to shake of expectations. Or a walk before you sit down.

Good luck.

Inspiration or Magic?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Where does a poem come from? Where does it begin? When does a thought become a creation?

The same applies to prose. Where does that unplanned story strand come from? How, in a split second, can a character fall in love without first consulting it’s creator?

Is it inspiration?

Or Magic?

I was walking the dogs yesterday. We went to our usual haunt which is generally the big field down by the river. The weather was average for Scotland in January, dreich, windy with a wee bit mizzle in the air, and damn cold. I was trying (and failing) to stop the dogs eating rabbit shit, while being careful not to step awkwardly on the uneven ground. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, in fact, I was just looking. I was looking at my feet, at the dogs, at the snowy mountains, and the people on the old railway in the distance. Suddenly, a sentence popped into my head.

I miss the sea.

This was followed by:

I miss the sea fi when a wis wee

Fair enough, I hear you say. Don’t we all miss what we can’t have at the moment in time, the pandemic has taken so much. And besides this, I’ve seen and heard references to the sea over he past few days through various mediums, so perhaps this subconsciously inspired me. The thing is, I haven’t written any poetry or prose since the start of December 2020. There is a number of reasons for this, (as discussed in previous posts, and I’m not going to bore you with them now), but I wasn’t looking for inspiration, or magic for that matter. And perhaps you don’t think the above lines could be classed as poetry, I mean, the two lines are statements aren’t they? Perhaps. But then the next line came to me in a rhythm so perfect, that I pulled my phone from my pocket and recorded it. This is written in Midlothian vernacular.

I miss sand
stickin to ma broon sauce piece

Is it sounding as epic to you as it is to me? Try saying it out loud, with a pause after sand, and the second line rolling of your tongue.

Or if you understand measuring meter in poetry:

I miss sand (strong, weak, strong)

Sti-ckin to ma broon sauce piece (strong-strong, weak. weak, strong, weak, strong).

Okay, you might not be as excited about the birth of my new poem as I am, but watch this space.

Back to my question though…

Did the poem arrive because of inspiration, or was it magic? My opinion is that it’s a bit of both.

Let me give you another example. Whilst working on my current novel in progress, Little Red Rowing Boat, I have become more and more aware of how often a new thread/strand appears during the writing process. This thread is unplanned, it might be an unexpected character appearing, a childhood flashback, and often a key plot line that materialises from no-where. I often find myself in a trance like state when I’m writing, or deep writing. This is when the magic begins. I generally do plan my writing before I sit down; I pretty much know the direction the story will flow, but regardless of my intention, there’s a genie in my head that sprinkles star dust on my fingers while I write and weird shit happens. Is it just me?

Photo by Julia Filirovska on Pexels.com

I would like to know your thoughts on this matter. Please leave a comment.

My World in a Ring

For Helen

It was not mine when it caught my eye,

I had never seen treasure like this before;

An opal stone set firmly in gold

Had lured me into the antique store.

 

Now it sat in a box amongst breakfast and tea,

Eight slices of toast with a message in cheese;

Toast perfectly buttered and words written neat,

Marry me?

 

Such a mighty feast adorned my table

That my brain was not quite comprehending,

The offer of marriage in edible love

And the unanswered question still pending.

 

My eyes filled with tears and the word “yes” escaped

And the ring flashed like sun and like fire,

She tenderly slipped the ring onto my finger,

For my love, I just could not deny her.

 

I mused over the jewel that now circled my finger;

Of its journey, its life and it’s past,

Who wore it before me, and who gave it up?

Was it a symbol of love that still lasts?

 

Was it owned by a lady who travelled the world,

Who read Shakespeare and Milton and Pope?

Did she write words with new inspiration?

Did the ring give her courage and hope?

 

Did she sit in a café and hold hands with her love?

Did they fill life with lobster and wine?

Did they explore foreign lands, discover by chance

The opal amongst darkened mines?

 

My ring holds the secret to questions I pose

Locked tight in six claws of rich gold,

The oval shaped opal like a world filled with fire,

And serpents and magic and wonder untold.

 

The magic consumed me as I strolled to the light,

The stone changed from fire into ocean,

Its sky filled with morning, with sunbeams

And clouds and a light show of pleasure and motion.

 

 

My gem is unique in this world, like no other,

It’s a rainbow enclosed in a stone,

Revealed to the world through endurance and skill,

It’s a lifetime of pleasure I own.

 

I wear it with pride on my left hand, fourth finger,

I imagine the gem’s sweet voice sing,

“You are unique, you are precious and have

fire in your soul, and your world will live on in this ring.”

 

©Eilidh G Clark