Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Secret Life of Writers
As you can see from Dave's last post, writers are being asked to do more to promote their books. And, if you are anything like me, you're finding it is all a bit overwhelming. By the time you've twittered, written your prerequisite blogs, answered all the emails on your different email lists, attended conventions and writers festivals, supported friends at their book launches, helped out the writing community by judging competitions for free and kept on top of your private life, there's not a lot of time left for writing.
So today, I thought I'd write about the Secret Life of Writers, the time we spend inside our heads, that magical creative time.
We writers need quiet time. When you saw us pottering around in the garden or doing the ironing, we weren't really there. We were off on a space station battling aliens, down a dark alley dicing with vampires or galloping across a misty moor looking for dragon eggs as we sorted out plot problems. We need that quiet, reflective time to mull over the intricacies of character, plot and world building so that the gems can percolate up to the surface.
We need input. Writers tend to be solitary people, much happier observing life and the crazy things people do, then standing in the lime light. Everything from the evening news, to something overheard on the train, can trigger a 'what if' moment. I catch a lot of trains and, for some reason, people talk to me. You would be amazed the things people have told me, heartrending stories of loss, stories about the triumph of the human spirit. I find people fascinating, maybe because my 'inner writer' is always trying to understand what makes us tick.
And we need time to write. Because it takes time to wrestle a story out of the ether. Sometimes we need to write the first three chapters before we realise we've started the book in the wrong place. Sometimes we have to drag the story out kicking and screaming. And then there are the days when it flows so fast we can't type quickly enough.
I was sitting in the hallway at the gym today, waiting for yoga to start and one of the gym instructors asked if I was OK. I was. I was miles away, on the Shallow Sea, with one of my characters, trying to solve a plot glitch.
If it was easy to be creative everyone would be an inventor, writer, artist or musician. Here's some tips on how to tap into your inner creativity from New Scientist.
When do you do your best creative thinking? Late a night when it is quiet? First thing in the morning before the family gets up? Or can you day dream in the midst of chaos?