While the rest of my campus is cramming for midterms, I’m sitting at my desk typing. Not on homework, and not revising a Facebook post. While I do plenty of both aforementioned activities, I’m simply adding words unto my fictional story.
Yesterday, I researched and learned how to polish medieval armor. I sketched out the main character motivation for two sequels, and I wrote the back cover for my first book. In the middle of this, I glanced at my word count and noted it was right around 40,000.
That’s a lot of words. But it’s more than just nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and conjunctions thrown together. It’s a complex story, a world that sometimes takes me by surprise. I’m even more shocked when a friend reads it, and actually feels the characters as I do. It’s even more fun when they get mad at a character, and then I read the story again and have to agree, yes that character is a jerk. 😉
Whenever I mention that I’m writing, I get almost the same reaction, How? How does a college student taking 18 credits manage to find any time for writing? Especially 40,000 words worth of time?
I’ve puzzled that question myself, wondering how I fit in my writing. I’ve asked myself if it’s worth the time I’ve committed – the hours of reading, writing, and revising. And the answer is almost always yes.
Right now, I’m super excited I can throw in some relevant lyrics from the musical Hamilton into a blog post. Every time I hear this song, I’m reminded of my friends’ questions.
Why do you write like it’s
Going out of style?
Write day and night like it’s
Going out of style?
How do you write like you’re
Running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re
Running out of time?
How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write ev’ry second you’re alive?
Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?
Since both Hamilton’s friends wanted to know, and my friends keep asking me, I’ll just try to summarize my answer for you guys.
Write like you are running out of time
Ideas come into your head, but they don’t stay there. Writing is a race against your own brain, a race to spin your characters’ motives, words, and ideas before inspiration withers. Sometimes, I bolt out of bed at 4am, just to write down why my character feels the way they do. Other times I force myself to fall asleep at 11pm, and then wake up at a more reasonable hour to make some book notes.
Once I know why a character acts, I don’t need that moment of inspiration for the rest of the story. Figuring out why is the key. It’s a key I’m constantly looking for, and sometimes it’s as though I’m running out of time to find it.
Write something, even if it feels like nothing
Sometimes, I simply have no energy to devote to my story. Maybe I know a character is going to make a terrible decision, and that makes me weary so I hate actually transcribing their actions. Or, I can’t decide which path the character will choose, their motive may still be a bit murky.
But you still have to write something. And not even on the exact story. Write a journal entry. Compose a blog post. Even an academic paper, which thankfully my professors are quite willing to assign.
Putting words on paper, or in a word document, keeps my brain going. Linking sentences, choosing the most authentic manner to convey an emotion, revising and rewriting. It’s practice for the fictional work I’m truly passionate about.
Read Too Many Words
There’s plenty of advice circulating telling new writers to read lots, if they want to write. Since I’m not a published author, I suppose I’m simply repeating what I’ve been told.
You do need to read alot. I try to read a book every 2 weeks or so. Sometimes, I play catch up and read several books in a few days time. Since September, I’ve read Prisoners of Geography, You Before Me, Mark of the Lion series (3 books), and a ton of blog posts floating around the web.
To write, one must read. I’m relieved I love reading, it makes life so much easier. 🙂 Anyway, people ask why does reading matter so much? Well, here’s my two cents.
Reading gives me a glimpse into the details readers like to have included. I’m not a detail person, I write in broad swooping emotional actions, and later realize I didn’t mention any landscaping, visual details. But as I read, my brain is programmed to include those visual settings in my own writing.
And, reading grows your idea of character development. One dimensional characters are the worst thing in the world. Well, malaria’s pretty bad too, so perhaps not the exact worst. If there is one area that my writing has changed since high school, I’m hoping and guessing that it’s building two dimensional characters. Learning how different authors build character growth, motivates me to do the same.
So there’s my two cents. I love writing, I love reading about writing, and I love writing about writing. Someday, I hope to publish a book, or two, or three. Until then, I better get back to my fictional writing!