I thought I’d just get up and write this morning — was planning to. But the bed felt sooo good and I got up late. I got dressed, made the bed, had some “computer problems” to address (a window popped up when I turned the computer on), cleaned the floor, checked email, washed and hung out clothes, got caught up looking for card ideas on a site called Split Coast Stampers (I have a wedding card to do and about three weeks left). Then I took my mother to get her white blood cell shot (has to get one every day this week)… and wrote all of what I just set down in the car while I waited for her to come out of the cancer center. Including: “I have no idea where to start with the book. Was I bad? Do I need more focus? What is wrong with me?”
About then my mother came out and we went home. But later I talked to my friend Kelli and got some things hashed out and the light began to dawn. Here is the list of things I jotted down after our conversation that I want to remember:
1. Show up for work, even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time.
2. “Work” doesn’t mean “write the prologue” but just to engage in some way with the material. Maybe just sit and think about the story. Or read a card or two. Listen to inspiring music. Walk and think. Write a nonstop. Don’t put unrealistic expectations upon yourself. Wait for Him to spark the ideas.
3. Learn to work in bits of time — ten minutes, fifteen, a half hour. I’ve entered a different season of my life just now, and that may be all I’ll get at one time for a while. I can’t wait for everything to be like it was… time to clear out the mind, relax, dink about. Not only has the Lord not given me loads of time, but time itself is growing short. I really don’t think we’ll be here very much longer, so if I’m going to finish this book before then, I’d better get going.
4. Work with bits of the story at a time. Stop seeking to have the whole picture laid out before you start. Or even by the time you have completed the first draft. God’s the one who knows the big picture.
5. Trust Him always to guide…
6. Eliminate extraneous activities and distractions. It’s time to start working again, and the freedoms I’ve been enjoying have to be curtailed because given my increased responsibilities there isn’t time. Writing this novel is something God has called me to do. I know it. And the Christian life is one of sacrifice, of laying down one’s life for the brethren and in writing there has to be that. You give up some of your small pleasures for the sake of the work. Baking, dinking around, card-making, getting all those things cleaned I’d hoped to get cleaned before starting in again… I have to let them go.
It’s time to get moving again. It’s time to focus on the work again. And yet maintain my attitude of rest as well…
Thanks, I needed that. I look at the big picture, and get frustrated and overwhelmed and get very little done. I needed the reminder to do projects in short segments, even if I accomplish only one or two a day. At least that’s a start……”onward, and upward”. (I don’t want to leave this house for the kids to deal with.)
Mmmm, very good. I needed to hear that as well.
I love reading your posts. They are always so real and so deep.
Karen, I don’t know if you are interested in writing books or now. They motivate me a lot. I just got a new one that isn’t rah, rah, or a formula for writers to follow. It does break down story and looks at the parts but emphasizes how it needs to be organic and a reflection of what the author cares about.
The book is The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. It may not be for everyone, but when I sat down with it a few days ago, and followed his suggestions, I went from having a vague idea for a story to having a clearer idea of the premise and what I want to accomplish.
Anyway, I’m excited about it and thought I’d pass the information along.
Thanks, Becky. I appreciate the recommendation, especially that you pointed out his emphasis on the need to be organic and a reflection of what the author cares about.
In light of your “Do the Next Thing” post yesterday, Karen, I thought I’d mention the step by step process Truby takes his readers through. His approach is interesting and different. For example, he starts with the opponent rather than the hero.
Anyway, I’m still working my way through his steps and writing exercises in the Characters chapter and a story is definitely taking shape!
Of course, you already have your summary, so I don’t know how helpful this process would be for someone who already has the core of the story thought out.