Wow, was last week crazy or was it just us? It seems like we just wrote our last Manuscript Monday dealing with how to find a publisher, and then the rest of the week disappeared. Does anyone have a time machine? Anyone?
Last week was exciting, despite being so quickly paced that we seem to barely remember even being present for any day. We barely had time to touch our social media accounts and our blog missed out on content last week as well. I know, we have our heads hung in shame but we are ready to talk it out with you this week!
Today’s topic deals with starting your manuscript. You have an idea that is burning in your head. You may have told a few friends and they say, “Yes! Go! Full speed ahead, hi-yo Silver, Away!” You wake up the next morning refreshed and eager to start your run as a bestselling author. You pour a hot cup of coffee, you power up your computer, maybe crack a few knuckles, open up a notebook, and then spend the next 8 hours staring at the room around you, unable to write even the first line.
Oh yes, we know this all too well.
So how DO you do it? How do you move from that great idea into a 63,000 page manuscript that you can then begin to shop and one day see under the flashing lights of shelf in a dimly lit bookstore?
There’s no one magic potion or formula. We aren’t Harry Potter or Hermione Granger and we have no recommendations for how to wave a magic wand and bring your pencil to life a la The Sorcerers Apprentice. But, we are going to share what works for us and the first thing we always do is brainstorm.
Eeks. We haven’t had to do that since high school group assignments!
Do not fret! Brainstorming when it comes to your writing is a blast. The more creative and the more visual, the better your chances are of being successful.
Writer’s have this innate ability to find themselves lost in the moment and sink into a setting, character, or plot. We are often inspired by something we see around us in nature or on a person. I have a full story based around a navy blue trench coat I saw on a woman at a bus stop. For one week, I only looked for photos of navy blue trench coats, created tear sheets, and then looked at the settings in the photographs to get inspired for my next move in development.
Author Christy Pastore works through her Pinterest boards to create visual brainstorming and inspiration sessions for her stories. It is an absolute blast to waste a few hours while I’m working through something she has created and actually see inside of her mind.
I prefer the good ol’ corkboard myself but whatever floats your boat, set it a sail.
To kick off any good brainstorming session, here’s what you need:
That’s it, that’s all you need. Things that will help you:
Any possible piece of inspiration.
Well, now that we have officially wasted your time and provided no help, let us try to explain one more time before you click away!
Our point is to stop dwelling on your idea so hard that you block your inner creativity. You came up with the idea, you must have thought where to take it in some aspects at that moment.
Think of those fine details and surround yourself with visual books and magazines that deal with those little slices and tear things out. Stick them to a wall or pin them on a corkboard. Give yourself something to look at and get lost in. If you’re having writers block, pop out a short story real quick dealing with one of the images and you may have created a new character to work into your manuscript.
Leave the confines of your home, sit for a few hours a day somewhere and only keep a notebook and pen in your pocket. Drop the cell phone, the tablet, the eReader, the ball and chain, and immerse yourself in something new and different.
Put together a play list. This is something else Christy Pastore did for the creation of Fifteen Weekends, and the link to her playlist is available on her author website. We’ve seen this popping up left and right recently and we love it! Afterall, what are songs but another form of storytelling? Some of the most masterfully crafted tales are told in only 3-4 minutes, that my friends, is amazing.
Finally, don’t rely on your memory to carry you through. Keep a little notebook in your pocket or purse and write down any little note that pops into your head. If you see a detail in architecture that you adore, take 2 minutes and describe how it is making you feel or what it looks like. Let’s say you tried a new pie at the coffee shop and it made your tastebuds do a happy dance, jot down a little note. And most importantly, you came up with the idea for a story, WRITE IT DOWN. Write down your thoughts at that moment in time instead of relying on your memory. At the moment when a story pops into your head is the moment when your neurons are firing and creating little nuances that you will more than likely forget the next day.
Write down one or two words if you’re in a hurry, chances are you will pick up on the idea later or be led in a new direction based on those words.
The one thing to remember is writing a manuscript is not a heavy weight title match. You don’t have to fight yourself or anyone else, you just need to enjoy what you are doing. Personally, I don’t believe in writer’s block. I do believe in writer’s fear. Fear of your story ending, or even fear of your story starting to take shape. Just go with it, pour some coffee, do a quick dance around your house, go for a walk, or pet a puppy. And while you’re at it, take some notes.
Try this for a week and let us know how it goes. Did it help you start or pick up where you are struggling? What are your favorite tricks for brainstorming and starting off on a new piece?
Leave us your thoughts below, we love to chat with you!