Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Contemplating Writers' Truths - all 9 of them

I was ruminating this week about inspiration and what it takes to get it together to write a story, a novel, short story, whatever.  What is it that gets us going, keeps the juices flowing and inspires us to keep going until it's done?

So I thought about it, asked some friends, and here are a few of the things we came up with.

1.  Inspiration?  Take a long hot shower or a good soak in the bath.  The subconscious is your friend and the muse can't be wrestled to the ground.  Even washing dishes or driving around can open the gate to inspiration.  Do something that lets you relax and unfocus from your primary job of writing.  Breathe.  Allow inspiration in.

2.  Keep a notebook handy.  Really, not just an iPhone or some such that you can talk into though of course that might be good.  But a real notebook.  Something you actually have to physically write in.  It helps solidify ideas and lets others begin to flourish.  Really, trust me.  Good idea. You might be amazed to see where those randomly written down thoughts take you later.

3.  One friend advised, be weird, allow your strangeness to come through.  Your friends and family probably already think you are that just because you're a writer. So ask the big, complicated questions Muse on and embrace all that makes you different.

4.  Here's another one - drive your main character crazy.  Whether it's a he or a she, a romance, a mystery or science fiction.  Give your hero lots and lots of obstacles and a killer of a past. The more frustrated and harassed your hero, the more conflict, the more conflict the more engrossing the story.  Go for it.

5.  Read. A lot. Everything.

6.  Read your own work aloud and listen for the rhythm.  Your ear will pick up something that clanks.

7.  Develop your vocabulary.  No, larger words aren't necessarily better, but words that tell your story the right way are. Follow Hemingway's example.  Keep it simple, but make it right.

8. Keep it short.  If it's already written, shorten it some more.  Refer to number 7 above.

9.  Listen. Everywhere.  All the time.  Want crisp, on the nose dialog?  Then listen to people talk.  Become a practiced eavesdropper.  Develop your listening skills and fine-tune the way your characters talk: their accents, their words, their cadence. 

So we came up with 9 simple truths to help writers out. I know, I know, there are no doubt many more, but I hope among these you'll find a bit of truth to keep your writing going and improve upon it. 


  1. Showers are fantastic for inspiration. I always keep a paper and pen on me. Receipts work in an emergency.

  2. Good tips, M Pax - I've used napkins as well!


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