Tuesday, June 14, 2011

21 days of writing

There's plenty of reference to research that shows it takes 21 days to form a new habit, or lose an unwanted one. So I figure it's worth applying this idea to writing.

I know I'm not alone in struggling to find time to write fiction around all the other things that go on in your life - work, family, friends, pets, gardening, exercise, cleaning, etc, etc. Because I write for a living, I've used that as an excuse that it's even harder for me to commit to my fiction projects.

So, starting 13 June, I work on the WIP I got all inspired about last week for one hour a day. Doesn't matter if I have to split that hour up, whether it's completed in the morning or at night. I just have to do it. Every day. For 21 days.

Sounds simple, huh?

Oh, and I'm also doing 21 days of yoga practice too. Nothing major, starting with 15 minutes every day of the sun salute routine we learnt at class last year.

I can do it. I want to do it. I am doing it!

There are numerous interesting posts online to read on the whole habit-forming concept. Here are some that appealed to me:

Do you really know what you want? The law of attraction really works when we are clear about our intentions. If we merely wish for something to happen, it won’t. You have to be able to feel it, smell it, see it… 

According to yoga teachings , it takes:
    40 days to change a bad habit into a positive one;90 days confirms the new habit in you; 120 days allows the new habit to become who you are; 1,000 days ensures you have mastered the habit.
An online tool to help you form your desired new habits.

What would you like to change about your life - writing or otherwise - where the 21 days of practice concept could help you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finding inspiration anywhere

A seemingly random thing has pushed me back into wanting to work on one of my WIPs - which is a very good thing, as it's been some time since I've pulled the laptop out with fiction writing in mind.

We went to drinks for a friend's birthday over the weekend and I realised that her new partner was totally hero material -- well, he has the physical characteristics I want my former Special Forces hero to have. During a plotting session a while back, I thought actor Daniel Craig would provide enough inspiration -- and he certainly provides plenty, but  I don't know him personally. I've never had the opportunity to be in his physical presence (more's the pity, but then you think what the heck would I ever talk about with Daniel Craig, so never mind...)

So, as the friend's boyfriend and I chatted over drinks, I was mentally cataloguing the sheer weight of muscle on his arms, the intricate tattoos on one arm which he'd told me tells the story of his son's life, the chiseled jaw, his stature and presence -- they all added up to provide me with a real live person on which to base my hero.And that was certainly an inspirational moment and shows we can find ideas for our books anywhere, and why going out into the world can be a very good thing for writers.

The second piece of inspiration came from reading a Nora Roberts book, The Search. This fantastic story was set in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Seattle, a place I wondered whether it might be possible for my characters to slip back into the US without having a border control passport check. Still not sure about the border control aspect, but it sure was great to read a really enjoyable book - just as you'd expect from Ms Roberts - set in an area that I had already started to research as a possible setting for a couple of scenes of my WIP. That was very cool and unexpected.

These discoveries inspired me to think hard about this book, about what I'd done with it so far, where I wanted it to go and why it appealed to me then and now.

Of course I will be very careful not to make my hero too much like the person I know, but it's amazing how real I could make my hero seem to me by picturing him via a kind of overlay on my friend. (No offense to the friend intended - he's a wonderful guy and I was listening to our conversation, honestly!) Never before have I met someone who could inspire aspects of my fictional character, so that's been great.

The other funny thing I discovered this morning while I was reading through the plot outline I started developing with First Draft in 30 Days was that when I had been working on this WIP pantser-style, I'd already written several scenes that now I realise do not add anything constructive to the story. It was like writing your way through a maze and hitting the dead end. So, right now, I'm inspired by the thought that I really am onto something with this whole concept of plotting and developing characters before I write too much of the story. I think it might end up being a blend of plotting/planning and then drafting scenes and/or chapters. Well, that's the process that appeals at the moment, so I can feel that I'm making real progress on the actual story, while also keeping the story going in the right direction. We'll see... it's all a fun learning experience, isn't it?
Happy writing, all.