“Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two steps.” David Lloyd George
A flood of questions are nearly always top of the list from readers and wannabee writers when they talk to published authors.
How do you write so much? Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way, recommends you write three pages of long hand stream of consciousness writing every day, first thing in the morning. I’ve followed her advice since 1990. One day I looked at the accumulated pages on a shelf of composition books and I marveled.
If I had channeled that writing into a story, or written even one page of story a day —I would have three books written, or at the very least, one book written.
Do the math: 3 pages per day 3 X 365= 1,095 words per day or 399,675 per year. That is 4 or 5– 80,000 word novels. Or one page a day = 365 pages. Each page, double spaced in 12 point in Times New Roman font = 250 words. 250 words times 365 = 91,250 words.Surely you can write one page a day – a one page letter to a friend every day? Think of your reader as a friend and write.
My day –How does my day start? It usually begins at 5 a.m. I love mornings. Seven days a week. That way, I’m alone except for our two cats, Daisy and Lady Slipper, until 8:30 or 9 A.m. when my husband gets up and I fix him breakfast.
The world is my oyster then. Still with Julia Cameron’s three long hand pages a day, plus writing in my gratitude journal and reading a chapter in some motivational, inspirational book…then I write a chapter that ranges anywhere from three to six pages, rarely more than that, on my current WIP (Works in Progress). I write in long hand because it seems I get deeper into the story that way. I type the days writing when I finally get to the computer around 10 a.m. That is how I’ve managed to get from three to five books a year published…adding up to over 30 published novels and 5 books on the craft of writing.
The next burning question in this group of readers/wannabee writers is where do you find the ideas for your stories? Here are a few places where ideas lurked and the books they sparked:
>Death by Candlelight – a person I saw crossing a clearing overgrown with weeds. She was waif-like, tall boot moccasins, long, rich chocolate brown hair…who was she?
– three words given from a random prompt, x-ray of a non-human, strange music on a cassette tape, Dolphin.
>Watch For The Raven – a phrase my mother’s grandfather used to begin all his tales with and apparently he told many a tale. “When tag was a pup and turkeys chewed tobacco…”
>Diamonds, Death and Deceit—A news paper story about South Africa and a Witch Hunt conference.
> The Pink Lady Slipper – A photograph
Once you start looking for ideas they pop up everywhere. Stephen King (Full Dark No Stars) and many other authors’ stories begin with true crime ripped from the headlines. One of Patricia Cornwells’ novels explores the possibilities of who Jack The Ripper was (Portrait of a Killer, Jack the Ripper—Case Closed)—she claims to have solved that issue. Many authors use their careers as starting points—John Grisham, lawyer; Robin Cook, doctor – and many, many more.
Writing, though it’s something I love to do, is treated like a business. Regular hours, regular work day – put out the product, in this case a book. Submit it to my publisher. After a contact is issued, market and promote while I wait for edits and at the same time begin writing my next book.
Right now I’m editing one book, July Heat, before submission, but the next book in my Zodiac series – Leo_ with the character named Augustine Aeble sits in my subconscious developing her story. It’s like a manufacturing plant if you think of it. Raw material in, finished product out. Plan (idea), development (sub conscious noodling, vegetating) Action (write).
Write like the wind—think of all the ways the wind blows – a gentle, playful breeze, a stout nor-easterner, gale force, tornado, hurricane, steady flow, can you picture yourself writing like any of these winds? Each day and sometimes even the same day renders a wind-like writing, sometimes it’s against the wind, next time it’s like with the wind at your back pushing you as fast as your pen or your fingers can fly.
Try it – you too can write a novel — one page at a time.