Be inspired with author Caroline James, in the first of a series of writing tips
The long period of Lockdown has been challenging over the last few months. Life as we knew it suddenly changed and with unexpected time spent at home, away from our extended family and friends, the weeks may have dragged for many.
As things return to whatever our new normal will be, have you thought of taking the opportunity to write a novel?
Suddenly, we’ve had to adapt to a new way of life. Home schooling became the norm and for many, exercising, baking, watching films and gardening etc became outlets for the long hours spent in isolation. Perhaps you never had the time or inspiration to write before, but like me, always had a dream of seeing your words in print. William Shakespeare wrote King Lear when he spent time in isolation during the plague. Is now the time to find your writing muse?
Writing is good for our mental health
Pouring our thoughts out on the page is very therapeutic and the page is the place where you can let it all out. Try this simple exercise:
Take a notebook, sit down and write in longhand for half an hour. Write anything that comes into your head. Let your stream of consciousness flow. Do this every morning for a week and see what happens. I promise; something will connect and your creativity will spark. In her book, The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron calls this, The Morning Pages, and many writers including myself, practice every day. Don’t forget that you have to write badly in order to get better and the more you write the more your writing will improve.
What to write?
Stephen King, the famous author, who has sold millions of books, states that in order to write well you should read prolifically. He wrote a book for writers called, On Writing, and I highly recommend using some of his methods.
Why not write the sort of book that you would like to read? If it interests you, there is a good chance that it will grab your reader too. Everyone has a story. Perhaps you would like to write your memoir and recover parts of your past for future generations. Write for fun too, just for you. No writing goes to waste.
Give yourself permission to write
Begin a writing project and allow yourself time to write. Take time out of your day to sit down in a space that you can call your own, for however long you have. At the moment, we can’t take ourselves off to cafés and some other public places, so it is important to make it clear to your household members that this is your bit of ‘me time.’ If you write in challenging circumstances, you can write anywhere. Every day that you don’t write because you don’t know what to write or where to begin, is another day of not being a writer.
Try this exercise: If you have three imaginary lives to lead, what would they be and what would you do in each of them? You might be a footballer, an actress or a lawyer. Have fun with this and write about each, don’t overthink it.
Don’t worry about grammar and spelling
Just get it written. Get to the end of your first draft. The most important thing is to get your story on the page. You can check everything later. Don’t stop the flow by worrying over poor spelling or grammar. Once the first draft is in the bag then editing, re-editing and re-writing can be done.
Is a writing class for you?
There is no magic formula for writing. No fairy waving her wand. No potion to be had. You just have to stick at it. Glue your rear to a chair and keep writing. Practice makes perfect. But writing classes may be a good source of ideas and inspiration. One of the first writing weekends I participated in was in a beautiful valley in Wales in a shack-like building with a Shaman and a group of newbie writers. It was wonderful. In a safe and stunning environment, we gained confidence and were inspired to create and share ideas.
Being part of a writer’s group can be helpful. Likeminded people coming together on a regular basis is a useful way of taking the loneliness out of writing. If you don’t have one near you, start one. Or go online and join or create a group. Use social media to find out if there are writers in your area who would like to get together. This is also a good way of finding a writing buddy for support (and friendship). Please remember to check current social distancing guidelines.
Next time: How to get from the page and into publication
Best-selling author Caroline James writes women’s fiction. Contact her at www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk
She is a founder member of The Publish Hub, an organisation that enables writers.
From manuscript appraisal, editing, publishing, marketing and media,
The Publish Hub is run by writers for writers.
Get in touch: www.thepublishhub.com