Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

This past weekend I went on a short, but perfect, writing retreat at our cabin in beautiful Estes Park, CO. The typical visitors there are 4-legged.

DSC_0047

IMG_1930

IMG_1932

This particular weekend, however, they must have known I couldn’t have any distractions. I was on a deadline. There wasn’t a single 4-legged animal in sight. Not. One. In fact, the hot tub even decided not to work, so no distraction there either. The writing Gods were smiling down on me. After clocking 20,000 steps on my Garmin step tracker and 9 hours of revisions in one day, my manuscript was sent off to the powers that be, calories burned, and I counted the day a huge success!

Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.
—Virginia Woolf

 

 

Mining for Ideas

pen

I’m confident that everyone who writes has been asked on more than one occasion, “Where do you get your ideas?”
Even when I expect it, that question always makes me freeze. When I finally thaw, I hem and haw, shift from one foot to the other, scrunch my face, followed by a long exhale…you would think I was in pain. And I kind of am. Because try as I might, I cannot for the life of me come up with a good, concrete answer.

The truth is, ideas are literally everywhere. My fear is not having enough time to write all the stories that pop into my head. All the scenes I want to flesh out, all the characters through which I want to live vicariously, all the things I want to research to put into a book…well, you get the idea. I’ve had people tell me, “Hey, I’ve got this fabulous idea for a book. You should write it for me.” I give them a blank stare and then I cough, buying some time before I’m finally able to speak. “Uh, yeah,” I say, “as soon as I finish with all of the ideas I already have.” In other words, not in this lifetime.

Writers are day dreamers, night dreamers, creative thinkers, even when we’re not aware of it. I will sometimes hear something or witness something seemingly unimportant, but then remember it days or weeks down the road when it’s making its way into my WIP.

My ears perk up when I hear people squabbling in the grocery store line, Starbucks, or any public place. I listen to husbands and wives interacting with each, siblings of all ages, and words between friends. The best of all? Two strangers who strike up a conversation as they’re waiting for time to pass, whether in line somewhere or in a doctor’s office waiting room. It’s amazing what two people will tell each other in a public place when they’re oblivious to the fact that they’re surrounded by others.

Now, I don’t so much care about the words these people say, but rather the way they say them, their tone. I also try to sneak a peek (sneak, so I don’t come across as being a creeper) at their facial expressions and body language. It’s those moments captured, incorporating them into a character, that makes a character believable and come to life. It’s those nuances that give characters necessary layers.

Another thing I do is carry a little Sony digital recorder when I’m running, walking, or driving. Or any other time it isn’t possible to carry a notebook or safely write. It’s then that ideas pop into my head and I need to capture them before they disappear. I’ve learned a long time ago that even if the idea is so monumental I think there’s no way I could ever forget it, it still escapes me nearly every time. I get busy, life happens, and the idea is a whisper in the wind.

ideas-post-e1498615247213.png

So, go exercise that creative brain, take advantage of those night dreams and daydreams, and be careful what you say the next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store. If there’s a writer anywhere in the near vicinity, you’ll end up in a book.

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

Running is Cheaper Than Therapy

Running

I’ve posted in the past that running is my therapy. And a whole lot cheaper! Running in the early morning is when my mind churns out ideas for my novels or short stories, or brings to light an answer to something I’ve been praying for. However, that being said, this typically only happens when I’m running outside in nature, not on a treadmill or on the track at the gym where I feel like a hamster on a wheel. This was my lesson this morning:

When I think I’m certain of what God is telling me, it’s important for me not to be so certain I’ve heard the message that I miss what He’s really telling me. In other words, when I think I’ve heard the message, listen further and don’t walk out of the room while He’s still talking.

al-inspiring-quote-on-listening

The last several weeks I’ve been promising myself that I am going to work on staying tuned in to His presence throughout my day. That usually lasts until I walk through the door at work when busyness, deadlines, the phone ringing, and constant chatter around me transports me far away from Him. Without realizing it, I allow the noise of the world around me to drown out the One who brings me peace in the midst of chaos.

Which brings up the importance of mindfulness even in the small things. While I was running this morning I mentally mapped out the route I would take, a different path from the one I typically enjoy. When I got to the crossroads that would take me on my preplanned route, I was so busy thinking about the day ahead of me, my mind miles ahead from where I was physically at that moment, that I automatically and mindlessly turned onto the same path that is routine. I was certain the message was to pay attention. And while that is a good thing to work on, it was just the surface of what went so much deeper.

That happens all too often in life every day. What has become habit in our lives is what we tend to do naturally, and if we aren’t mindful of the present moment, our thoughts and behaviors fall into the habit rut. The only way to create a new, more positive habit is to be mindful of what we’re doing and thinking in the present moment. And the only way to make mindfulness a natural activity is to mindfully practice mindfulness.

Had I not kept my mind and ears open, I would have walked out of the room at the “pay attention” part of the conversation, figuratively speaking, which was a very small brush stroke in the whole picture. I would have been blessed by the sun but would have missed out on the beauty of the entire landscape.

Another thought that came to me during my run? An entire scene for one of the books in my mystery series. I would say it was a pretty productive day before I even left my house for the office.

Rather than morning coming too soon, I’m already looking forward to my morning therapy session to see what gems He will bless me with. 🙂

running