Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Are you ready for more writing advice? My good friend Cheryl Brooks is here to share her perspective and some personal experience!
And then, when you least expect it…
I know writers who claim to have numerous stories bouncing around in their heads at any given time, each of them clamoring for release. In many ways, I’m no different. But sometimes, shit happens. Life gets in the way and you’re convinced you will never write another word again as long as you live. Then normalcy begins to creep back in, settling the turmoil in your mind and leaving it open to possibilities.
Ideas come best when the mind is uncluttered. For me, that openness of mind can be achieved several ways. I’ve had epiphanies while driving. Other ideas drift in during the post-orgasmic state. I’ve written some damn good mental-meltdown scenes after a shot of tequila (which is also a terrific cure for writer’s block), but lately, some of my best ideas have manifested themselves during the twilight time between waking and rising.
The seeds of inspiration may have been planted earlier, but an open mind is necessary for them to grow. I’ve never been one to sit down and plot out a book. I take my hat off to those who can. Sure, I have a vague concept of the story—many plotters would say I do my plotting in my head rather than on paper—but detailed outlines spoil the story for me. Actively brainstorming with other people may help me solve various plot problems, but inspiration is a different animal.
I’m nearly finished with the first book in a paranormal romantic suspense trilogy. I was about 50,000 words into it when I had to stop and write another series. A full year later, I started on it again and was progressing well until I got a re-write edict from my editor. Dropped it for that. Started up again only to drop it for the holidays and to finish a quilt I’ve been restoring for the past fifteen years.
Then my husband was involved in an auto accident in early January. A month later, he had to have surgery for injuries related to the crash. If you think that won’t mess with your mind to the point that writing is impossible, you’re a lot stronger than I am. Thrown in there were other distractions—chronic foot pain of my own, my eldest son’s anxiety over whether to apply for a job or stay in school to get his PhD, and teaching my younger son how to drive my husband’s compact car as opposed to the truck he’s used to driving.
Sure, I’ve been to movies and watched television during all this, but the seeds that had been planted for that second book didn’t take root and grow until this morning. The heroine’s character had already been determined by her role in the first book. The plot, being loosely based on a dream I once had, was a bit vague, but at least I had a plot. What had me stumped was the hero. I needed an Irish sheep farmer with brooding eyes, dark, curly hair, and an enigmatic demeanor that masks a deeper passion.
Turns out I’d already seen him. He’s been in several movies, and more recently he popped up in a commercial for a new PBS series. I was like, “Oh, yeah. I remember him. He was cool,” but inspiration hadn’t struck yet.
Then this morning, my waking brain put that actor together with my hero, and suddenly, I was ready to write that book. Ideas were already beginning to flow when I Googled him. And guess what? He was born in Dublin and he even has naturally curly hair.
Had I seen him and subconsciously based my hero on him? Possibly. But that doesn’t really matter now. What matters is that he’s my hero, and I’ll hang onto him for as long as it takes to write the book.
The third book is brewing, and while the heroine’s character is already fixed in my mind, the hero, who was also introduced in book one, already has some of the same characteristics in place that the second book’s hero had. What he lacks is inspiration. But I know that somewhere, somehow, I’ll have a flash of insight that leads me to him.
All I have to do is keep an open mind.
www.cherylbrooksonline.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for visiting and sharing your advice today, Cheryl! I'm ready for inspiration to strike!
Romance...With A Kick!