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Started a new challenge from a mentor: 1000 words a day for 28 days
Writing every day isn’t anything new to me. It is, however, something new that I’m actually going to keep track of how much I write. Sure, some days I will work on my blog and some days I will work on my latest project – but how much do I actually write. I think on the days I’m editing, I may not write too many new words, but my mind is thinking about the writing. I will probably turn this challenge into something like NaNo because I don’t see me just journaling to hear myself write.
Okay, that sounded stupid.
But for today, let’s work on a blog entry.
So, you’ve finished a project, and you celebrate with your happy dance, and you post all over Facebook about what a great writer you are. You beg for permissions to post links to your latest accomplishment and you feel great for all of a day – maybe.
How do you get started on your next project? Are you stuck for days trying to come up with a new idea, or are you one of those lucky people who always has an idea?
I remember way back I’m talking way back when I first started writing. I was about twelve, and I asked my English teacher if she could give me any suggestions about the writing life. (I imagined being a best-selling author by the time I was twenty.)
So, Mrs. Whatever-her-name-was gave me my first pieces of writing advice.
First and foremost, write EVERY day.
Second, start a file of story ideas. This file will be used whenever something strikes you. It can be anything you feel comfortable storing those random ideas you have during the day. So, I asked my mother to buy me some 3 x 5 cards and a little metal box to keep them in. I carried no less than five cards with me wherever I went.
The habit of writing those story ideas paid off for most of the writing I did in high school and the creative writing classes in college. The idea stayed with me, and while the little metal box full of cards gave way to file folders and using the sticky note feature on my phone. (I absolutely love that – I can write an idea down whenever I want, and no one thinks it weird that I’m on my phone – whereas I think some people found it odd that a twelve-year-old would suddenly take a 3 x 5 card out of their pocket and scribble something down.)
In case you’re wondering why I’m going on and on about this process, you may or may not know that I just finished a big project. I took my rough draft of a novel, written during NaNoWriMo of 2019, and polished, edited, and formatted it. I ‘hit publish’ last week.
Now, I feel lost.
So, I’m doing my best to find the idea that will get me fired up and writing furiously every day.
I just pulled out the box where I keep 3 x 5 cards. The box is no longer metal or small. It is about a foot long, and the cards do not have just a simple idea, but a developed idea and a kernel of where to start.
I’m stumbling because I need to write the third book of my trilogy, but I’m wary of those characters right now. I have a novel idea that I’ve been developing for years and while it would be a good project to start, it is research-intensive and going to be much longer than anything I’ve written previously.
Oh, and I have an idea for a non-fiction book about writing. My blogs from the last two years can easily be turned into chapters, and I think it will be fun. But, I’m not sure I want to take that on right now.
See my dilemma?
Of course, I could develop a new idea – right?
I recently read the book, The Idea, by Erik Bork. He uses seven elements to test your idea. The point of the book is for you to test your idea before the writing process begins. You have to admit; it is disheartening to work on a project and then realize the story doesn’t really go anywhere. (I do think the time isn’t wasted—you’ve learned more about what works, and what doesn’t.)
Basically, Bork’s method of evaluation the idea is based on the acronym, ‘PROBLEM.’
Will the problem your MC faces take you through scene by scene for the length of the book until he/she solves the problem? Or is it too easy to solve to carry a book, screenplay, etc.?
If readers can’t relate to the story, they will desert your book after the first few chapters, or worse, leave it where they found it. No Bueno.
We all know most storylines are a new version of the basic stories we’ve read over and over. But does your story have a new twist?
Your readers need to believe in the world you’ve created. From science fiction, fantasy, and even stories set in the real world.
Will reading your story give the reader some new insight?
Let’s face it – readers need to be involved and want to keep turning the page. If you aren’t keeping them entertained, the book gets put down or taken off their eBook list.
Do your readers come away with something to hold onto? Some concepts, ideas, OR a story they will keep close to their heart.
Bork also suggests that before you start the project, bounce your idea around with some people. Your friends, family, and folks who think your writing is awesome are good places to start, but then you need to find a peer group. (I personally find Facebook groups to be a good place—but you need to be aware that someone may steal your idea, so tread lightly.)
Well, I’ve written over 1000 words for the day, so I’ll stop here. But I know I’ve already stirred things up for me to find the next idea. The next project. The next six to eight months of my life.