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Posts tagged ‘brainwaves’

First Monday Mentoring for writers – April 1st, no fooling

It’s that time again, the first Monday of the month when I open this blog to questions on anything to do with writing, the writing life and getting published in general. Feel free to ask me anything using the comments option below.

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Seeing that the first Monday of April falls on April Fool’s Day, I started to think of how writers fool ourselves about our writing and our careers. Do any of these sound familiar:

I don’t need to write anything down.
I’ll remember the idea in the morning.

I can hear some of you screaming, “Nooooooooo!” from here. The brainwaves we produce right before we fall asleep are perfect for generating new ideas. Unfortunately, they’re also totally unsuited to storing short-term memories. See the pattern? We’ll have some of our best ideas, but there’s almost no chance we’ll remember them for very long. Keep a pad or recording device on your bedside to capture your inspiration.

I’ll just go online for a few minutes, then start writing.

If you believe this, there’s a really nice bridge across Sydney Harbour I can sell you. Write first, then go play online. Even if you swear by your sainted mother that it’s for research, write first. Leave gaps for stuff you need to look up, and fill them in later. But write first.

I’ll write as soon as I’m inspired

Real writers don’t write when they’re inspired; they get inspired by the act of writing. If you’re not sure what you want to write about, start anyway. Write about not writing. Write about your characters or the ones that you would write about if you had an idea. When you let yourself write rubbish, magic happens. Gradually you start writing non-rubbish, and soon you’re away.

Playing one game of Solitaire
will warm me up to write

That bridge is still for sale. I found it’s perfectly possible to play Solitaire until two in the morning until I zapped every version of the game off all my computers. Just as there’s no such thing as eating “one Pringle” there is no such thing as “one game of Solitaire” (or Bejewelled, or Words with Friends, or whatever is the current time suck)
Writing gets you warmed up for writing.

What’s your personal April Fool’s problem? How do you deal with it?

Valerie
http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews of Valerie’s latest book, Birthright at http://www.valerieparv.com/birthright.html

Books in my head, inside a writer’s brain

Many years ago a dear friend, Pat Kerry, gave me a poem she’d written called Books in My Head. The last lines have stayed with me because they’re so true –  “books in my head will never get read/ unless I get up and write them.” She was talking about those dreamy times straight after waking, when our heads are full of thoughts and ideas.  Unless we get up and write them down somewhere, these precious words are likely to vanish forever. All we’ll remember is that we had a great idea, but not what it was.  Whether you record your ideas on a laptop, tablet, cellphone or a notebook kept by the bedside – and I recommend you keep something handy for this purpose – doesn’t matter as long as you capture your thoughts. You can edit and develop them later. The main thing is to get them down somewhere.  Our brains aren’t wired to make memories out of the thoughts we have in the time between sleep and waking. That’s when the slower brainwave cycles called alpha and theta waves occur and we’re most likely to have great insights and inspirations. Frustrating when you think it’s also when we’re least able to remember them.

There’s another way of looking at the lines from the poem, too. It’s that wanting to write a book, intending to write one and talking about your wonderful ideas to your friends won’t produce one page of words  unless you actually “get up and write them.” It’s probably why so many people dream of writing a book but the majority never actually do. Writing is hard work. And news flash, it doesn’t get easier with practice. As I’ve found writing 25 nonfiction books and over 50 romance novels, you get better at  putting words down in a readable order and seeing where the work can be improved. But every book is a first book. As one would-be writer asked me, “How do you know when you sit down to write, that you can do it?” The answer is, you don’t. You write to find out IF you can do it this time, with these characters, telling this story. When I sat down to write this first blog, I had no idea how it was going to turn out. All writing is a voyage of discovery. That’s the fun part. And it’s the part which keeps me writing even when the going gets tough. We writers are very lucky, we get paid for doing the very thing that got us into trouble as kids, making things up. Like my next book. And this blog. It’s no coincidence that I chose to write my first post about what’s going on in a writer’s brain. My two great loves are human psychology – what makes us tick, and how we turn books in our heads into worlds for readers to come play in. Whether you’re a reader or a writer or both, I hope you’ll come play here again soon.

Valerie

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