- If you have only an inkling of a novel idea, try writing a synopsis first. Ideas come as you write. It not only crystallises the story in your head but can also move it forward. This is what I did with my new novel, The Hushing Wood. The finished novel is not like the synopsis but the feeling and mood of the story is there and it helped me get to know my characters.
- Read for pleasure but keep your mind open. A word, a sentence, a thought might spark little fires in your own work in progress. I do two types of reading – with my eyes, and with my ears. At the moment I’m reading Lavinia by Ursula K Le Guin and also listening to an audiobook called The Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman. By using both methods I can ‘read’ two novels at the same time without mixing them up. I’m constantly writing down little ideas that come to me while reading. TV is good for this too, watching a show with a notebook in hand.
- Ideas for novels can propagate in the dreamy moments just after waking. If I can, I lie in bed and let them come. But whatever you do, don’t fall back to sleep. You need to recall and write those ideas down before they evaporate.
- I believe that the greatest threat to an author these days is social media. Allow yourself certain times during the day when you allow yourself to go on it. Unfortunately I don’t follow my own advice. I’ve heard it said that social media doesn’t sell more books but I tend to disagree. I purchase quite a number of books from the recommendations I see on social media.
- Sometimes I get tired of writing in the one place so when I feel bored, I might write in different places around the house, like my bedroom, or back room or on the deck. I find it can give me a nudge. I like writing the very first draft of a novel in a café by pen in a notebook. A closed space is good for editing. An open space where you can see out is good for writing new stuff.
- A whole lot of writing involves not the actual putting down of words on paper but the spaces in between. Washing dishes, feeding kids, walking, ah yes walking is a wonderful stimulant.
- Let your story bounce off life, interact with it, laugh alongside it. Let the little things feed your big imagination.
What have you found helpful in your writing?