Writing in Real Life [Third Edition]

details

Or the story.

In the first edition of Writing in Real Life, we discussed how writing is a choice. And I told you about my “30 minutes of writing” strategy.

In the second edition of Writing in Real Life, we discussed knowing what to write. And I told you that taking from real life is one of the best ways I’ve found to do just that.

In this third edition of Writing in Real Life, I would like to discuss details. And how they make or break a story.

Adding details to a story accomplishes a few things. It…

- it creates a firm foundation for development 

- adds dimension to the plot

- cues the reader to believe

A Firm Foundation

You don’t have a story without details. And details can’t be thrown in at the last second. They have to form the foundation of the story its self. The who, what, why, when, where and how are a great place to start but they don’t make a story. A police report, maybe, but not a story.

Details are the little things that make up the one big thing. The color of a character’s eyes. The way the rain sounded when it hit the pavement. The emotions of saying good-bye to a loved one. These are the details that lay the foundation for a great story.

A Multi-Dimensional Plot

Just like a sketch is one-dimensional, a plot without details is…you guessed it, one-dimensional. Details add layers of interest. They add height and depth and breadth. They make certain that the reader doesn’t walk away with a bland taste in their mouth.

Details make something of little interest suddenly seem like the most interesting thing in the world. Just as we’re more likely to remember a full-scale model than we are a sketch, the reader is more likely to remember a plot that was full of details than one that was lacking.

A Cue to Believe

Details in a story are the reader’s cue to believe. Details create believability. They make it possible for the reader’s imagination to connect with the story. Without details, the reader has nothing to grasp onto and they are left floundering. Without details, the reader is left with little choice but to disbelieve.

With details the reader is taken to a place beyond themselves – a place that might seem unbelievable – but is very much believable because the details say it’s so.

How about you? Do you think details are important to a story? Why or why not?

Writing in Real Life [Second Edition]

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In the first edition of “Writing in Real Life,” we talked about finding/making the time to write. I shared about how I write for at least 30 minutes at the start of every week day.

But sometimes having or even making the time to write isn’t the problem. Sometimes the problem is knowing what to write.

I am by no means an expert on coming up with material for blog posts, books, essays, etc. There really is no magic formula…at least, not that I’ve found. Most of the time it comes in waves – I’ll have a whole bunch of blog post ideas throw themselves in my lap at one time. Or sometimes an idea comes in a flash of brilliance, truly like a light bulb turning on.

But, most of the time, not so much. It’s like digging for gold in a sandbox.

So, what to do then? When you have the time to write, but you don’t know what to write?

Take from real life.

Don’t look too far or you’ll miss it. Chances are fresh inspiration is as close as the pen in your hand or the keyboard under your fingers. What you think is ordinary may be extraordinary to your readers. Drawing writing material from real life interjects humanity into your words. It gives breath to what might otherwise be a one-dimensional process.

Some of my best writing happens when the topic I choose is based on my life or experience.

What about you? How do you decide what to write about?

The #1 Way to Bring Your Stories to Life

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Nothing can substitute for heartfelt writing. Nothing can make up for sincerity and honesty.

When you think you have nothing to say…say what’s on your heart. This applies to fiction and non-fiction.

I always have two responses when I hit a wall in my writing.

1.) What I think I should write.

2.) What I know I should write.

And what I know I should write is always there. It’s always present. It’s just that sometimes it gets waylayed by a more proper, seemingly better (this is up for debate), more dignified idea of what I should write.

But as soon as I start to shape my writing to fit a certain idea…well, it’s all over.

The #1 way to bring our stories to life as writers?

Be real.

Don’t be proper. Or try to “write better.” Or be more dignified. Don’t try to shape your writing to fit a certain idea.

Be real.

Just as in every other area of life, being real breathes fresh air into the words you have to say. People take notice. They sit up and listen when you speak from the heart.

They will sit up and listen when you write from the heart, too.

What are some other ways we can bring our stories to life as writers?

4 Quotes to Inspire You

It feels like it’s time for a little inspiration.

Not that anytime isn’t a good time for inspiration. But now just feels like an especially good time.

So, here goes. I’ve got 4 quotes to inspire you today in whatever your craft or calling:

And a little bonus one for you:

rawr

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find our full writing inspiration board on Pinterest.

What is inspiring you today? Leave us a note/link in the comments!

Writing in Real Life

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Even for those of us who love to write, who were born to write…writing is a choice. A daily choice that really just boils down to doing it. 

But real life is messy and busy and a thousand other things. Some people may have the luxury of eight solid hours every day with nothing to do but write. But that’s not most of us.

Most of us have full-time jobs.

Most of us have other responsibilities.

Most of us have another life.

In less than a month I am due with my first baby. A little boy. My husband and I are thrilled! Being a wife and a mother will be my full-time job, my responsibility and my “other” life.

I still love to write and I know I was born to write. That won’t change. But how I fit writing into my life will. That’s just reality.

Here’s a simple technique that’s been working for me: I write for 30 minutes before I get out of bed in the morning. That’s it. Nothing super fancy. Just 30 minutes before the rush of the day begins.

I get more writing accomplished in those 30, focused minutes than I ever thought possible.

I make daily, consistent progress on my writing goals.

I feel so accomplished when I’m finished – like I’m on top of the world and the day can throw whatever it wants at me.

Because I did what I love and what I was born to do. That’s writing in real life for me. I don’t have hours upon hours to devote to my craft. BUT I do have a consistent block of focused time each day. My technique may need to be tweaked a little once the baby comes, but the concept will stay the same.

How do you fit writing into your life – right now, where you are?

Keeping It Simple

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Writing can seem like the most complicated thing in the world.

When you’re faced with the empty page. The blinking cursor. The ten chapters left to be written. The “blank” stare your imagination gives you when you just want to find the first word.

It’s easy to complicate the art of writing. And, even though it does take time and concentration, it’s really not that complicated.

It’s really pretty simple.

It really just comes down to the first word. And the last word. And all the words in between.

Words.

On the page.

That’s the writer’s #1 goal. Not to worry about whether or not the words will be great. Or whether they will be read. Or whether they will make a difference. Although those things are all good.

The writer’s #1 goal is to get the words on the page. 

It’s just that simple.

Question: does writing seem complicated or simple to you? Do you agree that the writer’s goal is to get the words on the page?

Starbuck’s Perspective

Sometimes I just can’t write.

Maybe I’m the only one.

The only one that…

…feels stuck

…feels dull

…feels inspiration-less

…feels dry

…feels…nothing

I hate it when this happens because writing is my passion. It is what I was born to do. It took me a long time to figure that out (coincidentally while I wrote and wrote and wrote…), but – once I did – it just fit. 

And I knew it was true. I was made to write.

So, when I can’t, I hate it. It’s like being trapped in a cage. With no way out.

Except…there is a way out!

I found it this week. At none other than Starbucks. Turns out that what I really needed was a change of perspective. A change of pace. A change of scenery. A block of time where I couldn’t do anything but write…and face the fact that I had been stuck.dull.inspiration-less.dry.nothing.

A Starbuck’s perspective for me.

Maybe another local coffee shop perspective for you. Or a mountain top. Or a bench in a park. Or your back porch. Or your car. Or another state. Or another country.

Whatever works. Starbuck’s worked for me this time. It’s worth the $5 mocha to see the words adding up, the cursor moving furiously across the page, the juices flowing once again.

So…Where do you go when you’re stuck and need a new perspective?

4 Quotes to Inspire You

Find our previous inspiring blog posts here and here.

Now, on to the good stuff…

1. “Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.” -Wilfred Grenfell

2. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” -Henry David Thoreau

3. “It is necessary that you not become frightened of failure.” -Lillian Hellman

4. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Question: what wise words have inspired you lately? Link in the comments!

3 Ways to Focus [When You Feel Like You Can't]

Here are a 3 ways I’ve learned to focus even when it’s the last thing I feel like doing:

1.) Make it fun.

This has got to be the #1 rule. You have to make it fun. I have to promise myself a cup of coffee or tea and something sweet. I have to be in comfortable clothes, in a comfortable place. In those times where it’s the last thing I want to do, I have to “trick” myself into focusing.

For you it may mean getting into your sweats or pajamas, grabbing your drink of choice and curling up on the couch with your laptop. Or it may mean hauling yourself to Starbucks – sometimes being in fresh surroundings makes all the difference.

Whatever you do, make it fun. That’s the #1 rule.

2.) Set a time limit.

Sometimes I think I’ll go crazy if I have to focus for an indefinite period of time. So, I’ll tell myself, “Just focus for 30 minutes. That’s it. Then you can get up and walk away.” Most of the time that 30 minutes turns into a couple of hours.

A timer might work for you or the stopwatch on your iPhone. Fifteen minute increments might be your thing or an hour chunk at a time.

Just give yourself boundaries. Do what works.

3.) Have clear goals.

I’ve learned not to overwhelm myself right out of the gate. If I set clear & reasonable goals, odds are I end up accomplishing more than I thought I would. Completing one goal provides momentum to tackle the next goal. If your goals aren’t clear or they are unreasonable, you will end up discouraged.

Try making a list of your top 3-5 goals. Write them down in order of priority. Make them clear and concise. Make them reasonable (i.e. don’t make it a goal to write an entire chapter; make it a goal to write for 30 minutes instead).

Set goals. Make them clear and reasonable. You’ll be surprise at how much you accomplish.

How do you focus even when you feel like it’s an impossible task? What are your tips & tricks?

Next Up

Following up on my last blog post – No Time Like the Present – I’ve been tapping away on my laptop today.

I’m working on the rough draft of the second book in our Talon Family series. The working title is Winter Chase! and we are so excited to have it ready as a sequel to Tahosa Treasure.

Why is it that the first word is always the hardest to write? It is this intimidating, monster of a thing….taunting me, daring me to try to confine it to the page. That first word knows that it’s the flood gates: once it is on paper, the rest of the words pour out like a raging flood.

That first word is more than mere letters. It is a psychological battlefield, one I must win every time I put pen to paper or cursor to page.

The. That’s the first word. The great hulk that rose over me, telling me I better just give up now.

The day was perfect. That’s the first sentence. The psychological battle has been fought and won. All that for four words???

Yes. But four words that will now unleash paragraphs…and chapters…and a book.