Make Writing Fun

Writing is a passion of mine, which automatically equates to doing something fun and exciting, right? Not necessarily. It’s up to each writer to create and find the fun. Kind of like planning a party or a vacation…or teaching kids. Fun may run and hide once in a while, but we can gently reel it back where it belongs.

Remember your early school days? You probably had a stand-out teacher. Exceptional teachers aren’t born that way. They’ve got a few simple tricks up their sleeves, which we writers can borrow. A few suggestions to rev up the fun meter when writing:

Read before you write. Not just anything, but something inspiring. Something you find superbly written that contains punchy words, lines and action. Sources might be a newspaper article, a book, a poem or even a quotation. Studying talent helps increase the flow of our own writing talent.

Take notes. Eminem provided this tip: collect bits and pieces of inspiration wherever you can find them, write them down and save them in a shoe box. Inspiration equals fun. Eminem shuffles through the box when he’s writing a song, and picks out words or lines that might lead him to an idea. I write ideas in a notebook as they pop into my head, and run through them once I’m done with the first draft. Reading these inspires me to make the story shine.

Don’t forget to do something fun that isn’t writing. We need down time to regenerate. If I don’t utilize downtime now and then, I feel like I’m studying for the Bar Exam…again. Which means there’s a possibility my head may explode. How fun would that be?

But there are deadlines that must be met. This is the part where you remind yourself there are carefree ways to write or rewrite that don’t involve sitting/standing behind a desk. In fact, it doesn’t involve a desk at all. I rework my writing when commuting to work, when watching TV, when walking or petting my dogs. Washing dishes is a great writing stimulator (and makes for clean dishes). This deskless writing allows for more relaxed thinking, leading to a flow of ideas. We don’t need to feel pressure while writing.

Please don’t forget the fun of writing, keep that spark lit and find ways to restore the sheer joy of writing. That’s what we signed up for!

It's Alive! Novel Settings

At nearly four books into my Southern California Mystery series, I just realized something: each book has a VIP in it. No, not the type of VIP you’re thinking of. This VIP is a Very Important Place, located in SoCal, of course. Very important because each place meant something to yours truly. And now they serve as a little more than just another pretty backdrop to Corrie Locke, my fictional heroine.

In MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS, much of the action takes place in Newport Beach. Balboa Island, to be exact, where I spent a great deal of time in my early days. It’s a cozy, peaceful community with gently rolling waves and a small town feel to it, if you don’t count the upscale homes and yachts. Balboa Island was the perfect place for my heroine to experience a slight mishap (okay, maybe more than just a slight mishap).

Book #2, MURDER GONE MISSING, revolves around, and up and down, a college campus, kind of similar to this one: I didn’t actually go to Cal Tech as a student, but I did spend time at the Jet Propulsion Lab, a stone’s throw away from, and owned, by Cal Tech. One of my little guys harbored a not so secret fascination with everything technical. He’s also the tech advisor on all of my books.

A movie studio in Culver City gets top billing in Book #3, MURDER: DOUBLE OR NOTHING. There are also plenty of nods in #3 to days spent working at a similar place in my early legal life.

Settings almost behave like characters in novels, and in the case of my books, the settings range from innocent bystanders to villainous cads out to trip my heroine so she stumbles and falls hard…or worse. The strange part is I never plan for my settings to be anything, but just that. A place for Corrie to hang out. Yet, they seem to come to life on their own as soon as my heroine steps into the picture. Go figure.

Writing on the Collaboration Train

Does anyone get my title? Or is it just me trying my darnedest to be clever? Right, it’s me. “Writing” instead of riding because as a writer, we often need to collaborate to get anywhere.

Truth is, we mostly write on a deserted island* where we’re trying to pull together thoughts, story-lines, twisty plots, and characters out of our minds and onto the page.

But even the biggest loners need to jump out of their skin and collaborate once in a while to get the job done. Namely, we need help to be published and call some attention to our books. Coming right up: a list of awesome collaborators:

1. Beta Readers: Those necessary readers to whom we hand off our manuscript and ask for feedback. These generous book lovers are non-professionals who just want to help you stay on the right track. They’ve earned my deepest gratitude.

2. Editors: Unless you’ve got stellar, proven editor skills yourself, an editor is invaluable for pointing out:
– holes (so you don’t trip and fall over your plot)
– character flaws or traits that don’t work (to really help breathe life into your fictional world)
– excess (do you really need that police sergeant or that scene
where the dog chases the bicycle?)

3. Other authors: Personally, I enjoy partnering up in book events
with other authors, mostly, in my own genre. A pairing with the
right author(s) gives each panelist a chance to breathe,
think and stay on track. Who doesn’t love breathing, thinking
and staying on track?

4. Publishers: I’ve had two and both have been marvelous. They know
what to do to get the job done, leaving me to do what I need to
do: write and work my day job.

5. Book stores, librarians, conference organizers and any other
book angels out there who can help you market & promote your
book baby.

I owe my deepest thanks to all of the above who’ve helped me progress on my writing journey.

*unless you write with a partner, in which case you’re not so isolated.