You Can Bank On It! A Special Account for Writers

Oh, I’m sorry! Did you think this post would be about authors and money? Because it’s not. It is about a collections account and the writing life, but it’s about a different kind of collections account. It may not make you financially rich (or it might), but it will make you rich in positive emotions.

Compliments are like having money in the bank. Both give us a sense of security and well-being. So shouldn’t we open an account where we can keep compliments safe and watch them grow with interest?

A small notebook, journal, index cards, even a napkin will do to create a list or an account to deposit compliments. A compliment collection has value and serves many purposes. If we pay more attention to compliments, they’ll squeeze out any negative remarks that may be thrown our way. Isn’t that priceless? A compliment collection can also combat the dastardly inner critic when it offers unwelcome discouragement. The best part? Compliments can give us that extra push to pursue our dreams with a more definite purpose. And they remind us that we can do it!

Keeping track of niceties about our books, our writings, or anything that promotes a happy flutter inside of us, is a must. It helps us acknowledge our strengths and reminds us how much we love what we do. Years ago, I kept track of wonderful events that happened to me daily thoughtful gestures from children and Husband and kindnesses from strangers. The driver who slowed so I could get on the road; the librarian who generously brought my favorite cookies to my book event. My insides glowed every time I went back and read through the kindnesses.

Anyone who’s ever had any type of collection, from stamps to teapots to golf balls, knows that collections tend to grow. What better than a rapidly growing compliment collection?

Writing: What's Essential During Covid 19?

These days we read and hear a lot about essential workers. A small sampling: Medical professionals working all hours to take care of so many; food industry workers keeping the supply running steady, and nursery employees who ensure we maintain the beauty and peace of lovely gardens to give us a lift.

There are other kinds of essentials we need in our lives that aren’t discussed as often; the essentials that we should insert into our minds: positive news, powerful thoughts and compassion toward others, to name a few.

Let’s switch gears to the non-essential inhabitants moving into our heads. What are we allowing in our minds that’s not essential? For starters, any type of negation.

I recently heard a story about a man given up as dead by doctors after 80 percent of his body was burned. But through the support and love of family and friends, he started recovering slowly…until his own negative self-talk reminded him he didn’t deserve to live. He sank into a depression and poor recovery re-emerged. He developed a high fever and asked a nurse to read to him.

She picked up an inspirational book and read a piece about not allowing past mistakes or distressing circumstances to play a central role in one’s life. When she’d finished, she took his temperature. It had dropped! His state of mind had instantly changed when positive content entered his thoughts.

We are living in unsettling times. I’ve talked to fellow authors who say they just can’t write lately. I debated mentioning Covid 19 in my writing, but ultimately didn’t because Covid thoughts made me sink. I prefer to float.

Now is the time to take excellent care of our physical and mental health, and one of the best ways to do the latter is to write your heart out. You can write about Covid 19 if it brings you a sense of relief and peace.

I read and write to escape reality. To disappear into an adventure without leaving my home. In between writing, I fill my head with positives so I have an ample arsenal stored when negative circumstances come a-knocking. Why not experiment and write positive content, and see how it makes you (and your readers) feel?

Creating Conflict: A Necessary Ingredient in Mysteries

All fiction has some non _____ in it (fill in the blank). No, not nonsense, non-sequiturs or non-profits (although some of these nons may show-up in fictional works). What do most works of fiction contain that starts with “non”? I’ll make it easy for you: just about all fiction contains at least a few non-fiction elements (sci-fi and fantasy possibly excluded).

My fiction is no exception, especially when it comes to the setting. I like inserting my characters into real places. Locations I’ve visited; where I feel comfortable and right at home. Peaceful, uneventful places. Throw in my heroine and it’s not so serene anymore. And it shouldn’t be. Would you read a mystery without action and conflict? I didn’t think so.

Here’s how my real life might go: I walk into a restaurant, enjoy a delicious meal on the patio, and watch a gentle breeze ruffle nearby palm trees.

Then I think: What would happen if my heroine, Corrie Locke, popped into a similar place? What would she eat? Where would she sit? Who’s she with? Would she have a chance to finish her meal? Of course not.

She’d sit with friends, toward the back…but she wouldn’t eat. She’d be starving, but a little something would get in the way of Corrie and her meal. That little something is called conflict. Conflict is what makes a mystery tale suspenseful.

Nail-biting, tension rousing conflict is a must. How to create it? Just insert obstacles between the hero/ine and their goal. For instance:

– Corrie runs to her car to chase after a villain. Can she? Nope. The car has a flat tire. Now what? (The flat tire is the obstacle);
– Corrie and Michael break into an office and are snooping around when the janitor sticks his key in the lock. Did I mention that hiding places were scarce? (MURDER GONE MISSING);
– Corrie wrangles with a difficult movie star in order to find clues leading to a killer. Personality clashes occur, which also create conflict. (MURDER: DOUBLE OR NOTHING).

I let the scene just unfold in my first draft. Then I go back and ask: how can I rewrite this to make matters more difficult for Corrie? I’ll use the setting, other characters, even her car to create conflict. By overcoming obstacles in fiction, our characters grow. Hopefully, we do the same for ourselves in real life.