When asked how he writes, author Stephen King answers, “one word at a time.” And that is precisely how stories are built—one word at a time.
I struggle to stay focused on my writing, partly because I get bored quickly and partly because I spend a lot of my day job staring at words on a screen. My character ideas hit me like a freight train, gather momentum for a while, then peter out. The problem seems to be that I get a character in my head, and not so much a story to drive that character forward. That’s one of the reasons I turned to playing table and video games—they give me a myriad of ideas on plot and story.
A few days ago, I introduced Aeryn Mateyus, a young girl fleeing a bad family situation. When her circumstances turn from bad to worse, she finds a way to cajole and fight her way to safety. And in the process, she finds purpose.
Now, I’ve only written the first part of her adventures, and I’ve been working on those chapters for the last two-and-a-half years. Aeryn has many more experiences and a lot of learning ahead of her. I have notes for her story that will take her into intrigue and danger as she continues her search for a lost goddess.
Lack of motivation is another of the goblins that stalk my writing. I tell myself my day job is stressful, so I’ll play a game to unwind, I’ll write tomorrow. And, as everyone knows, tomorrow never comes, and all we have is today. Consequently, much to First Reader’s chagrin, I spend a lot of my weekend camped in front of the computer screen letting my characters and stories find life through words.
Family life also contributes to the pace at which some of my writing occurs. I’m not complaining about spending time with the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, the littles grow up fast as it is, and I’ve missed enough already. Besides, watching the kids play and the adults interact is always fertile ground for writers.
I also try to make time to read, but that gets harder by the day, so I’ve turned to audiobooks. I think I’ve mentioned before that I live a little jaunt out of town, and the office for my day job is almost an hour’s drive away. I have found that to be the perfect time to listen to books. While I know not everyone can do that, I find that listening to audiobooks, as opposed to the radio, makes my commute much less stressful. I tend to listen to fantasy books that don’t take a lot of concentration to keep up with. I figure that if I don’t have time to read all the books in one of the backdrops in which I would like to set a story, I can at least get a feel for the history and events by listening to the tales that other writers have told in that setting. In the meantime, I peel off ideas that help make my fantasy world more comprehensive and let those concepts morph and infuse themselves into my backdrop.
I also use elements of our real world as part of my fantasy setting. I have collected several sourcebooks over years that pertain to ancient goddesses and gods, as well as the more contemporary variety of deities. In a recent magazine to which I subscribe, I found the perfect framework for the goddess Ashta’Qi—a structure that is now simmering in the back of my mind.
And because my subconscious is involved, I now know where Aeryn went and how she spent her time after the group of escaped prisoners leaves the island on which they were shipwrecked. While writing this blog post, I learned quite a bit about both the goddess and my protagonist.
This makes me think First Reader is right, this really is a journal of sorts for me. I hope I don’t bore you with my “thinking out loud,” as it were, but the more I post to this site, the more inspiration I get. Thanks for listening!