Wednesday, 21 October 2015

How to Get into Your Writing World FAST! by Sophie Claire
NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, or perhaps you’re just pushed for time and cramming writing into a busy life. If you're anything like me, you need your writing sessions to be efficient and productive. When I sit down to work, I want to get straight into ‘the zone’, where I lose track of time or forget that it’s raining outside because I'm transported into my fictional world and the heads and hearts of my characters: seeing what they see, hearing them speak and, most importantly, feeling what they feel. That, I’m sure you’ll agree, is when the story really takes off and the words flow, springing off the page, coming to life.
Well, here are some shortcuts for getting there:

1. The Write Time
Dorothea Brande and Julia Cameron both suggest that writing ‘morning pages’ as soon as you wake up helps to capture the creative mind before the critical editor in us has had time to wake up. I recommend that you try it – many writers start at 6am so there must be something special about this time of day. However, I'll confess that I find it very hard to do anything until I've showered and had breakfast, but then I immediately sit down to my work-in-progress, before I've looked at the internet* or let the outside world in.
(*with the exception of Pinterest! - see 2)

2. Painting Pictures
In the old days they had mood boards, now we have Pinterest and it’s so much easier! I’m a very visual person and I create a board for each book I write, collecting pictures of characters, settings, details (for example, Natasha's floristry and nail art in Her Forget-Me-Not Ex) or anything else I feel is relevant to the story. I keep the board secret while I’m writing and often refer to it at the start of a writing session or if I need to recapture my focus. A picture of my hero or a place or object can be enough to trigger a new scene or to remind me of the mood or emotions I hoped to capture.

3. The Sound of Music
Many writers create a soundtrack for their book and find that playing this is a shortcut into the story. Fellow Novelista, Louise Marley, blogged about this here
Personally, I prefer silence when I’m writing. But I often begin to link certain songs to each book and I play these when I’m driving or relaxing, and the lyrics can spark new ideas, taking my story in unexpected directions.

4. The Heart of It
Brainstorm what you love about your story. Go on, try it now! Write a page or a paragraph – for your eyes only – listing what sets you on fire about it.

I do this right at the inception of a book, when the idea is shiny and new, and in my imagination the novel is going to be the next bestseller! (sadly that feeling doesn't last!) It might be that I have a particularly colourful heroine or a beautiful setting, a captivating opening scene or a special relationship between two characters that makes my heart melt. Sometimes what I have in mind is more nebulous, like a mood (tense, dreamy, dramatic) or a theme (forgiveness, starting over, commitment). Whatever it is, I try to pin it down and summarise it, and then later on, I can refer back to it. I think of it as my story in a nutshell. And at the start of a writing session not only does it remind me why I started writing the book, but it also helps to keep my story focused.

5. Finish on a High

‘Always stop while you are going good’  - Ernest Hemingway

Finish in the middle of an exciting scene, they say, and then you'll be eager to return to your work-in-progress and you’ll know exactly what happens next. It’s good advice. 
I try to follow it myself though, in my experience, it’s not always possible, but what always works for me is to finish by making notes of what will come next. They’re usually hasty scribbles made before I have to dash out or as the kids get home from school, but the important thing is they were made when the story was fresh in my mind, and the next day they remind me where the story is heading and make it easy for me to pick up where I left off.

Of course, as your book begins to develop and your characters have grown real enough that they follow you round your everyday life, you might not need these shortcuts any more. But until then, it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve to speed things up and get you where you want to be!

Do you have any tips or tricks that work for you? I'd love to hear them...


Sophie Claire's novel, Her Forget-Me-Not Ex is a heartwarming, contemporary romance set in sunny Provence (can you see why she wants to escape there fast?) and it's available from Amazon


  1. I am not doing NaNo - hopefully next year, but I enjoyed these tips and they will work for those writing at any time of year - thanks for the post.


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