Writing from the Vacuum

Recently my father-in-law asked me about my writing. Specifically, how I write about things that I don’t know about. He said ‘obviously you don’t write from a vacuum, it has to come from somewhere’.

And I agreed. I talked about research, and how I could do a little research, and get an idea about something, but that someone who knew better would see the problems in my writing, would know I didn’t really know what I was writing about. (Unless of course I’d done heaps of research and then hopefully I would be able to express myself properly, in a way that would show that I did know my topic as best as I was able, without experiencing it myself).

But then I came away and thought about it. And I think, really, that my best writing comes when I am writing from a vacuum. Though I tend not to think of it in quite those terms.

For me, it’s being in the zone, totally focused, unaware of my surroundings, even the keyboard I”m typing on. Everything is the story. When I have those moments, I can easily write 2500 words in half an hour. Easily. Getting into that zone can be hard work though. Trying to get my children to pester my partner for drinks/snacks/general conversation while I’m writing can be extremely difficult. The other day my dearest daughter took my writing time as a personal offence and kept interrupting me to bring me artwork and cards with “I love you Mum”, and a paper bracelet she’d made just for me, just in case I was angry at her for something. It was so precious and I told her so, and of course reassured her that I loved her too, and was not angry at her, but I really just needed the time to write.

After an hour I had only written about 500 words. The next half hour wasn’t much better, but after forcing myself through the painful process of forcefully extracting words from my head, something clicked and suddenly I was there. In the next half hour I had written well over 1000 words.

I have seen research about this ‘zone’. A TED talk I do believe, and possibly a post on the Office of Letter’s and Light blog (actually I think the link to the TED talk was in the blog… ) If anyone knows what I’m talking about, I’d love the link again, because I cannot find it anywhere!

Anyway, the general gist of the talk was that creative people use a different part of their brain when creating, and when they are in the zone, other parts of their brain do shut down, and amazing things happen.

For me, the story writes itself. The characters do things I had never expected, they reveal aspects of themselves that were never in my outlines and planning. The story veers off track and reveals new exciting paths, paths that usually much better than the one I had planned to follow.

Are you creative in any way? Have you experienced this ‘zone’? Have any thoughts about it?

Feel free to share your thoughts! And don’t forget, I have two more copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Program, and Homeschooling…

My son’s picture of his character, and the castle he lives in.

 

I want to start by saying that I am not a homeschooler. I have certainly thought about it in the past, and it’s something I wouldn’t mind trying at some point in the future, but for now my son goes to a great school, (and my daughter is VERY excited to be starting next year!) and lets face it, I get more writing done without them at home 😉

But doing the YWP with my son had shown me how useful it could be, on so many levels for homeschoolers. Maths, as we work out the overall word count, and how many words need to be written each day. More maths, as DS counts his words-so-far each day, and works out how many more he has to write. There’s spelling as he tries to write new words, and synonyms as we discuss using different words to mean the same thing. Come December there’ll be grammer too, when we go over his story for a proper edit. There’s art and drawing, as he draws pictures of his characters and their home (see above picture). 🙂

We could start in October – using the YWP Workbooks that are downloadable from the site. These guide YWP participants in what makes a novel, and how to develop and plot out their own.  We could start the month by reading a novel, noting the characters, the points of conflict, and resolve, then work on his own book, the planning for that. It could involve research of another topic, which in turn leads to more literacy and numeracy as he encounters new words.

On the other hand, trying to keep my son focused for more than 20 mins is proving difficult, and I wonder how I would deal with that on a daily basis.

DS will be away over the weekend, so he wrote 157 words today, in various stints and with various incentives (the one that worked – money – he wants to take his pocket money with him on the weekend, and I said he had to reach 150 words!)

Total word count DS: 507,

Me: 16,395

Are there any other homeschoolers reading this, who are doing the YWP with your children? I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t forget, I have three more copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

And the winner is…

The first winner of a copy of The Secret Keeper by Kater Morton is:

 

Laura!! YAY!! I’ll send you an email shortly to let you know you’ve won and get some details from you!! 🙂

Don’t forget there are 3 more copies to give away, over the next 3 weeks. Keep commenting!! 😀

And for those of you who’ve only just stumbled across the blog – check out this post to see the great book that’s up for grabs!!

Six Sentence Sunday # 5 – Nano!!

Oops! Running a bit late for Six Sentence Sunday today!

Today I thought I would show you the first six sentences of my Nano novel. It’s a sequel to the novella I wrote in June for Camp Nano.

A stabbing pain shot down both legs, and I collapsed back to the cold, damp sand. I gritted my teeth, my son did not need to see his mother in pain, though he must’ve sensed it for he dragged himself over to me, his tail leaving an imprint in the sand. My sweet boy, put a pudgy arm around my shoulders, his chubby face tight with concern. Though I did not mean to, I threw him off as another bolt shot up my spine.

“No.” A moan escaped my lips, as wave after wave of agony swept over my body.

I’ll post more snippets of my story over the coming weeks. Enjoy! 😀

(And incase you’re wondering how the writing is going – we went away camping for the weekend, and DS missed out on doing today’s writing, though he did manage 53 words yesterday. I managed 1000 words yesterday, and am just starting today’s writing now, at 9:30pm… I only need about 900 words today to get back on track, as I wrote so much on Day 1, and a little extra on Day 2. Wish me luck!!) 😀

Don’t forget, I have four copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

Nanwrimo and the Young Writer’s Program, Day 2

The first 53 words

Here is my son’s writing from yesterday – and I don’t know if you can see it, but at the bottom is reads: “hallo Nanowrimo, I love doing this!” How cute!!! 😀

Now, I doubt very much I’ll get in to report on our progress every day, but while I’m able I thought I’d keep you all updated on how my son and I are going.

Today was a slow day for me. I got my word count: 1799 words to be exact, but the writing is still feeling sluggish. DS (Dear Son, for those unsure of what I mean), didn’t want to bother at all – until I reminded him of the awesome t-shirt he’ll be getting at the end, and offered him chocolate as incentive. More specifically, I said that whoever got to their word goal first, would get a row of chocolate. (I should note, that I never bribe my kids with chocolate, so that was a big thing). He won, easily, of course, having only 50 words in comparison to my 1667 word goal. *sigh* next time I will make the challenge harder.

Once he got into it, he wrote his words really quickly, his main character killing of the dragon in record time, and then going home to eat tea and go to bed. I then made hin write another sentence, getting his word count for the day up to 60 words, with a total wordcount of 113. Doing well so far…

My biggest problem I think is that I am still editing as I go – damn inner editor – be gone!! DS got quite worried about proper spelling, stopped now and again to ask me how to spell something. I had the discussion with him about how November is a time for writing, not worrying about spelling and grammar (he may only be 6, but he’s almost better at it than I am lol), and that December is the time to fix all that stuff up.

How’s your writing going?  If you are participating in Nanowrimo – are you reaching your goals?

Don’t forget, I have four copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

Nanowrimo and the Young Writer’s Program – Day 1

from http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/187544/fire-breathing-dragon-image-31000.html

What a day! Spent the morning avoiding my story, because I still felt as though I was in editing mode and wanted to try and get out of that before I started. So I procrastinated by cleaning instead – you know the saying – a tidy house equals a tidy mind… or something along those lines. It sort of worked, though I find myself editing as I go. Must Stop Now!! I’m trusting that within a day or two, I will have reverted back into Nano-Mode and my inner editor will well and truly be locked away somewhere  – till December at least.

But anyway! New story ‘Dark Sea’ has began, and while it’s not flowing as well as it’s previous instalment I do feel I’m getting back into the flow of things. And I blitzed the word goal for today – reaching 2716 words.

My son was excited to finally be able to start on his story! Being only 6 years old, we went for a much smaller goal of 1500 words, 50 words a day. When he arrived home from school, I presented him with a blank notebook, and told him he could start. He wasn’t sure how to start, so I suggested describing his character. And so he began. A great description followed, getting him to 19 words, then, when I suggested a bit of action, came a bit more description, of his character’s skills in battle this time. This got him to 34 words, and by now his attention span was wavering. I suggested a line, and reworded my suggestion for mroe action. This time we got it – fire breathing dragons bearing down on the main character. That took him to 53 words, where he stopped, ending the days writing with “the end, up to here” lol.

I’m looking forward to the character fighting back tomorrow. He is supposed to be the best dragon slayer in all the world, so I have faith he’ll be successful! 😀

Anyone else doing Nano or YWP? Or know  a child doing YWP? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Don’t forget, I have four copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! 😀 (For more info check out this post)

Book Giveaway!! – Kate Morton “The Secret Keeper”

 

In a bucolic English summer at the end of the 1960s, a young girl witnesses a shocking crime. Fifty years later, she sets out to find out the truth, uncovering layers of mystery and deception. Moving from London during the Blitz to the present day, this is classic Kate Morton: a compulsively-readable, entrancing mystery with a long held secret to be uncovered at its heart.

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.
2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

Doesn’t it sound fascinating!!

The Secret Keeper is published by Allen & Unwin and is due for release in Australia and New Zealand in November, but is already available in the UK and US.

And click the link below to see Kate Morton’s take on finishing The Secret Keeper!

http://www.katemorton.com/blog/2012/7/26/the-secret-keeper-is-coming.html

 

For a chance to win one of 4 copies of this brilliant book, be sure to comment on my blog over the coming weeks.  During the next month I’ll be sharing my experiences as I take part in my 5th Nanowrimo, (my 7th if you count Camp Nano!!), novelling alongside my son who is taking part in the Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Program. I’ll be giving away 1 book each week to a random commenter from that week. So come say hello, and tell me all about your own writing and/or reading experiences.