There's much more to the writing process than you would think, and you may be surprised by some of the unorthodox things authors must do to complete a book.
1. Get Lost
There’s nothing better than losing yourself in the setting of your book. For instance, does your book start out in the heart of a city? Downtown? A crowded subway station? Or maybe it’s more a place of solitude. As an author I find myself constantly losing myself in different environments that relate to my story. When I wrote Faces of Prophecy, the first book in The Elite Way series, I spent a lot of time going to open spaces—parks, fields, parking lots with amazing views, beaches—anywhere that brought me closer to nature. There, I would stare up at the sky and imagine the characters of the story, flying through the clouds, battling some mystical creature I had created in my head. It allowed me to immense myself in their world and as a result it helped me to flesh out the story and truly visualize what I was writing about.
So, the next time you drive by an open field, stop by an old-school diner, or walk down a city street that reflects a scene in your story, take a moment to analyze your surroundings. What do you see? What sounds do you hear? There may even be a distinct smell. These are things that will give you the material you need for your next story and allow you to connect with it deeply.
As a writer, you’ll learn that some of your best ideas come when you least expect them. Like when you’re standing in line for a cup of coffee, taking work calls at your desk, or dropping the kids off at school. It is the main reason why authors—good ones, anyway—keep a plethora of notebooks handy. It sucks to have thought of a brilliant idea, only to forget it later when you finally sit down to write. Doodling will help you piece your story together. When you get ideas for scenes, new characters, or even something as simple as a few lines of dialogue, you want to be able to jot, draw, or full-on write those things down while they’re fresh and new in your head. Then, you can come back to them later and simply plug them in where they fit in your developing manuscript.
3. Spend Quality Time With Characters
This is a fun and very necessary step in character development. You should consider giving your characters a formal interview and truly get to know them, inside and out. What are they like? What do they like to wear? Eat? Some of these things may not have any relation to the story, but they will still help you identify each character's arc and reason for being in the story as a whole. You'll want to be as in-depth and honest as possible. Write out your character’s day to day activities. What do you like about them? Or, are they someone you wouldn't care for in real life? Knowing your characters will go a long way. After all, they are the backbone of your story.
4. Stop Writing
After plugging into a story for days, weeks, and sometimes months on end, it is imperative to take a break from it all. Pick up other hobbies. Read other stories from authors you enjoy, or find new ones. This offers you the chance to revisit your story with a fresh mind and a rejuvenated energy and outlook. It will limit the amount of writers block you face, which is simply the dreadful occurrence of looking or thinking about the same thing for far too long. Have you ever stared at a computer screen for so long, your eyes hurt? Or ate something so much you never wanted to see or smell it again? That’s because as humans, we’re not wired to do one thing for extended periods of time without feeling burned out. So, mix it up! Change your surroundings. Do whatever you can to replenish your "idea bank" before you return to writing.
5. Become Your Own #1 Fan
You’ve written the story, you're promoting it to your family, friends, and mailing list, you're preparing for a much anticipated press run, but you forgot one thing. . . you! You have to become a fan of your own work and appreciate what you've created. In the best interest of their story, most writers are highly critical of their work. During the writing process, it allows them to push themselves and create a great book, but after-the-fact it can keep you from enjoying your own product. Many authors don't even read their own book once it is released! This is one of the worst things you can do because your lack of excitement can eventually trickle into your prospective readers. How can you tell someone else how great your story is when you haven’t had the time to take it all in for yourself? Try to look at your book through the eyes of your readers. Look at the cover, read the back cover description. Ponder the foreword. Avoid any temptation to take notes or look for things to edit, and read your book like you would any other.
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