Writer’s foreplay

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

I always had that romantic image of a writer in my head: a melancholic appearance, hanging over a laptop in a coffeeshop, sipping a cup of black coffee, typing away the words which hit the screen like water hitting breakers. Occasionally shedding an eye on a small notebook at the corner of the table and then continue processing the information into the story on the bright screen.

Unfortunately, I found out that it doesn’t work that way. Being a writer is everything but romantic. It is hard work! You can’t just write away and and skip the foreplay. The foreplay of a writer isn’t romantic either. It means a lot of research, outlining, structuring and absorbing all kinds of information about the subject you are writing.

The foreplay is necessary! I made the big mistake of skipping this proces and followed the image of a romantic writer, eager to become one of myself. I failed!

As a novice writer I started to write my first story without preparations. Well, of course I did some structuring and outlining. I knew, for instance, who my protagonist is and what her goal will be. I focused on it, wrote down some notes about her and her goal. I also knew who the antagonist is and what she wanted from my main character. Well, that should be enough, right?!

I didn’t work out a detailed outline. Just worked out half a story structure. Didn’t get to know my story characters as good as I should have and what they do and what they really really want. I didn’t work out the side characters and their stories. I just started to write down my story while the foreplay wasn’t even getting warm let even hot. I managed to get words processed on my laptop. But the more I wrote, the more I got lost! The story went a whole different way than I had planned! All the characters did something different than I wanted them to. The main story did stick a bit, but all side stories went astray. I had to adjust the story while I was writing and it took me a lot of time to get it straight again. When I finally typed “Fade out” the outcome was a whole different story than I had in my mind in the first place. The rewrite was fun though. But that was only after I wrote a detailed outline and set up a new structure. And I made a character sketch for every character that appears in the story and got to know them again. If only I had started with these preparations in the first place, it could’ve saved me a lot of precious time.

So, the next project I started, I did my research and structuring well! The writing went a lot smoother than my first project and the story sticks! It saved me a lot of struggling while writing.

This is one thing I learned: just consider writing is your love relationship. You can not just reach an ecstatic state without hugging and a kissing. The more you know about your partner and his or her needs the better your love life will be! The same works for writing. The better you do your research and structure the better the outcome will be!

Don’t make the same mistake I did! Be well prepared if it concerns your precious story! But by all means, if you have made the same mistake I did, don’t give up! Just get over it and keep on writing! Learn from the mistake. Make the second attempt a better one. And the third one even more better. Because, if that is what you love to do, you will somehow learn to play the first bit and successfully get to the ecstatic stage!

More on structuring:
Find some strong facts about structure by Bang2Write here
Some interesting structuring tips article on ScriptMag.com: The Four Act Structure

Hear, see & do.

“I hear and I forgetIMG_5122
I see and I remember
I do and I understand”
~ Confucius

Confucius was a wise man. I would very much like to learn from this master. Fortunately, we can still find his quotes on internet more than 2000 years later.  These quotes are of very invaluable value and they inspire a lot of people for sure. At least, I’m inspired by them.

I hear and I forget.
It’ll struck almost every person, not just writers, that one will be hit by a sudden thought and it’s so important that one has to remember it. And like almost every person, one will think: that’s okay, I can remember that for later. But, by later, that thought is most likely disappeared. Gone. Vanished!  It happens to me a lot. That’s why I always keep a notebook and a pen with me everywhere I go. I literally write down everything I hear and see and save it for later.

I see and I remember.
Nowadays most of us have cameras on our phones. The camera app is the most frequently used app on my phone. I take pictures of every interesting thing that cross my path. It happens to me everywhere; when I do groceries or have coffee with a friend or picking up my kid from school. When I look back at the images I will relive the moment when I took that picture. If I stay in that state of mind, creativity will flow like streaming water. Very useful to write stories.

I do and I understand.
This is the moment that I bring the above two into practice. When I get home with a bunch of new notes and pictures I will sit down and start to structure them. I keep a folder on my computer to put all the stuff in it that I want to keep and I will delete the things that I don’t want. Because, too much info will confuse me. So, I just keep the special things. Then, when I get back to my work , I will look into the folder first to find the sources I need and continue my writing or start a new project.

What are your tricks on writing? Please share with me!