Last Minute Pep Talk to Writers

I have never met a person who said, “I don’t want to write a book before I die.” Truthfully, I’m sure some people feel that way – but I haven’t met them. Most people harbor a glistening imagination deep in the wellspring of their soul that they are just too afraid to expose. Today, on the eve of Halloween, the brink of NaNo, and on the cusp of the most imaginative and magical season of the year, I would like to dedicate our minds and attention to our inner child… or, our locked-up imaginations.

“Fun is closely related to Joy,” says C.S. Lewis, “-a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct … it promotes charity, courage, contentment…” (And I would like to take it one step further for this 21st century audience and add that Fun creates jobs.)

In light of this NaNo contest starting up in just two days, I want to encourage those of you who plan on participating to not be afraid to dive deep into your imagination, as silly as it may seem. When you think your imagination is so far away from mainstream entertainment think of J.M. Barrie who dared to have pirates and Indians coexist on the same star-inhabited island. Think like him, and allow yourself to become inspired by the things that surround you. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, cancel your plans for this evening and rent Finding Neverland.)

Think of the guys at Pixar who dared to create a “children’s” movie about a senior citizen and a flying house. Be reassured by the words of Pete Docter, the co-writer and co-director of Up: “There were times when we thought to ourselves, ‘An old man in a floating house? With a Wilderness Explorer and a talking dog? What are we thinking? Who’s going to connect with this?'”

When you start to panic about writing your story, think: A secret world found in a wardrobe… A magical chocolate factory… A cowardly lion and a brainless scarecrow… a man who climbs inside a box (see what I did there?)… these are all really weird concepts. But they work! And yours can too!

As you write, don’t worry about whether people will like it or not. Write because it’s something you want to read. Because, truthfully, you’re not that different from other people. You like the same stories everyone else likes. So, who’s to say your own stories won’t be received well by others?

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Last Minute Jitters [or] What Will You Be Writing?

Last week I posted about NaNo. I said I was going to do it, and I will. But as you can see by the duel title of this message, I am growing very skeptical – or undecided – about what my subject matter should be.

I had it all figured out until last night. I was going to write a Christmas story that I’ve had planned for the last seven years, but I realized I’m just not ready for it yet. It’s a precious story to me that I don’t want to be rushed.

Then I started thinking about what people have been saying about my book The Man in the Box (coming out Nov. 30th). And it seems I’ve established myself as a suspense/adventure writer. Now granted, my next book is nowhere near said genre (Scroll down here for synopsis), but I wouldn’t want to disappoint fans of the book by deviating from suspense for too long – hence, keeping people in suspense…

Anyway, all that to say, I thought I had my book for this NaNo writer’s contest all figured out. But clearly, I don’t. I’m writing this as an encouragement to those of you who find themselves in the same boat as me. You’re not alone. And (I hope) I’m not alone.

When it comes to stories and books, I don’t want to just wing it. I want to deliver the best plot, the best characters, I possibly can. And I hope you’re the same way. I hope there aren’t many people entering this contest just to write a book, without having any concept of what they want to write. (How many times have you seen an awful movie and wondered, “Did they just make this because they were bored?”) No, I hope you go into November with a clear reason as to why you’re writing a book, and with some concept of what it will be about.

Because if you just start writing something without having any idea where it’s going or why you’re writing it, then it’s very likely you’re going to give up, and you’ll kick yourself and eat a lot of ice cream and you won’t be in any shape to eat a hearty Thanksgiving dinner… hmmm, I think I see why this contest is held in November…

I’m not there yet. But I have four days to get there. And so do you. And remember (as soon as I figure out how) I’m going to have a link somewhere on this blog for you to post your developing stories for all to see. So, stay encouraged, get prepared, and be ready to write the best book you possibly can. NaNo starts November 1st.

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