I really need to go through my drafts and get rid of the majority of them. When I'm writing I have this tendency to think - wow - I am putting together something noble and bold when in reality it's usually a rehashing of something I've already written about. Since this is a writing site, I'm often surprised that we don't have more on how to write so today I'm going to share a few things that have helped me. The first is to never stop writing. More than anything just putting one word or punctuation mark into place, even if that ends up being the wrong place later, helps. Another thing that helps me is to give my people a limitation and a challenge they need to overcome. I also like to show the same thing from different perspectives. In today's scene a woman is being offered a trip to Australia with her newly wed husband and newborn son.
The guy she's talking to is envious of her good fortune. A trip to an exotic location sounds preferable than going home to his wife, two kids, and waking up the next morning for his hour commute. But the woman has a baby who is several days old, a husband who has an undiagnosed mental health problem, and will be traveling with her ex who just married her sister and won the lottery. The bucolic Australian countryside has no appeal for her and neither does the stud ranch where they will be staying. Her husband has stress fractures in his foot so he's supposed to be staying off of it, and his wife knows that this will be very difficult for him. She's scared of the future, wishing she hadn't married so hastily, and still flooded with post partum hormones which have been compounded by a lack of sleep.
I tend to put in too many things so I'm trying to work on simplifying when I write. I rarely sit down with a plan, I just start writing and see what happens next. I'm weak when it comes to plot, great when diaglogue is needed, but sometimes I have too much of a good thing since diaglogue works so well for me. Her husband is looking forward to relaxing in Australia, but he believes his brother will be attacked and possibly killed by a shark which makes him very upset since he feels like nobody is taking him seriously. His brother wants to take his new wife Down Under so she can meet up with a friend of hers. His wife wants to see her friend, but more than that she wants to show her husband the stately residence that arose from an old sheep barn.
Reading up on psychological issues is another thing that helps me. I use high roller diagnoses, but there are tendencies some of us have to a degree that can lead to questions like, is this person suffering from OCD or another anxiety related issue? How people handle this type of information is another thing I like to write about. Is a wife learning that her husband schizophrenic going to be supportive, scared, regretting her recent marriage, optimistic about his abilitiy to thrive, what would make sense, what would interest me and what is helping to advance the story line. I can have her be accepting at first and become less so as she learns what is involved in living with someone who is extremely paranoid on a daily basis.
Another thing that's fun for me is to take the bad guys, I make them really obvious, and have my other characters rage in indignation at their inability to outsmart or overpower these people that they're forced to deal with. I try to make my characters redeemably flawed, but there are times when I push them out into no man's land and let them hang out there for a while so they learn what they were missing out on before whatever it was that prompted their ostracization. Right now I have the psychiatrist's daughter talking to the ballplayer about his problems. She likes him, but he's not her type. He's confused about what she wants from him, and I haven't figured it out for myself yet so that's an obstacle I set up for myself to work around.
It helps when I paint myself into corners. I don't worry about trying to work things out in advance because that's not how my real life works. I may plan to drive to the store after my ex leaves and forget that he set up his woodworking supplies outside on my driveway. I can be mad at him, upset with myself, I can tell myself that I'm human and everyone forgets things. I can go back inside and read my relaxation book or do part of my yoga DVD. Today I summoned tremendous courage and asked my daughter how to play DVD's on the PS3. Sometimes I can't is an escape. There's no possible way I can be expected to do my yoga videos if I don't know how to set them up. It's a crutch and today I limped forward on weak unsteady ankles.
I like using small humilities to give people a larger sense of a character. For me it's easier to write about a room that could be used for kinky sex than it is for a character to talk about his wife having issues with gas and constipation. Every time I can write about something that makes me squeamish I grow. When my character is angry and calms down through a discussion that's me releasing anger and being able to end with angry man being very tired and needing sleep I feel like I'm winning a game I'm playing with myself for myself if that makes any sense. I did a few of the yoga poses, read in my relaxation book and started thinking more about what I want out of my life. When I was reading my relaxation book I found that I have tension in all five of the areas they discuss. That's overwhelming, but at least I have a place to start.
Last night I had so much anxiety I couldn't sleep well. I woke up early, don't ask me what I did because I don't remember. I got dressed, my youngest wanted to go to early church so I was up and ready for it. I didn't have to heart to wake up the girls and tell them to get ready. I feel better when I go to church. I started to take a walk, but the roads are being redone so the loose gravel isn't a very pleasant surface to walk on and I didn't want that on my shoes or sandals. Doing a few minutes of my yoga video made me feel great. Listening to old R.E.M. is taking me to a different mood. Sundays when the girls leave feel like the worst and longest days. We did a bunch of cleaning over the weekend. My daughter told me she scrubbed the floor in my room, but when I went in there it didn't look like she had so I sent her back and had her wash her sister's room too.
I don't have any wise words today. I just wanted to share how I do what I do in case anyone else finds it helpful. There have been times in my life when I've stumbled across writing advice that didn't seem to help me, and then there have been other times when I glom onto something and try not to let it go. I'm still trying to get this place decorated to the extent of my budget and ability. My daughter got a very pretty four poster bed, we're working on getting that up for her. Sometimes thrift stores sell things for reasonable prices, and then there are times like this where we paid fifty dollars for a bed that didn't have rails. But she likes it and that's the important thing right now. I put extra pillows on my bed and tried swapping them out. That seemed to help. I woke up with less irritation and tightness in my back although if that was the pillows or something else I couldn't really say. Take care, be well, keep writing.