How Do You Get the Words on Paper? Return to Writing

A couple of days ago, I was on the phone with a dear friend. She works in theater and has written her own plays in the past few years that she also directed that were performed at the local theater of which she was a member.

Unfortunately, some serious family health issues came about for her family a few years ago, and it’s been extremely stressful and emotionally draining for her and her family.

She’s not been able to continue the goals she had set for herself since then but is patiently waiting for a time where theater work and going back to school can re-enter her life.

I know how hard it is to go through and cope with a sick family member and the stress and strain it puts on both your mental and physical health.

My friend does need a healthy outlet that gives her a short window of time to herself. It’s important for her own health.

So she texted me yesterday using a voice message, that she’d attended a board meeting at the local theater she is now connected to (don’t know how long and when she started up with this particular one), and they were discussing upcoming events for the summer and short, one-act plays.

She’d actually brought this up to me a few days ago, and I will maybe do another blog post on my own plays, but this post is about picking up writing after serious life events takes up all your free time and energy.

She’d told me in our last conversation that she’d lost her creativity and didn’t know how to regenerate it. She asked me how I do so in my writing.

I told her I hadn’t written from the time I married in 1997 until 2014. A very long hiatus because of family life and health issues of my youngest son replacing any creative writing ideas and even thoughts.

But my writing returned when it was the right time for me in my life. God’s time. And it brought me through a lot of emotional hardships. I began to rediscover who I truly was, found catharsis and healing through these years, and continue to find content and healing in my writing.

My advice to her, using my own method, was to jot down notes of what she was wanting to write about. The characters, plot, and have a beginning and end in mind so that you are more likely to be able to finish your play or story.

Yes, I’ve struggled through the ideas of characters, scenes, etc. for upcoming chapters in a current work-in-progress, as well as on potential stories that swirled in my mind for a couple days that I hadn’t yet written any notes for. And even when I know what I want to say and how the scene will play out, there are times I can’t get anything down on the Word document or paper.

The answer to this is to just start typing whatever comes out in creating your scene and chapter. Eventually, about halfway down the first page, you become engrossed in your characters and what they’re doing in the scene, and you are able to complete at least that scene or even a full chapter.

This has worked for me every single time I’ve done it.

My friend had told me she hasn’t even been able to write down simple little poems she usually can do quite easily.

I told her to think of her writing as an escape from her stressful current reality to a realm where she can immerse herself for a time to find solace, creativity, and contentment for that short period. It will help her feel a sense of joy and a quiet moment to herself.

She’ll be creating as she’s wanted to do, and at the same time, experience relief from stress, which will help her overall health.

I’m sure I’ve written a few blogs already on the difficulties of getting back into writing after short or long dry periods, but I felt compelled to write this today after having the talk with my dear friend.

If you are having troubles writing caused by whatever events or obstacles in your life, remember that you can find a window to that creative side of you.

Try reading material you’ve already written to prime the pump in getting ideas to flow inside your mind and heart that will translate to writing on your computer or paper.

These strategies of mine always work for me. I hope it does for you too.

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Encore

For those new to my blog, I’m reposting a video from a blog post from 2018. It is a very short play (no more than 5-7 minutes) I wrote back in 2015 for my Introduction to Creative Writing class when I was still in college.

I was lucky enough to have a local theater’s actors perform my fun play on January 20, 2018. I’m a bit shy, so my husband introduced my play. Hope you enjoy and laugh just a little. 🙂

Changing Your Writing Routine

women's fingers on keyboard

Two years ago, I wrote a post about writing your story down on paper or via keyboard and Word document.

When I started writing again in 2014, pencil and paper were my number one tools in writing my stories, and all would start from a stream of consciousness.

Truly, that method was used to write my published short story, Summer Memories, my play, Falling Up Stairs, that was performed on a small stage in January 2018, and the starting chapters of my debut novel, Passage of Promise, released May 1 for print copy and May 4 for ebook. Although with the latter, I took extensive notes midway and throughout during many rewrites, revisions, added and deleted chapters.

Since 2018, I don’t know why, but my method of writing changed.

In creating my novella, Mourning Dove, and my novel, What She Didn’t Know, I took notes on both, most extensively on What She Didn’t Know.

Before each chapter, I’d write down my ideas about what the scenes would be, which, in turn, helped encourage me to get the words typed on the computer screen.

A few days ago, I listened to an excellent video lesson from fellow blogger and writing coach, Kate Johnston. She actually talked about the importance of at least having some notes on your plot, characters, and having a good idea of how your novel would end.

Having evolved and grown as a writer (as we do every day) since picking up this true passion of mine from my pre-teen years, I’d done exactly that without realizing it was the better approach for me!

I found this method of jotting down my main character(s) and plot made it more structured and cleared my mind of jumbled thoughts, as well as stream-of-conscious ideas that wouldn’t always get me through the entirety of my book.

The exception was the couple I mentioned earlier in this post.

So, I’ve transferred from stream-of-consciousness, pen and paper story writing to pen and paper for notes to prepare my next story and directly typing on my computer’s Word document.  Whatever would come into my head, the ideas would be centered around the guidelines regarding the character(s) and plot that I’d scribbled in my notebook.

Therefore, I’ve discovered you can change how you prepare and create your writing routine, and in my case, it was for the best.

What is your preferred way of writing? Stream-of-conscious/whatever comes to mind, write it down and go from there, or making an outline or notes on your characters and plot before starting to write your story? Have you tried to do the opposite? Did it work for you?

Happy writing!

 

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Pick up your copy of Passage of Promise  via Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

Me with PofP final print copy April 27 2020