Friday, December 13, 2013

Things I Have Learnt While Writing Whispers, "The Book" (Part Two)

I have to be honest with you. The first reason I wrote Whispers in less than a month was because of Scrivener. See, when I got the idea for Whispers, I decided to try Scrivener, which many people rave about. So I found we have a trial version, that lasted for 30 days. (It's amazing, if you haven't, it's definitely worth the investment).

So when dad comes home, I ask him if he's bought it, or if we only have the trial. His answer 'I don't think so... No I don't think I've bought it...' So for the first few days, I'm screaming along, so I can finish before the trial is up.

Then I have an idea. I was pretty sure dad had bought Scrivener, I thought I remembered him talking about it. So I logged on to my 1Password, and there it is. Our Scrivener license. So when dad comes home I'm like 'we do own scrivener'. Dads like 'I know.'

So I vented to my sister.



It was after that that I decided to do my own, weird version of NaNo. Thats not what this post is about however, its part two of what I learnt while writing Whispers. If you haven't read it, here is the link to Things I have Learnt so Far part one.

  • Writing is hard
Seriously. Have you ever tired to work out what goes on in peoples heads? Have you ever had a part in a play, where you had to play a character who wasn't like you? Have you ever pretended to be someone your not? It's hard isn't it? 
A writer isn't just themselves. They are the main character, the shy boy hiding in the corner, the witty blonde, the temperamental red-head (I'm allowed to say that, cause my hair is ginger), the firefighter, the mother who's lost a child, the mother who's depressed, the abused teenager, the sporty boy, the little brother, the older sister at collage, the mentor. They are everyone in the story. They play their part so well - they have to, to make it believable. Every character in Whispers has a bit of me in him or her. 
Then theres the research. Spending hours on the internet, buried in the library, searching for obscure pictures and facts. Making it to page 12 on google. Saving pages and blogs to read later. Reading articles on how to help you with this and that. 
Then theres your family, who expect you to still participate in the family life, do your jobs, stop writing for a few days when you have extended family around.  Do you know how hard it is to mop the floor and tidy the house when all you can think of is what your going to write next? 
In fact, its hard to sleep as well. All I could think of was my story. Everything else was abandoned. Even my poor kitty got less cuddles, even though he did sit on my lap as I typed, which he hadn't done for a while (normally I sit on the floor with him). That was nice. 
So yes, writing is hard. Not just on the writer, but on everyone around them. 

  • Music is important (for me) 
Maybe its my generation, maybe its not, but I struggle to write in the quiet. I used write in silence all the time. I would sit there, chewing on my pencil getting more and more frustrated because the words weren't coming.  When I thought I wanted silence, what I really wanted was no people talking to me.
You know, when your sitting there, and its going great, but then your mother wants to know what you'd like to cook for dinner on your turns next month. 
Putting in my earbuds stopped me hearing my family, and I wrote in the public space. None of Whispers was written in my bedroom. It created a barrier between their talking and me. It also sent the message that I didn't want to talk, now wasn't a good time. 
The right music is important as well. While it needs to block out your surroundings so you can focus, it needs to be something that play in the background, so your not sitting their singing rather than writing. I played Imagine Dragons 99% of the time I was writing. I played a few other songs occasionally. 
So while I was sitting there writing, I was also signing along without thinking about it. Thats the kind of music you need if you write with music on. 
Right now, I'm listening to Titanium by David Guetta ft. Sia. In case you wanted to know. 

  • Sometimes your not writing about the things your writing about
If your confused, we are on the same team. I'm not sure what  mean by that. I guess kind of like having an underlying message that has nothing to do with whats going on in the book. 
I remember reading a blog post by someone who wrote a book with Angels in it. She finally found an agent to read it, but the agent didn't like books about Angels. She agreed to take it home and read it anyway. When she talked the the Author again the next day, she said 'Its not really about Angels, is it?'
At least, thats what I can remember. I may be repeating the story incorrectly. 
So thats what I mean. Whispers started out as a 17 year old girl trying to decide what to do with her life. But thats not really what I was writing about. I'm still not sure what I was writing about. I guess I'll figure it out.

  • Observing 
I've turned into a creepy person who writes down notes about peoples character. Is that weird? I don't know. It helps though. I admit to parts of some character are based on people I know, people in my family. 
I sit there and watch how people select a book at the library, how they cross the road, how they walk, how they talk, what they do while they are waiting in line, how they laugh. How they interact with friends and the lady behind the counter. If they pass someone on the stairs, do they try to be as far away as possible from the stranger, or do they not care? 
You would be surprised what you notice by just watching. 

  • Push your limits and comfort zone
I had to learn to waltz. You see, when I started Speech and Drama with my incredible teacher and class this year, I had no idea what I was getting into. From Tarzan calls, mimes and turning poems in to mimes and an exam, I've had to push my limits. Then came the end of year pantomime, and my teacher somehow got me to agree to waltz in one of the scenes. I still have no idea how she did it. One minute I was siting there, the next she was teaching me to waltz. 
So on the night of the show, I found myself in place for scene 4, ready to waltz. All I could think of was 'how the heck did I get here?' 
And then for 10 loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong seconds (or was it 15, and thats why they were long?) I waltzed. While I will never look back upon that moment with fondness, I had pushed my comfort zone back. 
Writing is about pushing your limits too. How far will you go? Will you expose yourself and write from your heart? How far are you willing to push your comfort zone in your writing? 
I'm still working on it. 

In summary, the things I have learnt, or re-learnt:
  • If your really do want something, you will do it
  • You need to take a break and eat
  • You need to face your fears
  • Your friends and family are important
  • We should be thankful
  • We should questions
  • Writing is hard
  • Music is important (for me) 
  • Sometimes your not writing about the things your writing about
  • Observe 
  • Push your limits and comfort zone

Now I have one question: What do non-writers think about when they're doing their jobs ect.. What fills in the gaps between other thoughts? I can't remember what I used to think about, every spare minute of thinking is now swallowed by my writing.

It's funny living in your characters heads.


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