- Always try new things. Be open to creative stimulation
- Know what drives your novel and keep going back to it.
- Describe your book in a letter and gain clarity
The pandemic guided many of us in different ways, to try different things. I signed up for Masterclass—the full pass. It was an excellent investment. I downloaded many books, listened to a wide variety of writing classes (and others). There is a good catalogue of classes by well-known writers about the writing craft and life. So, one obvious writer’s tip: let’s always keep trying and doing new things no matter the surrounding situation. Keep planting new things in our subconscious that may bear good fruit in future seasons.
Learn from those who are different
Salman Rushdie’s work is well known, as is his heroic journey to freely express himself despite death threats from radical Islam. Rushdie’s work is not in a style or genre I know much about. I have read none of his books. But for his courage, I watched several of his lessons. True, you should seriously study the genre you plan to write. However, you can also learn from those who are different. That provides extra power.
Keep going back to what drives your story
In the first lesson he asked writers to think about what drives their stories? Why are you writing it? What gives you, and subsequently your book, passion, excitement, and may potentially interest readers? Find that out, and keep going back to it, and your novel has focus and power.
This may be a combination of many things depending on the writer. But it likely involves refining your story concept and your theme. For some, it may be a passion about a character or setting or even a style. But the story is the key, and that’s where you need a burning excitement
I thought about it for my current book, The Terrorist, and I felt the power of focus. I want to show we can overcome what life throws at us. We can stop and even reverse our poor choices in reaction to life. For me, God is the door of that redemption.
Writing a letter about your story
Rushie made a comment about writing a letter to a “friend” that tells your book’s story. Feeling writer’s block? Feel your story is dragging and you aren’t motivated to tell the story. I tried this “letter.” Wow. It’s a small thing, but with big results. I focused on a specific person with whom I wanted to share the story. Someone who wasn’t an editor, agent or publisher. I wanted to be more free to show my story. (Those more focused professional letters can wait—we’re assuming your book is in its birthing or growing stage!).
With such freedom, I was able to write things like: “What do you think?” “Is that stupid or brilliant.” “Is it believable, or silly?” Of course my questions were literally posed to my subconcious mind. And my subconcious mind all of a sudden began answering!