Tag Archives: publishing

Write for Your Life – part 3: The Big Picture

This blog will be continuing the life writing theme with the element of The Big Picture up for discussion.

Have you been writing? You hesitated. It’s interesting that vacuuming the house or doing the dishes becomes appealing when you should be writing. Procrastination is your enemy, so be mindful of this. Make your writing project part of your daily routine, it’s the only way to get it done. At least five days per week should have some time allotted to the task and before you realize it, you will have written a first draft.

After my last blog, you should have been able to map out a rough outline of your story. Don’t spend too much time on this because you need to get to work to flesh out the details by filling in the spaces between events. Eventually you will have a draft that you can step back from and assess. It will be far from perfect. Keep this in mind while you assess, otherwise you will be inclined to give up. No first draft is perfect. In fact it may be really dreadful but it’s something you can work with.

In your assessment of the first draft, you need to look at the big picture. As you read through it, make notes about what does and doesn’t work. Are there parts that need more detail? Have you waffled in another? Have you glossed over details because they are too painful, seem boring or you were lazy when you wrote them? I talked to someone in a workshop who was writing a memoir and failed to mention that he was married for several years because he didn’t think it was interesting. Most people would think that this was a significant event in a life. It also changes the reader’s perception of the story because he/she will imagine that a person was on their own when in fact they weren’t. It’s actually a false portrait of your life. If the marriage was not fantastic, that’s fine, don’t go into a lot of detail but you can’t completely omit it.

Blaise as a little girl. We don’t get the big picture.

There are many significant people that come and go from our lives. Our interaction with them affects the trajectory of our path in life. If you look at the image here of me, there is someone else in the picture. Aren’t you curious about who it is? You will start filling in my story from your own imagination. It’s my big sister and of course she is a significant person in my life, so she needs to feature in my life story. This might seem obvious to you but you’d be surprised how often writers don’t consider this.

In your reading of the first draft, you might have some aha moments about aspects of your story. Patterns may emerge or you might remember other details that have been long forgotten. This happens all the time and makes it hard to know when to stop writing because memories will keep appearing when triggered by another. That’s why it’s important to write several drafts in order to really excavate all those details.

If you visualize an archeologist uncovering the remains of a dinosaur, there will be painstaking work to uncover the bones. Bit by bit, the story of the bones is revealed. This is how your own story will evolve. Despite it being your own story, so much of it will be buried in your subconscious and will need to be ‘excavated’. Some of these memories may not be pleasant, so they may need more work to reveal than others.

Once you have gone over and assessed your first draft, start rewriting it with emphasis on parts that you think better demonstrates that ‘big picture’.

Blaise the book chick

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The Chilli Effect

The Chilli Effect – photo by Blaise van Hecke

Do you like to eat chilli? Would you munch on one raw? Probably not unless you’re one of those people on a food challenge show on YouTube. Why do you think they would do it? Usually there is a reward for it, like winning the challenge, getting media exposure or winning money.

We will get outside our comfort zone if the reward is there. If not, we’ll remain as most humans are: lazy. What is it YOU want for 2018? What are you going to do to make it happen?

If there isn’t enough incentive for you to make something happen, it will be very hard to find the motivation to do it. I’ve lost count of how many people tell me in writing workshops that they feel unmotivated to sit down to their writing. This just tells me that they don’t want it enough. It comes down to the reason WHY you do it. Determine why and you’ll be able to have that to reach out for. It’s not easy writing a book or climbing a mountain, so your why needs to be big enough to keep you going when it gets tough.

I’ve told myself many times that I’m not a disciplined person. But getting something done actually doesn’t require discipline. It requires you to sit down and map a plan to get where you want to go. Sometimes you’ll get off track but don’t be hard on yourself. Get back on track and keep going. Keep giving yourself little pep talks and adjusting your plan to keep you moving forward.

Here are some of the things that I do to keep myself moving forward with my writing:

Set goals that are achievable.

I was writing my first novel for about 10 years and was still only around 20,000 words into it. I had plenty of reasons for the lack of time: running a business, two teenagers etc. Then I asked Les Zig to coach me. He told me to set aside 15 minutes every day. It’s easy to find 15 minutes. I got up half an hour earlier than usual (I’m NOT a morning person) and sat down to write. I managed to write the full novel in nine months by doing this.

It isn’t helpful to set goals that are too hard to achieve. Instead of 1000 words per day, aim for 250. If you go over it, you feel good and it’s better than no words at all.

Remind yourself why you’re doing this.

It takes a lot of hours to write a book. It may take time away from your favourite TV show, or Facebook or even your family. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, I promise you it won’t happen. My incentive was to just have written a novel. It was more of a bucket list item than anything.

Hang out with like-minded people.

When you tell someone that you’re writing a book, they might think that you’re all talk. Or they might wonder what you could possibly write about. It seems like a very indulgent pastime. When you find a tribe of people who do what you do, they’ll get it and will encourage and support you, as well as give you critical feedback on your work.

When the work gets hard, think about that chilli. Is the purpose big enough for you to keep pushing on? Take a nice big bite and reap the rewards.

Blaise, the book chick

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