Morning Coffee: Shaking Things Up!

winterI’m ready to start my second novel. I want to start my second novel. Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t seem to want to go there. My heroine’s voice is not coming to me as easily as it did with the first novel and I realize that’s because Mary Bishop was older. She was a mature woman who knew her back story and could tell it to me with ease, even the most painful parts. I only had to lead her through her current story. But Alice is only eighteen and doesn’t have that more complicated back story. She’s led a quiet childhood with only her girlhood dreams to tell her what life is all about. She has her plans, but doesn’t know that those plans are about to be changed in a dramatic and, in some cases, tragic way. It’s up to me to tell her this and I’m not having much luck. So it’s time to shake things up.

With “Mary Bishop” I just sat down and started typing. I knew bits and pieces of where she was going, but not how she was going to get there. Because she knew where she had been, and was able to tell me this so clearly, I was able to see her future…even if she couldn’t yet. I was able to be a pantser, writing by the seat of my pants. With “The Healing Heart”, Alice’s story, I’m going to need to be more of a plotter if I don’t want the story to get lost as it runs wildly down all the wrong paths.

001I’ve been spending time this week reviewing my notes from @CandaceHavens regarding Book Mapping. Last October she outlined for us each step you needed to cover in order to map out the direction of your novel. This doesn’t mean every little detail, but knowing your benchmarks and when you need to hit them in your story. I will be following her directions as I map out “The Healing Heart” before I even start writing. (Yes, I already wrote the prologue, but it’s the body of the story that’s eluding me.)

Then, after I finish mapping my book, I’m going to draft this one by hand, not computer. For a long time I did all of my first drafts this way. It’s what I was used to since I’m not a part of the generation that grew up with computers. Over time, though, I taught myself to draft electronically. But I think I need to shake up my process in order to jump start my creative process.

According to a May 2016 article by Nancy Olson on, handwriting with a pen positively affects the brain in three ways: it “increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, similar to meditation”, it “sharpens the brain and helps us learn”, and it “forces us to slow down.” The act of writing by hand is creative; whereas, typing on a keyboard is analytical in nature. The hand movements used to create letters plugs into the regions of the brain tied to thinking, language, healing, and memory. This could actually lead to more creative thought as we are forced to slow down and our brain rests. I’ve learned that quite a few authors still draft this way.

And an extra benefit for me, it may stop me from constantly going back and editing rather than moving forward. This constant editing can, and has, brought entire projects to a dead halt. Editing as you go is so easy on a computer. It’s not as easy on paper; on the contrary, it’s rather messy. I want to train my brain to free-write. I want to be able to ignore the editor in me and just enjoy the creative process. With this in mind, I am packing my book map, my research and character notes, and a composition notebook in my suitcase for Florida in a week. I can’t think of a better place to sit with pen and paper than a warm sunny Gulf Coast beach.

This will be training for when I someday want to try Candace Havens’ “Fast Draft” method, I was originally thinking I’d do that with this book, but it’s a rigorous write-your-book-in-two-weeks program that my brain is just not ready for and I want to do it right. Perhaps by book three my brain will be in shape to make that kind of commitment.

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