Welcome to the final week of Anthony’s series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week’s post here.
- Work on ideas and strategies for your next book or project.
Breaking it down
Take a break
Now that we’ve finished our novels, it’s time to celebrate – and forget about the book.
Yes, that’s right. Put it away for as long as you can – so that you can focus on your next project. The worst thing you can do is edit obsessively and re-read your book. You need some breathing space.
For me, I’ve been playing around with ideas that are radically different from the novel I’ve just finished. And perhaps that is a good word to use – ‘play.’ Writing a book is hard work. It can be mentally exhausting, so you need to rest.
Creativity demands playfulness. Now is the time to doodle, to draw, to explore without any real goal in mind. This is the only way you can find a fresh spark. It’s a great way to keep the momentum going.
Immerse yourself in story
Now is a great time to catch up on all the reading you’ve missed. I’m excited to get back into reading my favourite authors – I already have a pile that I’m eager to plunge into.
After I finished my book, I realised my novel – a story about stalking – draws a lot from movies I love that explore this theme, like Fatal Attraction, Play Misty For Me, and even Cape Fear. I don’t think this a bad thing. My book is very different to all these – but in a way, I’ve been paying homage to the stories that came before.
My point is that you can’t write, you can’t create, you can’t explore your own imagination, if you don’t read a lot of fiction and don’t watch entertaining movies.
Build your imagination room
I believe creativity is all around us, you just need to know where to look for it. But how do you pin it down?For me, I’ve created something called the imagination room. It’s a magical place I can access when I close my eyes. It has everything I need to find and nurture my creativity.
For example, it has beautiful old filing cabinets — where every memory or idea I’ve ever had is stored and I can retrieve it, if I just stay calm and know what I’m looking for. So I can say, ‘What memories do I have about summer?’ If I stay in the room long enough, those memories will return to me. I can capture them. I can write them down.
This room also has a magical telephone, where I can phone any of my great mentors and artists who inspired me. I can call up Shakespeare and ask him, ‘What do you think makes a great revenge story?’ If I listen, I can get some ideas. It sounds crazy, I know, but it works.
And then there is ship’s wheel – like you would find on a galleon or pirate ship – and a magical compass. If I stand behind this wheel, it can take me anywhere in time or history.
I can visit Kenya in the 40s, or go to New York in the present day. I try to capture what these places would be like with my senses – touch, taste, smell. Finding places in my mind that excite will lead me to the right research materials.
You can create your imagination room. It doesn’t have to be a room. It can be a bewitched tree, or a robot, anything you like. The idea to have something you can visualise, a place where your imagination lives.
Timelock — 2.5 to 5 hours
5 Quick Hacks
- List 10 crazy ideas for a story each day. Make them as improbable or absurd as you can.
- Do something creative every day – even if it’s gardening, making up a new game with your kids, painting an old chair.
- Listen to inspiring podcasts on writing and creativity, or find some inspirational videos on YouTube. TEDTalks are a great resource.
- Reconnect with your journal.
- Draw a floor plan or blue print for your imagination room.
Pin it, quote it, believe it:
‘I oscillate between thinking I’m crazy and thinking I’m not crazy enough.’ — Joyce Carol Oates
If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course.
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