Hey, writers. I’d like to introduce you to A. R. DeClerck, a fantastic romance writer who loves adventure! She’s tacking Zen and I love that! Take it away, A. R.!
Oftentimes, when I attend my biweekly writer’s meeting in a little coffee shop here in town, the thing I’m asked by other writers is “where do you get your ideas?!” When we have our writing exercises I often have 7-800 words in the fifteen minute time limit and it’s usually the start of a complete story.
How do you know what to write in only 15 minutes? I’d like to say that I’m a writing savant with some kind of genius for the craft, but the honest answer is that I like to make stuff up as I go along. Given a prompt I simply let my mind take me on the journey as the story unfolds on the page. Unfortunately for me, this “pantser” attitude is great for writing prompts and not so great for novel writing. Oh, I can crank out a novel in six weeks but I often find myself overwhelmed when I hit a lull in my story and my imagination takes a nap when I need it most. So, what do I do when I really prefer “pantsing” and I really don’t want to outline or plan my story?
Well, I cheat! I have an exercise that I perform nightly when I’m writing a novel, and it helps me stay on track with my story without ever writing down a firm outline or making any concrete plans. (This works best if you have a good memory, by the way!) I call my exercise Writer’s Meditation.
This is how it works:
Every night I perform my normal bedtime routine. Shower, brush teeth, comfy pajamas, a little TV before bed, and then I turn out the light and lay in my soft, warm bed in the silent dark. I close my eyes and I begin by playing out the last scene I have completed in the novel in my mind as if it’s a movie. I hear the dialogue in my head, see my characters acting out what I have written.
Now comes the hard part! What are these characters going to do next? I’ll give an example here. In my novel Redshift, I began the story in 2018 Nevada after a terrible accident has claimed the lives of an entire town and a scientist. My hero is heartbroken that his lover has disappeared into the wormhole and he despairs her lost forever until his brother suggests he jump into the wormhole himself and follow her. Great start, right? Well, then I had to decide what happened to Rand when he climbed out of the wormhole. So I lay in my bed and I imagined opening my eyes to a world similar, but not the same, as our own. What did I see? Smell? Hear? How did traveling through the wormhole affect me? Desperate to find my lover, what would I do next? Rand is a practical, rather narcissistic scientist with a brilliant mind. What would he choose to do? As I lay there imagining this new and strange world, I began to see it take shape for the story. Every moment of the scene rolled out before me in my mind.
After the “meditation” I sit down to my computer the next day and put down everything I saw in my mind’s eye on the paper. Often times I’ve got more than one scene complete and ready to go. If I’m really stuck and have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next, I may meditate on the idea for a few nights in a row and flesh out the bare bones of the scene until it satisfies me.
Writing meditation may not be the right choice for every author, but it has certainly helped me write books that readers have called “unique,” “not your normal story” and “complex”. All the twists and turns and character interactions can be complex because you’re writing a movie in your mind and can rewind and rewrite at any time to suit your needs. I don’t need sticky notes, computer programs or notebooks to help me keep things straight in my head. Every night the movie of my book plays in my mind to keep me up to date.
I will add a disclaimer about my process here: YOU NEED A GOOD MEMORY! YOU NEED TO WRITE FROM START TO FINISH AND DON’T SKIP AROUND! Writers who prefer to write their scenes out of order may not find this process helpful and it might actually be more confusing. If you’re the kind of person who falls asleep and wakes up with no idea what you were thinking about before you fell asleep—this may not be for you!
I also self-edit as I write. Every day, before beginning new material, I read over what I’ve already written and I add, remove, revise and edit the pages. Once complete, I begin writing my new scenes. Again—this may not be helpful to authors who might get confused if reading the previous material before starting the new material. However, my editor tells me my manuscripts are some of the cleanest she’s ever seen and my beta readers rarely find plot holes.
So thank you, Darlene, for having me on your blog today. I was invited to share something that I’m passionate about, and my stories are my passion. Anything that helps me write them more expertly, more clearly, and more swiftly goes in my “win” column.
Please give mediation a try if you’re struggling with the “where does this book go next” syndrome. It works for me, and I certainly hope it can work for you!
Happy Reading & Writing,
Food assassin. Reading ninja. All-around goofball. Self-proclaimed nerd.
AR DeClerck is a wife, mother, writer and healthcare administrator. She writes adventure romance novels from her couch, while wrangling two daughters, two dogs and a wily cat. She writes sci-fi, fantasy and punk genres and tends to put her characters through hell before they find their happily ever afters.
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When a mysterious wormhole appears at the edge of a Nevada town, Rand Hazen and his team race to study it. A sudden flux causes the wormhole to swallow the entire town and Rand’s lover. Frantic to find her, he follows her through the wormhole and finds himself in a strange but familiar world on the other side.
Through a shining silver city and across a vast, empty desert, Rand must comb this strange new world until he finds her, or until the world itself burns around him.