Our creativity can be inspired from the smallest word, an overheard conversation or one we have had, an image, whether real or virtual, or even a globally known news worthy article.
What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you?
As many of you know I am a free flow writer so apart from a vague idea where I want the story to go, it is a mystery to me. That is the thrill for me. It is an adventure I willingly travel with my characters. They lead and I follow with frantic typing. ‘Listening’ to my Muse enables me to create freely. It also means the story can change direction quite dramatically at times.
How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?
No matter what system we use, an idea can grow exponentially once it takes hold. This is wonderful, of course, the only downfall being if we already have a bucketful of ideas already. It can be difficult to choose which one to go with first at times. I usually let several ideas ‘brew’ and the one that ‘shouts’ loudest is the one I start. It is not a fail safe method by any means but at least I have a direction.
However, an idea might be a segue to a previous secondary character that you can expand upon or it might be a natural follow up for one you have already written. Then you are in the realms of a series! This can determine your choice of which idea needs to be written first.
When you read through your ideas there might be a correlation between one or two and that could be the start of a new project. Keep your options open, let your Muse guide you.
Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?
How do you choose?
My novel, Life in Slake Patch was the result of a heated conversation regarding the patriarchal society we live in. I wanted to flip the status quo and have a young man’s perspective living in a matriarchal society.
When I virtual chat with writing friends most of them say they feel generally lethargic. It is not just their writing life and routine that has changed but also life in general has restricted their creativity. With limited interactions, we do not have access to our normal writing routines. We may have people in the house not normally there, or meetings and events that sparked our imaginations are cancelled. Whatever our normal was, we are being proactive in protecting our loved ones from this horrid disease by staying home.
When I looked up lethargy, I was surprised at how many definitions it has. All of which describe beautifully our current state.
So let’s take one of these and use it in a writing exercise. Write a poem or short story about a character affected by it.
Use the comment section to leave your response.
As writers we can use what prompts us to create. Use this experience in the same way. Make it a positive. Finish that novel, short story, poem. Create a new one using this experience as inspiration. Reorganize your physical or virtual writing files. Research new story ideas. List writing projects you want to achieve. Revisit old story ideas or manuscripts – can they be resurrected?
Yes, we all know writing is a solitary pastime, however we do need to connect with others writers from time to time. In this virtual age many of us have connections across countries as well as in our own place in the world. This is achieved with local writing groups or through the wonders of the internet.
With our imposed isolation those precious moments of physical connection have been extinguished for the time being and ‘virtual’ has become the norm. We have all seen the virtual book readings, book launches and promotions. The greatest thing as far as I am concerned are the growing number of virtual writing groups.
I have such a group, who link up on Sunday’s for three hours of writing. We can see each other and there is a brief hello and details of what project we are tackling. Then it is heads down and write! At the end we report on progress and feel accomplished. We may not be ‘together’ but we are!
The added benefit is that we are accountable and that drives us to write. No matter the circumstances there is always a way to stay connected.
I completed NaNoWriMo on 15th November 2019, which is the fastest I have ever managed to write the 50,000 words required. This left me with several options, one of which was to continue with this story, Seasons of an Affair and increase the word count to 70,000 plus to create a draft manuscript for future editing and revision.
However, a book I placed on order some time ago became available. This particular book is the story of a man, who escaped society and lived alone for 27 years. Known as the North Pond Hermit, Chris Knight existed in a make shift camp with no human contact for all that time. I initially read the newspaper reports when he was captured and it sparked an idea for a novel, along with two other strange news stories, this became my 2014 NaNo novel – The Giving Thief. After reading the book of his life (twice) I was plunged back into that story. Do I go back to it and complete it?
Then another on order book became available giving me my third option. This is a research book on steampunk, which is the genre of one of my 2018 NaNo projects. I used that NaNo challenge to write the sequel to The Rython Kingdom and launched Rython Legacy in 2019. However, the other ‘novella’ project for that year quickly expanded into a full length novel, The Commodore’s Gift, from a short story I’d written some time before. So I am tempted to revive this story line as well.
So which will I chose?
As a writer we all have multiple story ideas racing around our heads all the time. It is difficult to decide which story to choose when they all clamor for attention.
First of all, my book is not a novel but a self help book so I will try to answer the questions……
What inspired your latest novel?
In 1993 I left my husband and in leaving him lost everything for a time, my home, my job, my family and so on. I struggled to make sense of how I was feeling without any real help from the therapists I went to, the self help books I read, or any friends, etc. I talked to. I decided to return to University where I discovered the work of William James. It made sense of what I, not only, was experiencing, but also what my family was going through. Had no intention of ever writing a book about it, but after hearing everyone responding to 911, in much the same I felt in 1993, I decided I need to share what I had learned and so put it all down on paper.
How did you come up with the title?
William James developed a model of self in the late 1800’s – the title refers to how we, without being aware, are searching for that level of understanding.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
You are okay – no matter what is happening to you. It all makes sense if you take into account your whole journey through life. Only once you clearly understand your “self” you are you free to choose the next steps wisely.
How much of the book is realistic?
All of it, I hope.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are three main sources for the examples I use in the book, my own life and what I have learned from two groups of people who live on the extreme……those with autism and those who were sexually abused as children.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Social media: facebook – interact with people all over the world on messenger through it. No blog as such, but do share thoughts through the notes section on facebook. Also have a website for my work in autism: www.autismconsultingservice.com
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
Have just completed my first novel – one I carried around in my head for 45 years. Currently have a couple more on the go. One is a murder mystery type, the other, the impact in a community in the midst of a world wide disaster. Don’t think I will be writing any more self-help books
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I like the main character in the murder mystery -Oliver Weary……he is a good man, in spite of what happened to him as a child, and spite of what the community at large assumes.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
Definitely a dabbler. Just finished a dinner theatre murder mystery for my family that worked out well, completing two very different projects in the moment: a manual for the work we do, and a short history of my grandfather’s life for my extended family as well as the two novels in progress.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Am amazed at how, although one has planned out an outline, how stories take on a life of their own as time goes by.
What is your best marketing tip?
Wish I had one!!!
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
For me, it has been a great tool, but it does take time and energy to use it effectively.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It is who I am and I delight in the freedom to do it at this point in my life. At a certain point in life, I actually burned everything I had written up till then, something I have regretted ever since. Not good to not live with the freedom to be oneself.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I don’t remember, did a lot of newspaper ideas as a child and carried on with them in high school and college – the childhood ones were all fiction, while the later ones were of actual happenings and shared with the community I was in at the time.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
I think it has always been diverse.
What genre are you currently reading?
Current book of the moment is Emma by Alexander4 McCall Smith – a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s novel. We have a wee library close to our home and I currently get all of my reading material from it……so becomes very diverse based on what others have contributed.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
At this point, pleasure. Started researching both autism and the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse in the late eighties and basically gave up reading for pleasure for the next 20 years…..so it feels goo to get back to it.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband Clay
Where is your favorite writing space?
On the computer!!! So nice to have something that I can use that gets my thoughts down almost as fast as I can think them!! Have my own office in my home so that’s where the writing happens at this point. Have this dream of moving into at hotel for a stint and having everything looked after for me so all I needed to do was write, but fear it might end up too boring.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
No, not really – joined one last fall but nothing came of it…..
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Margret Lawrence – to thank her for a portion of The Diviner’s which explained how I was responding to life and what I needed to do to change it.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Right where I am. Love my home!!! But in the midst of that, also NEED to experience the energy of the mountains, the ocean and the old growth forests so make the effort to visit them at least once a year.
Do you see writing as a career?
Since I am almost at the age of 70, not really looking for a career. May have wanted it when I was younger but know now that the life I experienced has opened me up in ways that sitting at a desk never could have….and it is those experiences that make what I write powerful.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
No – drink a lot of coffee but rarely snack if ever.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
No deadlines at this point in life!!
Gail Gillingham Wylie, M.Sc. is an individual, marital and family therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada specializing in the field of autism. She has a Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Science in marital and family therapy from Loma Linda University, California. She has worked as a quantum biofeedback practitioner with SCIO since 2005.
Gail is known internationally through her books on autism: Autism Handle with Care (1995), Autism A New Understanding (2000) and Sharing our Wisdom (2003) and has spoken at many conferences on autism in United States, Canada, England, Malaysia and South Africa throughout the last quarter century. These include presentations at the World Conferences on Autism in Toronto in 1993, and Cape Town, SA in 2006. Her latest book In Search of Self takes her out of the autism world as it applies to each and every one of us.
Gail first began using the model of self as tool with her clients while working as a family therapist. She has successfully incorporated it into her sessions on the scio as it provides a visual map for those who are working towards self awareness. She fully believes that we are living at a time during which developing and unconditional acceptance of one self and of others is of prime importance. The model of self can help us do that.