Everyone hides a book in their heart. The experiences of life, combined with the lessons learned and maybe tossed with a little imagination grow that story. Learning how to nurture the words will allow you to tell the story in a way that will produce the book that you want to write.
Getting the idea for your book starts with hearing your own words and those words around you. From there you can latch onto elements that will clear the path for your words to flow.
Begin to Develop an Idea
Write down thoughts and phrases. The other day my husband and I were driving down the road. The curves took us in and out of radio stations. At one point we went from a sing-along song to a talk show. The expectation that the next curve would bring back the song made my husband leave the dial alone. I am thankful that he did.
“I don’t set out to be different. I set out to be me and people think that’s different.”
His words resonated with my heart and I repeated them aloud. My husband laughed. “Go ahead. Write it down. You know you want to.” I was already scrambling to find my pen.
I keep a notepad handy for just such an occasion. Sometimes the words inspire articles. Sometimes they add elements to ongoing stories. Sometimes that turn existing stories on their heads. But always they combine with those ideas already floating around in my mind and breathe new life into my imagination.
Write down what you hear. Be sure to include anything about the words that caused you to want to hold on to them at that moment (the way they were said or the atmosphere around them). Write down what you see. Describe people that catch your eyes or outfits must be shared. You may discover a character from your own story crosses your path in life. Always record moments that take your breath away – the good, the bad and the ugly. Remembering moments will make it easier for you to write from the heart.
Make a list of ideas. Include any interesting elements that you could weave into your plot line. Create a character list of major and minor characters. Jot down any locations that you might want to include in the book.
You can keep all of these ideas chasing each other around in your head. Sometimes letting them free range produces amazing results. Other times you will find that the ideas just wander off into the brush and are lost. I recommend keeping something in writing that can help jog your member for those moments when your ideas slip under the fence.
I learned recently that spending five minutes each day brainstorming can do wonders for your writing. Austin Boyd spoke at the Southern Christian Writers Conference and recommend this tool to help maximize writing time. I use the five minutes before I turn out the light to go to sleep. My ideas go into a file box (used originally for recipes – which I guess these ideas are in a way). I also carry around a notebook that fits in my wallet. Anytime I am left with a few minutes, I make use of those minutes by brainstorming in the book. Now I have plenty of materials to direct my words.
Create some organization. It is important to herd your ideas together. Even free-range ideas need some guidance when it comes to the moment of writing. Some writers want a specific outline of the entire book – and even each chapter – before they start on the book. My husband is that organized and this method would suit him well.
I am NOT that organized – although I have exceptional organizational skills. I just find that for me, a basic understanding of the characters and the main plot often move the words down the right path – often, but not always. Even those that use the detailed outline sometimes run into unruly characters that refuse to cooperate.
A basic outline tells the main plot, describes the main characters and may even include descriptions of the main locations. Be as detailed as you want in your organization, but never let the organization drive you away from putting the words down. To be a writer you HAVE TO WRITE!
What is your story?
You have one. All we need to do right now is dig up that story. If you are willing to take that first step then the next step will be that much easier.
- keep up with words and moments that stir your heart.
- make a list of ideas that stand out.
- herd your thoughts together.
You have a book in you. That book may be for the world or it may be just for you. Be willing to take this first step to letting your story come to life. You will be amazed at where your own words will take you.