Monday, 2 March 2015

GUEST POST: Letting the Words Flow

I've invited Jamieson to write guest posts here before, notably his Writing Past the Wall post. Jamieson is a good friend and writer, and just a nice all around guy. Check out his stuff!

A lot of people have asked me how I write. The truth is, I work best when I just sit at the computer and write what comes out.

I've tried plotting books many times, however all those plotted books have become my unfinished works. I get too bogged down in plotting, in making sure that every detail is perfect, that I lose the story and it get stuck midway.

At that point, I usually leave it aside and work on something else hoping that a new work will clear out the cobwebs and let the sun shine through to clarity. Sometimes this works. Three  of my recent works (69B, The Other Side of Oz and my most recent work in progress Boy Friends) were all overly plotted, set aside novels that I came back to eventually.

Other times, I'm not so lucky. I have tons of short stories, several novels and hundreds of poems that are just sitting there, waiting to be finished. But you know what? That's okay. They will always be there waiting to find their happy ending.

I've tried plotting and it always leads to writers block. It doesn't work for me. So I always go back to what works for me, what an old high school teacher would call verbal diarrhea of the mind. I know that there are lots of writers who plot as if their life depends on it. I'm just not one of them.

My writing starts from an idea, a nugget of inspiration, and goes from there. I have a general idea of where the story will end up but that's it. I always let my characters say what they want and do what they want to do rather than control them and have to deal with the resulting writers block.

Really, I think of myself as an automatic writer. I just let the words flow. Sure, on the first draft, there are far too many words and a lot of it isn't good. However, the secret to good writing is just writing what wants to come out. The rest can be fixed in edits.

The same trick works well for titles, too.

When I was thinking of a title for my new collection of poems, Talking with the Earth, I was stuck. I had published Talking to the Sky last year. That title had just come to me and it made sense with regard to where the poems came from.

I had been struck with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013. For several months, I would stare at my computer screen, the blank white page mocking me. It felt as if I was trying to talk to clouds. When I was able to write again, that image stuck in my head and the title was there, already formed.

When I came to the title for the next book of poems, I was stuck. I had the idea of doing a series of poetry collections, each representing one of the elements. Talking to the Sky was Air, so the next one would be for Earth. Trouble was, I didn't want to just name it Talking to the Earth.

So I did what I normally do when I hit a mental wall. I had a good think about it. I walked away from the title and focused on writing the poems and I thought about what I was trying to say with this collection. Whereas Talking to the Sky had been all about coming to terms with what my life was like now and trying to push past the wall to learn to write again, the new collection was different. This collection of poems was all about letting go of the past, of moving forward along the path I was on and regaining my strength and sense of self.

I knew that I wasn't talking to the Earth; that felt wrong.  Instead, I was working with it and listening to what it had to tell me. Then it hit me: Talking with the Earth. Who would have thought that so much went into the title of a book?

Now I'm stuck on the title for my third poetry collection, that has a working title of Talking to the Flame. I know I'll think of the right title. I just have to stop over thinking it and let the words flow...

Get a copy of Talking with the Earth in ebook or paperback.

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Jamieson is an award-winning, bestselling author of over sixty books. He is a poet, a blogger and, above all, a story teller. 

Jamieson is also an accomplished artist. He works in mixed media, charcoal, pastels and oil paints. He is also something of an amateur photographer, a poet, perfume designer and graphic designer.

He currently lives in Ottawa Ontario Canada with his cat, Tula, who is fearless. You can find Jamieson at home at www.jamiesonwolf.com. You can also read his blog at www.jamiesonwolfauthor.wordpress.com.