The Adventure of the Unknown - Research and the Writer

Currently, I am about a quarter of the way through drafting my first short story and it has been a frustrating process as I have tried and discarded different story ideas or, quite honestly, been totally stumped as to how to start and grow a cohesive narrative.

Through all this, I have finally settled on one idea and stuck with it.  Not something new but an idea I had scribbled down some time ago during my morning commute to work.  I remember at the time angling my writer's notebook away from the person sitting next to me, so as to avoid them thinking I was odd, and wondering afterwards how in the world I was ever going to build anything out of it.

So here we are, about 2 years later, at the beginning of something I am excited and hopeful about.  And the most fun I have had is doing the research.  As a writer, the journey to getting your story down and finishing is all part of the process. 

Right now, I am enjoying Tristan Gooley's The Natural Explorer and hope to read his other works: The Natural Navigator and The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals and Other Forgotten Skills.  I also have Samantha Martin's Bush Tukka Guide handy and I've been contemplating trying out one of those overnight or weekend adventure activities just to see what they're all about.  All research for my writing of course!

The Natural Explorer: Understanding Your Landscape
The Natural Navigator: The Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature Be Your Guide
Fishpond 604x90
The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals and Other Forgotten Skills
Bush Tukka Guide: Identify Australian Plants and Animals, and Learn How to Cook

As a writer, you really do end up building a cache of weird and wonderful knowledge to give your characters life and naturalness to their circumstances.  Great for trivia nights or for surprising your family, maybe not so much for the poor person sitting next to you at a dinner party or work function left wondering why you have such an in depth knowledge of witchcraft, medieval weaponry, or the criminal justice system.

I am not sure where I will end up at the conclusion of writing my short story but I will have gotten something worthwhile out of it even if it is only to increase my appreciation and love of the great outdoors even more. 

Happy travels on your writing adventures for 2016 and, hopefully, we will all reach our destinations with a great story to tell.

New Year's Resolution No. 2

This year I plan to complete the manuscript for my YA debut novel and also get two short stories published.  Ambitious?  Very.  Crazy?  Definitely.  Achievable?  That all depends on how much planning, hard work, and pure guts I'm willing to put into this year and beyond, all while holding down a full-time job and spending time with family and friends. 

To some of you this might seem altogether impossible.  The first thing that comes to mind is where one would find the time to achieve the amount of work involved in completing a manuscript and getting two short stories published.  You know what?  The problem is not finding the time.  I think my problem, and something a lot of us share and can relate to, is using the time we do have efficiently and not wasting it doing inane things such as online browsing for no real purpose or traipsing off for another cup of tea or coffee.

If you need to do some online shopping, go ahead but find what you're looking for pronto and submit your order - just get it done.  The same goes with updating yourself on news and other current affairs.  I am a bit of a news junkie so I understand this particular weakness very well.  Again, use a portion of your day to get some news in and then return to work.  I have started to get a little better with this by dedicating a small portion of my morning and evening time to catching up on the news but using the greater part of my day for actual work.

Perhaps I am in the midst of a positive hangover from the start of the new year but I look back on my life and, honestly, there have been so many times the difference between success and mediocrity/failure has been because I didn't put in the time and love into what I wanted to achieve.  It's not just simply about luck or timing or pre-existing circumstances.  A lot of it is really on you.  Your attitude and your state of mind first and foremost.

Everything starts with a dream or desire but we can solidify our goals by making plans and putting in the time and effort to get there. 

What you need to do now:

(1) Find your goals/dreams;

(2) Make your plans; and

(3) Start taking steps and put in the work to get there.

It's that simple but most of us don't get past step (1), let alone step (2).

Dare to dream, set your goals, make your plans, and start now.  Don't wait.


What Makes You a Better Writer?

My Morning Run

There is nothing better than my morning run to get me in the writing mood.  It can turn out good, where I feel I can keep running forever, or bad, where I can't wait to get back home but it's a habit I believe makes me a better writer.

I don't think about anything in particular most mornings but it's a chance to take in the morning light and the quiet before a busy day ensues.  Or sometimes, my run turns out to be a good way to mull over new writing or stories even when I'm struggling to finish or one of my old injuries is threatening to derail getting through a short run.

What makes you a better writer?