Something to Think About by Suzanne Johnson


It's guest Monday and today I have a great post that I definitely needed to hear from Suzanne Johnson. Hope you find it as helpful as I did.

Take it away, Suzanne...



Something to ThinkAbout
by Suzanne Johnson
As writers across the country (world?) speed their waythrough another NaNoWriMo, another story, another work-in-progress, there’ssomething to be said for slowing down and doing something kind of radical: thinking.
For most of you, this is probably a “doh,” but it came as arevelation to me last Saturday. I have a new manuscript due to my editor onMarch 1, a half-dozen blogs to write in addition to my own, a full-time day jobthat involves more writing and more deadlines, and a family that demandsattention. My writing time—stolen from my family and my sleep and my friends—isa madcap race from 8 until 11 p.m. every night, extra on weekends.
But on Saturday, I found myself sitting on a bench in frontof the Walmart pharmacy department, waiting for my Senior Adult to putter herway through what are apparently endlessly fascinating aisles of stomachremedies and beauty aids, stewing. I could be writing. I was wasting time. Idon’t have time to waste.
[I should say here that I don’t begrudge Senior Adult herputtering-in-Walmart time. I only hope I’m able to putter at 86. However, Iwill not putter in Walmart. Write that down.]
Anyway, all I had in my purse besides my cell phone was awater bill and a pen. So for thirty minutes, until the puttering ceased and Icould check out, I thought through the next scene I’d be writing in my WIP, onethat I kept writing on even though it felt too similar to a scene in the firstbook in the series. I jotted notes on the back of the water bill.
What if my character didn’t summon the zombie serial killerso she could ask who the necromancer was who had resurrected him? She’dsummoned a spirit in an earlier book in the series. Too similar. How else couldshe encounter him, knowing I want to save their biggest confrontation for latein the book? Maybe he could come to her, except she’d been attacked in herhouse by the pirate Jean Lafitte in the first book. Too similar. Where elsecould he track her down? What places in the book might she be going to, wherethe necromancer might know about it? How would the zombie get there—can zombiesdrive cars?
OMG. Ideas! They started flowing. I worked out two otherpossible solutions to plot problems I was having. I ran out of space on mywater bill and moved to the envelope.
And it struck me: I stay so busy running from project toproject, writing this to writing that, that I haven’t allotted time just to think. To mentally try on a scene andhow it might work, then try it on a second way, then a third. Since I’m anoutliner, I know what scene comes next and then I just write it. But I couldwrite it better, and save time during revisions, if I did more to think itthrough.
I bought a small notebook for my purse, and have beensurprised at what thinking time has become available now that I’m thinking about it.
I brainstormed a troublesome love scene while sitting inline at the pharmacy. A swoon-worthy closing scene setting came to me drivinghome in rush-hour traffic, sitting at traffic lights, waiting for a train topass. What had previously been mindless music time has instead become thinkingtime.
When I do get those precious hours to sit and write, I knowwhere I’m going and it comes more smoothly. Who’d have thunk?
Do you have brainstorming time worked into your schedule? 


Suzanne Johnson is an author of urban fantasy “with romantic elements.” Her first book, Royal Street, a magic-based fantasy set in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, will be released by Tor Books on April 10, 2012. Two more in the series will be released in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. Find Suzanne online at her Preternatura blog, or read about her books at her website.

*Look for more from Suzanne here every 3rd Monday of the month!




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