Elizabeth fired up the projector, hooked up the computer, and put up with a stumbling introduction from yours truly before bringing up a poignant fact; "Writing a Book is Easy and Fun." As that statement filled the packed room, I heard the sharp intake of a collective breath. I could almost hear the thoughts in the room, What the devil are you saying, woman? Writing is hard work! Well, guess what, it’s not. Writing is the easy part, it’s what comes after the writing that’s hard.
As Elizabeth worked her magic, she introduced methods of simplifying the writing process. Get comfortable to write, enter into garret mode, and, for this exercise, Eliminate Perfection. It doesn’t matter if what you’re writing is a properly grammatic document or a page full of disjointed thoughts, get the words on paper, or a computer screen if that’s your bag. As she progressed, Elizabeth introduced some unique words to describe a few of the actions and methods she uses to get going. Writers have the ability to coin words and use them as they see fit, Elizabeth is a master at it.
Your brain is invaluable when writing, but even more valuable is your heartbrain. What the devil is a heartbrain? Well, it’s a made-up word courtesy of Elizabeth Sims and I read it to mean, it’s simply writing what you feel instead of what you know. Put emotion into your writing, let it flow. Now, how do you do that? It’s simple, don’t try. Let the words fall where they may, look for patterns in what you’re writing. How often do you find yourself repeating a theme and thinking, is this redundant? Maybe it is at this point, but there’s a story in you fighting to come out. Follow your heart, capitalize on those recurring themes.
Stormwriting is another of Elizabeth’s words. Look, it’s simple; you write up a storm. Getting started is easy, start with a thought, we all have them occasionally. Write it down and say, YES, AND or WHAT IF. Now, write, don’t try to make it grammatically correct or even necessarily coherent at this point. Have fun with it, write until you’ve exhausted the idea maker. Then take a break and relax, treat yourself to a cool drink or a nap before coming back to see what you’ve written. You’ll be surprised.
Okay, I’ve just scratched the surface of wisdom imparted in a two-and-a-half-hour presentation, I wish we could have had more time. Most of us came away with more of a bargain than we realize. It might take a few days, as we rehash in our minds much of what we heard, to capture even a small percentage of what was presented.
Elizabeth’s book, You’ve Got a Book in You, a stress-free guide to writing the book of your dreams, is all that’s advertised. What it says on the cover promises to let the book inside of you make its way to paper. It’s not a how-to book, it’s a you-can-do book and Elizabeth knows it can be done, she’s written a shelf full of great mysteries, short stories galore, and hundreds of articles aimed at making writers better at their craft.
We thank Elizabeth Sims for sharing her knowledge and taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to visit her website, www.ElizabethSims.com, and if you didn’t have a chance to pick up a copy of her book tonight, it’s available on Amazon or www.WritersDigest.com.
I know these things and write with them in mind:
Writing is Fun. I write for fun and the thrill of seeing my ideas on paper. Maybe I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a few dollars from book sales in the process, but that is not as important as the thrill and fun of creation.
My Imagination Can Go Anywhere. Pick a location, it doesn’t have to be a real place. I can explore the working of a killer's mind as they kill with abandon, I can be a hero, a sinner, a saint, capture the bad guys, visit an undiscovered planet, or dive to the depths of a fictional ocean, all the while not moving from my desk.
If I Don’t Like It, I Can Change It. I’ve written it but when I’m finished, it doesn’t seem real, it’s plastic, fake, unimaginative. That’s okay, another piece of paper or another few bytes on my computer is all it takes to redirect, add emotion, make it real, change the sex of a character, change the origin of the story, do anything I want, it’s my story and I have the power.
Well, that's about all my old brain can find to say right now. Our next meeting is March 7th, same time, same place. We will discuss what we’ve learned tonight as well as hear and discuss our own writings.
Keep on Writing