Monday, March 25, 2013

Concentrating on Your ... Squirrel!

You know some days it pays to be a little ADHD when you’re an author. Sure I have problems concentrating, and I struggle with finishing a book in a reasonable length of time, but I manage. Having a parent drill into me about the importance of obligations has helped tremendously in hitting deadlines.

In my current book, I had hit a stump. Certain that the book had become boring and was going nowhere, I began to panic. Normally, I’d kill someone or blow something up, but this is a new series. Sure it’s romantic suspense, yet it screamed for a more gentle touch. When you get to read it, you’ll laugh about that last sentence. Then again, what I think is gentle, others would say is The GeorgiaCyclone®.  With just as many twists and turns.

Well, the other day I’m eating lunch and reading a book (paranormal romance) as many of us do, when an idea struck me. It helped me decide who the bad guy would be along with his motives. No. Sorry, can’t tell you the details.

The part I want to explain is how reading while you’re writing can be helpful. We all become worried about picking up details from a book and giving your own book the stink of plagiarism. That’s not what I’m talking about. The idea that came to mind had nothing to do with what was going on in the book I was reading.

The scene in the other author's book was where the heroine helped the hero infiltrate a well protected facility. That was it. Danger and tension flowed from the book, but it never indicated who the bad guy (or gal) was at this point in her book. But my mind had drifted a little and it sparked the idea I needed.

I was telling my daughter about it and explained it like this, “It’s like being in school while listening to your favorite teacher as she tells you about something you really want to know. A few seconds later you find yourself captivated by the fluttering butterflies outside the window.” The teacher may have said “light as a feather,” and before you know it, you’re thinking about flying and you turn to the window to look for some birds, but get caught up with watching butterflies.

So reading to me helps free my mind to solve problems in my books, even when I don't know I have one. In this case, one stone equals two birds. It took care of the boring section of my new book and gave me an unexpected bad guy.

Do you read when you’re writing? Or tell me the last time you were stuck and how you came up with the great idea that got your creative juices to flowing again. 

And for the fans of Dug in UP...Squirrel!


Maria said...

That reminds me of the saying that mundane tasks like ironing clothes frees the mind to think on higher things. Amazing isn't it? Actually, it could be just anything which sparks off that train of thought.

Carla Swafford said...

You're so right. A friend of mine use to go walking and came up with some great ideas. I just wanted to know where in the world did she walk?! LOL!

Cari Hislop said...

I can't read while I'm editing, but now that I'm on the other side of that hellish process (for the moment) I'm jumping into stories. I'm like you, words spark the imagination even when they're not supposed to. I just finished reading a book called Medieval Ghost Stories by Andrew Joynes (the stories are collected from Medieval sources). I had no idea that the concept of Vampires, people rising from their graves to drink human blood (or werewolves) went back that far. Last night I came across a description of hair...I can't remember if the individual being described was good or evil, but I was hit over the head with this image of a grimacing Regency hero with stiff jutting hair. You just never know when inspiration will strike.

Carla Swafford said...

Stiff jutting hair? LOL! True, Cari. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Louisa Cornell said...

I know exactly what you mean, Carla. I do read when I'm writing, especially when I get stuck and have to walk away for a minute. If I can get my entire conscious mind to concentrate on what I am reading then my unconscious mind can work on the problem in my story. And it is very much a "Squirrel!" moment. I'll be cruising along reading and suddenly something - a scene, a line of dialogue from what I was writing will jump into my mind. It usually has nothing to do with what I am reading. It was just something that needed to cook in my brain for a bit before it boiled to the top.

Unknown said...

I also read while I'm writing, mostly to make myself take a break but sometimes when I'm stuck. Not concentrating on the sticky spot helps me solve it. My friend told me he gets the best ideas when he's mowing the lawn. Maybe, I'll give it a try.

Heather said...

I read whether I'm writing or not. I can't get to sleep unless I read at night. I need my books. NEED.

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Louisa, Meda and Heather.

I've heard so many authors claim they never have a chance to read. Well, we're proving them wrong, heh?

Lexi said...

My reading life sadly went neglected while I was on my first deadline, but I am now firmly back on the reading track! At the moment, I'm rereading a favorite fantasy series from the eighties. This morning, I was driving past the Montgomery Coleseum on the way to work, and I thought, "Huh. There should be a coleseum in Hannah," and just like that, I got an idea. Inspiration can strike at the strangest times and from the strangest sources. It's all a wonderful mystery!

Elizabeth Aldred said...

Reading always brings its aha moments. Like yesterday, when I realized, hey, that's a really natural lead-in for a character to sum up what's happened so far!