How I write . . .
Before I write, I always take some quiet time to pray. I ask God and Jesus to let my writing bring goodness into children’s lives. I want my books to bring love and warmth, laughter and understanding.
Thinking of a story takes me a long time. It did when I was a kid, too. I would stare out the window and think and think and think. Sometimes the teacher thought I was goofing off, but the truth is, I was working very hard. I still work that same way.
I start with a character that I love- a fast-moving squirrel, a girl leaving on the Oregon Trail, a boy and his Grandpap. Then I think about the problem they might have and how they will solve it. I stare out the window a lot now, too.
Before I can write a story, I have to “think it out,” so I keep a notebook. I fill the pages with ideas, themes, character sketches, and glimmers of dialogue. I ask myself questions, and I answer them in the notebook. It reads as if I’m talking to myself, which in essence, I guess I am.
Days, months, and even years later, I’ve found these notebooks invaluable because I can see the paths my mind has wandered down. Without my notebooks, I would waste valuable time re-thinking thoughts that for some reason or other didn’t work. Much to my great astonishment and joy, I’ve also found fantastic ideas that I’ve totally forgotten. Even though in real life, I’m a pitcher and can’t stand any clutter, I’ll never throw away a writing notebook. They hold treasures, untold!
Some authors let stories develop, spur of the moment. They load their characters into a car, turn on the ignition and see where the road takes them. Not me. I’m a map and GPS kind of gal. I want to know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there before I start the car. So, I map out what I think will happen in my story. I’m not saying that I won’t take an attractive detour or even change my mind about my destination. But to start, I at least like to pretend I know where I’m going with a story. When the story starts playing like a movie in my head, I know it’s time to write.
Then it’s time to settle down and write it with words. My favorite spot to write is the green chair by the fireplace. I always have a big blanket because I am usually cold and my laptop because I have terrible handwriting. Then I write and write and write. Sometimes I write a story 20 times. When it’s pretty good, I show it to my friends in my writing groups. They always help me to make it better. Then I write and write and write some more. After I’ve done my very best, I send my story out.
People often ask me how to become a writer. I tell them they have to do two things- read and write.
Writing is hard, imperfect work. Sometimes I love what I write. Sometimes I can write all day and only have one good paragraph. I fail more times than I succeed, but that is okay. I know that if I keep at it, I will eventually have a great story.
Writers need to be great readers. I read all the time. (I hardly ever watch t.v.) One of my favorite things to do is to go to the library and pick out a giant stack of picture books and a couple of children’s novels. Then I cuddle up in that same green chair by the fireplace and read, read, read. Add a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and you have a perfect day!