Tuesday, June 28, 2016 | By: Lisa LaMendola

How to Release the Book That's Hiding Inside of You

There are so many people with a story to tell.  They keep it hidden in their head so they can mull it over year after year after year.  They tell you how THEY couldn't have written than, or how THEY have a book to write and yet they never do.  The problem is they are not ready for the journey to take thoughts to paper.

I have always loved writing.  My first published story was in Mademoiselle Magazine in the lat 70's.  My English Lit teacher suggested I submit it when I received an A+ on a short story assignment that reflected 1/3 of my overall grade that semester.  She even gave me a copy of the magazine page telling me how to enter.  I thought about it for two weeks before retying the pages that had the teachers notes on it.  Back then we typed on old fashioned typewriters.  My typing teacher let me use my favorite typewriter in her class during my study period.  She even helped me by addressing the envelope and mailing it for me.  

I forgot about it after that, but four months later I got a letter in the mail.  My Mom thought it was odd since I never got any mail, except letters from a dear friend who lived far away.  When I got home from school that day she handed me the envelope. My eyes lit up.  It had a letter and a check for $50 as the Third Place Winner. The letter said that I could expect my story, as well as those of the First and Second Place winners to be in the September issue. 

I told my mom about the submission with my teachers help, and gave her the check and the letter.  She was happy for me.  I was happy for me.  It was someone, besides a teacher or my parents, telling me that I talent at writing.  I've never forgotten that moment. And I have never stopped writing.

I have always written in a journal, so my thoughts can get out of my head.  You see if you don't let go of those repetitive thoughts they just take up space where new thoughts are formed.  When you never have new thoughts you get stuck in the past, second guessing your thoughts, and that's how thoughts can become negative. The same holds true for stories.

If you have a story to write, write it! it doesn't matter if someone reads it or not. I have several half started books almost done books, and barely started books.  I also have several outlines for books I haven't started yet.  I will get back to them, when the time is right.  I just finished a book I started three years ago that will be published on Kindle later this week.  So you see eventually it gets somewhere, even if it's in the trash bin years later because you never go back to it.  Perhaps something better came from releasing those thoughts to paper?  Or perhaps the story was too personal?

The latter is true of so many people holding books in their head.  They are afraid to put it on paper.  Afraid that it will be come real if they do.  The problem is, it's usually about the past and so its gone.  Just a memory. And there in lies the problem. You think you have to relive it when you write it.  That may be true for some, but not for all.

You would be surprised how many people write their past and have no attachment to it,  It's like they are looking at it from a whole new perspective; and that would be because they are. You are no longer the person who experienced it, instead you are the person who survived and healed and moved forward from it. You have a new view on the old you as you write the words that have been held captive in your thoughts, so by releasing them to paper you you allow yourself to move forward, past the hurt you thought you still had.  The hurt is gone, only the memory of the hurt remains.

Then again, you might have a novel inside of you.  A thriller that you know would be great, but you don't have time to write.  This is where an outline comes in handy.  Write down the plot, the characters, and the ending; then set it aside.  Once that is out of your thoughts, you can actually start to write.  The problem with most people who want to write is they think they have to go from chapter A to chapter B to chapter C when they write, and that is not true.  Yes, some people do write in linear fashion, but most do not.  Most writers write what comes to them, an experience the character is having (or a memory they are having for memoir/non fiction book).  They write what they have and label it as such. 

For example instead of chapter 1 call it Adele's Story, or Mack's Experience, something to remind them of what the section or chapter is about.  Then one day when they have ten sections they start to see how it will flow together, allowing them to understand what is missing and how to write those mission areas. I hear, from other authors, that this is a much easier way to writer.  Unfortunately I wouldn't know. I have done this in the past, but since my brain injury things come in linear fashion I write copy or novels, or even blog posts.  My Neurologist says that is from my brain trying to shut down the damaged side of the brain and rely more on the healthy side. It is also part of the reason why I feel like my eyes are bulging out of my head after writing or proofing for a few hours (the other part is that i have nerve damage behind one eye).  I have to set a timer so I force my brain to relax and my eyes to rest, lest I force a seizure upon myself.  This break time is advantageous as it forces me to use meditation more often, clearing my mind of too many thoughts so that when I return to my work I have a clear head.

So if your still harboring that book inside of you, here are three simple things to help you get the book ideas out of your head so you can see if you actually have something worth writing.

1. Outlines.  Outlines are nothing more than notes on a paper.  Its about the plot, or idea for the book,  The characters that are coming to mind, their names and what they give to the story. The ending of the story, because you are obviously going somewhere with this, right?  Outlines allow you to get things out of your head and move on to whatever is more important in that moment, but allowing you to wander back to it days, months or even years later to refresh your memory.

2. Journaling.  Get a journal or notebook that is exclusively for your book ideas.  Leave few lines/spaces at the top, this is where you will later write the title of the chapter/section. Just let your ideas hit the paper. There can be lines of thought, bullet points, anything that comes to mind.  There needs to be NO ORDER in which it leaves your mind and lands on the page.  Many writers use this when they are in the middle of finishing one book, but ideas for the next book are coming.  Once the time is right you can go back and read all the notes, allowing you to form more details for the book you have in mind.  This process is one step further than an outline and most useful when you are already formulating the entire book in your head.

3. Meditating. What?? How can meditating help?! By allowing you to get clear on the who, what and why.  Taking a few moments to close your eyes and breath (clearing your thoughts) you can then ask your subconscious self WHY you want to write this (be honest!), WHO you are writing this for, and WHAT are those who read it going to gain from it? Being honest with yourself can only be done if you let go of any agenda you might have.  If you find that you are writing for the wrong reasons, then get yourself a journal or notebook and start writing things down at the end of the day. Write anything that comes to mind, about your life, your needs, your wants, your work, your book ideas, write all of it. Think of it as your own personal therapist or book consultant who's going to help you see things more clearly and move through any form of writer's block you might be having.

I find it amusing that so many people think writing is so hard, when in fact it is the easiest thing to do!  You just have to get your own personal mental agenda out of the way and let the words flow. Also, make sure you are writing in a way that works for you.  

First, do you prefer to write long hand? If so do that, if not do it on a computer keyboard.  If you are more of a verbal person get a voice command program.  Several authors I know use on their computer and talk into a microphone while the program transcribes into a computer document.  I personally cannot use this type of program due to my brain injury, so I write in a journal every night and type all my writing work via computer keyboard. In many instances I just close my eyes and type what comes, going back to read and spell check when a break in thought comes.

Another thing to consider is where you are when you are writing.  Writing, even for an accomplished author, is a personal thing.  A story coming from somewhere inside. And so it makes sense to want to write in privacy.  Also the fact that writers don't like to be disturbed when they are working.  Interrupting our train of thought can cause us to be very unhappy with the intruder! As for me, I already have a broken connection between parts of brain and my ability to do things so if you interrupt me I will completely forget my train of thought and possibly never get it back. 

So find the place where you feel the most comfortable, get in a place where you won't be in pain after a few hours of writing, and make that your sacred writing space. Don't decided on the place and then decide if it works for you, instead think about what you need and determine where that is. It helps if you can have more than one place to write.  I write different things, so if I'm working on my novel or on a copywriting project I tend to be in the den on the couch (great light and quiet with a nice view).  If I'm doing copy-proofing or working on a blog, weather permitting, I like to sit in the shade on the porch (nice view and fresh air, but not the place to be to write for long periods of time).

One last thing, be sure to take BREAKS!  I know many writers who get so caught up in what they are writing that they don't take breaks. Then when they do go back and read the last part of their work, they find they went of on a tangent or took the story in a different direction.  This is because you need to disconnect and recharge your batteries to get clear thoughts.  Taking a break takes much less time than rewriting something.  So time yourself so you can take a break; take a walk, have a snack, watch the rain come down, get a fresh cup of coffee or tea, and allow yourself to have a good life in between being a great writer.


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