This past weekend, I had the privilege to listen to author Susan Wiggs. You can say that I’m a fan. I’ve enjoyed many of her novels in her career stretching over almost three decades. My writing group was fortunate to be able to listen to her outline her journey to publication. It was fascinating to hear about her challenges and triumphs. She’s an avid public speaker as well as a full-time author who devotes herself to her novels. Over the years, she has acquired considerable information about the publishing business. She touched on topics such as Keeping Descriptions Fresh, Writing Gurus, Marketing, Endorsements, Branding and Helpful Tools that can assist in keeping an author organized.
One of her topics was: What are the three things that trigger your creativity?
I had to ponder that question for awhile. Finally I came up with the following creativity triggers that work for me.
- People – I find people fascinating and love to hear about their lives. Everyone I meet is living a totally unique lifestyle. Even twins are different. Each person I talk to gives me a glimpse into their personality and what compels them to get up in the morning. If I’ve known them for years, then I’m able to discover even more about them. All of this information is great for a writer.
- A number of years ago, I traveled with a friend and we took part in a gorgeous spa retreat. Each of us enjoyed a great massage in separate rooms. After my massage was over, my friend said, “Jodie, what were you doing? All I could hear was mumble, mumble, mumble.” Then she narrowed her eyes. “Hmm, I know. You were interviewing her, correct?” And I had to say. “Ah yes, I was.” So much for the relaxation moment. But sometimes I just have to understand what is going on.
- Magazines/Newspapers/Books – Ah yes. Reading, reading, reading. Without reading, I can’t improve as a writer. I try to read outside of my chosen writing genre. That strategy forces me to acquire new phrasing, new ideas and new ways of looking at the composition of a novel. Top notch writers in any genre are worthy of my attention. Why is their writing so powerful? Why do they have millions of readers? I like to learn from those who have mastered their craft.
4. Movies I love dialogue in movies. Dialogue resonates with me. Fabulous films often have dynamic, meaningful dialogue. I own a number of screen writing books and they have been very useful in terms of assisting me with the flow and the narrative of my novels. In my own writing, I tend to charge ahead, writing dialogue first and then plump up the writing with setting, internal thoughts etc. Perhaps I should have been a screen writer!
As an author, whatever path you take, whether it’s the traditional publishing route or the independent publishing route or a combination of the two, we can learn from each other. All of us are in this writing stew together. The paths to publication may be different but our goals are the same. Every author wants to attract readers to their work.
Thank you Susan Wiggs for pushing my thinking. I thoroughly enjoyed your workshop.