To me, being an author at my present age of 89 is a life saver. It enervates me and makes life interesting. Looking around me at people my age, many seem to be just existing. Often we are too old to play golf, swim, travel, or go fishing. There’s very little to look forward to.
Every morning I wake up having much to look forward to. I’m working on my fourth novel, re-writing my “how to” book, writing blogs, working on my newsletter, e-mailing to my friends and readers, and more. All because at age 82 I decided to try writing as my second career.
I’m not saying everyone should become an author, other things work for other people. Yesterday I complimented a woman on an attractive and different jacket she was wearing. She turned out to be ninety seven years old and had made the jacket herself. She designed and built the very unique jacket entirely by herself. What a hoot!
The point is that everyone- everyone should wake up with something to look forward to. Cooking, knitting, hiking, gardening, whittling, whatever. For me it’s become writing.
Writing can be very fulfilling all by itself. Even if never published. Many have spent years researching family history or writing personal memoirs. My book, “A Practical Guide to Writing & Publishing a Novel,” might give you some ideas in that direction (Amazon). Or take a look at my Channel 5 TV interview.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS AN AUTHOR.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working on your first or tenth book, you ARE an author. Referring to yourself as an author can open important doors for you, particularly in research. Don’t be afraid to say, “My name John Doe. I’m writing a book about people that have names that are hard to remember. I need a little information that I think you can help me with.” It’s amazing! People will go out of their way to help authors!
EXAMPLE: I wrote my first novel at age 82. I based lots of it on personal experiences and memory. However there was a section involving a homicide and the city morgue, neither of which I’ve had any personal experience with, I called the San Francisco Morgue, reached an attendant, described myself as an author with a problem and spent a delightful half hour getting more information than I actually needed.
EXAMPLE: I wanted to place a banquet scene at a world famous Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. Even though I had eaten there I had never seen their banquet room. I made a luncheon reservation for my wife and myself and asked for a mini-tour of the premises as an author seeking authenticity. Upon arrival we were greeted by the owner who sat with us at lunch, conducted the tour himself and also told us the history of the restaurant. Perfect! (We also were treated to a free lunch, also perfect)
EXAMPLE: Even tho I’ve had much personal experience in Yosemite, I needed information about the Park Rangers I didn’t have. I called the Yosemite Park Administration Office and identified myself as an author needing information. They asked me to leave my number and someone would return my call. Two weeks later I received a call with the caller identified as U.S. GOVERNMENT. To my surprise it was the Yosemite Park Superintendent himself on the phone. He was more than happy to answer all my questions.
POINT: In order to give your novel authenticity and also give yourself confidence in your text you need to be as knowledgeable as possible about places and people. The best source of knowledge is personal experience, next to that is someone else’s personal experience, borrowed. Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t skimp on research. AND, don’t be afraid to take your hero or heroine someplace you’ve never been. BUT do take the time and make the effort to authenticate the location through interviews, maps, guides, travel bureaus, phone calls, whatever. Then identify yourself as an author seeking knowledge. You will be surprised at the reception you get.
ACCORDING TO WEBSTER: Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work.
A common cause of writer’s block is a simple loss of critical memory at a critical time. You can’t remember an idea or perhaps a crucial person’s name, or the name of a certain town, or an important phone number. You bog down. You spend precious time agonizing over just the right word or idea. You lose your train of thought. Time goes by. You’re stuck. What to do?
One effective solution is to ignore the problem. Simply and completely put it out of your mind. How? Red X’s!! You type a half dozen XXXXXX and plow on. You know the missing name, place, idea or whatever will come to you eventually. When it does, go to find, type in the red xxxxx’s, make the change and proceed.
It’s impossible to run out of plots. Each newspaper, every day has enough ideas in it for several novels. What works for me? Get away from your computer. Read newspapers, look for ideas. Never forget, every single word, sentence, paragraph or idea in your novel comes from your memory or research. You and your story are a product of your accumulated memories of incidents either seen, read or heard about.
THERE IS NO REASON YOU CAN’T ADD TO THOSE MEMORIES TODAY OR TOMORROW TO ADVANCE YOUR STORY BY ACTIVELY SEARCHING FOR NEW INCIDENTS. IT’S CALLED RESEARCH.
Whatever you do, don’t lose your train of thought over a word or anything else.
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A NOVEL BUT ARE STARING AT A BLANK PAGE?
So you want to write a novel. You just can’t get started? Chapter 1 eludes you? You have a great idea but can’t seem to get it down on paper? You don’t know how to begin? No problem! I have a 4 step solution for you. It’s easy, it works, and YOU can do it.
1) DO NOT WRITE YOUR NOVEL!! Tell a story!
Instead, tell your story to a friend. Haven’t got a friend? Sure you do. Your computer or typewriter is your best friend. It listens and records your one sided conversation like no friend or wife or husband ever did. It doesn’t argue, disagree, (unless you’re using spellcheck) or even comment. Simply sit down in front of your computer, (maybe give it name?) and start talking on the keyboard. . Or imagine the kind of person you know will love your story sitting across the desk or table from you, waiting to hear the tale. “G’morning Fred. Can I tell you a story? Seem’s like this guy Samson had a full head of hair and…..” Or, “Once upon a time. Or, “It was a dark and stormy night.” The point? It does not matter what you say, just say something!! Open the door.
2) NEVER, NEVER, type the words Chapter One on your first page. Let me ask you something. You’re at a friend’s house and are asked to tell them about the exciting trip you just got back from. Do you start by saying “Chapter one”? Course not, it’d be stifling. Remember, you are not writing a novel. You are telling a story to a friend. You ramble, you repeat, you mispronounce or misspell, you hesitate, doesn’t matter. Chances are what you begin with won’t end up being the first chapter anyway. Like I continuously say in my booklet, JUST WRITE THE DAMN THING! You can add the chapter breaks later.
3) FORGET PUNCTUATION, GRAMMAR, SPELLING, COMMAS, HYPHEN, PARAGRAPHS AND JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE. A good story will survive mistakes in writing, eventually. You cannot get mistakes corrected by your editor unless you make the mistakes in the first place. Remember, your genius lies in your story telling, not in your punctuation. You can edit later.
4) READ MY BOOKLET. In the 3 years it took me to write my first novel I probably made every mistake possible. Hour upon hours of research in subject matter and particularly in overcoming the horrors of publishing. Now, 4 years and 2 additional novels richer, it’s much easier. Everything I learned is in my booklet. Ideas, shortcuts, money saving strategies, E-mail addresses, telephone #’s, mailing addresses, websites, every contact you might need to get your novel successfully published at the least possible cost. Click HERE to see the booklet on Amazon.com: A Practical Guide to Writing & Publishing a Novel
Richard L. Wren
IN HIS NEW CAREER AS AN AUTHOR, RICHARD DESCRIBES HIMSELF AS TALL, DARK, HANDSOME AND A LIAR. A FOURTH GENERATION CALIFORNIAN, A SAILOR, FATHER OF FOUR BEAUTIFUL AND SUPPORTIVE DAUGHTERS, AND HUSBAND TO ONE OF THE BEST WIVES OF ALL TIME. [MORE]