By Alycia W. Morales, @AlyciaMorales
When we consider writing a novel, we think about things like plot, characters, story, dialogue, point of view, and so much more. Have you ever stopped and considered how these play out in your own life?
This past week, as I’ve been thinking about my own novel, I’ve considered the following ways writing compares to life.
The middle needs work.
My job requires me to sit in front of a screen all day. On my backside. Which can make for a really soggy middle. My metabolism doesn’t keep up like it used to. Especially since I love chocolate the way most writers talk about loving chocolate. Working my midsection is of utmost importance if I don’t want to huff and puff up the stairs and hills at Ridgecrest this May.
- My midsection workout: Sit ups, planks, core-strengthening exercises.
- Working out the midsection of a book? Try writing your novel from the middle.
Everyone has an arc.
Just as our characters go through an arc throughout our manuscript, every one of us has an arc. Or five. Or fifty. Maybe even 500. Life is full of lessons that cause us to grow, if we let them. I don’t know what arcs you’ve experienced or may be going through even now. And that’s one thing I consider every time I interact with someone else. I have no idea why they may be responding to me in whatever way they are. Or what put them in that mood to begin with. So, I take that into consideration when someone is snippy or shies away or acts as if they don’t want to be bothered.
- The next time someone comes off as rude or irritable or judgmental, consider that you probably don’t know what they’ve been through – in life or recently. If you’re brave enough, ask them if everything’s okay. Offer to pray.
- Having trouble with your character’s arc? What’s something from their past that can affect their present? Why would they respond a particular way? What lesson could they learn from that and grow from? Write that scene.
Keep it active.
Life can get as boring as reading a book written with inactive verbs and storylines. The everyday, routine stuff. When I was younger, my mom always told me that boredom wasn’t a word in our vocabulary. I tell my kids the same thing. Sure, the everyday, routine stuff in life can get boring. But it doesn’t have to be.
- Boredom Busters: What do you enjoy doing? Can you apply it to the mundane tasks in life? For example, I have to keep a calendar and a budget. With four kids, a husband, and a career that have me running in too many directions at the same time, I’d lose my own head if it wasn’t attached. (I know, so cliché.) So, I’ve taken a hobby and applied it to scheduling. It’s called Happy Planning and involves a lot of stickers and washi tape. Now, scheduling in my calendar is a joy.
- Inactive Writing Busters: We must provide our readers something to look forward to. Something that makes them want to turn the page. What is the worst thing or best thing that could happen to your character in a particularly mundane, everyday scene? We talk about revealing normal life and then interrupting it at the beginning of a story. Just as you would at the start of the book, drop your reader directly into the action in this new scene.
There are so many comparisons we can make between writing and life. What’s something you’ve learned about life from writing?
Alycia W. Morales is an award-winning freelance editor and author. Her clients have won the Selah Award, BRMCWC Director’s Choice Award, and many others. Her writing has been published in Thriving Family magazine, Splickety Love, and several compilation books. She is a member of ACFW, the president of Cross n’ Pens critique group, and a BRMCWC Conference Assistant.
Alycia blogs at The Write Editing and Life. Inspired.
When she isn’t busy writing, editing, and reading, Alycia enjoys spending time with her husband and four children taking hikes in Upstate SC and NC, creating various crafts, coloring in adult coloring books, and watching TV.