I am deep into writing my next book (first draft done, which, for me, means I can really find my characters and story) and this is how I feel:
I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.
It’s just like Alice’s rabbit hole to Wonderland.
It’s a very, very deep well, so you have plenty of time to think
as you fall. It’s long like a tunnel and dark, so you can’t see where it ends.
But along the sides of the well, there are “cupboards
and bookshelves”—Alice’s were filled with maps and pictures and Orange Marmalade.
The cupboards and bookshelves in my rabbit hole are filled with Roman fires
and ruins, painting and paints,
and stolen kisses
from my latest book.
So, since I’m down the rabbit hole, I thought I would leave you with my top pieces of advice (some “thinky,” some more practical) for finding and falling—for a long, long, long time—down your own rabbit hole.
1. Treat writing time like play time—not work time
2. Fail at least once a day. (Hopefully much more often)
3. Make a soundtrack for your story. Don’t worry if the songs make sense. Let your gut pick the music
4. Take a walk to think
5. Write for yourself. No one else
6. Tell your loved ones about the rabbit hole, so they don’t try to rescue you
7. Change your computer wallpaper, screensaver, phone background—all digital images—to pictures that remind you of your book
8. You don’t have to start writing on page one. Start anywhere you want
9. Write a poem, song, letter, or short story as your character
10. Obsess over everything. Be proud of your obsession
11. Improvise scenes before you write them. You don’t need a friend to improvise with you. Do it alone—just you and your characters
12. Find your fear. Then forget it
13. Watch a TV show or movie as one of your characters
14. In life we must hold back and filter our thoughts and feelings. In writing, give yourself permission to be honest. Writing is freedom
15. Throw a party. Invite your characters. Hang out
16. Eat what your characters eat. Drink what they drink
17. Read a book, magazine or blog as your character
18. Tell your friends you have fallen down a rabbit hole and cannot come out for dinner, game night, drinks, pool parties…
19. Shut off social media
20. Worry more about what your characters are doing than what they are saying
21. Worry more about what your characters are doing than what YOU are doing
22. Ask every question. (Answers are optional)
23. Explore some random moment, place or character in your story that probably WON’T end up in the final draft. This is NOT a waste of time.
24. Go to the grocery store (or run any errand) as one of your characters. See the world as they see the world. Interact with the grocery store clerk as them
25. Go to work or yoga in character
26. Take all the time you need
27. F*#% structure and grab your characters by the balls. – Jack Kerouac