Out of all the months of the year, I think I hate March the most. Here in Michigan, it’s gray, dreary, wet, cold. Just generally miserable. And it seems like Spring will never get here. I think I also hate it because I always feel so unhealthy in March. I’ve holed up all winter, eaten plenty of carbs to keep the serotonin levels high and tried not to catch one of the dozens of colds that seem to circulate around my office. Which means there’s lots of vegging on the couch and watching TV or playing video games.
On the other hand, I find that over the last 4 or so years, I’ve started all of my novels in March! Odd coincidence that the month where I feel so horrible about myself is also the month I feel the most motivated to get writing. But that’s a whole other blog post 🙂 What I think happens, is that I’m a great deal kinder to my writing self than my physical self. I might not be the healthiest person out there when it comes to watching what I eat and getting enough exercise (OK, who am I kidding – I’d rather play a video game than go for a walk), but I sure do take care of my writing. I like to think I Write Healthy.
Yeah, ok Jamie, so what does that mean exactly?
You know how they say if you want to be healthy when you grocery shop, you should only shop around the edges? That’s where all the fresh food is located, the healthy food. The building block for a healthy body.
When you write, you want to create a story structure that’s healthy as well, that you can use as a framework for your words and characters. Whether you’re a pantster or a plotter, if you take the time to have some sort of outline or guide for where you want your story to go, you’ll find that the whole writing process goes more smoothly, and you feel better about where you’re going with your story. There are milestones and plot points that you need to hit to have a successful story, and knowing what those are can help you stay on track.
Fresh foods are usually healthier – they have more nutrients, are more easily digested by your body, and can be more filling. They’re just generally good for you. And while everyone is familiar with fresh foods, they never get boring – there’s always a way to spice them up and make them more interesting.
The same goes with writing. I know the writing experts say there are only a limited number of plots in the world, and that may be true, but there are an infinite number of ways you can present each plot. Each writer has their own, unique style and voice that only they can bring to a story. But first they need to make sure that they’re focused on bringing out that freshness and choosing a new way to present the familiar story. Focusing on staying fresh is what leads to those break out books like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. That new, unexpected twist on something everyone thought was a little bit stale.
No matter how healthily you eat, there are always going to be packaged foods that you just have to have, things that make your life easier and give that little oomph to your diet. Or things you just enjoy. Twinkies aren’t exactly healthy, but they won’t kill you once in a while. And like everything else, some of these packaged foods are healthier than others. But sometimes the recipe calls for chocolate and you just need to use chocolate. You can try substituting something else, but for that particular taste, nothing else will do.
The same goes in writing. Similes, metaphors, descriptions, even a bit of generalization or cliche can serve a purpose, but you have to be careful to use them judiciously and make sure they’re not overwhelming your story or turning it into an unhealthy mess. When you start using these things as a crutch is when you start running into trouble. It’s easy to start relying on these unhealthy items too heavily – and then you have to go on a diet, or some heavy revision, to cut them out.
But I think the best way for your story to stay healthy, is to write what interests you and have fun while you’re doing it. Ever notice how good you feel when you’re doing something you enjoy? Maybe that’s why I tend to start new novels in March. Anything to keep me excited about inside stuff while it’s so nasty outside!
So do you guys have any tips or tricks that you use to write healthy?