Hi Everyone! Natalie here today. Today, I’m excited to share a tip by author Judith Roth about how getting out of our chairs can help our writing. Her newest book, SERENDIPITY AND ME, a middle grade contemporary novel, was released February 7, 2013. Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.
Engage in the Physical World
by Judith L. Roth
Maybe it’s a no-brainer for most people that in order to write you need to spend some time in the real world. But I’m guessing that many writers are like me and live in their heads most of the time. We have to be reminded to get out of our heads and experience the world with our physical selves.
Jane Yolen is well-known for her advice on how to get writing done: Butt in Chair. But I know for me I also need to get my butt out of my chair and walk around in the three-dimensional, smelly, colorful, tactile world.
Here are some examples of how I engaged in this practice recently to help me write my latest novel-in-progress:
• I was having trouble visualizing life in Indiana in the 1850’s. I read about it, but it was not coming together for me. It didn’t feel real and there were a lot of gaps in my knowledge. I went to an interactive history park to get an idea of what houses were like then, to be able to walk through them, test the floorboards with my feet, get a sense of the space in pioneer houses. I walked the roads, learned the light and shadows of a tree-lined lane, experienced the workings and smells of the inside of an old-time barn. There was the added bonus of on-site guides who answered my questions about goats and social services. Several even acted out the parts of people in that time. It was an invaluable experience.
• I went to the National Underground Railroad Museum to learn in 3-D space what that world was like. I walked into a reconstructed slave pen that held slaves before auction. I saw pieces of dishes from that era and a short movie showing an escape. I inspected a wagon built with a hiding place for fugitive slaves. There was a load of information that made research easy to grasp and made it possible for the world my characters lived in to become more real to me. Story possibilities soared.
• I was stuck on a scene. I had five people, two dogs, a wolf, two horses, a river, two houses and a bridge to contend with. I couldn’t keep straight which creatures were where as the action developed, or where they needed to be, or what else needed to happen and how that would affect the other characters. I ransacked my son’s room for figures and used dragons and Lego people and assorted blocks to help me figure out how to get the scene moving and how it could work. Just the act of physically moving these items and seeing in real space how they would interact fixed my scene. I could finally see what needed to be written.
Obvious uses of Butt out of Chair would be going to places that children go or visiting locations where your story takes place. Be there in body, not just in spirit. Soak it in. Then write about it from the fullness of the real world.
You can find Judith on the web at www.judithlroth.com.
And here’s a blurb of SERENDIPITY AND ME from Goodreads:
So when a fluffy snowball of a kitten darts through their front door and into her life, Sara believes her dream might finally come true. But convincing her father to break his strict No Cats policy seems impossible. She has less than a week to persuade him that this kitten is exactly what their lonely, broken family of two needs to heal.
Told in lyrical, spare verse, Serendipity & Me is a sparkling novel that elegantly handles the topic of loss for a middle grade audience.
Judith’s publisher, Viking, has generously offered a ARC of SERENDIPITY AND ME for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on May 3rd. I’ll announce the winner on May 5th.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This contest is open to U.S. only.
Hope to see you tomorrow for my Shower of Books Book Giveaway Blog Hop giveaway. I’ve got a great choice of new YA books to choose from.