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The writing “zone”: Pinnacle of FUN!

Who’d have thunk it? Writing fiction is FUN! For Day 17 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, we discuss the biggest surprise in writing our books. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 17 writing prompt:

What has been the biggest surprise about writing/publishing your book? What has been the most enjoyable or most memorable aspect?

Hands down and without a doubt, the most surprising thing about writing my first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, is how much FUN it’s been. When I first sat down to begin the 3-Day Novel Contest at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, September 3, 2004, I had a vague idea of what would happen to my main character. Then, I got in the zone. Yep – that zone. The one athletes talk about all the time.

Kobe quote

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi gathered the results of 25 years of research into a book that explores “the zone,” including the ways it enhanced Michael Jordan’s performance. According to Pathos.com, “In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihalyi identifies a self-surpassing dimension of human experience that is recognized by people the world over, regardless of culture, gender, race, or nationality. Its characteristics include deep concentration, highly efficient performance, emotional buoyancy, a heightened sense of mastery, a lack of self-consciousness, and self-transcendence.”

Yep – that’s what I experienced. And it surprised me to no end. Writing had always been easy for me, but it had never been fun. This – creating characters out of whole cloth – was a blast! The gnarled old fisherman wasn’t there a moment ago, and now he is. Interacting, advising, foreshadowing. And it kept going that way, new characters coming to life before my eyes. Until I hit Asia – a continent about which I have little personal knowledge, but which Stan would have to visit if he were truly to circumnavigate the globe.

Fortunately, I got through that too.

Then, thinking I was nearly done with the first draft, I was reading Chuck Wendig’s ebook, 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, on a plane trip back to New Jersey to visit my son. Much like Steven Pressfield does in The War of Art, Wendig smacks you upside the head and tells you what you need to know to improve your craft. Point #6 of Section 2, “25 Things You Should Know About Plot,” fell on me like a collapsing brick wall: In life we avoid conflict; in fiction, we seek it.

I think I scared the lady next to me when I yelped and smacked my hand over my mouth like I’d just seen a big, fat, hairy spider. Oh, my god – my novel doesn’t have nearly enough conflict!

Back to the drawing board – the word picture drawing board – for a number of additional scenes and characters. But, also, back to the fun!

Since beginning this novel, I’ve come up with ideas for at least a half-dozen others. I totally Careful, or I'll put you in my novelunderstand how and why people want to make their living as writers in a way I could never appreciate when I was writing exclusively nonfiction. When contemplating writing a screenplay (which we actually started a few years ago!), my sister and I used to joke about the funny situations we experienced that would make good movie scenes. Now, they get filed away as perfect enhancements for my present and future novels. I can’t wait to finish Stan off (no, he doesn’t die at the end) and get started on another world with new fictional friends.

What’s been your most challenging or surprising experience with your book or manuscript? Share the details in the comments section below!

Please be check in again tomorrow, when I’’ll be revealing the song that I think best connects with my book…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

Laura

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