The Windmills of My Mind

The past three weeks have whirled by and time has simply spun on without me; hence my temporary absence from the blogging world.

Mid-January, I returned to the realms of teaching and albeit a temporary position, I have been dragged away from my story writing and hurtled into the world of literary analysis – a world that I never thought I would have to revisit again. But life tends to spiral us in repetitive circles every now and then and all we can do is embrace it and learn new things. Now I have a week’s break, I returned to a place that helps to free my mind, release the stress and regain some life balance: the Windmill.

I have always found that over analysing anything in life spoils the enjoyment of a task and prevents spontaneity. I like my mind to be free of all constraints and relish the moment before me: I have learnt that too much thinking inhibits creativity. The first time I visited this windmill, which is only a 15 minute walk from where I live, a song of my childhood sang loudly in my head - yes, you guessed it, “The Windmills of Your Mind”. The song is quite fitting for words do “jangle in my head” and time does whirl by without caution or pause for reflection.

Analysing texts does require discipline and high level thinking skills. So, in order to gain something from my career detour (the scenic route of course), I am currently planning my second novel with literary technique and analytical skills at the forefront of my mind. It is giving me a different experience as my first novel was written in a kind of hot air balloon, go where the wind takes me approach. My current writing journey is more like the bullet train on the Shinkansen – carefully constructed and highly organised. Only time will tell if the rigidity of this method will work for me or not. I’ll keep you posted.

I would be interested to hear what method you use in the planning stages of a story or if you visit a special place to ‘free your mind’.  

Comments

  1. I create my character first...which is connected to an emotion...connected to an obstacle...then a half dozen plot points are created (like majic)...and I dream up an inciting event...and boom, start writing.

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  2. Looking at your explosive development, Mac, up until now my journeys have worked in the opposite direction; the event first. Thank you for commenting. Lovely 'to see' you. Hope the pups are all well.

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  3. Lovely post, Nicola - it will be interesting to hear how your analytical approach works. I enjoy some more academic writing in articles now and then but in fiction, it's usually always the characters that come first for me. I may have a vague idea in my mind as to what the story will entail but I tend to let the characters interact and lead me on through it. A lot of the work seems to go on in my subconscious too. One of these days, I'm going to try planning in advance!

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    1. Thank you, Rosemary. The analytical approach is actually getting me going, focussing my extremely exhausted mind and stopping me from procrastinating (which I am brilliant at :) but have no time for). Knowing me, its time will be short-lived and I will soon be back swinging in the basket of my balloon and seeing where my characters and I end up :)

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  4. Meant to say - I've always loved that song, as sung by Noel Harrison!

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  5. A lovely post, Nicola, and I love the windmill.

    For me, it is always the character that comes first. Everything I write is fully character-driven. After that comes the theme and then everything knits together - hopefully - from those beginnings. When I need to sit back and think about where things are heading, I return to the essence of the story, which is what the character wants and which conflicts are going to stop him from finding it.

    i love the image of your bullet train! xxx

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  6. That was one thing about English Lit that bugged me...analyze every little sentence. I liked to draw my own conclusions and just enjoy what I was reading without over-thinking everything.

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  7. Thank you, Joanna. It's always a pleasure to 'see' you and to read your comments. I actually saw that train in action a few years ago and I said, "Yes, just like me - determination and grit that doesn't stop until it's reached the desired destination". My husband gave me the knowing look before dragging me off for Sushi. Wishing you all the best!

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  8. Those who know me from my blog know my answer to the planning question! A lot of stories have been inspired by places I have visited though.

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    1. Thanks for popping by, Wendy. Glad you had a fab time in Hamburg.

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  9. When I started my first novel I had no idea where it would go - and for several years it went nowhere at all. I now like to plot at least a rough outline before I add much detail. Even then things can go horribly wrong!

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    1. I'll let you know when my experiment goes horribly wrong, Patsy :) But as Einstein once said, when an experiment goes wrong, it's one step forward. Wishing you all the best and thank you for popping by :)

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  10. After much (painful) trial and error I now work from an outline. It's general enough to give me flexibility, and for my characters to surprise me, but specific enough so I know where I'm going and avoid mid-book panic.

    Hope you're enjoying your break. I know all about weeks whirling by!

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  11. How lovely to have you back on your blog, Nicola.

    I am at heart a pantster, but I know the value the planning and I do plan as much as I can in small bursts as I go along. How I envy people who are natural planners! Having said that, I do agree with Jen's comment about the need to leave wiggle room so your characters can surprise you.

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    1. Thank you, Susanna!! I agree totally about wiggle room. It's important to allow breathing space, not only for the characters but also for development of the plot and sub-plots. It's great 'to see' you and thank you for popping over to comment. All the best.

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  12. It can take awhile to find out how you write best, and that can change per book. I'm a planner. I dwell on an idea for months/years before I'll make an outline and begin writing.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Cherie. Lovely 'to see' you again. All the best!

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  13. I've found in life those "detours" actually help strengthen our writing. You'll come out of it a much better writer. As for story development--ideas usually percolate in my mind a while before I actually float them by my agent. And then she'll shoot down some of them as not salable in the current market (usually because they've been done to death in one form or another!).

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    1. I must admit, I am beginning to enjoy my 'detour', Stephanie and it is providing a lot of thought provoking moments that could develop into stories at a later point. I long for the day I am able to to mull things over with 'my agent'. Wishing you all the best and thank you for popping by to comment. It's always lovely 'to see' you here.

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