How can you write a good story? A big secret: feeling it. This is the absolute secret sauce for me. The more I can feel a story the better I can write it and the more likely I am to actually finish it. This is the invisible, intangible magic of writing. These are the hours spent on Pinterest and constructing the perfect playlist. This is me watching The Bear again and listening to Gravity by The Superjesus for the twentieth time because it's all doing something I can't explain, I can only feel and it's those feelings I tap into when I write my story.
Mood is what first hits me when I begin a project, more often before there even is a project. Mood is the thing all other things are built upon and subject to when I’m writing—the feel of the story, the vibe. Yes, we need more than feels and vibes to write but, at least for me, there is no writing without them.
Mood is what I sink into, what my mind drifts away on. It allows me to dream, it allows me to inhabit my story in a felt sense. Finding the mood of a project can be as simple as asking, how do I want to feel for the next year or so while I write this? How do I want my reader to feel? Am I writing something bubbly, funny, light, or something deep and grey like a stormy sea? For me, it’s often the latter. I love me some moody af feels.
The next part is my favourite step: gathering, or bower birding as I’ve also heard it called. You want this mood and feeling to expand and grow more robust, and this is done through the gathering of everything that feels like your story. This is when I’m scouring sites like Pinterest and Tumblr for the right images, when I’m becoming hyper-alert to any books and media I’m watching to see if, for whatever reason, they add to the mood. It doesn't need to make sense, this is subconscious dream connecting, if it feels right it goes in the nest.
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When I was writing Pieces of Sky this looked like a lot of Andrew Garfield. (I told you mood was delicious.) Something clicked for me when I watched him in the film Never Let Me Go and I knew I had the foundation for my character Evan, plus even more wrapped up in there adding to my story that I can’t even describe. (The gathering of mood is more of a felt thing than a word thing.) It also sounded like the song ‘Dance Bear’ by Snakadaktal which I may have listened to approximately fifty million times because each time I did I felt myself drop a layer into my story.
Whatever connects you deeper with your story I encourage you to wrap yourself up in it and let it soak into your bones. A deeply felt story for the author offers a similar experience to the reader. What is reading other than guided dreaming after all? So it makes sense to dive deeply into our own dream world to write.
My 'Book of Your Heart' Notion template has become my favourite way to collate all these inspired connections. Rather than being a novel planning template, this is a template for dreaming! For connecting to the heart of your story. Opening it up is a similar experience to sniffing a baby's head--falling more and more in love with my story.
Get your free template here.