Brandon Sanderson at Supernova Sydney 2017

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OMG, OMG, OMG – I met Brandon Sanderson last weekend. I’m not usually one to fan-girl an author (who am I kidding – yes, I am), but meeting someone who’s written so many amazing books in my favourite genre, including being a part of one of my FAVOURITE SERIES EVER (The Wheel Of Time) – well, it was awesome.

I took two books for Brandon to sign – The Final Empire and A Memory of Light.

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Two personally signed books! Awesome!

He signed them both, smiled for a photo, and at the end asked me if I had any questions for him. I had about a million, but of course my brain ceased to function at that precise moment – so I thanked him for finishing The Wheel of Time, telling him it was a series my friend and I have been reading since we were thirteen-year-olds in high school. I speculated if Robert Jordan would ever have finished the series even if he had lived the lifespan of a functionally immortal dragon – which sounded very callous in hindsight – and please don’t get me wrong, I love Robert Jordan’s world and his writing. Even if I was frustrated at times by the meandering plot and sometimes slow pace, I never wanted the series to end. But I am ever so thankful that there was someone like Brandon Sanderson to step in and finish this series. Brandon was very gracious and told me to say ‘hi’ to my friend.

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Brandon Sanderson and me (cosplaying Wonder Woman)

I also had the pleasure of seeing Brandon Sanderson speak in a solo panel. He shared some amazing words of wisdom, and I just wanted to share a couple of take-aways (please note I didn’t take any notes while listening, so I am going from memory):

On completing The Wheel Of Time

I initially felt a bit sheepish taking a copy of A Memory of Light for Brandon to sign. I mean, he has so many other amazing series and is such a prolific writer, surely I could have found a couple of books that were solely ‘his’. But after hearing him speak, I didn’t feel any discomfort asking him to sign a book about a world that he didn’t create. He revealed that when Robert Jordan passed, he left only about 200 pages of work (mostly the material that became the prologues). Jordan was not a planner, and so Brandon Sanderson was left to develop the story line with plenty of autonomy. It might have been Jordan’s world, but it was Sanderson’s imagination that brought The Wheel of Time to its stunning conclusion.

On routine and family

Brandon has the following routine: sleep until midday, write for four hours in the afternoon, then spend the late afternoon / evening with his family. He gets back onto the computer at about 11pm and works through until 3am, giving himself an hour or so to goof off before bed around 4am. He spoke of the importance of being mentally present when you’re with your family – and I think this was such valuable advice – as writers we often suffer from constant guilt – guilt that we’re neglecting our family when we’re writing, and guilt that we’re not writing when we’re with our family. The importance of being in the moment when we’re enjoying ‘family time’ and not off in our writing world was something I’m taking with me, and echoes lots of stuff I’ve read recently about mindfulness and enjoying the moment.

On why he thinks fantasy is a great genre

Because it can include the best elements of any other genre – mystery, romance, action, literary fiction – plus dragons!

 

It was absolutely amazing to hear Brandon Sanderson speak, and I’m so glad I made it to his panel. He seemed so down-to-earth, so kind and humble, and just the right amount of book-geek to be totally, super-cool.

Thanks for coming to Sydney, Brandon Sanderson. I hope you stop by again soon!

Until next time xxxx

Why You Ought to be Writing in the Morning (Part 2)

This post follows on from my last post on why I ended up writing in the mornings (even though I’m a night person). You can read that post here.

Starting a routine that includes writing in the morning is not easy. As I said in my previous post, I’m not a morning person. I’ll repeat:

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If you’ve read my previous post, you’d know that for me, the writing was on the wall (pun intended!). I had to find some writing time, and mornings was the only option I had left. I know I’m in the same boat as all of you other lovely writers out there; we all play the ‘find some writing time’ game – trying to shoe-horn writing time around a hundred other things: work, children, our partners, cleaning and all the other myriad of jobs and tasks that make up life in general. The amazing Kate Forsyth wrote in the park while her children played. J K Rowling wrote in a café while her child slept. Other people write on train commutes, or during lunch breaks. Like everything else in life, we decide how important writing is to us and make time (or not) accordingly. When there’s no boss looking over your shoulder, no KPIs to meet, or bills to pay (of course there’s always bills to pay, but for must of us writers, it isn’t our writing that’s paying them), it’s easy to let writing drop down on the priority list.

Every writer decides what they’re willing to sacrifice to get words on the page. So, for me, after realising that the only time I had to write was mornings, I set my alarm clock for 5am (which gave me a solid 2 hours before I needed to get the kids up for school at 7am) and got up to write. Two hours of sleep was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

I’m not going to lie to you. Getting up in the morning sucks. It’s cold, it’s dark, the bed is warm and your brain is fuzzy. You trip over the dog. You scald yourself pouring coffee into your cup. And when you get to your computer, you’ve no ideas other than how nice it would be to go back to bed about now. Once, again, it’s a bit like this (but far less cute):

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But you’re up, and you’re at your computer, so you write. Everything you write is pretty much drivel. But you figure your first drafts are usually drivel anyway. You push on, keep going and before you know it, an alarm goes off, or a child gets out of bed, or the dog starts barking to go out, or the sun will rise and you’ll have to stop what you’re doing (sometimes mid-sentence, but even that isn’t as bad as I imagined it would be) and say to yourself ‘that’s it for today’.

And, if you’re like me, you’ll find that after 2 hours of solid writing (minus breaks for coffee and the bathroom and a piece of toast and some internet research), you’ll have written between 1000 and 2000 words (maybe a little bit more on a good morning). And best of all, you don’t have to think about writing for the rest of the day, because your word count is already done! How awesome is that?!

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Instead, you can use your time to enjoy what you’re doing with your day and let your story simmer at the back of your mind, knowing you’re going to revisit it again tomorrow. Your energy goes into thinking about your story, rather than worrying about whether you’ll have the time or energy to physically sit down at your keyboard (which can be enervating in itself.)

If you need further encouragement to switch to mornings, why not check out this article here, which explains why science thinks we ought to be morning writers (and don’t despair if mornings aren’t really your thing, if you read the whole article it has plenty to say about the value of routine building regardless of the time).

So you’re sold on morning writing now, right? But still not sure how you’re going to get out of bed? My next post includes my top 6 tips for early rising writers and how to make the switch to morning writing.