A Personal Writing How-To ~ by Author Emily Gallo

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There is no right way to be a writer. There is no time of day or amount of hours appropriate for everyone. There is no location or type of venue that gets the creative juices flowing for everyone. There is no rule of thumb about how to design a plot that works for everyone. 

There is no way to make an outline with any specific number of plot points that works for everyone. There is no guide to developing characters that must be followed by everyone. There are many books and articles on how to write, but what excites one person as the best book on writing, is not necessarily everyone’s favorite. 

Just as they say that everyone must find their own voice or style, everyone must also find their own comfortable approach to the writing process. And it may be after trial and error, or by accident, that it is stumbled upon. Here’s mine . . . for what it’s worth.

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I can write any time of day. But I don’t. I write in the morning because I like to write in cafes and drink Earl Grey tea while I write; drinking black tea in the afternoon doesn’t appeal to me. I am not an introvert or a lover of solitude. Writing in a café gives me just the right amount of people-time. I can visit with the other café denizens as long and as often as I want and they are always considerate about my desire to stop talking and start writing. 

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The buzz of conversation and people watching stimulate my creativity. At my favorite café the tables are just the right height and the chairs are just comfortable enough to keep any possible back issues in check. At home I tend to type on a bed or couch or at a table that isn’t the right height so if I don’t get up every twenty minutes, my piriformis muscle and my sciatic nerve will remind me of their presence. Also, writing in a café gives structure to my day. I have an “office” to go to, or a “job” I must do a couple of hours a day. It’s the motivator. If I don’t show up, the café baristas will know that I didn’t write that day. I wear a Fitbit for the same reason: it’s like someone’s watching so I need to walk my 10,000 steps. 

I started writing screenplays while sitting in the ICU watching my
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first husband, the father of my children, as he lay in a coma. I was still teaching elementary school at the time, but it was Christmas Vacation so I had my days free. My first screenplay was somewhat autobiographical. I had unfortunately spent similar time in hospitals watching both my mother and father die so I followed the old adage: “write what you know.” It was the best therapy I could have ever done. But the screenplay? Not so great. It got me on the road, however, to becoming a writer. 


I wrote two more screenplays and lo and behold, my third one was in development for production. The management company had found funding, the unit producer and director had been chosen, a studio was on board.  And then, in typical Hollywood fashion . . . nothing happened. I found out later how common this was in the entertainment industry. Even famous directors, actors and writers have movies already made and then shelved. At that point I decided to switch to novels where I would have more control. 

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Now, after five novels have been published, I am back into getting them produced as films or as a series. A few production companies have expressed interest. So now I am back into screenwriting. Another example of how hard it is to make a plan and stick to it. Better to “go with the flow.” You just never know . . .

As for how I choose my characters, plot and setting, it is another example of how I let things just play out. I listen carefully to everyone’s stories, be they people I know well or people I read about. A kernel of information gets me interested and then the research begins. I have the setting and at least a couple of the characters and an idea of plot when I start. But it is after I start writing that the story and characters develop. 

It is the same way I approach life. One of my favorite quotes came from a podcast about a man who was almost eaten by an alligator. He lived and only ended up losing one arm. When he awoke his doctor said to him, “Okay, that happened. Now you get to choose what happens next.” That has kept me positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic.

My last piece of advice is the one attributed to many experienced
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authors: WRITE! There are many appropriate quotes about just doing or persevering. My favorite is attributed sometimes to Michael Jordan and sometimes to Wayne Gretsky 

. . . “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” 



Author and screenwriter, Emily Gallo resides in California with her husband and fur babies. You can reach out to her at the links below.

AMAZON
WEBSITE
TWITTER
INSTAGRAM
FACEBOOK

7 comments:

  1. Thank you, Emily, for being our guest today. Love Gretzky's quote...it's true, you do miss 100% of the things you don't do.

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  2. Welcome, Emily! Great post. Best of success.

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    1. Hey J Jaytanie! Thank you so much! I invite you to connect with my other social media accounts and follow me on my journey :)

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  3. I couldn't agree more that there is no one path for writers to follow. If we end up with engaging stories, then the path doesn't matter.

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