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Goals and Goal-setting?

by Robyn Opie Parnell

If you're a writer, I'm sure you've heard the advice to write about what you know. Makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, how do you write about things you don't know?

I've been fascinated by various subjects for many years. In the last six months, my favorite interests and a new discovery came together to form my latest manuscript - a 42,000 word novel for young people aged 10 to 14. I don't claim to know everything about these subjects but I'm reading, experiencing and learning.

Therefore I'd like to add my own modification to the above advice.

Write about your passions!

When I wrote my latest manuscript, I didn't draw on great personal experience or first hand knowledge. I had to spend a month reading and researching the gaps in my knowledge - and there were plenty - before I started writing. I wanted to learn as much as possible, so I could write about what I know. The more I learned, the more passionate I became about these subjects. I'm still devouring these subjects through books, television and the internet.

Passion inspired me. I found things I didn't know and turned them into things I know, and I became passionate about them. What I lack in personal experience and first hand knowledge, I make up for with passion to learn and explore.

You can write about what you know but if you're not passionate about it, who cares?

To me, passion is the extra ingredient. Passion can help you turn what you don't know into what you know and then into a manuscript.

Another thing writers often hear is: "Where do you get your ideas?"

The question isn't always easy to answer because sometimes ideas seem to pop into our heads out of the blue, as if from nowhere. In my opinion "nowhere" is actually the subconscious mind.

Our conscious and subconscious minds absorb everything around us. Our experiences and memories become part of the subconscious mind. When an idea seems to pop into our heads, it's the subconscious mind that gives us the idea from our stored experiences and memories. The experiences and memories may be new or they could be old.

Apparently we don't forget anything. Everything is stored in our subconscious mind. The problem is our ability to recall information.

Can you remember a time when you simply couldn't think of an answer to a question? Perhaps you had trouble recalling the name of a movie. It was on the tip of your tongue. Later, the answer popped into your head. The problem wasn't the loss of memory but rather a problem with accessing the information.

My latest manuscript was a different experience for me. No popping into my head, though I'm sure my subconscious mind was still involved. The plot came slowly and, when it finally did, I realized my life's experiences and interests came together in this one story.

Okay, perhaps not every one of my experiences. But my main interests, my passions, were evident in the story. My subconscious delved back into my childhood to remind me of an earlier interest.

When I was a child, I loved reading the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Famous Five series, as well as other mysteries. I remember reading a Hardy Boy's novel called "The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior". This novel got me interested in the Aztecs and, through further reading, I became interested in the Inca and the Maya. At the time, I was particularly intrigued by the ancient Maya of what is known as the Classic Period. For some reason, I felt a connection to the Maya.

Time went on and my life changed. I grew up, left school, got a job and married. I forgot about the Maya.

Or did I?

Fast forward approximately 25 years.

The ancient Maya are a passion of mine. Once again, I feel a connection to this amazing early civilization. I read everything I can about them. They fascinate me and I believe we can learn a lot from them.

However, the ancient Maya didn't inspire my latest manuscript. My initial idea had nothing to do with this classic civilization. In fact, when I first started thinking about what I wanted to write, I'd still forgotten my interest in the Maya. I had no idea my passion would resurface after approximately 25 years.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, my passions came together to create my latest manuscript. The ancient Maya are one facet - one passion. Who knew I'd include them in a plot?

Not me!

My other passions, which are also part of my latest manuscript, are newer interests. Mainly because times are changing. We've become more accepting, open-minded perhaps, and science continues to advance.

My final plot involved at least three of my passions, and they are my main interests. I've immersed myself in these subjects, learning everything I can about them. Hence, my advice to write about your passions. I know about the Maya, for example, because of my passion for these people and their history. Without the passion, I'd have no knowledge. Therefore I write about what I know - my passions.

Happy writing!

Robyn Opie Parnell

Copyright Robyn Opie Parnell. All Rights Reserved.

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