Friday, November 18, 2016

Novelist John DeDakis Talks Fostering Creativity

We just have to ask—how is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) going? Are you making progress? Have you uncovered some hidden gems? Have you encountered some stumbling blocks? Have you awakened a part of your creative genius that you didn’t know existed?

NaNoWriMo has a unique effect on all of us. For some, it’s a period of unbridled inspiration when their minds gush with poetic prose. For others, it’s a season of strain and push—an agonizing, uphill climb to get just one good story out. Whatever it is that you’re experiencing during NaNoWriMo 2016, we want you to know that you’re not alone. The Writer’s Center is here to motivate you!

To prove our point, we’re sharing these encouraging words from John DeDakis, one of our talented workshop leaders. DeDakis is an acclaimed novelist and author of Fast Track, Bluff, Troubled Water, and Bullet in the Chamber. Building on his experience as a CNN journalist, DeDakis’ novels assume an entertaining journalistic motif as they follow one character, reporter Lark Chadwick, through a maze of conflicts and Fourth Estate adventures.


TWC: What inspired the story of your latest novel (and can you share a bit about the novel itself)?

JD: The idea for Bullet in the Chamber came to mind in the summer of 2011 when my son died of a heroin overdose. The bullet in a syringe image on the book cover underlines the Russian-roulette power of even one hit of heroin. His fictionalized story is a subplot for my latest Lark Chadwick mystery. In this story, it's Lark's first day as a White House Correspondent for the Associated Press. The Executive Mansion is attacked, the president is missing, the first lady's life is in danger, and Lark's personal life is falling apart when the man she loves disappears. It's a deadline-a-minute thriller about drugs, drones, and journalism.

TWC: How do you motivate yourself to keep writing?

JD: The motivation is hard-wired into me.  I must write.  I'm also an excellent procrastinator, but I've built that into my writing routine. When I'm ruminating, I'm still writing because I'm thinking about the story.  Eventually—inevitably—procrastination turns into progress at the keyboard.  Eventually.

TWC: What advice can you share with those participating in NaNoWriMo?

JD: Have fun with it.  And don't give up.

Need some ideas as your write your novel? Here’s a prompt and exercise by DeDakis to stir up the imagination and work your writer muscles:

SETTING: Midnight at an ATM
ACTION: Your protagonist is getting money out of the machine when he/she hears a noise from behind.

Now set your timer for fifteen minutes and write what happens next.

This is the 50/50 method for sparking creative ideas:  Fifty settings in which fifty things happen. It helps you get to know your characters and might even spark an entire novel.

No inspiring novelist will want to miss out on DeDakis’ next workshop, "From Novice to Novelist" at the Writer's Center in Bethesda on December 3. Click the link below to register:

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