Writing is no dying art form in America because most published writers here accept the wisdom and the necessity of encouraging the talent that follows in their footsteps.
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Creating the characters is the most creative part of the novel except for the language itself. There I am, sitting in front of my computer in right-brain mode, typing the things that come to mind - which become the seeds of plot. It's scary, though, because I always wonder: Is it going to be there this time?
I really liked the idea of creating a journal myself. It's like the way I clear my throat. I write a page every day, maybe 500 words. It could be about something I'm specifically worried about in the new novel; it could be a question I want answered; it could be something that's going on in my personal life. I just use it as an exercise.