Posted in Writing

The Words We Fight With

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today as I was climbing the steps up to my apartment, I happened to notice two yellow jackets fighting on one of the steps. I mean they were going full force. I stood there and watched them for a minute. Eventually, they parted about a centimeter, but their legs were still going at it. No, I didn’t stomp on them. They weren’t bothering me; just each other.

Isn’t it like that when we write sometimes? We fight like mad trying to find the right words to use in our writing projects. Just when we think we’ve found the right words, we back up, re-read it with our mind still fighting with the idea, ‘Did I get it right this time? Did I not? How do I know?’ Yes, we all have writing days like that. The answer is to tough it out. Leave your work and go back to it a day or two later. If you still don’t like it, continue fighting to get it the way you want it. Or, you can ask advice from someone else.

Stick with it. Don’t let that fight get you down. You can do it.

Posted in Writing

WarmUp

Do you warm up your writing engine before you start working on your writing project? I guess I would have to say, for me, it’s split 50/50. Sometimes I will warm up and sometimes I won’t. It all depends on whether or not the creative juices are flowing when I sit down to write. If I know what I’m going to write next in my work in progress (WIP), I don’t do a warm up. If I’m stuck, I do a warm up. That will get the ideas flowing again.

Types of Warmup Exercises

  • Writing prompts
  • Journal writing
  • Writing a blog article
  • Write a poem
  • Look at a painting/picture:
    • Describe the setting
    • Describe what’s is going on (Remember, a picture is worth 1000 words)
    • Write a poem using your descriptions (Who knows, you might be able to use it in your WIP)
  • Take a walk in a cemetery. Speculate about the people who once lived. What do you think they looked like? What do you think they did for a living? How do you think they died and/or what’s the story behind it? Come up with scenarios/stories regarding random people. Did they know each other? If so, what was their relationship? You could go on and on with this.
  • Go to the beach. What do you see? What connections can you make with what’s in front of you? Maybe the people you see walking along the beach are sea people. If so, why are they there on the beach? What’s their story? (FEEL FREE TO STEAL THIS IDEA IF YOU LIKE)

Don’t be daunted by the blank page ever again. The only reason the blank page is a stopper is because nothing is there. So put something in your head first before you look at that blank page, then you’ll be able to readily transfer it to the blank page when you look at it.

Posted in Writing

Out of the Way

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

Sometimes we put up barriers when we write. This is different for everyone. Some of us analyze too much, while others plan too much. Yet some may strive for perfection before moving on. My barrier is the analyze thing. I question everything. Not that questioning things is bad to do. We should do that, but when you continue questioning whether what you wrote or in which place a scene/scenes was put, it takes up precious writing time.

Another author I follow and get advice from, told of a first time writer working on his first novel. This young writer asked his advice on his first chapter. So the author read the young writer’s first chapter and ended up being very impressed with it. He asked for more. The young writer didn’t have anymore to show, as he had been working on the first chapter for months trying to get it just right/perfect. The author shook his head and told the young writer to stop striving for perfection. Why? If you do that, you will never get your book written. As long a time it took him to get chapter one finished, he could have had multiple chapters finished had he focused more on getting the story out.

The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to get the story written. When that first draft is finished, THEN go back to square one and change what you don’t like. This may be difficult at first, but with practice of letting go and letting the story unfold as it comes, perfection will take a back seat eventually.

Posted in Fiction

Painting Your Picture

Story setting is essential. It’s one of the elements that pulls readers into the story and places them there. Can you imagine what reading a story would be like if there wasn’t any description of the places in it? Flat, that’s what it would be….flat. I would cast it aside in a heartbeat.

How do we paint a picture of what we want our readers to see when they read your story? It really is up to the writer. I say this because we’re all different and have our own ways of doing things. So, take what you will from this post and make it yours. I like to create my settings in such a way, so that when someone reads it, it sounds natural. What I don’t want is for the action/story to stop so that I can describe something. Doing that takes away from the story. Note the two examples below.

Example 1: Laural stepped into the room with her bare feel. The room was white with plush carpet. White curtains hung on the windows and blew in the breeze. To the right of the window sat a small square table with a bright green tablecloth. In spite of the brightness of the room, she should have felt comforted, but no. There was an eeriness that made her feel uneasy. A lock of her blond hair fell forward and she moved to push it back. She stopped midway as she felt his finger along her cheek.

Example 2: Laural stepped into the white room. Now barefoot, she stepped onto the plush, white carpet. At one time this feeling would have comforted her, but today the cushion of the carpet only served to increase that eerie sensation twisting in her gut. White curtains billowed as the breeze from the open window whispered into the room. Again, a false sense of comfort played in her gut. It were as though the room was dark, not light. The only color in the room came from a plant sitting on a small square end table to the right of the open window. A single black rose stood dead center of a plant whose bright green heart shaped leaves came to thin tips. His calling card. A lock of blond hair pushed forward over her right shoulder. Moving her hand up to push it out of the way, she froze midway as his finger caressed her cheek. Her breath caught in her chest. She wanted to run, but her legs wouldn’t move.

“You look pale, my sweet,” he said.

In the first example the setting description does nothing to move the story along and it doesn’t create any kind of feeling either. We are told that Laural is feeling uneasy, but the description doesn’t heighten this feeling at all.

The second example combines description of the room with how Laural is feeling, which in turn goes along with the story.

When you’re writing, and get stuck on how to describe something, sit back and relax. Close your eyes and picture your setting or situation. Then, when you’re ready, describe it simply. When you’re done with that, embellish it to fit the story/scene. It takes practice.

Posted in Writing

Motivation

Staying motivated is hard work. Why is it so hard? Well, I think it’s different for everyone depending on their situation. The road is long, there will be hills to traverse, an unknowing rut will surprise you, making you trip and fall, but it’s how you work around these setbacks that is key. I put down my manuscript more times than I can count. One of the biggest reasons for this was largely due to losing part of my manuscript when I went from my desktop to a new laptop. My desktop bit the dust. In transferring my book, half of it got deleted somehow. I had done so much work on it too. So I put it down and was resigned to give up on it.

After this happened, I went to work the next day and told a colleague what had happened. He had been following my success thus far and felt bad for what happened. When I told him I was giving up on the whole project, he said, “You’ll finish it one day.” I said, “No I won’t. I’m done.” He said, “No, you’ll finish. I have faith in you.” I’m glad he had that faith in me because what he said stuck with me in the months that followed. Roughly a year later, I picked up my laptop and went back to it. The result was an even better story. I also kept an extra copy of everything I wrote from that point forward.

Another roadblock was not knowing the three act structure for writing a novel. I had to learn this or I was getting no where. Before I knew this structure, I got stuck so many times and had writers block. There was no direction, no map telling me what type of information went where. As a result, I would stop writing. Frustrating, I know.

Don’t let life and situations pull you down or make you quit. Keep going. If something crosses your path and slows you down, come up with a way to get around it. If you lose your work, start over. It will be that much better. Keep information in a writer’s binder and/or a journal, so you can reference it just in case. Back up your information on the Cloud AND on an external drive (multiple places). Continue to learn. Even though you may know how to write a novel, you can always learn something more. Above all else. KEEP AT IT. DON’T STOP.

Posted in Fiction, Writing

The Story Is There Somewhere

I used so many different ways to come up with material to write about when I was stuck. I still use them. The truth of it is, the wheels of our brains get stuck (writer’s block) and needs oil to get them running again. Ideas, ideas, where do ideas come from. That’s right, the brain. But that makes no sense you say. No, it doesn’t given what I just wrote.

Let me clear things up a bit. The information is in our heads. It’s just that the file cabinet drawer is stuck and needs prying to get it open. What to do, what to do? Find stimuli, something or an experience that wakes the right side of your brain up. Keep in mind everyone will use something different because we’re all different. Below I list things I do.

  1. Take a walk through a cemetery. Look at the headstones. Read the information and try to determine that person’s story. How does it relate to the story you are writing? Did they have children? What was their job? Did they travel? You get the idea.
  2. Use meditation. Emptying your mind of all the clutter will give you a better chance to free it up for something new. At some point in your meditation insert your story and let it run its course.
  3. Take a walk. This is my favorite because it works well for me. I enjoy feeling the breeze on my face and through my hair. It’s freeing. During this time I think of the part in my story where I’m stuck and let it play out without putting any undo pressure on myself. Somehow doing that and being a part of nature helps.
  4. Hash out your ideas with another person. I use my son for this because he reads the kind of fiction I like to write, so he’s attuned to what I’m looking for.
  5. Use writing prompts. You can find these anywhere. Pinterest is ripe with these types of pins. I have a board full of them.

The above ideas are just a few of many. You may have some of your own. If so, please feel free to share them here on my blog, and I will write another post listing them as ideas from others.