Tag Archives: ideas

Storytellers Anonymous

On my desktop at work, I have a picture that has been there for the past year. This is what it is:

I think you should be able to enlarge it if you like, if you open in a new tab.

So, whenever I go on break, or I walk away from the desk, or I minimize my browser and anything else I have up on the computer when someone comes by, they see this. I’m always asked a bunch of questions when they notice it: Who is that? What are they doing, where are they going? What is that, a wolf?

The questions and the awe and the “Oh that’s awesome” happened so frequently that I considered for a while about writing a story to go with it, but I hadn’t jumped on it.

It happened last night, too. Someone saw the wallpaper that hadn’t seen it before, and the same thing ensued, but this time I stopped, and I asked her about it instead.

“I imagine that she’s looking off in the distance, they’ve been traveling for a while,” she said.

I could write the story. I could come up with something vast and complex as it is beautiful, a heartfelt prose about the bond between tiger and woman. About a magical trek across whatever lands it takes them to get wherever they need to be. Or, I could let everyone else pick their own imagination about what’s going on in the picture.

What are their minds filled with when they see it? What details stick out the most? Why are the end pieces on the rug glowing, and his necklace? Is that her necklace?

Anything can be a prompt if I want it to. For me, as time goes on, the more prompts I see out in the world. But for others, those who don’t write, or those who maybe don’t have much of a creative outlet, having a picture so vivid and eye-catching can help the wheels turning for no other reason than because they’re trying to make sense of it, figure out what’s going on.

I’ve thought about changing the wallpaper a couple of times. Really, I love it; it’s colorful and inspiring and has a fantastical touch to it, but it’s been a year and change and I wouldn’t mind something different. Then I realized, unless I found something just as captivating, it wasn’t going to generate the same reaction.

And I rather like making minds turn with curiosity.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Guest Post: Getting By With a Little Help from My Friends

Writing a blog is a daunting task. Everyone and anyone can have a good idea, but past the initial ‘hey this is cool’ aura, a public blog lives and dies by its readership and authorship. But not in the way you might think.
Authors are driven by two opposing forces; writing and being read.

Some of us are heavily on the ‘writing’ side, where we can churn out mountains of text, some of it looking like snowy peaks, and others like coal mines with smoke pouring out of them, or the occasional volcano of a novel that blows up in the middle and spews ashen destruction everywhere.

Others are deeply moved to write by a need to  share writing with other people. To teach, to entertain, to be loved for your art of the amazing prose.

Writers block hits both types just as hard.

For a writer-side person, all it takes is a good kick of inspiration.

For a read-me type person, a little outside help is what’s helpful.

So here ya are, Novice Wordsmith.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to read your work, and to inspire you to write things. No matter what you do with this blog, you will always be a writer, and you will always have a fan in me, as long as I can see, and tell you just how far you’ve come along from where you were writing story fragments and leaning on cliches to where you are now, spinning worlds and universes and coming up with ideas and plot twists on the spur of a moment. I love the fact that you’ve chosen to share your love of writing with the rest of the universe of the ‘net, whether they care or not; you want to show others that writing is for everyone, writing is a passion, and with passion comes power.

Everyone has a novel inside of them. Whether finished or not, the more important part is the Idea, the Character, the constant Struggle to Succeed that they go through, and life — yours in particular — is a novel that is unfinished. You’re writing the hard chapter now, where the heroine is at loose ends and looking at a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in front of her.

In the novel, the hero or heroine can’t always solve things on their own. You learned as a writer to develop good supporting characters, whether foils, confidantes, staunch allies, comic relief, or constant reminders of why they do what they do.

You learned that obstacles make you stronger when you defeat them – and the hero or heroine (almost) always succeeds in the end by …what?

NEVER GIVING UP.

I’ve written blogs before. Advice blogs. Writing blogs. Ways to help me connect with friends and strangers, and strangers who became friends. Eventually I left those blogs behind, but they’re still there, as a reminder of who I was then, who I met at that time, and a smile or twenty of good memories because I lived through that part of the story, and though the folks I crossed paths with there have moved on, and so have I, sometimes I peek back at what I’ve done and remember. And say…

“…I wrote THAT?”

Exercise of whether it was good or bad is up to the reader. Hindsight is everything, concentration is often what’s lacking, and inspiration comes of being able to accept that not all ideas look good on the surface, but sometimes start as obnoxiously ugly first drafts.

And sometimes, as you’ve found, it takes a little help from a friend to get things going again. Of being able to fall back to where you were before you were this awesome, giving yourself permission to be bad for a little while so you can find the good parts in the brain-muck that is writer’s block.

Some of the best novels have come out of horrible ideas.

Some of the worst novels started out amazing but ran out of steam or premise.

Some of them have even been published.

Quit worrying about being perfect today. That’s what editing is for.

Give yourself permission to write badly. But write something. Nobody judges painters when they create misshapen faces, bleeding clocks, or crayon drawings — some of them even get paid for it, too. Perhaps you’re trying to beat out the writing of some literary idol you aspire to be like, and you shouldn’t — because they have editors too.

Wordsmith, you have people who like your stuff here. And others will find it in time. For being someone who doesn’t market herself much at all, you have a following — and even if they aren’t a legion, it only takes one fan to make you realize that someone likes your stuff.

Hi. Can I be your number one fan?

Whether you accept it or not, I’m here to help you out (for her amazing fans, I’m giving her a break so she can get her writing chops back under her — don’t worry, she’ll be back, but you could speed up the process by leaving her a note or giving her a like or something….).

Beware! I am invading your blog with bizarre ideas that are not your own!

…um… prompt, please?

Prompt: Seabound

An elderly (wo)man lives in a city that’s submerged in the sea, which is one of several hundred all around the world. Tell the tale through his/her voice of why the population started to go underwater, and what made it work so well. Was there a disaster that caused it to happen, and who resisted it? Don’t forget to mention if anyone passed away or became a case study in what should or should not be done underwater, as well as how long ago it happened, and if it’s permanent.

– The Novice Wordsmith

Journal-ism

One of my favorite, writing-centric gifts I ever got was a journal. I’d gotten so many before, but this one was special, because it came with a prompt: “Write, on the first of every month, about everything that happened in the last one.”

Simple as it was, it was perfect for where I was with my writing. I wanted to get into the groove of daily writing, but hadn’t quite had the motivation for it. Having something monthly to do and look forward to not only helped me figure out what I was going to write, but how I was going to write it. I had a tool that would stoke my creativity in a way that was different from my typical fiction writing, but it helped no less.

Writing about yourself and how you feel might be some of the easiest writing you do. It comes from your heart and your head and requires no other effort than to figure out how you’re going to word it. Most of all, it’s a great place to start if you want to work on writing more!

Blogs are great things for this reason. They encourage you to share as well as to keep writing. It gives you an outlet, and a place to let go of whatever’s been cluttering your head, and in some cases, it helps you reach out to others when you need it.

I’ve always had a fondness for journals. There’s a kind of magic to them, open, blank, and ready for your words. It’s a literary canvas, waiting for the paint, eager for it. Use a pencil to write in and erase and keep writing until you’ve filled up every inch of every page. One of my happiest little achievements will always be filling up that journal that I was given. I ran out of space for November, even!

The second year I got a journal, I didn’t write in it as much. I’ve written December and January,  but the rest remains untouched. Part of me feels guilty about it, but the other part sees it as growth.

I’ve gone from sometimes struggling to write monthly to writing daily, at least 500+ words, and sometimes more, depending.

On the other hand, journaling can, in some ways, help your quality of life. When you can’t speak to someone, or when you’re afraid of what they’ll say, having that outlet at all is a great step forward. Get out the thoughts that you don’t like or can’t keep silent about. Personal, intimate things need to be said, too, and writing them out is sometimes the best way for that.

Keeping a journal, whether it’s physical or online, intimate or general, is a good place to start if you’re having trouble writing daily. Make a commitment to do it weekly, or monthly, or however you’re comfortable, and see where it takes you.

The beauty of keeping a personal journal is that it’s yours. There’s no one to worry about pleasing, it’s you and your thoughts alone in a book or a blog tailored to you. Your creation, your writing, your whatever. You can doodle in the margins, get some drawing practice with font designs, or use it as a scratch pad for when you get inspired on the run or anywhere.

I should have called this post ‘back to basics,’ thinking about it: the versatility and simplicity of a bound book of blank pages has been a go-to since the beginning for anyone with ideas. And on the other hand, the filled book, be it a novel or a finished notebook, has just as much magic in it, both for its potential, and for the effort put into it.

-The Novice Wordsmith

NaNoWriMo 2014: Preparing, Week 4 (Final): Outline THIS!

One of the biggest parts of any writing is knowing what you’ll be writing, either by way of post-it notes, corkboard, chalkboard, or whiteboards. Notebooks, on the computer or not, wherever you can get your hands to fly and get your bursting creativity into some kind of writing.

So it makes sense that an important part of NaNoWriMo is to have an outline ready and set for the next 30 days, so you know where to go. There are pantsers, people who write by the seat of their pants without having much of anything prepared, who don’t need the outlines, who are perfectly fine with or seasoned veterans of their whims.

For those of us (me) who feel utterly lost when they don’t have anything planned out, outlines exist. Thank goodness.

Funny enough, I found this guide just a few days ago,  which nearly does my job for me, giving a good explanation of different ways of outlining and examples. It’s a good place to look for what kind of outlining might be best for you, or to see what type you identify with the best.

On the reasons of why to do this, “painting yourself into a corner” is probably one of the best reasons, in my opinion. One year, Friend killed off his MC in the middle of the novel. I know, it’s not terribly exciting, but I love this story, that he issued their death and then went on to finish the novel. He didn’t care for the finished product, but he didn’t stop. Nothing could stop him.

While it’s an awesome story of perseverance, it’s also a bit of a nightmare. Outlining, even if it’s vague and free written, can help you avoid getting stuck. If you know where to go, even just a little bit, you keep away from little plot holes that drag you in and don’t let go.

To know who’s in your main roster list, who they mostly interact with, and to have an idea of where the story is going, is a huge advantage.

I still remember last year when I’d come up with a basic idea of the first few chapters and then froze, unsure of what to do. I just paused and blinked at the screen for a few seconds. Despite having the bigger points and a huge amount of the meat of the story fixed and fleshed out, the beginning area was stumping me. I had months of preparation under my belt last year. At least I learned from that; when you have a big idea, a seriously big novel, sometimes it’s easy to overlook details.

This year I have mercifully made it a much smaller task to finish the novel…

With outlining, you also have a chance to research, which can lead to more ideas and, like the article says, a better flow for creativity, as well as to help with the movement of the plot and conflict. It can change the tone or set of the novel, when it’s just in its first stages of creation.

Any kind of preparation is going to be crucial to the novel and its structure, to how you write it and those terrible moments of brain blanking where you have no idea what you’re going to do next. Where is point A, and where is point B, and how are you going to get there? What is important enough to make it into the grand scheme of things and what’s just filler?

Whatever you put forward is going to help, but if you’re not the type to outline, or you don’t care for it, I invite you to try, even just a little bit. Write out the plot, a couple of characters, and see where it takes you. Free Writing is the best option, usually, for those who aren’t so used to outlining. It helps to just let out a flow of conscious, and you don’t need to be super specific about every little detail going on, save that for the writing come November 1st!

I wanted to squeak in a Happy Halloween to everyone celebrating it, be safe and responsible! And a HUGE good luck to any and everyone doing NaNoWriMo this year, starting midnight tonight, the writing frenzy begins!

My blogging will be reduced by another day or two, or they’ll be shorter. I will try to keep up as best as I can! Happy writing, whether you’re participating or not!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Burnout and Frustration

Today’s small post is brought to you by the Wordsmith’s crunched schedule and an amount of time that feels limited but isn’t really.

I have been running on fumes the past week-ish. After trying to get over a sinus infection, which then got worse, I’ve been struggling against a sickness-induced apathy. I’ve felt drained and out of it for a couple of days now, and I’m not entirely sure how else to combat it other than curling up in bed and waiting until I’m ready to tackle things again.

It’s hard to have days like these, and I’ve talked about it before, taking a break, stepping away for a little bit, getting some room to breathe, but I hate when they come up. I feel like I’m not doing enough, if I’m not being productive, something is wrong, and I’m only perpetuating the problem. I need to write and get into things and I’m struggling again between two story ideas I wanna do for November and I’m making progress there but I feel like I haven’t sunk my teeth in completely yet.

Speaking of November, if you’re interested and you haven’t checked it out already, NaNoWriMo.org just updated this morning for 2014, so you can put in your info and get ready for the next month! Woo!

Tomorrow will be better. It’s been a gross, wet day and I’m all out of wisdom for right now, but tomorrow, it’ll be there. At least, I hope.

-The Novice Wordsmith