Tag Archives: power

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?

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Guest Post: Pain and Penning it Out

Some of the best writing of my life came from when I was in a lot of pain, and I didn’t want to write.   But I had a journal then, and sometimes from great pain came great inspiration.  It’s a lot easier to describe pain when you’re in it — it’s kinda like method acting in that you understand how it feels because you’re feeling it.

Now, I’m not condoning getting smashed out drunk, or taking drugs, or causing bodily harm to yourself or someone else to experience it first hand just so you can write about it, but rather, to take advantage of any pain you’re currently in to sort it out in words.
There’s a stress reduction method called ‘journaling the problem’ — it’s effectively writing out what’s bothering you so that way you quit internalizing it.

Write with the freedom of knowledge that you can delete anything you write at the end, though to be effective, you’ll want to keep it instead, so you can see where you’ve been and how you’ve fared since then.
Art sometimes imitates life.  In that sense, you can characterize a situation in a story by giving your characters the ability to handle a similar situation — do they do better or worse?   Do they take a different path with different choices?
Then there is the aspect of physical and emotional pain, and what it does to your ability to cope.    Heroes should not be able to hop out of bed hours after being shot, and a sprained ankle doesn’t just impair running away from zombie hordes, but often prevents you from even standing on it.   It can last for days, too.
Then there are moods; high and low, angry and sad, happy and excited, confused and contrite.   Using the idea of ‘show don’t tell’ in another form, how do you describe feeling blue?
“Inherently, I didn’t give a damn what happened to her.   She was having one of her patented meltdowns, the kind that made her unpleasant to be around, because she would make these unreasonable demands on you, your time, and your efforts, and then treat you like you were the crappiest friend a girl could have.
Today wasn’t a day I could deal with that sort of crisis.   I was having one of those days where I just wanted to go back to bed, even though I wasn’t tired, and the idea of pulling the pillows up on top of me and blocking out anything but their comforting weight and semi-concealment sounded really appealing.
But that would require energy and effort, and braving the wrath of my boss, who frowned on ‘taking mental health days’ because Sally, down the hall, used that as an excuse to take a trip to Cancun.”
Realize that your mind and mood are like a place in a way; and so is your physical “state”, to turn a phrase.    The next time you get down, or really high up, don’t just visit.  Write a journal entry about the experience,  take mental pictures, that sort of thing — and start your library of experiential learning ideas that can form a ready-made reference for the next time you put your characters through a similar situation.  Treat anything you can experience outside of your  normal baseline as a possibility, even something as ordinary as working up a sweat:
Ira shambled back to his chair, letting gravity drag him back into it as he felt the blood still pounding in his ears.   He grabbed clumsily at the sports bottle full of tepid water from the water cooler and chugged it;  his face felt hot and his shirt was soaked in several places.   He peeled it away from his chest and swiped underneath with the gym towel in an attempt to get dry; it didn’t work very well, since his body just produced sweat faster than he could blot it up.
“Next time… walk.”  he told himself as sweat dripped down his nose.   “Running in this weather is a good way to get yourself in the ER.”
Good notes form the beginnings of an outline checklist item.    The written word has more power when it comes to telling a story if you do the homework to relate what it felt like to you when it happened to you, instead of just expressing a condition in a few words.   It also makes you think of alternatives to reusing tropes and trope expressions:
Before: “He labored at the giant novel through blood, sweat, and tears.”    (Me: “I’ve worked on novels.   It’s not like that at all!”)
After:  He labored at the giant novel late into the night, until his fingers were aching from all the typing, and he was having trouble focusing on the screen.   His mind kept wandering off, as if to tell him he ought to have been in bed hours ago, and he’d retyped the same typo four times in a row.
Bottom line:  Make the pain fit the deed.   Take notes on anything that you might find interesting to write about later.   You never know when you’ll be able to use it.