Coming To

I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately about how much I haven’t been writing. I take being my own worst critic to award-winning levels. I read all sorts of articles and blogs about writing, how to get published, etc. I try to immerse myself in all things literary to try and stay focused; admittedly not my best talent. Many of the things I’ve read say that if you are not feeling inspired to “just write”. Doesn’t matter if it’s crap or gold. The act of trying will produce something, and you can always work with something rather than nothing. Seems pretty sage to me, so I tried it.

To get back into the swing of things, I reared my novel start to (un)finish. As I read, I tweaked a word here or there, which developed into a sentence, which by the end became a rhythmic tapping on the keys. Huh. Go figure. It helped me feel a small sense of pride as I realized my storytelling skills have been improving while I wasn’t paying attention. I’m starting to like what I read.

So I’m sitting there typing away, and I glance up and three hours have gone by. I should have been asleep two hours ago, and I don’t want to stop, so I reset my clock and start calculating how much time I can shave off my morning routine if I skip the non-essentials, like straitening my hair or ironing my uniform. I’ll let you sort out how well that worked out.

I swear I am waking up from some sort of anti-writing spell. I’m feeling motivated, and I just might get around to finishing what I started.

What am I doing talking about it? Great question.

 

Back to writing!!!

Advertisements

Well, It’s Something.

So I still haven’t written anything. Boo for writer’s block.

But my creativity has not abandoned me entirely. I’ve been feeling inspired to paint lately.

Here is the first complete one. I’m working on another already-pictures to follow. Sorry the lighting for this image isn’t amazing. I don’t have the best lighting with the gloomy weather.

WIN_20151205_02_36_42_Pro

 

 

These love birds were painted on canvas with acrylic.

What is the real problem?

It’s funny, I moved to the big city to be inspired. I wanted a fast-paced diverse backdrop to help shape my ideas. I also wanted the exposure that advertising to such a huge population might bring. Travel and change of scenery has always inspired some decent page turnout for me. And yet, I find I have writer’s block.

There are exercises that can help a writer push past writers block.  I know them. In fact, I’ve blogged about it, back in April 2014 in a post titled Wherefore art thou, inspiration?

So what I really needed to figure out is not why I’m blocked, but why I’m not even trying to write. I haven’t even opened the file in Word to stare at that ominous blinking cursor for at least two weeks; maybe more.

Sometimes it is a question of time. I’m busy. Who isn’t? We all get caught up in the day to day, but that’s what a schedule is for. Making time isn’t hard if you get a calendar and make a schedule for yourself. I haven’t been doing that- instead I’ve been finding chores to do to fill my time. Sorting out bills, cooking, laundry- that sort of thing.

So if it isn’t a lack of ideas, and it isn’t an issue of time, then why am I not writing?

I know why, when I get right down to it. Recent events are getting me down, and I’m letting myself get moody and disinterested in the things I love (such as writing). I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this will only spiral down from here if I don’t do something to change it.

I’ve decided to use my angst- which is a combination of being at an employer’s beck and call again after so long writing my own schedule, the loss of a couple dear people, and being so far away from friends and family in an unfamiliar place- and channel it into the piece I am writing. I’m skipping ahead a few chapters in Fayling (which should be done by now, but read above) and I’m going to schedule time to pour how I feel into my work. Hopefully it helps create a believable and powerful scene, and it will help me work through my crankiness.

I’ll let you know how that turns out.

The Evolution of my Style

I have been a little stuck on my novel writing lately, and I have been struggling to understand why. I have the events of the novel in place both in my mind and in my notes. I have several different writing exercises I use to get un-stuck, and indeed I have written a few pages off that. But I keep coming back to the beginning of my most recent chapter stumped. Upon some reflection, and an HBO Game of Thrones marathon, I came to the conclusion that I am fighting myself on which POV I should be writing in.

This has been a problem from the very first paragraph of my very first draft all the way back in 2008. I started writing the story in a first person narrative. I don’t mind that style, in fact there are several authors that write that way who are very talented. An example would be Janet Evanovitch, author of the Stephanie Plum mysteries. The problem I ran into was that my leading fellow is a bit clueless about what is really going on around him- and if he is clueless then he can’t exactly inform the reader, can he?

So in my third or fourth rewrite I decided to switch to third person. This was going well. I could use small clues to let the reader know my main character missed something, but then there was still the issue of him not always being where the action was.

Enter my latest rewrite.

I have included the POV of two other character to briefly include scenes that the main character is not a part of, but that effect him. Then I even included a very brief prologue that includes imps and changelings that I plan to weave into the rest of the story going forward (you can read that in a previous post).

I thought I had solved my problem; for a while I wrote blissfully un-blocked. But now my over active, day dreaming mind  has created a new problem. I am getting invested in another character, who keeps giving me awesome ideas to expand upon my original story- bits of story that are part of the same world but do not necessarily revolve around the one main character anymore. Thus my current re-block, and my habitual retreat into the living room to watch Television and pout. As it turned out this distraction actually got me thinking.

While watching Game of Thrones I considered how many different people we follow throughout the series, and I found myself wondering if I was limiting myself too much by trying to focus on only one leading character.

The way I figure it, I can go ahead and write the additional chapters with the other characters. When I’m done with all of it I can reorganize it, and/or trim out any pieces that don’t really contribute to the story. That way, I’m not holding myself back, and I can still write the best version of my novel.

 

Wherefore Art Thou, Inspiration?

Arg, Writer’s block.

If you are a writer, then you know what I mean.  You have this brilliant idea all set up un your head. You have a good inkling of what you want to say, and yet…

This subject is a little closer to home than I would care for today. I go to one of my writers groups on Tuesdays, where I would usually present my latest pages. Unfortunately, I have spent all week being a busy bee, doing everything but write. I even spent an hour today working on the nifty banner you see above. Putting off writing can sometimes feed into whatever is causing the block in the first place. And putting it off can become a habit. Before you know it, that novel you started three years ago is sitting in a box in your garage, underneath that burnt out set of Christmas lights you can’t bring yourself to throw away. Trust me, I know. I have a whole box of them that have piled up over the last decade, all unfinished.

Truly good writing takes a bit of work. The first piece of advice I would give any aspiring author is to keep at it; though I would caution you not to force it with the book/story/piece you are trying so hard to finish. It will sound stilted and forced, and your reader will know it. Instead, try one of the exercises I have learned to use over the years. I have them listed below.

1. One exercise I like to do when I feel like I can’t get my characters to talk to me, is to write a poem or two. It can be any style you want, but I like to make it rhyme. Here’s why: Thinking about rhythm and structure can help put your mind in the right place. Try writing a poem about one of your characters. Describe them. Describe his or her world. Tell a lyrical tale of some back story. Whenever I do this it sparks the ideas that were hiding behind that block wall in my mind. And bonus, sometimes your poem can work itself into your book.

2. Not a poet? That’s perfectly fine. Every writer’s mind works a little differently. If you like structure, here’s an idea that might work for you: Get some note cards. On each note card write a sentence or two about each event that takes place in your story. You can rearrange the note cards , or add and remove them as your story develops. This gives you a very flexible path to follow while writing, and gives some order to the chaos of free ideas.

3. free writing. I’m sure you have heard the term before. Write continuously for 5 -10 minutes about anything and everything that comes to mind. Do not correct spelling or grammar. Do not worry about sticking to any topic. Just write. The chaos will not likely yield anything usable for your book/story/piece, however it can get the creativity flowing.

4. A variation of free writing is an exercise where you ask someone to start a sentence for you, and then you continue that sentence into an article, essay, or story. Write for ten minutes. Read it aloud back to the person who gave you the sentence.  Reading it out loud will help you catch anything you could improve on, and this will spark your imagination.

“But Ashmo,” You may ask, “what if I try all of this and nothing works?”

You got me, Reader. I, like you, am still figuring this stuff out. If you figure out something that works better for you, feel free to tell me about it in the comments. Next time I’m stuck it might help me out.