26 July 2016

The Tao of Murphy

In my last blog post, I mentioned someone named Murphy.

Of course you know Murphy.

No?

Of course you do. You know the old saying:
“Anything that can go wrong, will.”

That’s Murphy’s Law. And anything following from this law, I call the voice of Murphy himself. (Or herself, depending on how you wish to see it.)

What has this to do with writing, you might wonder. Here's my link to that. Writing has a self-conscious element to it. Is it good enough? What if no one likes it? What went wrong that every editor or agent is rejecting it?

Many of these questions are Murphy questions.

If you did your best, of course it will be good enough. There are enough varied tastes in the world that someone is bound to like what you wrote. Editors and Agents may just not have a good market for what you wrote. The piece itself may be fine.

Again, it comes down to your journey. Continuing to hold onto a piece because it needs “one more change to be perfect” means you may never decide to let it loose on the world. Make it the best you can, then stop. At some point, it stops improving and starts going backwards.

And remember, the writing journey is not a simple path. Rejections will be common. Murphy, the evil inner editor, doubt, and fear hover just off the in the weeds, waiting for that misstep so they can pounce. They want to push you to quit. KNOW you are ready to continue. Take it one step at a time.

While it isn’t a 12 step program, it is something that you have to just enjoy the journey. Otherwise, what’s the point?

28 November 2015

Pinpointing the reasons for a stop

*The lecturer walks to the front of the classroom, arms overloaded with books, calendars, pictures, etc. He drops them all on the table. Then pulls a CD from among the detritus and slips it into a player*

Welcome back to the author tutorial. Today we have a guest speaker.

I should be writing: Crippling Fear

Why did I bring this up?

For one, because Mur is an awesome writer, awesome podcaster, and just a good resource for writers.

For another, because I understand what she's speaking about. My blog stopped, froze as it were, because of fear. That people weren't reading. My writing slowed, because I was afraid. My social life stopped, because I was afraid.

Fear is that universal link of many many humans. Anyone who says they don't have any fears are either short a few hormones, are sociopathic, or are lying. I tend to lean to the last reason. Some people better control their fears. Others show their fear on their entire beings. Yup, that's me.

What we need to remember is that fear is only good if it's going to guide us away from harm. So an axe murderer is good to fear. Writing a short story, regardless of anything else, shouldn't be feared. Fearing that oncoming truck, good thought. A blank page when you have hundreds of ideas? Not worth the cowering.

This writing journey is not about anyone but you. YOU must establish what is worth it. YOU must determine what is success. Even if that is just putting the words on the page to get them out of your head.

Fear is just like the inner editor, the voice of Murphy, and the harsh writing critic of our heads. Tie them up, lock them in a truck, and toss them in a deep dark well in your mind. If you do each in their own hole, then you can find a way to jettison Murphy and the writing critic. (The editor unfortunately comes in handy when revising.)

Journeys are about taking a step, then the next and the next. Do that now.

04 January 2014

Department of Redundancy Department Report: Abbreviations

So thanks to the whole Target debacle, my bank decided to replace my ATM card and its associated numbers. I’m looking over the paperwork they sent me and I’m boggled that their proofreader missed this error:

PIN number

But this wasn’t the only time I’ve seen such a glaring error. In digging through my car’s manual for a part number for my brake system, I stumble across this doozy:

ABS system
 
I pointed these out to a writer/editor friend of mine and they shook their head. Didn’t see a problem.

Here is the problem. Let me write out the abbreviations for you to see. In parenthesis I will add the word that creates the problem

Personal Identification Number (number)
Antilock Braking System (system)

Written out, you see how the second word becomes a redundant modifier.

Now this isn’t to say all trailing words wouldn’t work.

ABS sensor = Antilock Braking System sensor 

We don’t have a redundancy error with that set up.

Maybe I’m more sensitive to it, having lived and breathed around DC so long that alphabet soup agencies are almost a dietary staple. But it is something worth realizing when you’re writing. Think about the abbreviation you’re using and how the modifier you have following it would read if you wrote out the abbreviation as its word based componnents.

03 August 2013

OMG! I’ve been Tagged

So I’m curious. How many ways can we change the word Said in a story. This made me grab my trusty thesaurus.

Commented, reacted, stated, ejaculated, shouted, expounded, verbalized, blurted, exclaimed…

Yeah, the list isn’t short, as you can see.

What made me start this search, you might ask? Truth is, I was beta reading someone else’s story and I noticed their dialogue tags. You know what I mean, right?

                “By golly, why don’t you know these?” I said.

The words in bold italic are called a dialogue tag. This is what people use to say who’s speaking. Some people like to expand these by changing the word said to something else. Changing it to a full action works better than just changing the word said.

Yeah, let the professor get to the why. It takes a moment.

Said has become an invisible word in prose. People see it, but they drift over it without notice. The words and phrasing of the quote bring more of the explanation of how things are said rather than a single word.

                “Watch Out!” he said.

Yes, I could make that he shouted. Out of context, just using that one line, I might need to change it for understanding. But if we had more of the story with it, the character’s action and vocalization would be better understood.

The boulder rolled off the top of the cliff toward the hikers below. He leaned over and cupped his hands to his mouth.
                “Watch Out!” he said.

There, better. Now we see he’d be shouting, without need for the change of tag. Sure, we could. But do we really need to? This is the fun of the writing today. In the older writings, it might have been something else. Said he or shouted he. Aren’t you glad modern writing changed THAT rule? Of course, back then, people also expected an expanded and more verbose prose in their books. They wanted the five pages of description and the expanded tags. Modern readers don’t look for all that. They don’t feel they have the time. We write to appease our audience, even if it is only us.

Here becomes the other fun question of the day. Asked. You’ll notice when I did my question above, I used said. There are multiple schools of thought on asked. Some say if you use the question mark within the quotes, asked becomes redundant. Others say the two are linked. My rule: Whatever makes the story flow the clearest to the reader.


In fact, through all of this, that is probably the biggest thought to take away. Use what makes the story flow the clearest to the reader.

23 July 2013

Fun with Community Terms

Have you ever just stopped to look up what term is used for a group of something?

A flock of birds. A pride of lions. A murder of crows. A gaggle of geese.

It was something that got me thinking. What would a group of writers be considered? I tossed a few ideas around in my head.

A pen of writers? Naw, sounds too much like we’d be in a kennel like dogs.
A book of writers? Yeah, I’m so not a stamp.
A page of writers? A sheet of writers? An ink of writers?

Nothing really caught me in a positive spin. No, the best one that always seemed to work for me is this:

A Community of Writers.

Of course, this assumes that the group of writers is cooperating with each other. It assumes that a connection exists among the writers, beyond that simple occupation.

In my last post, I spoke of creating a Writers’ Support Group. This would be part of what, to me, creates a community of writers. There will always be outliers with regard to any group. Some will feel above the need for a group. They’re “better” than the rabble. Others will just come from too weird an angle for the community to willingly accept them. I’ve found this rare among writers, however, because we are all outliers of the weird persuasion to those who do not write.

There are other things that make up community, though, aren’t there? Support is great, but we need more. We need connections. Genre creates connections. Kinda. It also creates divisions and cliques. Something that writers already do naturally, is create divisions because we have to work through stereotypes to get to true character. A common location would be nice for writers creating a community. Some have a town or city or county to act as their common location. Others find that commonality in an online forum.

As a writer, I suggest looking around to find a community that works best for you. Let us know what makes a good community for you.

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Today's post was inspired by the topic “Progress” as part of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com/. This ongoing tour allows you, the reader, travel around the world from author's blog to author's blog.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s posting over at: http://suesantore.com/


If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com

20 July 2013

Against the Negative Grain

Times are tough as a writer. Some people might argue that we’re in the golden age of writing, but it’s just the opposite.

How can I state such a thing?

Consider this.

Positives – We have self publishing. We have the internet to allow easy access to many books that we maybe didn’t have before. We’ve got international communities of writers who help and support each other.

Lots of great positives… Now what about the other side of the coin.

Negatives – The internet provides a venue for any reader to write their opinion on a book they’ve read. With the lack of editors, self publishing puts out both gems as well as fools’ gold. Among the international communities, you have bullies and people with God complexes demanding that things be done Their way.

Yeah, okay so I created a balance there. However, let me add one more.

The author now has the ability to respond to any review written, to the reviewer, immediately.

Some of you might say “But that’s a positive!”

Um, HELL no.

Consider in the old days, when reviews were limited to newspapers. A reviewer could write their opinion and let the world marvel at their prose. If a writer wanted to respond, they had to take time from their own writings to pen an actual letter. They had time to consider what to say, or if it was worth saying.

The Author’s Big Mistake™ didn’t really exist unless they melted down at a convention or other public venue. Then it was limited in scope.

Now? That mistake goes global in a viral minute, as others point and stare/laugh/pile on to the author’s shame.

I’m sure you’re looking at this and shaking your head. I’ve covered this material before, in other postings. So let me get to the point and the reason for the post’s title.

As writers, we shouldn’t immediately hack at our fellow writers. We’re going to suffer enough negative ink (pixels? J) over our writing lifetime from rejections, poor reviews, and emails from enraged fans. Other writers should understand our pains, offer shoulders to cry on. We should act as voices of reason. Hell, we should understand what the other writer wants when they say “Here, read this.”

I’m not suggesting we need to coddle each other. No one would learn anything if we did that! Everyone has to make the mistakes to learn from them. Our job, as fellow writers, is to befriend writers. Maybe we don’t need to make them our besties, but we do need to bring them to a point where we trust their words and they trust ours. As writers, that’s important.

I suggest a writers’ support group, which isn’t a writing based group. No critiques, no discussion of the craft. No, this would be more of a social group. A place for writers to share their triumphs (I GOT PUBLISHED!) and their failures (I’m at 90 rejections and counting.) But it wouldn’t be limited to just their writing issues. We’d also support each other through problems with addiction, family squabbles, and friendship issues. Could a writing relationship build out of this group? Sure, nothing says it can’t. But it wouldn’t be the sole purpose of the group.


The idea is to balance and reduce the negativity the world throws at the modern writer. Because the more positive we have, the better our prose can become. I’d love to hear others thoughts on this.

06 July 2013

The Character Quirk

There are books and blogs out there that suggest adding a quirk to a character to enhance it and make it seem more real to the reader. This is good advice, but it shouldn’t stop there.

To me, this is my big important thought: BE CAREFUL WHAT QUIRK YOU CHOSE!

This might seem like someone being sensitive, but trust me when I say that psychological triggers are the peskiest of problems to find and explain. Just because something is in the news a lot or because it is the latest fad diagnosis from the celebs on TV, it DOES NOT mean that it becomes fair game in a book or story without extensive research.

Okay, so what set me off on this tangent, you might ask, because it doesn’t have the normal playful feel of my usual posts?

A writer I know emailed me about their latest work in progress and mentioned that the quirk for the support character and narrator is hoarding. They were treating it like a funny little thing. This hit one of my triggers. My friend didn’t realize I have a history of hoarding in my family going back at least two generations, possibly more, or that I’m dealing with clearing out one family member’s hoarded stash. Also, the writer treated hoarding as something cutesy or weird, not a mental health issue.

Yeah, it set me off.

Another writer friend started talking about her problems with being a little scattered. In an attempt to make a joke, she said dementia is not far off. Again, major trigger for me, dealing with a family member with such a mental illness. I don’t think I was as harsh with this writer, but they were taken aback by the vehemence in my voice when I suddenly snapped at them about what they said.

In both instances, the writer in question was not meaning to say anything wrong. They just chose a word from their lexicon without taking its full weight into effect. The same goes with character creation and research. Just opening the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5 for those that recognize it) and pointing to a page without follow up research is bound to create angry readers and angrier negative comments.

Let’s look at a different instance. The movie Rain Man has Dustin Hoffman playing an autistic savant. The role was wonderfully acted, with a realistic portrayal of the mental illness. Mr. Hoffman didn’t go into the role just thinking to play it off the cuff. He worked with the men who inspired the role for the writer and he did research to understand just what and how the mental illness affected people.

Be certain what you’re picking, research it, and talk to people who have experience with it. I’d never paid attention to the problems of the elderly, until I started dealing with them directly. Now they are a sensitive spot that can really turn me into a demon if someone treats it as just this funny or stupid quirk. NEVER treat a mental illness as just something funny or quirky. Otherwise, you might find your reader’s demons coming after you.

23 June 2013

How Sketchy is Your Character?

There are some things to consider when dealing with characters. Much as we writers hate dealing with negative reviews, some of them will contain useful information. The character of course will dictate a lot of how someone feels about the story they read. So we need to understand our character as best we can.

To learn about the character, many books and blogs offer many techniques, many ideas for what to do.

A few examples I’ve found: The character interview, the character back story, and the character information sheet. All of these are examples of character sketches. They all give details to the writer about the character without actually putting it all into the story.

Each technique offers a different perspective to the character, just as each name implies.

The character interview is supposed to be exactly as it sounds. You’re seated with the character and asking them questions to learn about them. These can be as simple as “What’s your name?” to as complex as “A gun is pointed at you and your love interest, while a bomb ticks time away. Tell me how’d you react.”

The character back story is literally writing the story of the character up until you reach the story you’re going to write. It is an extensive writing project, sometimes spanning five to ten times the length of the final work. I actually knew a writer who wrote three 20-page back stories, one for each character, for characters of a simple 2000 word short story. It was how this writer worked, so I couldn’t fault them for the time invested in the work they created.

The character information sheet is something that comes from the realm of the gamer, though I’m sure it comes from a lot farther back than that. Modern sheets hold blocks on information, sorted by category. Basics like name, age, gender, and unchanging physical characteristics comprise one block. Information about clothing choice, political orientation, or other shifting details might go into the next block. Depending on the sheet chosen, these can be anywhere from one to fifteen pages of details.

Personally, I use the character sheet style, because I started my writing from the world of Dungeons and Dragons™. My sheet is a custom creation, to give me the access to the best details of what I feel need to exist in the story. And like my writing and my world view, it keeps being modified to better gather the details I want to present.

Nothing says you have to follow the same procedure for each story. What worked for story one might not work for story two. As I illustrated above, this sketching doesn’t necessarily have to appear in the final work either.

This comes to a point where I have to say – Do what works best for your technique.


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Today's post was inspired by the topic “Character Sketches” as part of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com/. This ongoing tour allows you, the reader, travel around the world from author's blog to author's blog.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s posting over at: http://suesantore.com/

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com

15 June 2013

So not the Sea of Binary

The usual advice for many writers is Do Not Read Reviews of your work. In an effort to create a bit of research for the blog I decided to do the dirty work and read reviews for you. The common concept I picked up frequently: The character felt flat. Or Very two dimensional creation. For an author, this could potentially be bad.

Characters and plot are the two big things in stories. The thing to realize is that while there are a limited number of plots, there are an unlimited number of characters.

Modern American Politics has placed an emphasis on the thought of there being only two choices. Liberal or Conservative. For gun control or against. For abortion or against. What these politicians always forget is the middle man. They forget the person in the middle who could care less or the one who says it depends on the circumstance. The person who dwells within the gray of the in between.

Other advice books and blog will speak of selecting traits for the characters. I am not arguing that your characters won’t have traits. Here is what I want to offer as a consideration.

A character represents a dot within a three dimensional selection grid. With each trait, characteristic, or concept with add to the character, we move the dot through the grid. This dot may move as the story travels through its paces, because of the changes the plot inflicts on the character and its psyche. This movement could be large or small, but it is still movement. The thing to realize is that the grid is not limited on the choices.

Consider the issue of gun control if you will with regard to your character. To me, this is not a black or white selection for my characters. I have a story where the planet is the far extreme of gun control: No Projectile Weapons. Mind you, I am a huge bow fan so eliminating them has made for a growth in myself as well as my writing. I have another story where my characters are military who have guns attached to them at all times. In a third story, I have a character who prefers to avoid a gun if at all possible, but find a situation where he needs to decide how deep his distaste for guns goes, if he’d willingly die than pick up the thing that could save him. I’ve not reached the end of the story, so I can’t tell you his decision. However, I hope this illustrates the fact that with just three different plots, you have three different viewpoints on guns. This is just a small portion of the character.
Because this isn’t a blog about politics, I’m not going to spout anything about my viewpoints on political issue here. Those looking for that dialogue with me need to understand it doesn’t have a place here.

Obviously, a character’s back-story will effect traits, opinions, and preferences. A woman who has suffered malicious attacks from members of the opposite sex has every right to be militant against them – however that isn’t the only possible response. Some will bow and scrape more because they felt they drew the attack to them.

PLEASE, as you create characters, think about all portions of your character. Don’t just pick a few choice tidbits and label it done. It will eliminate the review line of “two dimensional character.”

01 June 2013

It’s Time to Submit – Run away! Run Away!

So we’ve reached the next step. The story is written, edited, and polished. It sparkles enough that we can allow others to bask in its glow. Yeah. In order to do that, we need to send it to publications.

Okay, I’ll turn off the spotlights.

Now take a deep breath. I realize you’re thinking about what happens when an editor gets the story in hand. Let me give you a few guidelines to help ease you into this.

1) This is NOT the time to panic. Think about this. You are wanting to write for more than a hobby. A professional writer can’t afford to panic every time a story leaves their hands. I realize it is like your baby, but even babies grow and leave the nest.

2) Editors are seeking the best possible choice for their publication. Going in, you must BELIEVE that you fit that definition.

3) No matter what happens with the story, the editor is not rejecting YOU. The writing is separate from you. It may be an extension of you, but it is not you. Do not do something rash and hate-filled if you do receive the rejection. Pause, realize maybe the story didn’t fit the publication, and move to your next option.

Okay, all that said, let us get down to the basics of submissions. This won’t be detailed because of one primary concept I must present first.

RESEARCH! (For those that watched the cartoon “Jackie Chan Adventures,” imagine this is Uncle – Must do research.)

You know where you want to send the story. Now the big thing is to find out details of how they want to receive it. Electronic or postal, single spaced or double, white paper or some other color. What are their margin requirements?

For every publication out there, you have a submission guideline. In days of old, you had to write to the publication, request the guidelines, wait for a response, then redo your paperwork accordingly. Nowadays, those steps are reduced to look up the publication’s webpage, find the proper link and read.

A few other tips:

1) I realize you want to stand out from the crowd, but your writing should do that for you, not the way the submission arrives. Colored paper, any color other than black print, or an outlandish font will be deal breakers even before your submission is read.

2) Some publications want a cover letter. This is a simple, one page letter introducing yourself and your story. DO NOT SUMMARIZE THE STORY. Just offer a title and about how long the story is. (Try to be as accurate as possible with word count.)

Realize, this is the next step on the path. If you balk here, you still have a chance to proceed forward. But once the story leaves your hands, there is no going back.

28 May 2013

Monthly Work Update - The Lost Ones

I decided to add a new series of posts to the blog this year.  These posts will detail my works in progress, or WIPs.  I’m not going into details on plot or characters, but I will offer insight into how the story came about, where it may be going, and how close I feel it is to completion. 


Tentative title: The Lost Ones

Original concept: A captain goes in search of his fiancé when her research probe disappears on the edge of a gas cloud in deep space.

Draft version: First
Present word count: Novel: 668 (Expected completion: 100,000)
                                    Prequel Short: 288 (Expected completion: 10,000)

Writing process:
Okay, I admit this idea had a little bit of outside influence to get started. Some friends were picking on my standard log in name that I’d used for years in many forums and for email addresses. They stated it no longer fit me and I needed to change it. After a glance at the address book, favorites list, etc, that would require such a change, I searched for a way to avoid said change. After falling asleep while watching a show about the universe on the Science Channel, This concept jumped into my head.

Right now, I’m still fleshing things out, like propulsion systems, ship shapes, and the whole how we travel concepts, but the story line is sound and building. I’ve written the first two scenes of the novel and one scene of the prequel short story. However, stress from regular life events have slowed all my writing to a crawl. I hope to get back to the creation of this story soon.

Future expectations:
This story is coming from years of experience, from strong friendships, and from other writers around me. It feels like my strongest concept to date, but that remains to be seen. So for now, the sky’s the limit. Book, movie, TV  miniseries. All will fit the concept, I hope. Just got to see where it goes.

23 May 2013

Numbers and their ilk

The time has come that you’re now writing regularly. Perhaps you chose to have multiple ideas running at one time, perhaps you didn’t. Things feel good, feel strong.  Sitting to write has that feeling of flow. When you complete a writing session, you feel accomplished. That is, until someone asks you a question.

“How much did you write?”

Wow. Way to burst our happy bubble, person! They don’t want a vague concept of accomplishment. They want an actual, measureable number. The question begs for a goal or milestone that you can point to and crow about regularly. A piece of concrete floating in the ether.

Don’t panic. We can deal with this.

First, we have to go back and explore what we established as our goal. We sat at a campfire and discussed that last year. You don’t remember? Let me refresh your memory. You’ll want to have a way you personally can find that feeling of accomplishment. This could be as simple as counting pages, lines, or words. Something that makes sense.

Next, we need a way to calculate the progress. Almost any computer these days contains some form of spreadsheet capability. If not, you can find a free one on the web. Each word processor offers a way to get a count of the words within a document. With these two items, we can get what we are writing and massage those numbers into something anyone can understand. So when someone asks, “How much” we can answer with however we determined our goal to sound.

This actually does offer an additional advantage to the process. Now that we are tracking our writing, we can determine if our pace will allow completion of the project before the end of the week, month, year, or millennium. It creates a vague sense of direction, which we’d need to add to our plot and characters.

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Today's post was inspired by the topic “Progress” as part of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com/. This ongoing tour allows you, the reader, travel around the world from author's blog to author's blog.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s posting over at: http://suesantore.com/

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com

18 May 2013

Sometimes – Write what you DON’T know


I’m sure I’ve stated before I don’t always agree with the older adages of writing advice that are bandied about to newer writers. There are many that you look at and go “What the heck does THAT mean?” when you read them.  While these comments are designed to help the new writer, they don’t always give the full details of what they mean.

Take for instance this option: Write what you know.

Now let’s think about this adage. Unless a fantasy author is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism or holds a PhD in historical swords, I seriously doubt that they are versed in the proper battle techniques with a bladed weapon. No matter what the movies show, it doesn’t translate to the page that easily.

So I’d like to offer an adjustment to the adage we have here: Write what you understand.

Now this makes things more interesting. A housewife might understand the nosy neighbor more than she understands the international spy. Then again, they may be married to a member of the joint chiefs of the United States, too.  This doesn’t mean that they can’t research the item they want until they reach an understanding that will allow them to put a believable character on the page.

The important part of what I’m trying to say is that you have to make your story believable. Your words have to make the reader wanting to turn the page. If a details is so glaringly wrong that it ruins that experience, then you’ve struck an issue. This is one reason why we have readers before a story or book reaches the rest of the world. They can poke and prod the story for bits that throw them off and give you the chance to rewrite them.

For some writers, their greatest fun is when they have to research something for a character. No, they aren’t weird. They are learning. As writers, we should never stop learning. We become the world’s knowledge repository, because we have to know about a multitude of things, even if we can’t perform those acts ourselves.

Yeah, I just overwhelmed the brain, didn’t I?

I’m not suggesting you’re to become a brainiac, nerd, or representative of the know-it-all society. It takes a special kind of person to be so disturbed. Nope, I just want you to learn enough to make your story believable when people pick up the book or magazine to read it.

04 May 2013

My Reservoir Needs Some Inspiration



In one of my latest posts, I spoke of the creative reservoir. Not everyone will believe in this concept, but let me offer this as a thought process at least.

Each person has a creative reservoir within them. Some chose to use it for home décor, woodworking, painting, or sculpting. We chose to use ours towards writing. Here’s the thing. The reservoir is not bottomless, nor is it able to replenish itself easily.

Let me talk a little about how we drain the reservoir. For writers, it’s easy, really. We write.

Other issues will also create blocks and drains on that reservoir. Stress tends to lock the flow down to a trickle. Extreme emotional times will either back things up or will unleash a flood that drains the supplies in a matter of days, if not hours. Breaking your everyday routine tends to create a difficulty tapping the supplies as well.

Okay, so that’s how we drain it. Now how do we refill it?

Here is where it varies from person to person. For a lot of writers, reading helps refill their creative juices. It gives them a chance to relax, to consider other options for their own writing. Sometimes, if we isolate ourselves when we write, just getting out into the world to meet people will have a filling effect. The characters you’ll meet when you leave the house! Still others will try other forms of creativity, like painting or photography, to recharge, because it uses a different connection to the creativity reservoir. 

There are some that just require a break from writing to recharge. This tends to help me, though I admit I read on my days off of writing. When I say a day off, I don’t mean no writing gets done. You have to write emails for the bill paying job, perhaps a grocery list, definitely a honey to do list. Writing is still done, just not the creative burst that most of us do. For nonfiction writers, perhaps they take time away from the nonfiction to write fiction. It has been known to happen.

Another good recharge concept I’ve crossed is the writers’ group. This can fulfill two jobs. One, it gets you in touch with other people and two, it allows you to bounce plot ideas off like minded people. Completed stories/chapters can receive editing work while you try to refill that creativity well, which the writing group would offer you as support.

In fact, that’s a good way to end this. How do you recharge your writing batteries?

28 April 2013

Work in Progress - Blood Bond



I decided to add a new series of posts to the blog this year.  These posts will detail my works in progress, or WIPs.  I’m not going into details on plot or characters, but I will offer insight into how the story came about, where it may be going, and how close I feel it is to completion. 

Tentative title: Blood Bond

Original concept: Twin brothers, separated by unusual circumstances when their mother is murdered, reconnect during their first year at college. They search for the killer of their parents while trying to juggle the challenges of college.

Draft version: First
Present word count: 54,994 (Unknown completion number)

Writing process:
This was the first of my books that started as a National Novel Writing month project. I did win the year I wrote this one, reaching 50,000 words by month’s end.  It was my first attempt at the challenge, so sitting to write was a rush. I loved the encouragement. Plus, I picked a concept that stretched my writing skills. Two POV characters who alternated chapters and trying to write a mystery. Above and beyond my usual short story one POV concepts.

After NaNo, I admit the book sat as I hadn’t fully developed my work process, but that allowed me to percolate ideas and plot concepts while I tried to complete other projects. Now I get to it maybe once a month, adding more to it. I’ve got the first and last chapter written, but getting the stuffing between them has proven more challenging than I thought. Clues appear either too obvious and easy or too vague and lost among other red herrings. The bad guy seems too nice to be evil. Yeah, so I’m not sure how mystery writers do this sometimes.

Future expectations:
 My hope is to complete the novel. That is the primary goal. After that, I would want to assess my attempt. Will it go toward publication? I’m not 100% sure yet. I’ve not attempted a short mystery yet, so I can’t say for certain it’s a genre I’ll pursue, but it was something new I tried. When the book is complete, then we can see where I go.

23 April 2013

The Pattern leads to the Matrix…



Okay, so I’m being a little goofy with my title today. However, I’m trying to make a point with it.  The big thing the machines tried to build into the Matrix was an easily followed routine, a pattern that they could control.  The biggest thing that broke their routine was human free will, which didn’t always follow the most logical of patterns, the most logical of routines.

What on earth am I talking about with this post and how does it relate back to writing?

Everyone enjoys a routine of some form. From the same wake up time every day to the same bed time every day, we establish routines in our lives. So it is with our writing lives.  We follow the same path to the keyboard or the pad of paper every time we chose to approach our writing.

If this routine is disrupted for any reason, we find ourselves out of sorts.

This disruption could be something simple like we don’t have our glass of caffeine beside us when we sit to write because we ran out. Now we just don’t feel the draw to the written word like we usually do.

The disruption could be something notably major, like a family member in the hospital or the loss of the laptop. Having to be on the road when we normally write or worse not having our usual composing medium sets our teeth on edge. The ability to create hides from us.

Okay, so how do we go about fixing it?

Some things are simple fixes. Buy what you’re missing and your routine resets.

Others require more surgery to your daily routine to reestablish the pattern you need to find your writing spirit.

Let me offer an example from my own life.

My mom was recently admitted to the hospital due to unknown reasons. The doctors are still running tests. In her lucid state, my mom made me her point of contact for the hospital should she become unable to make medical decisions.  I’m now having to drive 40 miles one way to get to the hospital to talk to doctors. My usual writing routine is shot as long as I have to deal with tracking down medical professionals. Added to this stress, my laptop power adapter broke so I can’t charge it right now. That was my primary composition tool. Fortunately, all my writing is backed up on flash drives, but I just can’t bring myself to sit and write at one of our big computers in the house.

My fixes haven’t been pretty, but they have done the job for now.  My writing time shifted from week nights and weekends to week days at lunch. I have less time to do the work, but I still have time to get it done. As for the actual writing act, I am falling back to my old pattern I did before  had a reliable laptop. I write by hand then transcribe the work into the computer. It seems like double work to do that, but it also allows me to edit it some as I enter it, so it reads cleaner.

So remember, a routine is an important part of a writer’s life. Finding one that works is your friend, but finding ways to work around routine disruptions shows your creative skills.

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Today's post was inspired by the topic “Routines” as part of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com/. This ongoing tour allows you, the reader, travel around the world from author's blog to author's blog.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s posting over at: http://suesantore.com/

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com