Posts Tagged ‘author’

Every time I hear any promise of alleviation when it comes to writer’s block, I am immediately overcome with excitement, determined I have found the cure. Each and every time this happens, I am disappointed to find that I have not, in fact, discovered a groundbreaking tactic for overcoming the dreaded writer’s block. Some are more helpful than others, but when you find a technique that improves your writing or motivation, that’s a win in my book.

In a recent post, I explained the dynamics of writer’s block and other struggles that we, as writers, face. Well, I’m here to offer you a solution. Okay, there is no solution for writer’s block… But sitting around waiting for inspiration is for the weak! Go find inspiration, don’t wait for it to come to you. This post will help you learn to generate your own inspiration; it will give you new ideas, improve the ones you have, and eliminate the ones you don’t need.

The technique I am going to share with you all is inspired by two parts. One is a great post I stumbled upon called Squirrels and Killing My Inner Editor. Give this post a read, because it’s awesome. The writer of this post shared a tool that she found to be useful.

This wonderful tool is called Scrawl. Once you open Scrawl, you’ll be faced with a message telling you to “write something!” Scrawl encourages unfiltered writing; it allows you to set a writing timer, and if you stop typing for ___ amount of seconds, Scrawl will, ahem, redirect your attention back to your writing (read: make sure your volume is set to a level that won’t burst your eardrums.) You can also instruct Scrawl to keep you from deleting anything you’ve written. Explore the options, see what is most helpful to you.

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In writing my morning pages as Julia Cameron instructs, I have discovered how helpful unfiltered writing can be. Essentially as I’m writing, I’m just thinking out loud. I was facing a bad case of writer’s block working while working on my novel, so I turned to my morning pages. I had a conversation with the journal. I bounced ideas off of the journal. It was a huge help. Sometimes just thinking about it isn’t enough, but trying to formally organize your plot is a little too overwhelming. As you’re writing it, you will probably feel as if you’re accomplishing nothing, but give it time.

I find it most beneficial to begin with the absolute basics of your story. Start with a less details. As you ease into the part of the story that you’re stuck on, start giving more details. Every possible path the story could take, write it down. For example: your main character has just been offered a job in New York City to work for a fashion magazine. Does she give in to her controlling boyfriend’s urging and stay in rural Oklahoma? Does she break up with him and accept her dream job? If she stays in Oklahoma, will their relationship even last? If she moves to New York, will she find love in the city? Will her dream job turn out to be a nightmare, leaving her wondering why she ever left her hometown? How would each of these outcomes play out? How would they affect your story? Write it all down. It may seem redundant, but you never know what will inspire you, so try not to take shortcuts. If it would be more beneficial for you to draw instead of, or in addition to writing, I don’t see any reason why you can’t. Doodle away! Finish out your 3 daily morning pages, and then look back over them. It should look a little bit like this:

So I’m stuck figuring out where my main character, Peter Parker, is going to turn now. Now that he’s been bitten by a mutated turtle, he might not be able to run as fast as before. Maybe I should change it to a more lethal, intimidating animal. What about a raccoon? That could work. Peter gets rabies and turns into a raccoon. Hmm.. There has to be something better. If I was Mary Jane Watson, I totally wouldn’t be cool with my boyfriend turning into a raccoon. What about a spider? A radioactive spider. That’s it! Peter Parker by day, Spider-Man by night!

It doesn’t have to be neat. It doesn’t have to have correct spelling or proper punctuation. I encourage you to write in pen, so you’re not tempted to erase. Don’t over-think this! My reason for incorporating Scrawl into this post, is for those of you who would prefer to type your morning pages, as opposed to writing them in a journal. It’s up to you. Scrawl is a really useful resource regardless, don’t limit yourself to using it only for this exercise.

Side note: The website where you can find Scrawl has some other helpful tools. Know Thyself is a character building exercise; the computer asks you a series of rapid fire questions about your characters; answer as fast as you can. When you complete the questions, the website compiles a character profile from your answers. Even if you think you know your characters inside and out, it really makes you think. Try it out!


 

To anyone who has previously used these methods, or decides to try it after reading this post, let me know what you think. Is there something else that works better for you? Don’t hesitate to share! I’m sure I am not the only one who wants to collect as many tips and tricks as possible. Thanks for reading!

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Being home for summer, you have to get creative to keep yourself entertained. And I figured a good way to keep busy would be to start putting a dent in the infinite stack of books I have purchased but not read.

I decided on Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I bought this book a while back. It was on sale for $5 at Barnes and Noble in honor of the upcoming release of the final book in the series. The book had a really interesting cover and a great sale price. The synopsis written on the back cover was interesting enough for me to seal the deal.

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So here’s the plot, in a nutshell: Awkward high school girl, Nora Grey, is assigned a new lab partner in biology. He is elusive, uncooperative, and refuses to answer any of her questions. She figures out that his name is Patch, but that’s about all she learns. He’s tall, dark and handsome, and despite being endlessly frustrating, she finds herself strangely attracted to him. He begins showing up at the same places she is, claiming it was coincidence. She later finds out that he is something more than what he seems. Their romance plays out in a gloomy, rainy locale (for example: Maine or Washington.)

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Nora Grey is basically a reinvented Bella Swan. Nora is more annoying than the book version of Bella, but less annoying than the movie version of Bella. Patch and Nora meet in biology class, just like Edward and Bella. Patch descends into frustratingly mysterious behavior, also just like Edward. Nora’s friend Vee Sky is seemingly intended to be the comedic relief, but just comes off as kind of annoying, not unlike Jessica Stanley in Twilight. Nora gets into trouble when she travels to a nearby town, Portland, only to be rescued by her elusive love interest. Maybe it’s just me but that sounds strikingly similar to when Bella gets scared in the alley while on a trip to Port Angeles, only to have Edward come to her rescue in the nick of time. There was no secret in beginning Twilight or Hush, Hush that the male leads were superhuman.

I don’t know about you, but when I read Twilight, I knew Edward was a vampire from the beginning. I read the book before all the hype began to generate from the movie, so there weren’t endless spoilers everywhere I turned. It just wasn’t that hard to figure out. As for Hush, Hush, all you had to do to realize that Patch was a fallen angel, was look at the cover of the novel. If there was any doubt left in your mind, the summary on the back would surely clear it up for you.

There were some good things about this book, and some bad things. I think Becca Fitzpatrick does a good job of creating this Hush, Hush world that readers just fall into. Some may disagree, but this book was a page turner for me. I finished it in just a couple hours. While it was easy to read, that doesn’t mean the story was great. It most definitely doesn’t mean that the story was original. I am certain I would’ve appreciated this book if it was the first of its kind. I read Twilight when I was about 12 years old, and I was completely enamored by it. I had never read anything like it. Now, 7 years later, Barnes & Noble has a section dedicated solely to “paranormal romance.” Hush, Hush just seems stale. It was entertaining and I enjoyed reading it, but books like that are a dime a dozen. There wasn’t really anything special about it. I intend to read the rest of the books in the series (Crescendo, Silence, and Finale.)

This is the summary from the back of the novel, if you want a better idea of what the story is about:
When Nora and Patch are forced together as lab partners, Nora would rather fall to her death than put up with his elusive answers to her questions, his teasing, and his infuriatingly handsome face and hypnotizing eyes. It seems Patch was put on earth just to drive her crazy. But before long, Nora’s defenses start to break down as her curiosity about Patch heats up. Why does he always seem to be wherever she is and know exactly what she’s thinking? How does he know what to say to both attract and repulse her? And what is up with those V-shaped scars on his chiseled back? As their connection grows stronger, Nora’s own life becomes increasingly fragile. Nora needs to decide: Is Patch the one who wants to do her harm or the one who will keep her safe? Has she fallen for one of the fallen?

Upon doing a little research for this post, I learned a film adaptation of Hush, Hush is in the very early stages of production (fingers crossed for Thomas Dekker to play Patch.) Patrick Sean Smith, writer behind ABC Family’s Greek, has been commissioned to write the script for the film. If you want to get ahead of the movie hype, now is your chance.

If you enjoyed Twilight, and are just looking for a quick, easy read, Hush, Hush isn’t a bad choice. If you’re looking for groundbreaking literature, I don’t think I need to tell you to look elsewhere.

I think it’s safe to say that anyone who considers themselves a writer has dealt with two things: Writer’s block, and your ruthless inner critic.

I recently posted about my first experience with Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. The first section features a segment about what Cameron calls “The Morning Pages.” Essentially, this is a daily practice of writing three unfiltered, unedited pages of whatever you want. The point is to write without limits; not allowing yourself to look back and criticize what you’ve written. I found myself, of course, over-thinking what I was writing. Isn’t it kind of interesting that your inner critic comes out, even when you’re doing informal journaling that no one will ever lay eyes on except for you?

That’s a problem I’ve been struggling with lately; it’s somewhere between writer’s block and my inner critic. It’s not that I don’t have ideas, but I can’t bring myself to write something that I don’t think is good enough. I’ll begin, writing a couple paragraphs, then look back at what I wrote. Sigh. This sounded so much better in my head. I know all of the how-to books and tips on writing say, “just write!” It’s not as easy as they say. Sure, technically I am writing, but repeated exposure to my inner critic along with lackluster writing doesn’t seem to improve my writing the way all the writing experts say it will.

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Julia Cameron stresses the endless possibilities of the morning pages. She encourages the writer to include all of the seemingly petty, silly things floating in their mind. Getting them off your chest, and into the morning pages. It will free you; once they’re out of the way, it’s just you and your creativity. The morning pages give you the power to grant yourself the freedom to make mistakes. In the beginning, I wrote my morning pages as a stream of consciousness, but as a narrative. It could be a major production of dueling dragons, chivalrous knights, and fair maidens. It could be about an alternate theory as to how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. I like to alternate my writing setting, and the local Starbucks is one of the places that I frequent. It sounds somewhat creepy, but sometimes I would pick a person in the coffee shop and make up a story about them.
I thought that writing the morning pages as a narrative could spark an idea for a real story. I really enjoyed it, and this practice did generate some worthwhile ideas that I explored further outside of the morning pages. Occasionally I would have a bad day, and wouldn’t feel like being creative. I would just write my morning pages about what ruined my day. It became progressively less artistic, and infinitely more of an angst-filled diary. In my defense, I was around 15 years old the first time I began morning pages. Oh, the pleasantries of pages upon pages, filled with documentation of teenage melodrama. I’m sure you can understand why the morning pages, at that point, were no longer beneficial to my creative process.


 

I have progressed in Julia Cameron‘s book, and am now in the stage of “creative recovery.” She essentially encourages readers to nurture their creative self; protect it from criticism. Evaluate and dissect the appraisal; expose yourself to the constructive criticism. Assess what it is about the purely negative critique that bothers you; if you can create constructive criticism from that, then do so. If not, discard it. If it can’t help you, it serves no purpose.

I wouldn’t say I’m a pessimist, but I’m certainly not an optimist. Perhaps it’s me disguising negativity as being a realist. Whatever you want to call it, I know that I will always be somewhat critical of myself when it comes to writing. I used to be able to just retrieve that spark of passion, and write eagerly. My ideas were exciting to me, and I believed in them with every fiber of my being. I had created characters that became more than characters to me. I developed them, and they were important enough to me that they served as gasoline on flames; I wanted to write more. I loved the story, I loved the characters, and it was my duty to narrate their adventures in a way that was worthy of them. Lately, while I have been writing, it feels forced. I have no passion for what I am writing. My inner perfectionist is constantly reminding myself that what I’m doing isn’t worth being passionate about.


 

My question to all of you is this: How do you overcome your inner critic? What is it that ignites passion for what you’re writing?
This post is for all my writers!

I love when I see collaboration, sharing of ideas, offering advice and constructive criticism, and most importantly praise for a great post amongst writers. Everyone has their own unique style, and writers can learn a lot from each other. Anything that you have to share; a useful tip someone once shared with you, pass it on. A source that provides you with infinite inspiration, share it in a comment below! Also, if you have a favorite author, who is it and why? Let me know! Thank you all for reading!

Last summer, I started a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Nikki Sixx, who is the bass player for the rock band Motley Crue recommended this book on his radio show, SixxSense. Nikki Sixx was a contributing writer for a lot of Motley Crue‘s music, he is an avid photographer, has written two books (The Heroin Diaries and This is Gonna Hurt), has a side music project, Sixx:A.M., and hosts his own radio show. He spoke so highly of the book, and what it did for his creative process, so I decided to check it out.

This book isn’t a novel, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a how-to book either. It takes you through a journey to bettering your creativity. I began this book and really enjoyed it. I started working through the activities and implementing the tips. At first I thought it sounded kind of hokey, but it really works. It’s just something you have to try for yourself – which I don’t think you would regret doing.

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I’ll just be honest; I didn’t finish the book. I started it, and got really into it, but soon enough, it faded and I moved on to something else. (If you know me personally, you know how often I do this.)

While I was still reading Julia Cameron’s book, I discovered a practice that I really enjoyed doing, that I felt really did help me creatively. I give you, The Morning Pages.

The idea behind The Morning Pages is to write 3 pages every morning of unfiltered, unedited, stream-of-consciousness writing. It can be about anything you want. However, your Morning Pages are never to be re-read after you write them. This exercise helps you to stop unnecessarily criticizing your work. It allows you to write whatever is on your mind. It helps you to transfer what’s in your mind, effectively to paper. I often have difficulties with that; by the time I’ve edited my though, implemented correct syntax, and spiced up the vocabulary a bit, it doesn’t convey the original thought the way I want it to.

I’m not going to post my morning pages to this blog, but I will update you with how they’re going (3 pages of unedited nothingness? I highly doubt you would enjoy reading that). If any of you have read this book, let me know what you think. And if any of you decide that you want to make morning pages a part of your daily routine, tell me how it’s going for you!