Posts Tagged With: writing

Sometimes, you just got to do it.

Let’s face it. We’ve all had those times where we’ve sat down at our computer or notebook and we know what to write but we just can’t do it. So how do we overcome this nasty, frustrating form of writer’s block?

My biggest tip for this is to simply write the scene or whatever down. Don’t worry if it sucks or if it doesn’t read as good as it sounded in your head. That’s why you can revise until its perfect. You don’t have to get it right the first time, you can improve it.

Something else you could try is to plot out the scene or whatever you’re trying to write down. If its simply one line or a couple, this won’t really work, but for scenes and chapters this is a good idea. Especially if you know the general direction, but you’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen. Some people can’t have general things, they have to have specific ideas.

For the most part, it isn’t a lack of inspiration that’s got you, its a lack of will. If you’re having trouble actually writing down a scene or chapter, consider if the story is boring you or if its just this scene that you don’t like. If you’re constantly thinking about something else you could be doing, its probably a good idea to sit back and think it over.

Is there a different way to rewrite this scene to make it more interesting? Or is there another scene that you really want to write (if so, write it!)? Maybe you just need a break. Something doing something else for a while helps. I find pictures can be very inspiring or even trying to flesh out other parts of my stories can help me get excited and focused again.

So, what are your tips for overcoming this problem?

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100 Inspirations

Those of you who know me, or have possibly read some of my past posts (the L in the ABCs), know that I love lists. Like Caitlin pointed out earlier in the week, they are great for compartmentalizing, categorizing and organizing things. These “things” can have to do with writing authors read, their stories, characters, settings, the lists can go on and on (horribly pun intended). But every now and then we writers get in a funk and need to be reminded why we write or what inspires us. The list below is one I’ve had laying around for awhile now, and Caitlin’s post reminded me how important it is. So I dusted it off and took a look at it again. Now I am sharing it with all of you. Make a list of your own and look at it, post it a bulletin board,  in a journal, on a folded piece of paper you carry around in your wallet, anywhere. Let it inspire you, especially on days you need it most.

 

Beginnings. Endings. Middles. Broken hearts. Starry nights. The warm sunshine. You. Me. Them. Us. iPods on shuffle. The breeze through my hair. Nostalgia. Playground equipment. Thunder storms. Sunsets. Love on the mend. Family, and everything that falls in between. Late night chats that spill into mornings. Clichés. Dreams. Shooting stars. Silence. Bubbles. Quotes. Walking contradictions. Oxymorons, sometimes just morons too. Art. Friends. Strangers. Acquaintances. Aimless wandering. Gerber daisies. Joy rides. Singalongs to the radio. Power outages. Photographs. Acapella. Strobe lights. Polka-dots. Plaid. Nights out. Nights in. Books. Tea. Caterpillars. Letters. Lines. Memories. Skeptics. Rearview mirrors. Smiles. Laughter. Breakfast. Cities. Green, grassy fields. Klutzes. Road trips. Believers. Adjectives. Lyrics, stuck in my head. Flash forwards. Flashbacks. Scene checks. Alliteration. Raindrops. Dimples. Befriending. Fireflies. Twisted sheets. Imaginative imagery. Teaching. Feedback. Dialogue. Sarcasm. Climbing trees. Snow angels. Talented individuals. Old souls. New pens. Journals. Baked goods. Candle lit tributes. Pop culture. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Wonderlands. Never ending questions. Red lights. The mundane. The unique. Crunchy leaves. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Love…Life.

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Reading About Writing

We all love books, reading and writing them. But what about reading books about writing? There are tons of them out there. These are some of my favorite books that help hone author’s writing skills: stylistically, mechanically, inspirationally and creatively. Many are written by well-known novelists or others respected in the writing field.

1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King
2. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
3. The 101 Most Influential People that Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History by Allan Lazar, Jeremy Salter, Dan Karlan
4. Language Matters: A Guide to Everyday Questions about Language by Donna Jo Napoli
5. Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine
6. Take Joy: The Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft by Jane Yolen
7. Elements of Style by E.B White and William Strunk Jr.
8. How to Write Poetry by Paul B. Janeczko
9. Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques by Elizabeth Lyon
10. How NOT to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman
What are some of your favorites? What have you found particularly helpful?
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Welcome Back! Alternatively, When Life Gives You Lemons…

Inkwell is back on regular posting schedule today and lucky me, I’m the one assigned for today.

…Truth is, I’ve got nothing. My writing life has kind of been floating in limbo since August and I don’t have the time to write a drawn-out advice post. So let’s talk about when life gets you down! Gives you lemons! What do you do? 

Turn those lemons into…not lemonade. Glorious pieces of prose? Poopy pieces of prose? Oh gosh.

If you’re like me, you probably have ideas floating around in your head all the time. What would happen if I stuck this villain in here or wrote this chapter from this person’s perspective? 

Collect those somewhere before they float away! They’ll come in handy at a later date.

Try to write something, even if it’s just a few measly sentences a day. Squeeze them out like juice from a lemon. This metaphor is going to get old fast, huh?

Can you tell I’m rambling? Well, that’s what your writing might look like for a while. And that’s a-okay. You can always clean it up later.

So yeah. Dedication is key here, folks. Of course, breaks aren’t bad, but try not to take too long of one. You’ll forget what you were writing about and risk giving up entirely. Give it a week or two at the most. Then you can come back with fresh eyes and ideas. Maybe lemonade too!

Now if I could just heed my own advice.

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Reasons Why I Dislike Your Character

With pictures! And gifs! Well, still ones.

I’ve seen a lot of posts buzzing around the internet about why people dislike characters and what acceptable reasons to dislike a character there are. Since I’m a sucker for characterization, I’d thought I’d share what I think are acceptable and..well, not so acceptable reasons to dislike or hate a protagonist.

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Wielding a Red Pen

So they say, the pen is mightier than the sword, don’t they? I think the red pen is mightier than a fleet of pirates and a gang of ninjas (yep, it’s been that kind of day). I’m used to glaring red pen marks on paper, often times causing manuscripts to appear to be suffering an untimely, if not dramatic and gallant, death. This is why, as an editor and a teacher, I shy away from scarlet ink and opt for a less threatening purple or green. Or sometimes I put the kibosh on pens all together and go the techie route. This goes for editing both my work as well as peers’.

I thought I’d give you a little insight on editing, since we’ve got two wonderful give-aways going on. Well, what I do–the processes (procesi?) thrown together in a hodge-podge. I am by no means an expert or propose to be. Nor might this be what fellow writers and critiquers on the site do. This is just what works for me.

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The Pros and Cons of Posting Writing Online

I seem to get more mixed messages from the writing community than from my ex-boyfriend. Seriously. Some writing sites champion posting online and encourage it (there are more writing platforms and sites that I can count springing up, some more legit that others), some reward it through contests and the like, others warn of the instantaneous death your writing career. I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I totally feel like I am stuck in limbo as far whether or not to post my writing online. In fact, it goes in waves. One day I’m all for it and living the dream, then the next week I am afraid I have ruined every possible chance I have at making my bestseller come true. So I did some poking around, question asking and what some might loosely dub “research”. Here’s what I came up with… Continue reading

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Old Writing and the Mortification it Brings

If there’s anything I remember, it’s my first. Everything is still clear to me in vivid detail, like I could relive it again and again–the time of day, my position, the pencil scraping against the paper.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m referring to the first story I ever wrote? Because I am. What else could i possibly mean?

When I was in third grade, I wrote a short story (emphasis on the shortit was about a page front and back, but my handwriting was massive) about a girl who’s dared to enter a haunted toy shop on Halloween and is never seen again. The piece ends with a quasi-existential monologue about whether or not she should haunt the friends who dared her in the first place.

Of course, it was still a pretty horrible story, plus I wrote my S’s backwards throughout the whole thing, but it was my first. It was The One. That thing I kind of just wrote, only to realize afterward that I loved writing it. Like, a lot.

That was in no way my epiphany moment about wanting to be a writer since at that point I was still set on being Britney Spears when I grew up, but it was a start. It was the inciting incident. It was what made me continue writing.

We all have that piece. The one that lights the spark. The one that sucks so hard, we seriously debate building a bonfire at the beach to burn all traces that we were ever anything less than stellar writers.

But to that, I say don’t. Don’t ever ever ever burn your writing, no matter how mortifying it is.

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W is for Writing

“If plan A doesn’t work, remember that the alphabet has 25 other letters. Relax.”

A few of my fellow former inkies and writing buddies have been banding about our thoughts and organizing techniques when we go about writing a novel. It inspired me to write out an ABCs of sorts (with a few letters left for you to fill in). Different ways and tools I and other writers use to build up our stories, develop our characters, track events–in all essence prep and plan ahead, with the best of intentions.  I have yet to meet a writer that does all of these things, but some are more fervent about pre-writing than others. You can these strategies when you get stuck or based on feedback you’ve received, wanting to improve certain areas of your work. Whatever the case, whenever you may use them, hope you find it helpful, dear readers and writers

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Reading and Writing and Hating Both

I think it’s basically common knowledge at this point that the number one piece of advice for wannabe writers is to read, read, read and write, write write. Nearly every author I’ve seen live, watched videos of on YouTube, or read interviews of has said some version of that answer. So you want to be a writer? WELL, READ! WRITE!

What’s so hard about that?

Really, the advice makes sense. I should probably have at least some concept of what a book is before trying to write one of my own. I should understand how the beginning, middle, and end all fit into place. I should research and read books by the authors I love, by the authors I want to emulate. It isn’t just reading–it’s learning.

But there reaches a point when reading maybe isn’t the solution to that awful writer’s block, to that complete inability to transfer a story from the mind to the paper–maybe it’s the problem.

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