WHAT DAY IS THIS?

The OtherlifeThis is the look of my days, not quite night, definitely not morning, and my eyes are red from writing and reading. Sometimes, I feel like there is no in between and it is hard to decide upon AM or PM. One thing for certain, the challenges for each day push me forward into uncharted territory.

This past Saturday, I attended my Georgia Romance Writers meeting and came away with new thoughts, new visions, and new ideas. Why? I was surrounded by writers. Some struggling to keep everything together and some celebrating new books and trying to balance their time and others hitting the blank spot of the brain. I realized none of us have it all together and this made me feel good. Do I like it? Nah. But, we keep surrounding ourselves with other writers and gather support. This is so important when you are struggling with a page, a chapter, a thought, and know you have others you can bounce these thoughts out there and get feedback.

I have found out that writers jump on the wagon and either pull or push you forward. It is the momentum from their hard work that propels new writers forward. Then, it is our turn to do the same to other new writers. Writer friends are friends we turn to in times of questions and they understand our problems. Why? Because, most of them have been in the same situations and managed to break through to publication and above.

Make certain you have life-lines to throw out to all of your writer friends, and they have the same coming your way. Beta Readers, Critique Partners, and Writing Groups are the best life-lines writers have. They may not be perfect, but it is a starting point. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be yourself. But . . . never compare yourself to another writer. We are all different and our needs are different. Keep your avenues open for everyone. Make sure your bridges to others are always open.

My big happening this week, I received my book in print and can hold my ‘baby’ in between my hands. And, it was not an easy birth, but I am busy on two other books. Maybe these will be a little easier to produce. No matter what happens, I will continue to write, write, and write. And you, as a writer will continue to write and write and write. Once a writer, the need to write, share, and publish never goes way. Good Luck to all of you writers.

A saying, I believe in and maybe you will too, is from Eleanor Roosevelt.
“The future belongs to those who dream.”

Happy Dreams. Happy Writing.

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LIVE LIKE YOUR CHARACTER

BlogHave some fun this week and walk in the shoes of your character. This is the person you write about in your novel, but writing and being are two different ways to learn more about your protagonist or antagonist. You can double your fun by being both. Read again chapters you’ve written where your characters have the spotlight. This applies to both female and male counterparts. Is your character outgoing, talkative, abrupt, devious, just to name a few attributes. Are you writing about a person you want to be, but cannot do this as yourself? This is your chance to experience and gain confidence in your writing and your character. Get out of your regular space and take on the life of your novel character. You will need to dress and change your style to match. How can you feel like or know your character without being that person? Hey guys, do you dress in a suit, tie, and wear polished shoes? Maybe even a sports coat, but the creases are always in place. Change. Go for the grunge and enjoy a different side of yourself. Walk in a section of town you’ve never visited or are uncomfortable being there. Get outside your internal box and get inside the boxes of the people you meet. Ladies, do you walk into a restaurant, no not the take-out kind, and panic to be there by yourself. Not today. You are your novel person and you know what she would do. Can you do it? Take a deep breath and become the outgoing person she is. Feel the way it takes a hold of you as you ask to be seated in the middle of a full restaurant all by yourself. Your character is taking over. Now, with the first step accomplished, how do you feel? Stop and recognize your feelings of being lost, out of place, an outsider or maybe the rejected on. Do these show up in your characters. Do not stop. You are on a trip to identify with the people in your book, and this could mean more research. In other words, you are enjoying this role-playing part. Do this more often and have fun. You may find you are more like them than you ever imagined.



Sit down at your computer and reread everything about your character that shows up. You may need to change their lives a little more than you thought. You are now in-tune with them and writing gets easier. You may feel more comfortable with yourself and not afraid to try new, outrageous adventures. Let your character lead you down some different paths, but most of all HAVE FUN. You have created a new experience for you. Grab it. Enjoy your writing and I wish all a Happy and Safe Fourth of July.  Check out my blog and see some interesting information about Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race. Happy Characters.

Happy You. Happy Writing.


WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

An IdeaThis is a question where no real answer can be found. Why? It depends on the person and the field of creativity they choose.

We sometimes forget about the landscapers, home builders, clothing designers, or photographers. They also go through a creative process.

If you are an artist, your blank, white canvas can be over whelming. In your mind’s eye, you can see the colors and the vibrancy, but the brush held in your hand never moves. You are stuck.

As a writer, we open a blank page and stare.  In our minds, we know what we want to appear, but our fingers are sticky and do not slide over the keys. Yet, everything we do has a process and this includes becoming a creative writer.

First, you must decide what kind of writer are you? Is writing just a hobby to you or is writing something you HAVE to do, WANT to do, and WORK at becoming the best you can be? This is a crossroad only you can decide. When the passion of writing becomes your inner most desire, you can feel the need to improve and grow. This takes time and patience, and when this wears off, you turn to writing as a hobby. As a writer, you are challenged ever step of the way toward the best creative process for you.

You begin your creative process in learning the structure of writing, appreciate the skills you learn, and overcome the obstacles thrown in your path…frustration. Writing takes practice, more practice, and more writing. There are characters to develop, scenes to create, and yes, strong plots. You must have the conviction to start and complete your story. This is where confidence plays an important part of the process.

As the process continues, you must focus on grammar, sentence structure, story flow, and learn to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. This is where your passion to create pushes your forward. No writer’s block or waiting for the muse, will make you stop writing. However, if there is a missing part to your story or nothing seems to fit right, go have some fun. You can take a long walk, but do something fun and let your stress disappear.

Time is another part of the process for the passionate writer. You are excited to hit the keys and watch your story take shape with each additional chapter. Some writers have the opportunity to write as a full-time job. Others work outside the home and schedule their writing around work, home, and family. No matter where you are, keep to your schedule, because this is your desire and you are excited to be a writer.

If you feel stuck, get yourself out and explore something different. You can try writing at a library, coffee shop, or whatever makes you feel comfortable around other people. Writing is a lonely venture, but you can change this and feel new energy in your writing.  Exercise your body and your mind together on a long walk. You will come back refreshed and ready to hit the keys.

What I’d love to hear from you is YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. WHAT KEEPS THE ENERGIZER BUNNY INSIDE OF YOU GOING, GOING, AND GOING?

A CHARACTER’S JOURNEY

Two friends“Hey, Ethel look. Patricia has found us again. Thought for a while she’d forgotten where we were.” “No, she’d never do that. She just gave us a vacation,” Edna said, and smiled at her friend. Yeah, these two ladies have become characters that push me forward and give me ideas. But what about YOU?

Your characters now have names and are ready for action. What kind of growth or failures will you create for them? These actions will be determined by the genre of your story. Do not forget their education and clothes for the time period you choose. Take another look at their mannerisms. Is a female character always touching her hair, making certain not a strand is out-of-place? Does this mean she is prissy, self-centered, or trying to get attention. A male character might have a habit of jingling coins in his pockets. Would he be nervous, bored, or is this his way to show off? His career and his clothes tell who he is.

All characters will display their good and bad sides–tempers, smiles, thoughts, craftiness, tediousness, playfulness, serious or obsessiveness. How about a character who never tells the truth, but exaggerates every small detail. Keep these attributes in mind as you begin your story.These are not all of them, but a few to think through as you imagine your own creativeness. Now, think about how you will make the changes needed for your characters to grow? No, not age, rather how to mature and change their outlook on life, love, and living.

This is where the fun begins for the creative writer–be the character. Yeah, you read right. How do you think actors get their parts right for movies. They study, research and play with the character. They have no idea about the character until they get the script in their hands. Of course, it might be a famous person from years ago, but they still need to know the character they become for the movie. Take a character in your story and be that character for a few days. You can reverse roles from male to female. Observe all the people you meet until you feel comfortable with the people who might portray your characters. Study their movements, their facial expressions, their mannerisms, the way they handle different situations, and see if they fit your character or characters.

Make certain you look at all the people you see. No, really look, and be that person for a day. You will see so many sides of a person in such a short time. If you can’t remember everything, take a few notes, and then hit your computer for YOUR story. As you begin, you will find your creative side ready to tackle your characters.

This is what writing is all about–CREATING. Have fun with your characters and your story will begin to come alive on the page. And, if you have a hard time stopping, just do what your characters want.

HAVE FUN.  CREATE.  HAPPY WRITING.,

DO YOU GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

AudienceAnother word for this is ‘Author Intrusion.’ As a writer/author, we have a good idea of what our story will be. We set up character sheets and know our protagonist or antagonist from top to bottom. We know their likes and dislikes, their favorite colors, their secrets and fantasies. Yet, sometimes we inject our own feelings and goals for the characters.

Wait a minute. This is the characters’ story and we are writing what they are showing us that needs to be done. It is their point of view, not ours, that keeps the story fresh, rolling forward, and adding surprises along the way. As we write, we remember catchy phrases we heard growing up and these words creep onto the page.

Ask yourself, would my character say those word, or are you trying to make the story interesting with your words. Dialogue can be a big help, but  too much information and going the way the writer wants, is not helping your story. Adding your narrative is not the way to go, as you leave no room for the character to be his or herself. Read a new piece of work or a published novel and see if you can pinpoint the dialogue intrusion.

How about information dumping on your characters? What is their back story? Your character is in the present and remembers a particular time with fondness or fear. You want to get this on the page and share with the reader. Then, pages later, the past is still with the character. Why? The writer/author got caught up in their own memories and could quit writing.

One of the best ways to check for the writer/author taking over is to read your work, not in your head but with your voice. When you hear yourself reading, you catch so many different areas that should not be there. Don’t stop, use a highlighter or add comments from the computer and continue. Then go back and take yourself out of the story. Let the characters take full control.

You are on a search and rescue.  HAPPY HUNTING. HAPPY WRITING.

I DON’T HAVE TIME…

images_014Who does, but that’s the point of this blog. I should be doing laundry, making out a new “to-do” list, answering email, anything but sitting here striking at the letters on the keyboard, OR is this what I should be doing and letting other things get done later? I choose this and will not sweat the small stuff, if the dinner salad does not have a tomato sliced in it, or the laundry does not get done until tomorrow. I’m not going anywhere and the jeans I have on are clean, my sweatshirt is clean and warm. Hey, even the coffee pot is still warm.

Yet, there are times we tend to make our “to-do” lists bigger than necessary, and still leave room to add more on at the bottom. Sometimes, this makes us feel important, until we cannot cross off even one item. The more we have to do, the more we can do, right? Not since the last time I looked at my list before the shredder ate everything off the paper.?

Yes, there are always errands to run, appointments for doctors, dentists and other important items, and once these get accomplished, we can write. WRONG. Somewhere down the list, we forgot to enter in our writing time. For a lot of writers, published and not-yet published, this is foremost the important part of our lives. Why? There is no list needed to remind us to write. Writers write and we are the writers. But if you are new to the living world of writers, you might use a big, like huge, colorful sticky on your computer. This will trigger your mind to know what you should be doing.

Even if you have fifteen minutes, you can write. You might read over what you wrote earlier, do a touch-up to a few words (better known as a revision). Or, you might get in the mood with ‘Morning Pages.’ Remember The Artist’s Way and the morning pages? These pages are for no one but you. You can scribble, draw pictures, develop your lovely lady or find ways to make hero a great villain and likeable at the same time.

What helps a writer is to establish a routine, but make certain it is not chiseled in stone. Another idea is to write even when you don’t know what you will write. This is one of the best ways to begin and follow your heart with words. Writing every day sets the pattern of a writer, but writing every day at the same time helps your writing become more efficient. Sure, we stumble along the path and when that happens, step back, take a deep breath and think small. You are not sitting down to write the complete manuscript at one time, rather scenes of the manuscript.

And, be prepared to write and write and write. Sometimes garbage fills the page, but before you delete or cross through, keep your writing just the way you put it on the screen. You never know when these words may be just the ones you need at a certain scene in your manuscript. Remember, writing is never finished until you add “THE END” to the last page, and then you may make many more changes again.

Happy Writing Every Day. Happy Morning Pages. Happy Garbage Writing.

JUST WRITE

REVISION (S)

images_028Does this word scare you? If so, think again and use part of this word as a positive attitude of writing. The word we need to focus on is VISION.

How many times do we read, read, and read our work again. Each time we can find something we missed the last time we read through the W-H-O-L-E manuscript. We get upset at the mistakes we noticed again and sometimes we are so used to seeing our manuscript, we do not read, rather glance over each page. If we use ‘track changes’ or the ‘balloon inserts,’ we might not even double-check them. Why? We did that the last time.

Still there are errors to clean up, names to keep straight, dates, ‘oh my’ the dates, and the seasons. The protagonist cannot be caught in her bikini with snow drifts piled beside the pool. Or the hero sweltering in his overcoat as the sun beats down on the pavement and he races to catch the thief.

Silly thoughts? Of course, but we all make mistakes, and then we hear via an email or received the manuscript back with “this still needs revising,” written in ink all over the first page. It becomes time for the hair-pulling exercise. Yes, our hands to our own head and a few yanks close to the roots.

So instead of going bald, try something new. As we start to read again, all 400 or so pages, look with the word VISION in mind. Each area showing red marks, balloon inserts or other identifying track changes, stop. Can we change this? Is that what we meant to say or show or were we directing our characters? Play around with each marked-up area and listen to what your characters say to you or even show you what can be done to make then more active, more alluring, and even more dangerous.

When we turn off the vision censor, we can let go and see a different setting, a new twist, another layer of the character that wasn’t there before. Maybe, just maybe, we peel away more layers and find the sequel to this manuscript. Then, as we continue with the Vision Process, we become more in step with our writing and our characters. We let our characters have free rein, and sometimes have to curb their intentions.

Is this REVISION? Yes, but with a new twist. We are listening to our characters, seeing improvements to our manuscript, but do we use everything? No. We make adjustments and modifications to our story, save some for the sequel. As we travel through each page, we review, reconsider, find expansions to our story. As we progress, we might even develop new plots to have our characters undertake or risk.

Revision now becomes a mission as we make corrections and let our characters express themselves in different gambles. This makes the VISION of REVISION work for our manuscript.

Happy Revisions. Happy Visions. Happy Writing.