CONNECTION

Two friends“Hey, Ethel, did you see the title of her new blog? Bet she got this from our friendship.”

“Edna, we gave her a great picture of connection. Let’s see what she has to say.”

Look at the blank page before you begin writing. Do you know what your mind has for your fingers to create? This is like a blank canvas and your mind can develop anything you want. But, have you thought out your picture? What about your story? Pictures and stories seem to coincide. Your picture can stir up thoughts of a story and your story can create pictures in your mind. Yep, they go hand-in-hand. Sometimes as writers, we have looked at pictures as prompts and encouraged to write twenty-five words about the picture. As an artist, we read a story and see everything in pictures or paintings. Some are lucky and can do both–me, let’s just say do not put a paint brush in my hand. I cannot do good on walls, let alone a small piece of paper.

What if you have started your story and had to stop. Do you go back and take the time to read what you have written. No, not just a sentence or two, but maybe a chapter. You need to keep the characteristics of your characters the same and plod forward. You do not want that meek character to turn into an arrogant creature in the next sentence. This is where you connect from reading a few pages back.

Once you are into your story and spend time with your characters, it is easier to pick up where you stopped. You now their behaviors, their dispositions, and their voices. Voice is important for all of your characters. Even without naming the speaker, the reader knows the voice. The character uses their specific words to express themselves and the way they articulate their words. The reader ‘knows’ this person you have created.

If you are writing a singe title book, the characters are there just for this book. But, what happens if this is a series? You will need to carry your characters over to the next book with some their same traits. Of course, they may change as you give them opportunities to grow. Guess what? Now you have more choices to make and more time with your characters.

This is where the pictures in your mind help you connect. Be free with your pictures and your characters will show you their other side(s). Most of all, have fun with your writing and let your characters lead you down different paths.

Happy Pictures. Happy Characters. Happy Writing.

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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?

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

CHANGES – NO NOT AGAIN

Lost ConfidenceYes, you read the title right. How many times do we make changes in our daily lives? No, forget about the little things that drive us crazy, but major hurdles to climb or jump over. Deadlines are changed and never forward, always yesterday. If you are writing, you know the ones where the edits were due and you still have one more chapter to go through.

What about passwords?  I could write a book on passwords and their strengths, but who remembers all the letters, caps, numbers, the %%% and then the &&&, and then the oops, forgot to lock the number key. Yes, we all have to make certain our lives and our work is secure. Yet, there are days I feel like a machine that is half-broken and can’t remember where I was or where I need to start. Hey, maybe I finished and…

Yet, one thing I learned, there is so much more to be learned. Learning is one part of life that never stops and this also involves change or changes. Ya, gotta learn to roll with the ball and go around corners, curves, cut your own way, and yes have fun. I took a good look at the picture and decided PUG would be his name, gotta love that tie. You can’t tell if he is disgusted about wearing the tie, or just in one of those “so what moods.”

Moods are indicators of changes we hit along life’s highway. Angry does not get us to the next mile post. Impatience has a tendency to increase the anger, if we can’t get something like now. Do some of these things come to you through your characters? Here we are writing and need to give our protagonist or antagonist something to bring a surprise into our scene. Well, here is your chance to bring out all of your ideas on change and changes. Try them on your characters and see how they fit.

Before long, you will laugh at some of the things you are asking of your characters in trying to put them through so many loop holes. Yet, we do the same things to ourselves every day. Why be serious all the time. Laugh, Have Fun. Pretend. Give yourselves day off from all the changes. Then go back and you can change your characters’ personalities. Let them have fun too. Lighten the atmosphere. If they want to be eccentric, maybe that is just the point you need to make in this scene.

Changes will happen every day, several times a day, but you do not always have to make them. Changes are possibilities arising out of complications. Make sure you need to change, want to change, and give yourselves time to make changes, even give this time to your characters. Maybe the ARC is not happening for them or you. Don’t push the scene. Instead be like PUG, just stretch out and watch what happens, with or without the tie.

Happy Changes.  Happy Contemplations.  Happy Writing.

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.

CREATIVE CHALLENGES

energyDo you have them? Do you ignore them? Do you not believe in them? What do you do with them?

A lot of questions with no set answers. Why? Because every writer has their own version of creative challenges, and it start at the beginning…or does it?

What if you were to start writing the ending and then travel back to the beginning? Would your story have a different ending or a different beginning?

How many of you remember or saw the movie, The Spanish Prisoner? What did you decide after seeing this film. It could be anyone of us out to play with the possibilities of capture or secrets.

Then the movie, Memento, pops into my mind. Was the guy crazy? Did he really kill his wife? Or did he watch his best friend commit the crime?

This is a challenge to all writers:

Start your story at the end and create as you travel backwards to the beginning. This makes for a different type of writing. You have the ending, but how did this story begin?

The ending hits your heart and soul, but why? Dig deeper and see where you came from and then stop. Let all of these scenes into your head and fingertips. Your writing will take you back to the beginning at a slow pace. You will see and feel everything in a deeper way and a more vibrant color, than starting at the beginning and going to the end.

Confused? Yeah, a little. Okay, start a different way. You write down the first scene that comes to your mind. This is the story you want to write. You know the characters, who will be in your story, their lifestyles, their loves, and their secrets. It is a beginning, but as a writer you feel empty. You plot your scenes and know there is something more, but what? The ending must come first. So you begin at the end, and this is a summary of my thoughts, at this time:

“Stop. You cannot close the casket. She is not dead. I just talked with her and she needs to tell me more about the argument.”

“Ma’am, she is dead. There is no chance for error.”

“Then, why do I hear her pounding on the casket lid?”

People quiet. There is no talking, no noise, no cranks of the equipment to lower the casket further, but there is no sound.

“Shh, I hear her talking.” The casket lid opens with a slight push, and her gloved hand slips into the open space.

‘He is here. Find him.” Her voice comes out sure and strong. The lid closes again, and her voice is quiet.

Okay writers, start your story backwards from this point and work your way to the beginning. A love story backwards. A mystery with the death before the why.

Have a great time with this scenario and let your thoughts push your writing into another depth.

HAVE FUN. WRITE BACKWARDS. EXPLORE NEW DEPTHS. HAPPY WRITING.

Writing. Plotting. Thinking.

images_080These are the hard parts of writing and it is work. If you are one of the lucky writers and stay at home, this is your full-time job. Do you create your own work zone? Sometimes, we think we need a whole room, like a home office, but you can create your own corner, your special place.

You don’t see people, so why dress up? Why? Because you are going to work and should discard the p.j’s, slippers, and bathrobe. This might be a great time to try out the new hair style, paint your nails different colors, and a definite to makeup. Now, don’t you feel better?

If you are a male writer, the first three items are to be discarded, but you need to include a shave or at least brush the beard, spray a little cologne around your area. This will give your senses something to work with.

It is lonely. You do not see others, talk to others, just write, write, write. But watch out. You must set boundaries of times you are answering emails, checking out social media, writing your blog, updating your website, and leave the coffee-time friends until the day is over.

Keep track of your time and the number of words you added to this day. Of course, this might be the day for revisions, or new submissions, or research. This is a good way to keep your writing going forward and you feel great at the end of the day.

When you begin your workday, set an alarm to announce your work is done for the day. Put everything away, go for a walk, or just relax. Tomorrow is another day.

What about the writers who work outside the home? The creative space for you is still the same. A place where you know this for serious writing. Give yourself time to switch gears, have dinner with the family, walk the dog, play with the kids, and then, when the silence enters the rooms, and things settle down, you begin writing. Some days it is writing, some research, some revision, and new submissions. Yes, you do set your alarm and put everything away for the next evening.

Writing is work and we need to work hard and play hard.

Have a productive and positive attitude as you hit the 2015 year. May you accomplish your writing goals and dreams.