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Have Fun and Be Creative…or Else!

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Writing can end up being a drag for me; a major drag when I keep my eyes off the prize. And it’s been happening a lot lately. That’s one reason I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks, to be honest. What’s the prize, you may ask? It’s the fun of being creative. The pleasure of shaping a story. That’s where I get my joy, Joseph.

How did that happen? How did you lose the fun of creativity, you also may ask? Hard to say, but, as I’ve pondered the question of motivations lately (e.g., The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing), I’ve come to a realization that there are a multitude of distractions to keep us from the creative process…and from having just some plain ol’ doll garn fun (or is it goll darn?).

How about a numbered list to keep things fun? Nobody has more fun than when reading off numbered lists! Right? I believe these are the best steps to keep from being distracted from the main goal of creativity.

1. Keep it simple. And to make my point, I’ll complicate things a bit with this Fast Company article I really enjoyed about 3 Paths Toward a More Creative Life. It comes down to three simple things (a numbered list within a numbered list–yes!): 1) Disconnecting from all the technology and getting your mind back, 2) diving into the past of other great artists/creators, and 3) mastering both knowledge and skill of your particular creative path. (Read the article–it’s so much better than what I described!)

2. Get creative to get creative. What? I mean create some dumb fun to get the creative juices flowing. (What are creative juices, anyway? Ewww.) Here’s a good example: Dad Builds Incredible Spaceship Simulator For His Son. This reminds me of the joy my brother and I had building “spaceships” from my father’s scrap wood leftover while building our cottage. I was eight years old at the time, so, of course, to me they weren’t spaceships with “quotes” around them, they were very real and…fun. Now, this dad got into some serious stuff that my brother and I couldn’t have hoped to compete against, but we improvised dials and buttons with old nails and the like. Good, clean, unadulterated, American-made fun, citizens. These are fun too: Fascinating Business Cards Of The World’s Most Famous People. Amazing how creative you can be when the first order of business is fun.

3. Just do it. For as annoying Nike marketing can be, they’re right. The article 9 Illuminating Lessons on Creativity happens to mention that point first. Creativity IS hard work. But you know what? It’s so worth it in the end. When you’ve put in the hard work, it feels good, doesn’t it? Like exercise, like yard work, like eating cake. Maybe not the last one.

Anyway, just some thoughts to ponder and some articles for your reading pleasure. Remember what probably got you started in the first place: Fun and a passion to create.

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Writing Advice from a Loser (#2) – Rewriting, Editing and Staying Organized

@pencil-bw

Plotters: “You should outline your entire story before writing!”

Pantsers (as in, By-the-Seat-of-Their Pants): “You shouldn’t waste time outlining—wing it!”

You’ve heard the terms plotters and pantsers, right? We’re all different. Like I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, you must do what works for you. (Finding what works for you takes time–and lots of writing!) Outlining works for some; writing as you go works for others.

But here’s my question…questions: What do you do when neither method seems to work for you? Use a combination of both?

I’ve resorted to both. I think that’s okay. But is that truly the challenge? For me there’s something more menacing, more antagonistic, more…okay, it’s…staying organized. My stories get crazy, grow up, live their own lives, get jobs, have kids and buy homes. And then they don’t call home. When I do talk to them, it’s like I don’t know them anymore. Who is this story child I’ve spawned?

So the questions are: How do you stay organized? How do you keep your story reigned in? How do you remember what you wrote months ago (if you’re not self-editing along the way)?

If you’re editing early on in your draft process, that’s fine, if it doesn’t slow you down too much. Gone are my days of self-editing as I write. My current novel I spit out on page within six months because I didn’t stop to slow down and see what I wrote (and edit it). I wrote 60k words in six months. There’s something remarkable about “finishing” a rough draft. Quite the confidence booster. The boost can be short lived, however, when the quick progress you made initially comes close to a halt in the rewrite process.

Now is the hard part.

Like I’ve told folks, I’m slashing and burning my story like it’s virgin rainforest. Painful at times, but rewarding too because I get to see all that I’ve accomplished with a first draft. I’ve eliminated a LOT of my original writing flourish, and much of what I put on paper will not make it to the final draft. And that’s okay.

But with that approach do you lose connection with your story if you don’t analyze it every day? If you don’t re-read it and make adjustments as you go?

These are important questions to think about. If you haven’t been there yet, be prepared. For as much as I’m a pantser most of the time, I have to admit, the plotters are on to something when it comes to planning and organization.

Either way you chose to create your stories, keep on writing! As some say, writing is easy; it’s the re-writing that’s hard.

(But it’s still fun.)

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write WRITE write…

When in doubt write

Can’t be said enough, writers! I love this post by the ever creative, Coco Ginger. This is my new Writers’ Manifesto:

write WRITE write….

I’m as serious as I can be when I say this–and I say this from my years of writing famine–stop the excuses and stop waiting for inspiration. Sit down to write and write! Inspiration will come. There is magic in your fingers.

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Writing Advice from a Loser (#1) – Know Thyself

MP900387767[1]I have published nothing. I’m on my third unfinished novel—at least. Languishing on my hard drive, there are over 50 (securely backed-up) story ideas. I’m dreadful at finishing what I start. I love ideas, but hate working out the details, hate executing every little minor but important bit of information that could haunt me later for lack of continuity. Of course, I love the end product…if I can get to an end product.

So do you really want my writing advice? I think you do.

I’ve learned a lot. I can share my pain and my suffering with you as a writer. Will you avoid my mistakes? I sure hope you do!

One BIG reason that I’ve made so many mistakes is that I’ve tried to be somebody I’m not. I’ve followed too many opinions when it comes to the creative process of novel writing and screenwriting. For both the overall writing process and the editing process.

The greatest advice I can give a writer (beside write EVERY FLIPPIN’ DAY) is this:

Here it comes…

Do what works for you.

It’s that simple. However, figuring out what works for you isn’t simple. It takes time to understand yourself. That’s the biggest reason I believe writing can be so difficult. There are no excuses, no easy detours around the hard work of writing.  It’s a trial-and-error, pain-inducing, psyche-all-in creative act—all for the purpose of discovering you and creating great stories other will read. It’s so worth it in the end.

Discover yourself in the journey, but discover yourself as you write. As you write, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work. Take note of those things and keep doing them.

Before you know it, you’ll finish a book.

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Movie Review: Julie & Julia

Let’s admit something immediately: Julie and Julia looks like a chick flick. And it is, really. Written and directed by Nora Ephron, it has to be one, no doubting your senses or the credits. Even so, Mr. Eclectic liked it.

 Okay, maybe that’s an easy one for me since I grew up with a mother who happened to be a Child-ophile (nothing to do with pedophilia, I might strongly add), owned just about every Julia Child cookbook published, and watched Child’s cooking show religiously. My formative years included watching Julia for what seemed like every day on our local PBS station. (Somehow, I found Julia Child’s unique timbre oddly engaging—more so than Mr. Rogers, that’s for sure.)

If this movie does anything for you, it should at least get you to write in a blog…or cook. Or maybe not. Unless you no longer have a pulse that others can detect, it should inspire you to pursue once again that deep passion hidden within you. Sounds sappy, I know. But, crap, if a silly movie can help me write, dang gum it, I’ll gladly watch it. There’s a remote chance a Child-induced passion for cooking may take over my current child-induced apathy for cooking, but I still have my doubts. Gorton’s fishsticks are easier—and more appreciated—in my household than beef bourguignon.

Did I say I liked this movie? While it’s another Nora Ephron all-we-women-have-this-special-bond-with-each-other-that-men-just-don’t-get film and a film about cooking, it thankfully (and fairly) takes us beyond that to treat us to how the passion of two people can positively affect so many others. Many times passion–and the ambition that goes along with it–can really make things suck, but if you stick with that passion long enough, things might just fall into place because you’ve been able to bring others along with you in that passion. For Julie and Julia–the title characters–it was their passion for cooking and writing (specifically, sharing their passion through writing) that brought success. Was success their goal? I don’t think so. It was their need to do SOMETHING with the fire that burned within them. That fire was the passion for cooking.

Speaking of passion: You’ve got to love butter!

Electric Eclectic

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