Posts Tagged ‘writing’

On Writing Crappy and Writing Great (or at Least Better)

May 24, 2013

I guess reporters don’t know which column will be published when, or else the California Writers Club Young Writers Contest article and photo just didn’t make it into my edition of the Contra Costa Times on May 23.  Next time I’ll only post it here when I see it in the paper myself. 

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As I’ve been working on a project, I’ve found myself being concerned with the marketing aspect and how the publicist would  react to the story.  After the day’s work, I closed my computer and purposely didn’t re-read my words. 

The next morning, I printed out my chapter and took a clipboard to revise and work on another scene.  Reading what I had written, my jaw dropped.  Who was this stilted writer who had composed these awkward sentences?  Do I know this person?  Where did she come from? If she was in my writing class, I’d take her aside and tell her to forget the final phases of book production, and free herself by going back to the basics.  Think about character!  Relax.  Wonder about the story, don’t let the final outcome block the writing process.

I set aside my previous day’s disaster, and started over.  This time, I let my mind wander over my characters and their world.  “No worries,”  I told myself.  “Have fun with these people.  Get to know them.  You don’t have to write the very next chapter.  Just write a scene where they talk to each other. What’s the worst problem they can get into together?  What will they do?”

Writing Prompts:

1.  What is a dramatic or interesting conflict you can have your character get into?  Can it somehow be based on her greatest fear?

2.  What emotion does your scene evoke?  What do you want your reader to feel?

3.  What is the motivation for why the characters in your scene act the way they do?

4.  Write about your characters BEFORE this scene.  What is their back story?

5.  Within your writing, can you locate where you are showing and where you are telling?  Highlight the telling.  If you have too much highlighting, where can you show in a scene rather than tell?  Or where can you cut out the telling all together?  If it doesn’t move your story forward, cut it out.

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Of Writing Retreats and Workshops

November 6, 2012

 At a writing retreat, our group met in the evening around a crackling fire trading stories and advice about writing and the publishing world.  Since the rustic building at Asilomar wasn’t completely ours, another couple we didn’t know came inside to go to their room.  But they stopped and sat on the stairs, encouraged by our animated and unique conversation. 

The woman listened for a while and then chimed in that she, too, wrote children’s books and used to be a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

Used to be?” asked one of us.  “Why did you stop being involved?

“The workshops were all about writing,” she said.  “I know how to write. I just want to be published!” 

Did she ever get published?  I bet you can guess the answer to that one. 

Writing Prompts:

 1.  Search out a writing workshop (online, at a bookstore, library, adult ed, community college, recreation department, etc.) to help your writing grow. 

2.  Attend author events when you can.  Listening to other authors discuss their work and how they write are inspiring and can show us how we can use their methods in our work.

3.  Find a writing partner and meet in person or online to talk about writing or do a writing prompt together. 

4.  Take yourself out for an artist’s date.  Attend a concert, art show, walk in nature, and see a play or movie.  Expand your universe!

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California College of the Arts is offering an MFA in COMICS!

 http://www.cca.edu/academics/graduate/comics

Stumped in your creativity? It’s a GOOD THING!

May 28, 2012

Jonah Lehrer says in his book, Imagine, “Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling with frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we’ve hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.”

It’s comforting to know that a block within our writing is not only normal, but leads us to inspiration.

According to Lehrer, “The act of being stumped – – – is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer – before we probably even know the question – – – we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. We need to have wrestled with the problem and lost.”

So if you are muddling through your mushy middle or plodding through a particularly picky plot point, don’t worry, just wonder. Lehrer points out that the best creativity happens not when we are trying too hard, but when we aren’t. Daydreaming, sleeping, and NOT thinking about it actually is part of creativity too.

Now I’m going to relax, daydream and eat chocolate.  After all, it’s writing, right?

Writing Prompts:

1. Read Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer and come up with out-of-the-box ways to create your art.

2. Write without sitting in front of your computer and minus a writing instrument in your hand.

3. Draw an object or a person you’ve seen every day. Lehrer points out that drawing is a different kind of thinking. We observe more acutely when we must recreate it.

4. Now write about what you’ve drawn.

Let Music Motivate Writing

April 25, 2009

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2539741

Great blog for interested children’s writers!

April 5, 2009

http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/