A Quote & Some Tricks for Being More Creative

I like quotes, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.  Some people just say the right thing and why not share their words of wisdom?  So here is this week’s quote, something as writers we probably all need to keep in mind…because we all have those days. 🙂

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. – Joyce Meyer

TypewriterFontWriterAnd not to leave it at that, I thought I’d share this article from the wonderful people at The Write Life, 3 Ways to Train Your Brain to be More Creative, which is designed to help freelancers in particular, but from which we could all benefit.

One trick is to get into a routine.  And we all love that.  I write my screenplays primarily at night when the house is quiet, the courtyard of my building is quiet, it’s dark and I can’t see how lovely it is outside, and when my phone won’t ding.  I’ve always been this way.  I switched to writing my blog and doing “homework” during the daylight hours though, so I feel there’s a separation in my work.

One of the other tricks is to do something fun beforehand in order to warm up your brain.  The author references Pavlov.  On my old laptop I used to play a few hands of solitaire, now I play a little Tetris on my computer, because my original Nintendo system is old.  Yes, I still have it.  I don’t need to do this all the time, not anymore, I’ve trained myself.  But when I get stuck on some facet in my writing, I will play a little Tetris, which doesn’t take any thought process, my hands just keep working, and I can usually work out the problem.  I think it has to do with not trying to force the solution.  I allow my brain to work it out without concentrating solely on it; it keeps working even though I feel like I shut it off.

I hope you find this helpful.

Have a wonderful and productive week!

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The Business of Rewriting

EditingAs I embark on yet another rewrite, and hopefully the last, on my first screenplay, I’ve been reviewing all the notes I’ve taken on rewriting (from books, articles, webinars) and thought I’d share a few things that should be relevant for all writers.  We’ve all heard it, and I’ve said it a time or two here, that all writing is rewriting.

First off, there should be a distinction made between editing and rewriting.  Editing is working with that final draft to make it great (and ready).  Rewriting is improving each element within your story; characters, dialogue, scenes, using the right words for impact, etc.  According to Dictionary.com – Editing means:

1. to supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.)
2. to collect, prepare, and arrange materials for publication
3. to revise or correct

Whereas Rewriting means:

1. to write in a different form or manner
2. to write again

So we will first rewrite, then edit.  Unless you’re like me, who loves to edit while they write.  Don’t follow my lead.  The first draft should be all the things you hope your story will be.  You should write it from the heart, because the subsequent drafts will be from the head.  The first draft should be free of restrictions, over-thinking, and self-censorship.  You should be carefree and wide-eyed, because it might be the last time you feel that way for the rest of this story.

One of the first lessons I learned in regards to rewriting is to remember “your vision”.  Sometimes while writing our vision gets lost.  Rewriting is the time to get reacquainted with it.  Remember why you wanted to tell this story.  Look for holes, problems with story or structure, forgotten characters (I did this once.  I had a character in the first half of a screenplay who I forgot to use later.  Oh yea, they must have been really interesting.), and logic.  Logic is one of my favorite rewriting techniques, “What would really happen?”  Trying to force a situation to get our characters where we want may make it read false.  How our characters (and people in general) would really respond in any situation is a great way to judge if our story is reading true, and might actually solve some problems we’ve run into.

I primarily write screenplays, so I have a lot of rewriting tips specifically designed for screenwriting which I can share in another post.  I wanted to keep this one a little more broad and offer some sites with helpful tips.  Many I’ve referred to myself.  LitReactor is great.  If you haven’t discovered them yet, take a look.  Use the search bar for editing or rewriting tips and you’ll come across articles like, How To Break Up With Your First DraftWriting Sentences With Impact, or 5 Steps to a Successful Digital Rewrite, in addition to a great many other articles.  The Write Life has articles about 25 Editing Tips, or Write Better Stories By Asking These Questions.  This may be part one in a series, because there is a lot of information out there.

So, if I find anything else, I’ll pass it along.  I hope you’re all having a great and productive week!

How To Survive The Writing Highs & Lows

TypewriterFontWriterWriters are a misunderstood bunch.  To the outside world, one might think our lives are spent wistfully daydreaming the day away.  That we spend our time living in imaginary worlds, not staring blindly at a blinking cursor on a white screen for long stretches of time while we try to find the exact right words for every single word we want to put down, or the time spent learning and honing our craft, or the mental (and sometimes physical) obstacles we need to hurdle to finish a piece, in addition to all the other things we’ve learned we need to do in order to write professionally along the way.  Writing can sometimes be an exhausting pursuit.

After last week’s admission of current shortcomings, I discovered that I sometimes follow a pattern.  What’s nice about this “light bulb” moment is that I can now use it to my advantage.  Being aware of the non-productive periods can help me lessen them in the future.  All of life is a learning curve.  Sometimes we are made to repeat certain instances until we come to an understanding, learn the lesson, and stop repeating them.  I’ve written about the marathon-style sprints I’ve been on and I’ve written about the dry spells.  There is no more or less passion during either of these times, but there is an ease in which the flow occurs.  This is something that “other” people will not understand.

So, as I decided to stop the madness and get back to work, I had a bit of a serendipitous moment when I found this article entitled, How the Ups and Downs of Writing Can Improve Your Craft.  Again, from The Write Life (who are quickly becoming my go-to site).  The third bullet point in the lows is exactly where I’ve been – finding out what has brought me down and fixing it…the only way I know how – Get back to writing.  I’ve reassessed some of my goals and am making some imaginary deadlines to get me focused again.

I’m not sure where I read it, but I have it on my board, a mantra of sorts that I’ve had to get back into the habit of repeating:

Discipline, Focus, Positive Energy

It is one of my goals to remain positive.  It may sound strange, but I’ve seen a few things that suggest that positivity is a choice.  It’s easy to fall prey to depressing thoughts, or feelings of inadequacy, and I would prefer not to, not anymore.  This recent low has reminded me of that.  So I suppose there’s good in that.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors and lots of positive thoughts!

Good luck!

A Little Writing Help

TypewriterFontWriter

I’m feeling sort of negative today.  A few things have compounded leaving me a little sour.  So rather than give into those feelings or give them any power, I’ve decided to be helpful.  My blog is supposed to be about writing, romance, and fantasy, in addition to the journey of becoming an established writer, so maybe this week I’ll pursue some of those other avenues in the hopes that it will lighten my mood.  Maybe I’ve been too serious, too focused on one goal…maybe I should cut loose, at least a little. :\

I came across this interesting article that deciphers the various questions you might be asked in a creative meeting whether with film executives or publishers, such as “Why this character?”, “Why this story?”, “Why now?”.  If you’re struggling with a particular story, asking yourself some of these questions might help you resolve those issues, or might reiterate to yourself why you were inspired to write this story in the first place.  Also, within each question topic are further tips to explore.  I’ll give ’em a look, and pass on the details.  If you beat me to it, please share.

Then there’s The Write Life.  You may have noticed I reference them, occasionally.  I follow them on Facebook and find a lot of useful tips and offerings.  They recently posted an article about 20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards.  As you are all probably aware by now, I love Pinterest.  I’ve been doing the whole cork board thing for years, and really wish I would’ve come up with this idea.  (That would’ve been one way to supplement my lifestyle.)  I’m currently going through the boards suggested to see which would be helpful.  This idea alone has inspired me to search out more useful tips to share on my boards, so look for those new additions soon.

I hope you’re all having a productive week and I wish you all the best!

Rewriting Madness

EditingI’m finding that most writers have a hard time moving onto something new when there’s still work to be done on the piece they just completed.  Take me, for example.  I am so determined to get my first script right, that I can’t move onto anything else (I have tried), and what’s worse, more ideas keep popping up for other stories or new ones, so that I feel like my brain is running in every direction possible without really going anywhere, not with any real progress anyway.  I should learn from this, go work on something else, and then maybe the answers I seek would come to me…but I can’t.  I am compelled, driven, possessed…Last night at my writer’s group, we discussed this very topic.  When you’re so close to a piece, it’s hard to gain any perspective.  Sometimes you need  little break.  I’ve written about this before and it was reiterated to me last night.  It’s the “forest through the trees” scenario.  It’s hard to leave something unfinished.  We tend to feel guilty that we aren’t working on it.  Why would we spend all this time without seeing it through to the end?

This particular script has always been my baby (but is quickly becoming the redheaded stepchild – sorry redheads, no offense intended, as I’m sure you’ve noticed my love of ginger boys 😉 ).  The one I thought would do good things.  And yet every pass I make at it makes me feel further away from its original purpose.  This is why it would be a very good idea to separate myself for a little while.  There are a few impending deadlines, but getting some distance is probably best for everyone involved, because I’m not sure if the new ideas are any better at this point.  *If anyone has any resources to utilize to solve this dilemma, PLEASE share them!

When I talked with another writer, a novelist, last night, about the rewriting process, we agreed that being a novelist is better because of ownership.  You work with an editor who helps suggest ways of improving your work, but you are the author of that piece.  Your name will be the only one on it.  Whereas a screenwriter works alone for months or years honing that script into a viable, sellable work, only to be replaced.  It makes me cringe every time I think of it.  And this is where the crazy begins…

Okay, I realize I’m rambling.  Probably because I’m going crazy.  This is all madness.  Rewriting madness.  I believe it’s a state of mind that happens to all writers driven to finalize their work.  And then I heard this –

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated. Neurotic. Caffeine-addled. Crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” — Robert DeNiro

I’m not quite sure how to respond to this except to say that now maybe people will understand what we go through on a regular basis.  If you’re also struggling with the “madness” here are a couple of links I shared before about editing.  One from The Write Life and the other is a list of essays regarding rewriting from LitReactor so you can decide on the topic that might work best for you.

Here’s to regaining some sanity!  Wishing you all the best!

A Few Things…

A long weekend with my sister off from work led to very little progress on the writing front.  We did finally watch some movies on the ever-growing Netflix queue, so a little progress made on the personal to do list, as well as getting the living space more organized.  Yay.  And I’m finally making some headway in the novel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  It takes a little effort, because his writing style is very particular, but a definite read for any writer.  Quick overview – it’s about the future and how books are banned.  One of my goals (not to be completed in a year) is to read all the “best” books.  I grew up in a state that ranks at the bottom of education, so I’ve taken it upon myself to read those things I should have years ago.  I alternate a must-read with a pleasure-read, but have been doing rather poorly the last year or so, so, it’s on the list!  Here’s a link to the 100 Best Novels, if you’re up for the challenge.  I was recently asked why I’m doing this, and my response, “I’m a writer.  I should be educated in those that are considered great in my field”.

I wanted to do more with my dot.com (I love saying that), so I’ve started to add “Excerpts” of my work for a little insight into the types of stories I’ve written (all part of the “branding” I’m trying to achieve), a “Calendar of Events” for contests and writing opportunities (there are links for you to explore), and a Pinterest link to see the types of things that inspire me; people, places, castles, clothes, art, etc.  Take a gander if you want to waste a little time –

Hiddles(rugged)

(in adding that link, I still had Tom Hiddleston on the page, so that was a nice, welcome sight…So this is for my fellow Hiddles’ swooners!  Yes, those are both words.  Or will be.)  All of these are a work in progress.  And I’d love if you’d share any writing items (contests, meetings, conventions, classes, etc) of note as well.  I’ll put them up on the calendar.

Today’s post is a little random, as I am, at the moment…LitReactor shared The 10 Weirdest and Most Wonderful Libraries in the World.  I think I could be happy working in a library.  I’ve always wanted to open a little coffee/tea shop and have loads of books that people could take, swap, share.  That’ll be later.

And then not to forget about the writer’s struggle, The Write Life shared the Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing.  This would be a monetary investment, but sometimes, it’s necessary.  I have a couple of those to make in order to move forward.  This would be one of those catch-22 scenarios where you need a little money to make a little money.

So it’s Thursday and this is my first post of the week.  Shameful.  I hope you’re all doing better than I!

Continued success!

Websites for Writers

This list will probably take some time to go through, but I wanted to share it.  The Write Life Presents: The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014.  I’ll slowly make my way and if anything stands out, I’ll be sure to make special note of it.  And please do the same.

Here’s to a productive week!  Best of luck!

All About Being Helpful

Writing-Clip-ArtSo I’m done moping.  Although I felt a slight indignation last night, today I only wanted to send out positive energy.  As writers, we are always striving to better our writing by continuously reading and learning.  In this vein, I am attaching a handful of, hopefully, helpful resources…do with them what you will.  I have a dozen or so pages to read (oh, yes, again), and will share what I learn from all of those next week.  I suppose this is a good way to accumulate a blog inventory.

Although mainly for screenwriters, Script offers tips and advice that all writers can take advantage of.  If you haven’t taken a look at their site yet, besides their own blogs and information, they offer free downloads on a variety of topics, such as query letters, editing, dialogue, networking, etc.  I’m taking a look at a couple of them this weekend that I’ve already downloaded to test their value.  Here is the list of available downloads.

LitReactor is another useful site.  If you’re a fan of Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club, and my personal favorite, Invisible Monsters), you’ll be happy to learn he regularly contributes.  My favorite article from him is about Thought Verbs.  He reassures the reader that it will make for better writing and who’s going to argue with a writer like Chuck?  I also follow them of Facebook so I don’t miss anything.

A site I came across today, Daily Writing Tips, has loads of information on everything from grammatical errors to proper punctuation to proper word usage.  This would be a good one to bookmark as a reference tool.  I also like the site by Grammar Girl, Quick and Dirty Tips.

I’m also a fan of the site, The Write Life.  I’ve attached articles multiple times from this particular page and follow them on Facebook as well.

Well, that should be enough to get you started.  *Wink.  Please feel free to share sites you find useful as well!

Have a wonderful and productive weekend!

*Image from megrosoff.co.uk  

Writers Resources

TypewriterFontWriterIn my continuing effort to impart useful information, or what I hope will be considered useful amidst my ramblings, I found a couple of things.

1) The Write Life.  Yep, them again.  They shared an article about finding blog ideas when you can’t stare at the blank screen for one more minute.  Trying to find subject matter on a regular basis can feel daunting, so I hope you’ll find this helpful.  This may not affect you, yet, but it might be a good idea to bookmark the page, just in case.

2) For writers wanting to adapt a novel to a screenplay, you may want to take a look at this free download from Script.  Script often offers this service of free downloads on various topics; blogging, query letters, ebooks, etc.  I would recommend following them or signing up for their notices.  This site offers a lot of information in regards to screenwriting in particular, but some of those skills are easily transferable.

I have been thinking about adding a calendar that would display networking opportunities and deadlines for writing contests.  Useful or no?

Happy Wednesday!

*Image from DL Koontz site

Editing Tips

EditingAll writing is rewriting.  So editing is something we writers must be good at (well, good might not be the best word for the ninja like precision we must hack away at our beloveds).  We must be swift and merciless when it comes to cutting down description, dialogue, and the stuff I like to call “fluff” (the extra things you might like and want to add but aren’t truly necessary to tell the story).  Sometimes we have to cut whole, beautiful, emotional scenes or likable characters…there’s that pang in my chest just thinking about it…because it doesn’t work.  It doesn’t drive the story.  As a screenwriter, I think it’s worse.  You only have 120 pages (or less) and there’s so much blank page (and then there are so many more hands in that pot as it moves forward).  As creatives, placing limitations on our process is a contradiction.  That’s why you write from the heart in the first draft and from the head in the inevitable numerous following drafts.  *And this is why you don’t need to read the following articles until you are ready to edit.  Don’t let them sway you.

Yes, we create something out of nothing.  But.  That first draft is never as good as it seemed in our heads.  Sometimes to get our character from point A to point B they have to take a few detours and that changes the story on the page from where we originally imagined it.  So, there has to be finessing, finding different ways to say the same thing, and the inevitable (just in time for Halloween) horror movie style slashing.

I, myself, am in the midst of yet another rewrite on one of my scripts, my baby, and am really having a difficult time separating my emotions from the story I’m trying to tell and the best way to tell it.  I’ve had this story in the works for quite some time and every time I go in for a rewrite, it changes dramatically.  This time around, I’m cutting the entire third act and reworking the earlier scenes and it’s starting to morph into something else entirely, yet again, which at this point, I’m not even sure I like yet.  And what’s worse, I’m on a deadline.

So today I offer up two sites with some tips.  The first is an article by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk, on LitReactor about “thought” verbs.  The other is a checklist by The Write Life — 25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy.

I wish you all the best in your writing efforts!  Have a great week!

*Image found on professionalnoveleditors.com