Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Taking Time Off Mid-Project can CAUSE Writer's Block

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King writes "I'll also suggest that you can take one day a week off, at least to begin with. No more; you'll lose the urgency and immediacy of your story if you do."

Dun Dun Duh... This is what I have allowed myself to do. I have taken too many days off and allowed my story and characters to stagnate. Now...how do I get them back?

Neil Gaiman suggests: "Put it aside for a few days. Then sit down and read it as if you've never seen it before. And often, when you get to the end you'll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are."

I have already put it aside for (more than) a few days, so this is definitely a good one to try.

Orson Scott Card says: “Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me."

Ok, I can see this point as well. While I think my block has to do with too much time away from the story, I should definitely reread and make sure my scenes are believable and important to the story.

Charlie Jane Anders writes about 10 Types of Writer's Block. "If you've been stuck in the middle for a while, though, then you probably need to do something to get the story moving again. Introduce a new complication, throw the dice, or twist the knife. Mark Twain spent months stuck in the middle of Huckleberry Finn before he came up with the notion of having Huck and Jim take the wrong turn on the river and get lost. If you're stuck for a while, it may be time to drop a safe on someone."

Well, I HAVE been stuck for awhile now...perhaps it is time to throw in a plot twist that even I didn't see coming.

MJ Bush at WritinGeekery says "What causes writer’s block? It can be any number of things, but the most common is reaching a plateau in your learning curve."  She goes on to define my particular problem as: "Burnout: You have no inspiration or motivation." Some of her suggestions for conquering writer's block include "Focus on getting better rather than doing good. Reflect on your progress. Track your improvement. Gauge your real skill level."

My favorite take-away from MJ is to focus on getting better. As long as I am improving my craft, whether by reading, studying the craft, or writing on another project, I will never be a victim of complete Writer's Block.

In her Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block, Ginny Wiehardt writes: "Implement a Writing Schedule. Carve out a time to write and then ignore the writer's block. Show up to write, even if nothing comes right away. When your body shows up to the page at the same time and place every day, eventually your mind — and your muse — will do the same."

This advice is some I have seen several times in researching how to overcome the dreaded "block." It may well be the first idea I implement. I absolutely think this suggestion will help in my writing. (Now, how to schedule this time around working full time midnight shift, homeschooling and generally being available as wife and mother...but that is fodder for another post.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I'm No "Niche" Writer

Recently, I have been on hiatus from blogging, and really, from writing of any kind. My muse seems to have gone on an extended vacation and the joy I normally feel when creating has been robbed.

I originally took a break from my blog, planning to do some soul searching. I needed to find my "niche market." I needed to determine who my target audience was, and write the things they need or want to read. It seemed every writing blog was telling me to stop writing about the things I care about and focus on one area.

Well, I have a problem with that...I am not a 2-dimensional being. I am multi-faceted and I cannot channel my writing energy into one subject area.

Learning this about myself gave me some pause at first--I wondered if my readers would be put-off by the fact that I cannot stick to one subject. In the end, I decided to attempt to categorize my posts and if a reader isn't interested in a post about homeschool, she can skip through and read a sewing tutorial or a bit of flash fiction.

So far, the categories I have come up with are:



Flash Fiction

Life Skills (Home and Family planning, organization, budgeting, parenting, etc)

Writing Rubbish (Anything I wish to write about writing).

Almost everything I write can be categorized into one of these five areas. This will give me more leniency than trying to write about only one subject, and will serve as a bit of variety to (hopefully) increase my readership.

I understand that some people feel this decision may hurt my chances as a writer, but I have to do what I feel is right for me.
And that is what I want to leave you with...follow your own heart instead of trying to fit someone else's mold. Your own mold is waiting for you, and it fits you perfectly.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Flash Friday - Willow's Wrath

Picture Prompt for Flash Friday @ http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/ 
Click the link for rules and to enter your own flash, then read my response below.
Bell Tower of Guadalest, Costa Blanca, Spain. CC photo by Anguskirk.
Willow's Wrath

Willow sprinted through the old forest, flames licking her heels. This was her final race--the bell tower, her goal.

Tears streamed down her face--she cried for the trees, for the animals, and for the spirits.

She stumbled up the stone steps towards the tower. At their summit, she summoned the last of her strength to ring the bell. Its peals echoed through the hills--a warning of approaching danger.

Willow murmured a final prayer for her people and flung herself from the tower. Eyes closed, she welcomed death.

Her eyes opened in the spirit world--but nothing had changed. She rode the wind, untouched by the fire as it consumed the forest.

As her village came into view, she willed the wind to turn south--it hesitated, unaccustomed to following orders. She strengthened her resolve and commanded the wind to change direction.

Seeing her village was unharmed, she searched for the pale faces--they would not escape their carelessness, nor her wrath.

As a bonus, here are two more bits of flash I wrote recently which I didn't blog.
Earth goddess. Imaginary Worlds exhibit, Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo by C. Joey Ivansco.

Fountain of Beauty

In a fit of jealous rage, she trapped me here--turned me into an earthen statue, living but dead. It was not my fault Zeus loved me, I did nothing to entice him--but Hera is a jealous woman.

I do not create the water, but it flows from my hand. I can influence it, poison it, imbue the drinker with special qualities. Now...what would infuriate Hera?

Each maiden who drinks from my pool will be given a double portion of my beauty. The nymphs who make their home in my waters will be second in beauty only to Aphrodite herself.

Zeus will be filled with all-consuming lust for these, my daughters. Hera will have no choice but to release me from my prison. But in case she gets any ideas to partake of my nectar herself, my spell will work in reverse on any immortal who drinks.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Chia Goddess

“Earth Goddess” my sign reads but the flowers here have given me another name.

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-chia!” they call.

“In a few days you will be nothing but a grass-covered hill,” laughs the Peony.

“You look like an overgrown Chia pet,” chortles the Dahlia.

As the seeds begin to grow, I fear they are right—their taunts weaken me, and even my Chia grass withers. I will be but a barren hilltop—not even fit to grow grass.

Deep inside, something stirs. Their barbed words no longer bind.

I set my mind to my task. I enrich my soil daily. I drink in the water, the sun, and the nutrients available. More plants inhabit my soil—only a little Chia grass remains.

When the botanical garden opens, people hurry past the Roses, Irises and Dahlias. The Lilies are admired but a moment.

At my exhibit, people linger; they gaze on me with wonderment. I am now worthy of the name Earth Goddess.

I welcome your comments. Which story is your favorite? Why?