Friday, January 21, 2011

What If...1 Step to Conquering Writer's Block

Isn't it incredible the capacity we have to imagine? We can imagine anything...everything, and even beyond that.

Even if you're not a writer, or a poet, or an artist, you're sure to ask even once a day, "What if...". Your mind may wander, even for the briefest of moments, following the train of thought you're humanly inclined to wonder, and suddenly, you're creating a story in your head (some may call it fantasizing, or daydreaming but it's still all the same).

Each of us creates our own stories, perhaps several times a day.

Fellow writers and artists. Take this as a prose--a writing exercise. Especially useful if you find yourself struggling with writer's block. Start small. Consider this, while you're driving in the morning going to wherever it is you're going to, imagine...what if I ran the next red light I see?

Imagine the conclusions your mind will conjure. If I run the next light I see, I could get rammed in the side, or get pulled over by a hiding cop. Or, I could freak out and slam the brakes, causing my car to whip out of control and I'll slam into something--a pole, another car, a person...

If I run the next light I see, I could forever alter the course of my life...and maybe end someone else's. And then think about how that would happen, how your life would forever be altered. Whether it's devastating, such as a death, or finding God.

Very deep I know (smirk). Writer's block is a funny thing. But with simple exercises and the willingness to push aside our fears of inferior writing, we can shatter that block and get our minds listing out all the possibilities. I kept the above example very simple. But I know that when it comes to creative writing, we're going to need to push ourselves even beyond that.

Consider my latest work, Violet Storm. I came up with the idea very simply at first. "What if a young girl several hundreds of years from now, in a fractured civilization, woke up remembering nothing--not even how she got into a shed, far away from home, with no memory of what's happened to her? What if she lost a month of her life? What happened in that month? And why is she suddenly exhibiting special...abilities?"

My imagination ran into overdrive. I wanted to answer these questions. I wanted to know this young girl and I wanted to help her. But she was going to have to go through some very tough obstacles. And she was going to have to kill someone before the story ended.

So take a pen, take a photograph, take a piece of music, and just let your imagination do what its damn good at doing...and see where the journey takes you.

Below are some photographs I found that I've been studying. I seek out the emotions behind them. I ask the questions that I know may never be answered, but that my imagination is willing to fill in.

Above is a girl with doves wings...because they're too small to be angels wings. I wonder if she's pretty, or if she's disfigured considering the way she turns her back to me. Isn't she cold? Why is she outside? Does anyone else know her secret?

Is the rain as warm as her smile? I wonder what she dreams of when she closes her eyes? She's going to raise her head up to the sky soon, isn't she? Motion, I sense motion. She's dancing in the rain.

Happy all of us.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A New Direction

Happy New Year everybody!

Oh wait...that already happened weeks ago. That's okay because it brings me to the reason of this blog. I need to continue writing and more importantly, quit being a complete lazy-ass about it. Even if it's writing this blog, I NEED to write daily. So I'm going to take a new direction with my blog--expand the focus. And the best thing is that it's not just to help myself (which is still the biggest reason--I know, I'm a selfish girl) but to help other aspiring writer's who find themselves in the same shoes as me. Even though, I hope you aren't, because I wear a size 5 in children's...

Just kidding.

Okay, totally bad analogy because it's "in the same boat" and not "shoes". Terrible.

So today's lesson is, finding inspiration in other authors and their works.
My pick of the day is Brent Weeks.

I picked up Brent's first novel, The Way of Shadows this past weekend and I'm having trouble putting the damn thing down. Which sounds like I'm complaining--because I kind of am--because I'd really like to work on my own writing instead of getting absorbed in someone else's damn good story.

Brent's got a really wicked sense of humor, which may not be as apparent in his writing, but you can certainly see his wit. In exploring his website I found myself laughing and finding him a wonderful motivator but really a breath of fresh air when it comes to learning about the writing/publishing industry. His whole take on being an author isn't too shabby either.

One thing that stood out was this quote from Brent (when asked: Can you read my story?): "In my opinion, writers aren’t even the best people to HAVE read your story. First, we tend to like our own way of doing things in stories, and secondly, writers tend to make decisions in our own writing intuitively rather than analytically. Editors and agents make better analysts, in my experience."

It got me thinking about my current fears in being a part of a writer's group. Particularly the one I'm in now. Guess, it's safe to admit, I'm not entirely comfortable about the whole thing. And shouldn't I be comfortable for something like this? Here are other imaginative writers, reading and critiquing my work. Except, instead of relief, it feels like a nightmare. During each critque, everyone's posture is rigid, tense, ready to defend themselves when being critiqued, and then when it comes to you, everyone is eager to take a stab like a gang-b--well I won't finished that thought. But you get where I'm going.

For now, I've decided to stick with it, because having someone read my work is better than having no one reading it at all. My vanity tends to think everything that pops out of my butt is the best thing since slice bread. So I don't trust my butt anymore.

Even if those same people offend me by asking things like, "Is English your second language?" or "Are you trying to create your own literary language...because I just don't get it.". I know...WOW, right? Feel like stabbing me in the face while you're at it?

But that's okay! I'd rather have grammar issues than faulty story-telling. Because apparently, my pacing is flawless, and my imagination is incredible. Here's where I'm raising my brow...

Okay, okay. Back to Brent Weeks. Awesome Shadow series. Great fantasy! Good read, and something to aspire to when it comes to creating strong characterization. Thumbs up, dude.