I’ve been working on my characters a lot lately. You know, those people who walk around your stories and never end up doing what you want them to? (And no, I don’t mean my character, though that could probably use some work too).
Characters are fun to work with. It’s easy to think of them as real people, fun to make up their pasts, their triumphs, mistakes, flaws. And there are lots of ways to build them out, whether you want to detail every aspect of their personality and see where they take the story, build out the story first then figure out what kind of character you need, or make them up as you go along. You can be as weird or creative with them as you want.
I pretended (please don’t tell too many people about this) I was talking to one of my characters the other day, and wrote down the interview as if I was transcribing what she was saying to me in first person. I asked her questions out loud. Never, in my entire life, have I felt more like a lunatic. I pray to god that nobody ever reads that full character sheet – her name is Alice, and her interview starts like this: Continue reading “The Third Dimension Of Character”
Thanksgiving is for friends and family. It’s for eating turkey, and mashed potatoes, and mac & cheese and stuffing and pie for dessert. For loaded down tables and creaky chairs. For laughter and thankfulness and more hugs than you know what to do with. Thanksgiving is a day when we get to take a break, take a breath, catch up with those we love, reset … Continue reading The Morning After Thanksgiving
I’ve been more productive lately than ever before. As I mentioned in my most recent post, life has been pretty crazy lately, and that’s forced me to think really hard about how I can keep up with the things I care about. Without something to help us keep track of our goals, something to remind ourselves what is important vs. what is immediate, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Work, friends, writing, blogging, reading, traveling, going to the gym… What comes first? Some of these things are only possible at certain times: you can get some writing or reading done at 4 in the morning, but you’d be hard pressed to find a big group of friends to hang out with (if you can, good for you).
I’ve tried several different ways to keep my life organized. I’ve tried to-do lists, calendaring, turning off my phone for days at a time, working out in the morning vs. the afternoon, taking a break in the middle of the workday to write. I’ve also tried different productivity hacks, like creating a different workspace for each of my projects, or the Pomodoro technique.
What’s worked the best for me, though, has come down to 2 things.
- Boiling all of my goals and dreams down into 3 or 4 actions that I can take every day to get myself closer to achieving them
Continue reading “Momentum”
Keeping things simple is one of the most important things a person can do in life, at work, with friends, when making plans, and (shocker, I bet you didn’t think I was going to go here) in writing. You’re probably thinking that I’m stating the obvious, that keeping things simple is intuitive, that your nine-year-old child could have told me that. You might be right.
But I bet you still fail miserably at keeping it simple. Continue reading “Keep It Simple”
I’ve recently come to believe that keeping a journal is one of the most important things a writer can do. Over the years I’ve been on and off about writing in a journal – I kept a journal in high school, abandoned it, picked up it back up in college, started to think it was incredibly lame and dropped it again, and so on…
I wrote a bit about keeping a journal in a post from a while back, but thought it was important to expand upon. I’ve been keeping one for a little over a year now and it’s something I plan to continue doing for as long as I still want to be a writer. And for all of you who don’t necessarily want to be a writer, you should consider it anyway.
So, you might be asking, a journal? Really? I’m not one of the girls on a CW TV show, so why should I keep one? Hell, I’m not even one of the dark-brooding-writer types who has to keep a journal for definition’s sake. I mean, sure I can be dark and broody when I want to be, but I’m generally more of the smile your ass off, party hard, live large, and write-during-every-free-second-you-have types. So what are the benefits of keeping a journal? Continue reading “Why You Should Keep A Journal, Author Voice, And Other Stuff”
I’ve been trying a new writing method lately, and it goes against one of the main tenets of writing gospel.
You know what I’m talking about – the writing gospel, the two, three, five, or ten basic principles that the productive, the famous, the brilliant writers of the world preach to amateur writers who are still trying to make their way and find their voice.
There are a few, but the one I’m talking about right now is this one:
‘Don’t re-read what you’ve written. Keep going, going, and going until you finish your first draft. If you go back and start playing with what you wrote before, you’re doomed.’
Now I won’t say there isn’t some merit to that statement – but I think it’s more aimed at beginning or exceedingly unproductive writers who haven’t found what works for them yet and really need to finish two or three projects before figuring out their writing style.
For my most recent project I’ve been starting the day by reading the previous couple of chapters (and even allowing myself to make a few minor tweaks along the way) before starting to write. And I was actually inspired to take this leap by Ernest Hemingway.
In a 1935 article in Esquire, Hemingway wrote: Continue reading “Break The Rules”
“Three Firefighters Killed, Four Injured in Washington State Wildfire.”
I was sitting on the metro this morning on my way to work, reading The 10-Point from the Wall Street Journal (which is how I get most of my morning news because I’m too lazy to scroll through a thousand headlines), and the above was the title of an article I found under a section listing the top news stories in the U.S. I don’t know exactly what caused it, maybe it was the mood I was in, or because I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet, but it gave me pause. So I read it again.
“Three Firefighters Killed, Four Injured in Washington State Wildfire.” Continue reading “Sometimes We Have Just Nine Words…”