Cut Down to Build Up

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Some of the smartest people in the world cut down on their decision making in order to save their energy for creativity.

Einstein owned four brown suits, all alike. He didn’t want to waste his energy on choosing clothing.

Mark Zuckerberg, it’s said, dresses down to save time and energy for the important things.

I, personally, sometimes barely get out of my PJs before I begin my writing – and you know what – I get more writing done!

One writer I know said she refuses to put on make up or do her hair because writing takes precedence.

We don’t need to abandon all our comforts and regular healthy habits in order to be creative, but our energy for decision making could be more balanced and save more preserved efforts for our projects.

 

Dare to Suck

indexSteven Tyler of Aerosmith says, “Dare to Suck.”

It seems that he and his band mates have a regular meeting in which they bring the wildest, crappiest, outlandish ideas to toss them around and see if they work.

9 out of 10 of those ideas have to be trashed – but the tenth gets you something like “Dude Walks Like a Lady.”

Why not throw around ideas that seem completely outrageous?!  They can always be strays.jpgcanned later, but in the meantime you have some ideas to play with and you might, well, come up with something good.

I wrote the line, “When I killed my neighbors dog…” My friends said, you can not use that. But I played with it to see where it might take me, and I wrote “Of Strays and Exes” by just playing with this strange line that came to me in a dream.

It was accepted for publication in Pilcrow and Dagger almost immediately and later made into a podcast. You can find it kindle now, or search P&G’s podcasts.

**Disclaimer: No animals were killed or injured in the writing of that story.

 

Hours Vs Pages – Writer’s Choice?

timeIn writing groups, the question often floats around the room, do you do hours or pages? Then there’s always some friendly disagreement over which is better.

I, personally, do hours. I get up and sit at my computer and write for a certain amount of time.

I’ve heard arguments that if I force myself to write at least a page or a certain number of words, I would be more motivated. But, see, I don’t have a problem with motivation. Many days, I get up with an idea ready to flesh out. Other days, I struggle. Like all writers.

One writer told me to do pages or word count, so when I’m done I’ll know I’ve accomplished something.

However, I recently heard an argument that made complete sense to me and might to you as well.

The writer said – do hours. That way, if you have a bad day, you know you can get up and Yellowed pages from a dictionaryleave when your work day is over. If you have a bad day when you’re doing pages – then you’ve struggled with a single page for however many hours and you’re less likely to want to come back the next day, and when you do come back, you’ll realize the page you struggled with has to be deleted anyway.

I imagine some people who chose pages to rush through on some days so they can get on to other things or give up when the page doesn’t come. One woman shared she writes pages so she can get on to other things.

I guess, I feel, I’m not in a hurry to “get on with other things.” Whereas it she sounded happy to get up and get on with her life, I’d sometimes like to sit and write longer than I’m normally free to do.

Perhaps the best choice for each individual is based on their personality. But I vote for hours. I still know I’ve accomplished something – stuck with my commitment and ritual – whether I have a page or a finished short story.

A Writer’s Space

2018_09_30+Scientific+writing2Do you feel the need to have a certain, special place to write? Maybe you have little items you feel inspire you sitting around your desk, computer, in the same room, maybe there is a stone of carnelian or citrine to spark creativity, or even big dark shades to hide you from the world.

My writing space is usually the dining room table, two windows, a bird feeder on one so my cat, usually sitting beside me can be entertained. But I also write on the couch in the living room with a lap desk, and sometimes in my bed.

Dan Brown (author of the Da Vinci code and many others) believes writing space isn’t important. It’s the ritual and the commitment, not the space. He relates a story in which he was visiting his parents and he wrote in the laundry room, lap top on the ironing board while sitting on milk crates with the washer running – because he needed an undisturbed space.

I’d say that space would disturb me – and talk about holes in a story. My apologies, Mr. 0 v7CyD5RM41-JF6Kk.jpgBrown. However, if he gets up at 4 a.m. to write (as he states), who is doing laundry at that time? And, if the laundry was put in later, then obviously someone came in to disturb you. And, by that time, he couldn’t move to another room?  Okay, sorry, sorry. Back to the point.

We do need a space to write. Ideally, we want to have certain creature comforts around us; for me, it’s a cup of tea. However, I have written on concrete benches, lying across the hotel bed, in a tiny corner that had a table and chair, in coffee shops with noise, and alone in my house at 4 a.m.

The point is our desire for the ideal space should not limit our writing time or commitment (and I think this was Mr. Brown’s point as well). If we limit our writing to the ideal, we’ll have an excuse to not write when any little thing is out of place.

Brown states he writes 365 days a year. That’s what this blog is about, right? 365. It’s about commitment. It is my challenge and my commitment to write 365. I’m doing okay, regardless of the space I’m writing in.

Monday Motivation

 

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Writing exercise:

Take a very common thing from your kitchen and write a poem about it.

It will most likely become a poem about something else.

Share in our Facebook group!

I think I’m going to try a spoon.  (There’s actually a pretty famous poem about a spoon – by Billy Collins)

 

To Publish or not to Publish – is that really a question?

To some people it is.

I have a friend who picks and chooses where he wants to be published so carefully that he submits maybe once or twice a year at most. He hasn’t been published in maybe 6 or 8 years.

He’s an extremely good writer. Better than I.  colllins

He says, he wants to only be published where his name will be seen, where it will matter.

I took this to mean he didn’t approve of my many publications with small presses, some of which no one has ever heard.

What do you value and why? Ask yourself.

Billy Collins, btw, began publishing in what he refers to as fly by night or small presses of which no one ever heard.

 

I Am Not Necessarily Me

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I use first person narrator in many of my stories.  I find the level of intimacy I can connect with in the character makes the experience feel more authentic.

I also enjoy the unreliability of the first person narrator. Although I don’t intend to make my main characters questionable, all first person accounts must be met with skepticism.

There’s one possible downside to the first person narrator and I’m certain many writers have experienced the fan who believes they understand the author based on a story which utilized the “I”.

dadshiningOne reader contacted me convinced Dad Shining was about me. “This is a true story, I bet!” He wrote.

This is complimentary in the fact that the story must have been realistic enough for this reader to believe and enjoy it.

However, Dad Shining (originally published in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal) is written from a male point of view experiencing a life event incomparable to what a woman could experience.

There’s not much a writer can do about being mistaken for their narrator except to gently correct the reader without offending them or merely thank them. I said, “thank you for reading.”

My main character in West End is a young woman, and I did use an area close to where I grew up. A number of readers have attempted to call me out on that. One reader wrote, “I know most of this is you, except for the part of leaving the boy.” Another reader, convinced it was me believed I’d been married before and left them to change my name and start a new life incognito.

This did bother me to some extent; the woman in West End is in some ways stuck in west end coverlife, and while that might be my fear, it is not me.

Still others found the first person narrator unreliable enough to question her sanity and ask me if she was seeing spirits. These questions I rather enjoyed. One character I had intended to be questionable, but when asked about another – I don’t want to say as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone! – I was blown away!

And that is the benefit and, perhaps, curse of first person narrator. The connection is so authentically intimate that you might convince readers it’s you; And you might just convince them the narrator is a little off her rocker!