I’ve finished my Tana French detective series and didn’t want to go to bed without another book in hand. (Nevermind there are three on my bedside table).
I began browsing my bookshelf, which is semi-organized: books I’ve read and loved. Books I want to read. School books. Writing books. and, of course, Poe books
I also have something mixed in that would seem, at first glance, not to belong. Books on psychology, the law, philosophy. I assume many writer’s bookshelves are this way.
A writer needs a wide variety of knowledge.
I know we have google at our disposal; however, I find reading books about, for example, the Psychology of Marketing allows me to get an in depth look that a wikipage or a few short articles are not going to give me. This allows me to create a more realistic character or more thorough background to make the story more believable.
For West End, I needed to understand two things, the idea of an absent or unloving mother, and the different forms depression can take. Anxiety runs throughout my work from Of Strays and Exes to Life of Clouds – which features children affected in different ways by the disappearance of their father.
I’ve heard handymen say they are the jack of all trades. I think writers are akin to that. We need to learn many things in order to live many lives.
Creative blocks are brought on by various reasons.
Writers, poets, artists, musicians need to express themselves. Sometimes, something plugs our flow of creativity.
My friend and I have found release in other creative outlets. She took a watercolor painting class. She feared, at first, that she was taking away from her writing; however, what she found is that it opened her flow and she felt even more creative and was able to add even more to her usual creativity.
I take art and other classes on a regular basis. Most of the time their directly related to writing, but sometimes they are not – but they still feed my imagination and add depth to my writing.
The Healer’s Daughter will be released on May 15th in The Ear. This story came pouring out after a six week drawing class I took at a local museum/gallery. And… I feel like it’s one of my best, filled with color and meaning.
Shake something loose by trying another outlet. You may come back stronger and more creative than before.
Write what scares you…..
This is a poetry prompt given to me in one of my graduate level classes.
I don’t think it has to be just for poetry.
Experts tell us we should do something that scares us every day. I don’t know. I’ve done quite a lot of things that scare me – crossing the highest bridge in North America, swimming with sharks, – but those are kinds of scary that gives you a rush. Still valid to write about.
But in that assignment and poem, I wrote about a missing girl. Because those are the types of things that do scare me – when children go missing.
Have you seen her pass this way?
Shoe found, white.
Blood on the laces….
Write about what scares you….
Feel free to share!
Judy Blume recounts a story in which she took a writing for children class and they set out the rules involved in writing for young children, then she went and broke all of them.
Rules have purpose, have value. They give us the basics.
Hear me out on this – I believe we need to know the rules. We don’t need to necessarily continue to follow the rules.
Picasso followed the rules. But when he was comfortable and confident, he broke them in order to develop his own style.
Every writer should know the rules of writing. Even if they choose not to follow them.
Is there anything worse than a bad review? Probably, but we don’t think so when we get one.
But ask yourself why you’re upset.
1. Is there some truth to the review? No – then forget it! Yes – then what is it?
One woman relayed that her one star review mentioned grammar and punctuation errors. She said, “I know there are some, but there’s not that many!”
It seems she knew she put out work that was not of a superior quality; she can’t be upset when someone calls her on it.
2. Is it someone who just wishes to malign you? Accept that there are going to be haters. Everyone has them. Remember this quote: “Well behaved women rarely make history.” If someone dislikes you – you might just be doing something right.
3. Someone told me – it’s only the writer who reads all the bad reviews. I think that’s supposed to make us feel better. But it’s true. When you look at reviews, do you search out every bad review there is? or do you read maybe the top five or ten of all the reviews?
I, personally, read a few of each. A few of the five star, a few of the three star, and a few of the one star – critical readers can tell if someone has an ax to grind or if they have real concerns.
There are times when you have to be hard on yourself.
Then there are other times when you have to offer yourself a break.
Be hard on yourself if you sit around watching television or playing on social media instead of writing.
Give yourself a break if you’re not feeling well.
Be hard on yourself if you allow yourself to be distracted or blocked.
Give yourself a break if you write something that you later have to delete because it doesn’t work.
You should have expectations of yourself, goals you want to attain, and you should attempt to reach those goals instead of sitting around giving yourself excuses not to try.
But things will go wrong; at times, you will fall short of your goals, you will make mistakes – this is the time to forgive yourself.
Give it physicality.
Give it a personality.
Describe it. Face it. Challenge it. And beat it down.
The Watcher at the Gate by Gail Godwin talks about creative block. One of the assignments I give my class is to draw a picture of what stops them from writing. Some of them draw a picture of an old english professor and some draw pictures of wild beasts. They report, that after giving their block a presence, they are better able to handle it.