5 Things, Creative Advice, Self Dare

Writing Against the Bad Tide

Despite how much solitude involved in this kind of craft, writing is also very much plugged into working online. There’s the social media aspect, networking, blogging, posting pieces for people to see, all that good stuff.

And right now, the entire Internet can be quite…

Draining.

And that’s putting it lightly.

Scary shit is happening in the world. We are perpetually bombarded with new Bad News about what certain high-powered individuals are doing to fuck over the population. And as if the news itself wasn’t bad enough, there’s also seeing the reactions and horror stories and opinions, and the responses to that, and…

Now more than ever, it’s important to understand balance and taking care of yourself.

Here are a few tips I’ve been using to help stay productive while also staying informed about current events:

  1. Decide when and how much you are going to expose yourself to the news: I am trying to limit myself to one particular point in the day to get a rundown of my news around the world. I’m also trying to move away from first thing in the morning, because it can easily set the tone for the day.
  2. Recognize when it’s time to unplug: You may need some time completely away from the computer, the phone, etc. Fall back in love with the pen and paper. Or…
  3. Disconnect from the Matrix: Sometimes it can be as simple as losing your Internet for a while. Check out programs like Freedom to allow you to work without the temptation of surfing.
  4. Mind your physical traits: eat, sleep, drink water, meditate. Go outside and stand in the sun. Even if it’s cold. Make yourself exercise (I just got a small fitness stepper for my office and it has been awesome).
  5. Keep creating things: just by putting things out into the world, you are doing a great service to many. People need art right now more than ever. People need to escape. People need to be inspired and to see characters doing the things that they may not be able to. Don’t stop. Don’t give up.
5 Things, inspiration, Personal, Uncategorized

5 Thanks

Before the holiday sets in, I’m taking the opportunity on both of my blogs to acknowledge things for which I am grateful. This year has been rough, and I can’t even just say that in the greater sense. I’ve been working all year. My social life has suffered because things have been constantly busy. I lost 2/3 of my rat boys. But every time I stop to say, “Fuck this shit, I’m out” I also consider things for which I am grateful. Specific things. Like…

  1. The friends I’ve made online this year. In January, I posted a fun little story on Tumblr. Eleven months later, over 1200 people are reading other fun little things I write. And I consider a lot of them real friends, and that is freaking awesome.
  2. Pokemon Go. Silly, I know, but it’s been real fun, coming together and bonding with people over a game that was a part of so many childhoods.
  3. Art. In spite of everything, I’m still making it happen, a little bit each day.
  4. Good shows, good books, good games. And good people who make both.
  5. New York. Yeah, yeah, I know, broken record. You don’t understand how much I needed to spend two days alone in the most crowded place on Earth.

Take a moment to consider what you are grateful for. It’s hard to find the gold hidden in the pile of dung, but try. You’ll be glad you did.

5 Things

5 Thanks

Before the holiday sets in, I’m taking the opportunity on both of my blogs to acknowledge things for which I am grateful. This year has been rough, and I can’t even just say that in the greater sense. I’ve been working all year. My social life has suffered because things have been constantly busy. I lost 2/3 of my rat boys. But every time I stop to say, “Fuck this shit, I’m out” I also consider things for which I am grateful. Specific things. Like…

  1. The friends I’ve made online this year. In January, I posted a fun little story on Tumblr. Eleven months later, over 1200 people are reading other fun little things I write. And I consider a lot of them real friends, and that is freaking awesome.
  2. Pokemon Go. Silly, I know, but it’s been real fun, coming together and bonding with people over a game that was a part of so many childhoods.
  3. Art. In spite of everything, I’m still making it happen, a little bit each day.
  4. Good shows, good books, good games. And good people who make both.
  5. New York. Yeah, yeah, I know, broken record. You don’t understand how much I needed to spend two days alone in the most crowded place on Earth.

Take a moment to consider what you are grateful for. It’s hard to find the gold hidden in the pile of dung, but try. You’ll be glad you did.

5 Things, Writing, Writing Tips

5 Writer Reminders

  1. Not everything is going to be awesome. Still keep writing, though, anyway. You never know when one of those rocks is going to be a gem.
  2. Look at the world through the eyes of your pen. Make note of how things are, how things make you feel, and then put it into your work.
  3. If you are writing anything, you are doing more than a huge population of people in the world. Perspective: appreciate it.
  4. You can’t write all the time. Still try to.
  5. You are your own worst enemy. Worse than the rejections, worse than the critics, worse than all the people who smile and nod at you. Because they get to be outside of your head until you let them in.
5 Things, how to have a day job, Uncategorized

How to Survive Bad Work Days

  1. Remind yourself that it is only a temporary badness. Nothing bad lasts forever.
  2. Acknowledge that you do not deserve to feel bad just because something bad is happening around you. Your feelings are valid, yes, but it’s not somehow ‘coming to you’ to feel that way. You do not ‘have’ to feel that way.
  3. Love the good things in your life. Count them. Say ‘thank you’ to them. Focus on them.
  4. Find something to do with your hands. Whether it’s squeezing a stress ball or doodling or writing, move your hands and focus on that instead of the world.
  5. Once it’s done, let it die. Tomorrow is another day.
5 Things, Writing, Writing Tips

5 Ways to Improve Dialogue

1. Go outside and listen to people talking. Restaurants, coffee shops, shopping malls and sporting events are all great places to see how people interact naturally. Make note of their emotional states and patterns of their speech. Do they pause at certain points? What words make them slow down or react?

2. Decide where your character is from and then seek out material from those locations. Youtube is a great resource for this. If it’s a language you know, listen to the radio stations for that area. If it’s a completely new place (a fantasy land or foreign planet) get a few ideas of what earmarks their local language may have.

3. Read your dialogue out loud. With others, if possible. You can usually tell immediately if something sounds contrived or unnatural. Is the emotional force of the scene being communicated in the words, or is the conversation too flaccid? If you can, try to improvise with people and record what works.

4. Learn how to format dialogue in prose. This may sound like a ‘duh’ but I can’t tell you how many issues I’ve seen that have been caused by lack of clarity resulting from poor dialogue tagging and misinterpreted writing.

5. Tap into how you feel. When two lovers are talking to each other, do you get warm fuzzies? Do you get nervous when the hero and the villain are at each other’s throats? Do you get teary when characters are saying goodbye for the last time? Even if you aren’t having a dramatic response, your heart should have some sort of reaction to your writing. If it’s not, ask yourself why.

5 Things, Self Dare, Uncategorized

5 Reminders for Both of Us

  1. Don’t fight against fear or anxiety or depression. The children that reside in your mind will never understand what you’re saying and will just scream louder. Find things to distract them and go about your business.
  2. Ignore perfection. Complete your daily tasks even if they do not become the stuff of legends. Then get up and do it again.
  3. Saying “I don’t care” is easy. Saying that you will continue to care when it is the hardest option and smiling despite all pains is a miracle. Believe in miracles.
  4. Fight on. Fight hard. Never surrender. Life is an action movie that we think is a rom-com.
  5. When in doubt, carry a supply of sweet treats. Sometimes reinforcements will be necessary.
5 Things, Writing Tips

Writing with Mr. Pool. Deadpool.

deadpool_ver8

Last weekend, for Valentine’s Day, in a move that could only be the best in history, my husband and I went to see Deadpool. It was raunchy. It was hilarious. And it was a really, really good movie (that isn’t for kids – I feel like I’d be remiss in not stating that clearly).

Now y’all know I love comics. Gimme my sequential art. I need it like air. And if it’s a good adaptation and I can learn some stuff, all’s the better.

And now I share them with you. Five Things Writers Can Learn from Deadpool.

  1. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue – I will get into this one later this week, but even if I just read the script and couldn’t hear the voices, each one was unique. It is so crucial that all your characters don’t sound exactly the same.
  2. Challenge all conventions – Do they think it’s going to be a comedy? Throw in some emotion. Woops, are they getting comfortable? Time to ruin that moment like a cold pair of feet under a comforter.
  3. Better be likable – There better be at least a few things the reader can look at in the main character and go, “Yeah! That guy is worth sticking around for!” Even if he’s a violent psychopath who really shouldn’t be looked at as the hero.
  4. Don’t be afraid of the first person – talk to me, Mr. Narrator. A conversational feel to a story can really pull us in.
  5. Happy endings aren’t just for garbage stories – it feels like we’ve gotten to a place as a culture that we expect something to go poorly at the close of the story. Someone dies. The hero fails. The villain escapes. The villain escapes with the girl who has fallen for him/her. And sure, not everything should work out with a little bow on top, but if you can have a happy ending now and then, it will absolutely keep your readers guessing.

Whatcha waiting for? Go get a chimichanga and head out to see Deadpool!

5 Things, How to Adult, Uncategorized

5 Ways to Keep in Touch

I’m going to preface this post by saying that I am so not good at keeping up with my friends and loved ones.

I still get texts and voicemails from my parents asking me if I’m alive (they live in Virginia, I live in Pennsylvania). When I stop and go, “Wow, I wonder how that person is, how long has it been?” and I realize that years have passed without us saying a word to each other, I get queasy.

Because it makes you feel like a bad friend, right? You go, “I must not care about that person or I would call them every day. I wouldn’t let so much time go by.” That’s really not true though, and I think we could all stand to cut ourselves some slack.

But here are a few ways that I have been trying to get better about staying in contact with folks:

  1. Schedule it: I’m a big fan of using my Google Calendar to remind me to call people. I’ve especially started doing this when I find that it’s someone’s birthday or a special occasion.
  2. Facebook: wait, wait, hear me out on this one. If I’m really strapped on time and I can’t pick up my phone and call someone, I rely on Facebook to help me so I can just send a quick, fun message to let someone know I’m thinking of them. I also like that I have a list of the people in my life so I can refer to it when I’m feeling isolated.
  3. Find something to do: another challenge for me has been, “Okay, so I call or message them and we’re both like, ‘hey, how’s it going, fine, how are you … well, nice talking to you.’ What’s even better is to go out and do something. Find a restaurant you want to try. Go do some sort of activity. Preferably not one that needs to be done in silence.
  4. Don’t waste time: it’s easy to get into all the reasons why you haven’t kept in touch. Do they ever really matter? I tend to think they don’t (unless you’re making amends for something, which is a whole other situation). Just jump straight to telling them how cool it is to be hanging out.
  5. It’s not you, it’s you: there was a time when I used to be concerned about the fact that I didn’t keep up with people regularly. And not just in a passing way, but in a debilitating guilty fashion, like I would die alone because I had abandoned my friends. And it’s just not true, y’all. People fall out of touch. Enjoy your paths crossing when they do, and let people know they can always talk to you, no matter how long it’s been.
5 Things, Writing, Writing Tips

Dirty Writing

So recently I’ve been…dabbling in more adult writing.

Spoiler alert: it’s not easy. I mean, slice of life stuff? Two characters sit in a coffee shop and talk about movies they like. Action? Stuff is blowing up and characters get all bloody.

Sex? Whaaaaa…

So here are Five Things I Have Learned About (Effectively) Constructing a Sex Scene

  1. Watch your language: repetition of words is a sure-fire way to ruin a good time. Focus less on specific items (mouth, hand, chest, etc) and more on action (what are they doing with those things?) and you’ll find it’s easier to get away from a grocery list of body parts.
  2. Make the dialogue real and organic: take every phrase you’ve ever heard in a porno (or parody of a porno), place it into a trash can and set it on fire. Seriously. No one wants to hear how many times a person can say “yeah, baby.” Unless the talking adds something to the scene in a good way, drop it. And make sure to check out #1.
  3. Decide what you’re going to focus on before you even head in: make a list of exactly what you want to have happen with these characters. Keep it simple. And consider how this fits into their development. Is this a scene where someone who is normally meek in other interactions takes a more upfront approach? Is it going to end well?
  4. Slow down: especially if the scene is in the context of a longer work, it can get easy to go, “Yeah, they did it, it was messy, and now it’s over.” Work into it. If you have to stop in the middle to get a snack or something, do so. Walk away. And then come back and give these characters the attention they deserve.
  5. Have fun with it: this isn’t supposed to be a half-assed last item. I’m serious. Even if it’s awkward, weird sex, have a good time writing it. Get into your characters’ heads (and other body parts). Think about what you like and incorporate those things. If you’re actually taking the time to do this, you might as well enjoy it!