Creative Advice, Writing, Writing Tips

Woe is You, Maybe, But WHOA is Me!

I read a piece in the New York Times today that I found during my nightly looksie of the Twittersphere. It was tucked away between political ramblings, San Diego Comic Con calm down and adorable doodles. It was about writers and their perspective on their body of work, and how there seems to be this constant malaise after pieces are done. According to this writer, at the end of the day, writers can’t even stand to look at what they’ve done, and there is this terrible feeling of disappointment.

And I found myself tipping my head and feeling really, really sad.

During my twenties, I owned the whole image of ‘serious’ writers as these downtrodden, perpetually anxious, sighing lot. “Writers are supposed to be miserable,” I was essentially told. “Happy writers aren’t good writers.” Being a writer meant, if the ‘classic’ examples were to be any indication, hating the process, loathing the words themselves and doing it because it was a calling. For if we did not, then who would? It all came off very masochistic. And not even in the good way.

If I had a time machine, I would go back to the twenty-something me, shake her a little and go, “Yeah, okay, that’s garbage. Stop looking at that shit and go write something you’ll love.”

And I don’t just mean the content itself, but the whole process. Write something you’ll love making. Write something you’ll look forward to looking at. Write something that you can hand off to a friend and be like, “Hey, man, I wrote this thing. All of these words came out of my brainstuffs!” Don’t look at what you’ve written as some sort of reminder of your mortality or some posse of gargoyle antagonists sitting on your shelf, waiting for you to go to sleep so they can whisper thoughts of fear and failure in your ear. Put party hats on your books. Sure, the early stuff probably is ripe with terrible prose, but laugh at it the way you would at baby pictures.

Yeah, dude, we’re all going to die (unless someone is here and willing to give me robot parts, because seriously, sign me the eff up). So if you’re going to take on something as your art and you are going to be spending at least a decent portion of your waking hours doing it, then maybe you ought to at least like it, right?

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Essay, Fiction, Personal, Writing

A Writer’s Nightmare

Oh God.

Last night, I had a dream of a lush storyscape. Full of characters and beautiful scenery. There were accents and glorious tension. There was physical attraction, and oh the dialogue: natural and unique, the likes of a Hollywood-Dickensian lovechild.

I rose from my bed, grabbing an old book. A library book, bought at a used book fair. I opened to the pages and started to write in the margins, over the words themselves. It felt dirty. It felt so wrong, but I was so happy. Happy that these wonderful characters and their wonderful-er world hadn’t slipped from my nocturnal fingers.

And as I watched the ink bleed through each aged page…as I studied it, relieved that I had it all down…

That, dear reader, is when I actually woke up.

I woke up, realizing that not only had I not, in fact, captured this tale from my slumber but…

It was just a Harry Potter knock-off.

Creative Advice, NaNoWriMo, Writing challenge, Writing Tips

NaNo: It’s Coming

A friend told me today that he is thinking about doing NaNoWriMo. He asked if I had any advice. I would like to share this advice with you too, dear reader, dear writer.

Don’t do it for any reason other than to write and have fun doing it. Don’t do it for anyone else or because you feel like you ‘have’ to. It has to be the marriage of challenge and joy.

Prepare, but don’t prepare too much. The devil is in the details, and analysis paralysis will be your enemy. Think over the next week the type of book you want to write, the type of characters you want to give birth to. If you can create a book jacket summary of the overall arc, cool. If not, also cool.

Small chunks of writing will work better than marathon writing. Squeeze it into your schedule. If you don’t already love to write for five hours, you aren’t going to start now.

Don’t give up. Don’t get to the 20th and go, “I only have x words, there’s no way I’m going to get to 50k, I’m done.” Fight to the end. See what happens. Miracles have happened in mere hours.

Just by wanting to do it, you are ahead of the millions of people who say “someday I’ll…” Celebrate that, but just not too much.

If you want to share your creature as it awakens, do it. But tell people to hand over the roses and leave the thorns until 12/1. Because you will want to edit. Every writer does. You will hear yourself say, “Oh wait, this should be this” or “that should have not happened.” Leave the casualties and save yourself.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Writing, Writing challenge

Things You Can Write in 5 Minutes

“I don’t have time.”

Yes you do. Grab your tablet/notebook/phone/index card and a pen and go into the bathroom.

Write a blog post (I challenged myself to write this one in 5 minutes).
Write a haiku.
Write a limerick.
Write a note to someone and tell them that you love them in the most beautiful way you can.
Edit a paragraph in that thing you’ve been working on.
Post on a friend or cowriter’s blog and talk about something that has worked for you.
Take a picture and write about it – like one or two sentences.
Write down a memory and put it in a book.
Scrawl a secret and stick it in your local bookstore/library’s Postsecret section.
Tell someone you’re a writer.
Tweet to a writer you admire and tell them how awesome they are.
Fill in post-its with ideas for your next story/poem/chapter/whatever.
Pinterest a picture that makes you think of a character.

You have time.

Hoard every second of it.