Monday, October 31, 2011

The Writing Well

My writing workshop at the library ended last Monday, and although I didn't want to see it end, I wanted to excavate more of what started when in class.  

What has really resonated with me over the last six weeks is how our stories, our writing, needs to be cajoled, nurtured, found  and brought to the light of the page. It's as though we must drop our writer's bucket far enough and often enough into our creative well in order to bring about what is nudging for expression.

What comes out of the well isn't always fresh, clear water.  Heck, may times the writing bucket is dry.  This means take what you find and sift through it, returning the next time and lower the bucket again.

It may not seem like you're getting anywhere, but soon your bucket will overflow.  Many times as I settle to sleep, I play out scenes in my mind and meditate on how my characters might react to a certain situation. It's lowering the bucket and discovering what's lurking, waiting, hoping to take form.

So keep dipping into your creative well even when you don't feel like it or only a few drops come back.  

How do you keep persevering?  I do by writing even when some days I don't know why or feel like it.  Happy Halloween ... 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where for Art Thou Writing Confidence?

For the last five weeks, I’ve been a participant in a writer’s workshop at a local library.  I’ve taken these workshops before on different aspects of writing with the same instructor.  These workshops always give me plenty to explore, and I get to meet other writers and hear what they’re working on and what their writing lives are like.   

These last two workshops, I’ve been struck by what some of my fellow writers say before reading homework or exercises we do in class.  Mind you, I have been apt to do this myself.  Some pass on sharing their work or say things like, “This is awful,” “I don’t think I did this correctly,” or “This isn’t very good.”

It’s almost as though they feel the need to apologize in a way or prepare others for their writing before sharing it.  I have held back several times, wishing to encourage them not to feel this way or not to keep comparing themselves to others in the class or to the instructor.  That they are writers and have it in them, to trust their writer-ly instincts.

Oops, look who’s talking now!  Me, who only this week did the very same thing by panicking that I’m not as far as I’d like to be or as far as those in my inner circle of writers.  I then realized I’ve been comparing myself a lot lately to other writers, not feeling ‘good enough’ or ‘fast enough.”

I brought this up to some writers in an online group and one piece of advice that hit home most clearly was that maybe I’m using this as an excuse not to write.  “Who me?”  “Yes, You.”  So I realized I must trust my own writer-ly instincts and discover ways to aid myself in feeling more confident and productive in my writing.  Not just panic and  accept that “I’m not as successful.”

When we say things like, “Well, this is a lost cause” before reading part of our writing, we’re really tapping into our belief that we aren’t good enough in comparison to the other writers. At least this is how it can be for me. 

I’ve made a plan to help with my confidence as a writer, take action.  I’m going to do the NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month)next month to delve myself into my novel-in-progress (almost 10 chapters) and get out of this mindset.  In other words, dismissing the gray clouds over my writing as an excuse not to write!  Tell me how you overcame your struggles with confidence as a writer. 

Time to write …

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fleshing out your characters

This is what I've been really delving into the last six months.  I've found the more I dive into my main character and the other prominent ones, the more the story moves forward.  I start to say, "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about."

My protagonist's father was just a rough sketch until I did an exercise or two to get to know him.  He plays an important part in who and what my main character does in the novel.  It breathed more vibrance into my story.

What I did was wrote a scene that would bring out the conflict between the father and the daughter.  It gave me insights into the father, and I used it as a jumping off point to who this controlling man was and what secrets he'd be hiding from all his loved ones.

Characters are fertile soil for keeping secrets.  We wouldn't have anything to write about if it weren't for truths kept locked up, hidden, ready to sprout when given daylight.  It makes a strong character based on how he or she reacts to the hidden truth.

So many layers and colors to characterization.  How do you flesh out your characters?  It could mean reaction to another character, a reaction to an obstacle, problem-solving skills, and some in the details of how they live.

Have a great writing week.