Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You ARE a great writer!


Writing is not hard. Just get paper and pencil, sit down, and write it as it occurs to you. The writing is easy -- it's the occurring that's hard. - Stephen Leacock

Ain't that the truth!?

How many times do you sit down and ... nothing. Blam! Self-doubt takes over at that point and I feel that all is hopeless. Hey, we're all subject to extremes in our reactions to ourselves when the words won't flow. It's part of being creative.... If nothing occurs, that little voice in our head tells us we're no good.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not possible for us to be no good. Over the years, you develop ways to tap your creativity when nothing seems to occur. Writing randomly works for me. I just write with no restrictions...

What works for you to get the words flowing?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Write to the point


A good rule for writers: do not explain overmuch. --W. Somerset Maugham
Assume the reader has a brain is good advice indeed. When you go into too much detail on things that don't move the story forward, that explanation stops the story. For example, don't tell me every little detail about how the character exited the room unless he jumped out the window and you want me to wonder if he survived.

When reading fiction, readers are capable of filling in huge blanks. If it adds to the story and to the tension, include it. If it doesn't, leave it out.

Sometimes it's not so easy to tell what is important and what is not. You'll have to be the judge of that, but if you want your plot to move, then don't slow it down with minute explanation of what is not important. Rather, fill it with what reaches into the reader's gut or heart or mind to captivate them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Originality

photo: New Day by Lou Belcher

It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. -- Herman Melville
We all have books we love, writing we love, and favorite genres. To succeed, we need originality, to express ourselves independently of those forms of writing that we love.

Perhaps we need to follow writing guidelines to have agents or editors take a look at our writing, but we don't need to imitate others or forgo originality. In fact, the originality of your writing will probably be the one factor that will get you noticed.

Develop your own style, approach your topic or storyline from a fresh approach, apply new methods to your writing and let your creativity in writing develop into your own voice -- a voice that will attract and keep readers.

Get it.... be your own writer in idea, method and performance and enjoy the process.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Courage


In your writing, be strong, defiant, forbearing. Have a point to make and write to it. Dare to say what you want most to say, and say it as plainly as you can. Whether or not you write well, write bravely. --Bill Stout

Are you brave in your writing? Do you take chances?

I don't mean to ask if you write as if you are deranged. I mean: do you write what you truly want to write... or are you always couching your fiction because you might go too far or offend someone?

As a writer, write from the heart. Spill some bravery onto that page and put your writing into the world. Many of us don't want to show our writing to anyone.

Be brave. As the quote says: write with defiance and make your point. Honesty and courage win!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Twitter... don't be timid


Once you set up a page on Twitter, don't be timid. Enjoy yourself while you learn to use it. To make it easier for you. I have compiled some of the common mistakes people make so you can avoid them.

1. Often people don't take the time to decide on a clear topic or topics for their Twitter page. Make your topic clear on your Profile page so people will know whether they want to follow you or not.

2. You clean your house before company comes. Don't forget to make sure your blog or website is ready for visitors before you send traffic to it.

3. People often don't take the time to write a good bio sentence for their Profile page. Don't write something vague like "I'm interested in social media." Be specific and interesting in your bio sentence.

4. Tweet in a variety of ways. Others will be likely to skip over your tweets if they all look alike. Tweet some questions for others, tweet with a suggested website, tweet with a picture for others to see, and reply to others in your tweets. And don't forget to retweet the tweets of others.

5. Many people only tweet at one time of day. They tweet when they get home from work and that's it, or they tweet first thing in the morning and that's it. Remember that Twitter is 24-hours a day. Tweet at a variety of times to hit as many followers as possible.

6. If you are on Twitter to bring attention to your product or service, don't use your Twitter account for a hard sell. Have most of your tweets (90%) about related topics and tweet about your product or service about 10% of the time.

7. Many people on Twitter are only there for themselves. It's one of the biggest mistakes people can make. Be generous to others. When someone asks a questions on Twitter, answer it if you know the answer. When someone makes an announcement about something their doing, retweet it to your followers to help them reach more people.

Above all else... don't be timid, enjoy Twitter and others will enjoy following and interacting with you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Favorite Quotes...

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. -- Mark Twain

The task of a writer consists in being able to make something out of an idea. --Thomas Mann

These are two of my favorite quotes. What are yours?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fuel Your Writing

A story is like a car that runs on emotion. The author's feeling is the gasoline in its engine. Take away its fuel, and even the shiniest, chrome-plated literary power plant is reduced to so much scrap iron. --Dwight V. Swain

You probably get the point from the quotation, but I do love to blog. So, I'll run on about it a bit here.

My best writing comes when I feel passionate about the topic or the story I'm writing. We all know that that's true. Sometimes we can force it and put the passion in during the re-write stage, but it often isn't the same.

It's best to really think about the story, the reasons you want to write it, and the importance of the theme to you before you start writing. Writing before you have thought it through rarely works.

I think it helps to develop a routine to rev your engines before you start writing. The routine might be to walk around the block or around two or more blocks to let the rhythm of exercise clear away the mundane and let in creativity. Or it might be that you clear your desk of everything else, put on some music and sit quietly for a while before writing.

The particulars of the routine don't matter. It's how it works for you to help you to center your thoughts on your story and your passion for it. Don't settle for passionless writing!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nature by Numbers

When I reached the portion with sunflowers, I knew I had to share this. Watch the entire video and clear your mind. Beautiful...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Share the best...


Let every man take care how he talks, or how he writes of other men and not set down at random, higgle-de-piggledy, whatever comes into his noddle. --Cervantes
Stream of consciousness works for some, but just letting your brain spill onto paper is usually only good as an exercise. At times you can use it to get in touch with your creativity.

Save those writings for your eyes only. The writings you publish are the carefully crafted ones. My less than elegant saying is... Share the best. Save the rest.

Have a great day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Natural Inspiration


When you live near the beach, you don't have to look far for inspiration. Even if you're not writing about the ocean, the therapeutic advantages of the sunrise are unmatched.

I forget this too often, but not today. Up at 5:00am. Took a shower, gathered camera gear and stepped out the door. The elevator was malfunctioning, so down the stairs, grabbed my neighbor to go with me and off we went.

The sunrise wasn't as dramatic as some I've seen and the waves on the ocean were not more than soft mounds, but the offerings of the environment -- the washing in and washing out of the swells, the glow of the sun making it's appearance... they all work toward renewal and inspiration.

You may not live near the ocean -- but the morning and any touch of nature can renew you too.

Have a great and creative day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Responding to an interview

This morning I was interviewed through email for a blog. Luckily the questions the interviewer sent me were about my book. That's what I hope her audience will be interest in reading about. We'll see.

The process got me thinking about how to make the most of a written interview... here are some points that came to mind as I was responding to the questions...

1. Keep your answers short but thorough. People won't mind reading to the end of your response if what you write is interesting, but this is not the time to go into a long lecture about each and every question. The same rules apply to an interview that we use when writing blog posts. Be sure the reader will see lots of white space, so if their schedule is busy, they'll see that it's easy to read.

2. Don't leave editing to the interviewer. Go over what you've written several times to ensure that there are not mistakes. If you're promoting yourself as a writer.... don't want spelling or grammatical error to make you look less than professional.

3. If you put web links in your answers, be sure to check them. You don't want to send readers to a broken link.... especially if you're sending them to the site where they can buy your book.

4. Double check your humor. If you don't write humor well, don't be cute in your interview. Your audience will not see your facial expression in order to interpret your meaning. Have someone read your answers and ask them to be honest about telling you if something doesn't work for them.

5. Run the spell checker one last time before you push the send button.

Enjoy the aftermath... when your interview makes you famous !!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

LIfe... Punch it up a bit before you write about it


What is it with these reality shows on TV? Why do TV executives think we'd be interested in watching the weekly or daily lives of real-life people? Don't we read thrillers and suspense novels to spice things up a bit?

Real life can be boring and tedious at times, and I'm here to say that reality TV captures the ennui of it all beautifully.... Snooze is my rating on all of it.

When and if I watch TV, I want to see a bit of action. I can't remember the last time I jumped from one rooftop to another, but that doesn't mean I don't want to see that kind of action on TV or read about it in a novel.

Reality is over-rated. I mean, film me any morning of my life and the only action you'll see is the movement of my fingers over the keys as I'm working on my current book. I can't imagine anyone wanting to witness that, but to me it's exciting. It's all in my head and I'm having a good time.

So, it doesn't hurt my feelings that you don't want to film me writing. Likewise, it shouldn't hurt these "wannabe TV stars" that I don't want to watch them meander through their boring lives...

My advice--when you're writing, don't shoot for that kind of reality. Instead, punch it up a bit.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Keep the Story Moving

Has it happened to you? Have you found yourself living a story? The author, a master storyteller, has pulled you into the story to the point where you find yourself living and breathing it. I love it when that happens.

Equally, I hate it when that author jerks me around by throwing in a flashback when none is needed or throwing in extra description that I don't care about. For example, I don't need to know that the victim noticed the terror in his own eyes as he ran by his reflection in the window on his way to the door to safety.

I'm immersed in the story... I'm running for my life with that victim... just get us to the door. I know he is terrorized... we both are.

My point: Don't stop the reader for no good reason. It pulls the reader out of the mood of the story, and most often, it's hard to get that mood back in the same intensity.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying you can't give your reader some relief from the terror-driven, fast pace of your story. I'm saying don't bring the story to a screeching halt for no reason.

I recently read a story riddled with flashbacks. The story starts out with a guy on a bus and after he settles into his seat, he starts thinking.

The first half of the book is told in flashbacks... several of them. The author was skilled enough in writing the flashbacks that he brought the reader back into the present day at the same point he took him/her out, but this wasn't all that hard to do since the guy was still sitting on a bus. But, the author was not skilled enough to know that some of us might get motion sickness from all this in and out action with the flashbacks.

Now, I'm not saying you should never use flashbacks. A flashback can be a good technique when needed.

My advice: Before using extra description or flashbacks, analyze what that technique might do to the story. Keep things moving forward as much as possible.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Best ways to use Twitter

There are many ways to use Twitter. Here are some of the most common and best ways to use Twitter:

1. Marketing. One of the most common uses of Twitter is marketing. Businesses, large and small, use Twitter to put the word out about what they do or have to offer and to add customers or clients to their list. By tweeting about you and your product or service, you will keep potential customers up to date on what you are doing and what you are presenting to the world. You may develop some sales just from these short messages you are sending into cyberspace.

2. General research. By following the top people in a field of interest to you, you will keep up to date on what is going on. Twitter is a great place for preliminary research on new topics.

3. News organizations use Twitter to gather news tips and to pass along the latest news. Some of the most recent top stories have come from pedestrians who were in the right/wrong spot at the right time and tweeted what happened.

4. Family, friends, and clubs use Twitter to keep in touch. Some of them have restricted accounts, so they can only talk to each other.

5. Announcements. Besides private announcements, there are plenty of public announcements going out over Twitter every day.

6. Collaboration. Many people work together through Twitter or find others to collaborate with through Twitter. And, you can't underestimate the power of Twitter to lend an ear. Many friendships form and many last because people find others of like interest with whom to communicate.

There are many more uses for Twitter. Think in terms of your own communication needs and you'll probably find a way to meet those needs on Twitter.

Make the most of your blog

One of the best ways to make the most of your blog is to read the blogs of others and comment on what they have to say. For a long time, I wrote my blog in isolation. This was back before Twitter and Facebook. Yep, I wrote and waited. And, no one visited my blog and no one commented.

I persevered, and then I ventured out to some other blogs and found that reading them fired me up to write more and share more. I started commenting on their blogs and found that commenting (participating) helped me remember the advice from those blogs.

Then I decided to try Twitter and the world opened up for me -- so much so that I wrote a book on how to get up and going on Twitter. Some people use Twitter just to market their book (or whatever product they have), but in addition to a place to mention a product, it's

  • a great place to find help on a fact you can't nail down
  • a great place to just throw a favorite quote to the wind and see who likes it as well
  • a great place to ask others for do-it-yourself help
  • a great place to tell others what's on your mind and see who might have a comment
  • a great place to chat with others when you're happy, sad, enthused...
Facebook also serves a similar purpose. For those writers who work alone at the computer. Get out there into cyberspace and talk to others about your projects. I guarantee it'll make a positive difference in your writing.