Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pushing past it....

As writers we know how difficult it is to create....well... anything! If I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase "I'm writing a book too!" Sigh...I do believe there's a book inside everyone...but getting it from an idea to the page is WORK! I love writing but like most wordsmiths I'm not earning enough to live on it. That's the dream of course...and the challenge.
     I've found that there are days that there's nothing more daunting than the blank page. As a former soldier and police officer I used to think I was past intimidating...wrong! The blinking cursor on my laptop can frustrate and give me feelings of dread that I wouldn't have thought possible! I have learned however that as with most things in life that in order to persevere we must be dedicated and be persistent.
On the days (or weeks!) that I find myself struggling, I drag myself by the scruff of the neck and stick to my writing schedule...BUT wait a minute!
                                              The words won't come! good ones anyway! It doesn't matter...write drivel, peck out one letter at a time (unfortunately, I ALWAYS type that way!) keep hitting keys even if there's no story flowing! A waste of time? No. You're writing by God and by doing the WORK sooner or later the muse will come! Mine's a cigar chomping wise ass that grumbles and grunts, rarely putting in a constructive appearance but when he does speak...magic! Think of it this way....The great painters, athletes, and yes authors aren't ever really satisfied with their work. If they were, there would be little reason to do it again! The real reason to keep repeating any task is because deep in your heart you know...I can do better than that! 
     Am I saying you should jump from story to story? It depends....if you're "blocked" or stuck on one then it may be a viable option but beware...NOT FINISHING is one of the most common sins we writers make! Do a short story, an article or hey a BLOG...just write something! 
Writing is a joy...but don't ever make the mistake of thinking it's easy. If it was everyone would do it! As my old friend and mentor Yoda would say.
                            "Do or do not...there is no try!" still wanna be a writer? The up side is you get to create and destroy worlds of your very own design...the down side is everyone and their brother will critique the way you do it! You'll put in long hours for little or no pay and spend endless days in search of the elusive reader...who will peruse your work and go.
                              " was alright."
Sigh....So where do I sign?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back to our roots

When in a reflective mood we all sometime ponder the age old question...Who am I? What is my heritage? Is there something...more? As writers we get the unique opportunity to not only craft the backgrounds of our characters but the chance to explore the details of the events that shaped who they are now! 
Think about it....YOU decide the events and experiences that develop the psyche of your hero's and villains! The more depth and realism, the deeper you dig, the more you'll uncover...and the closer your protagonist (and antagonist) will be to feeling real! 
People are complex creatures...we all have light and dark...Yin and Yang. Even the most vile villain you can think of has to have some qualities, however slight, that allows them to at least understand their intended victims. The scariest monsters are those that can blend in and walk among us...unseen until they choose to strike!
In contrast, our hero's have to have fallibility's. A perfect protagonist that never makes a mistake is not only paper thick but boring! Layer your characters...maybe they excel at physical combat but they can't balance a checkbook...they plan and execute horrendous acts of violence but they love dogs. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!
As in our own lives, your creations need to evolve. Nature abhors a vacuum...all things and people change. We are shaped not only by our experiences but by our interpretation of them! Assemble a hundred people to view the same event and you'll get a wide and varying description of exactly what happened and more importantly, why.
Why is crucial...madness may not have a reason but it can have a purpose! By putting your characters in impossible and unfamiliar situations you'll be forced to think their way spontaneous and non-linear...then ask yourself...would that really work? 
My advice? If you want to amp up your writing style, NEVER stop experiencing new things yourself! Push your own boundaries and comfort is meant to be lived and experienced first hand. New challenges and experiences will give you perspective and insights into varying points of view. The smallest things can trigger the light bulb...never changed your own oil? Give it a whirl! Go to the local VA (or pick an outreach) and volunteer for a day or two. I guarantee you'll meet some fascinating people with rich stories to tell! Look at your own heritage...was your great-great grandfather a frontiersman? A merchant marine? A WWI ace? We each have chapters in our lives....seasons that come and go as our interest change. What we mustn't lose is the passion we possessed during those times...the excitement of the new and wonderful. Keep that and your writing can't help but shine!