Friday, September 26, 2014

Getting Started Again: Writers' Tips for When You Get Stuck

I'm rerunning this post from last winter while I launch my fall semester of online classes this week.  Enjoy!

Over the years, despite thinking I was the only one, I've learned that almost everyone who writes, professional or not, faces a time-out occasionally. 

Time-outs are just the creative self needing a break.  Most are useful--they give us time for processing next steps in our writing.  We can consider whether it's going where we want it to go, we can muse over a dilemma that needs heightening or a character that needs fleshing out.  Every creative activity needs these kinds of time-outs, what some call "filling the well." 

But getting started again--that's another story.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Getting Time in Your Every Day for Eminent Creativity: How It's Different from Everyday Creativity (and Understanding the Demands of Each)

Do you know the difference between eminent creativity and everyday creativity?   Do you care?  You should.  Each makes a huge impact on your life as a writer.

In Mark Runco and Ruth Richards' book, Eminent Creativity, Everyday Creativity, and Health, the authors discuss these two kinds of creative impulse in humans ( a topic also beautifully addressed in The Creativity Cure, written by one of my former students, Carrie Barron, M.D., and her husband, Alton.)  Eminent creativity is what we do as writers when we work on our manuscripts; everyday creativity is our daily efforts to bring the original creative impulse into our lives at home, at work, and in relationships.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

When You're Making Radical Manuscript Changes: A Helpful Technique for Writers

This week I'm both teaching and taking a retreat.  I'm teaching a wonderful group of fifteen book writers on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior.  Island life is naturally isolated and perfect for focusing on creative work without too many distractions.  Since my online courses are on break between summer and fall semesters, I decided to use my after-class time on the island to focus on my own stalled novel.

Spring and summer derailed me creatively.  Two beloved elders in our family took seriously ill, requiring much attention, travel, and help.  I kept one toe in the water of my novel-in-progress, writing when I could. I put aside all radical changes; no time or head space to consider them--and their implications for the rest of the manuscript.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Placing Backstory: When It Helps and When It Hinders

This week's post is in response to Shirley, who viewed my storyboarding video on You Tube and sent me a photo of her storyboard.  The entire second act is backstory, she said.  How do I work with that?  How do you place backstory?

When we begin writing our books, we feel an urgency to catch the reader up, bring them over the hurdles of history in our story. We have a lot of past to pass along. We think this past is essential:  If the reader doesn’t know Jane was traumatized as a child, how will she understand why Jane is so careful with her adult relationships?  If the reader doesn’t know the entire history of the Scout troop, will he get why the boys are intensely loyal to each other?