Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

Are You Wandering Aimlessly?

May 9, 2020


The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been unbelievable on so many levels. From the speed at which it spread, to the closing of borders, schools and universities…and the cancellation of conferences, seminars and businesses in general.

It’s been a long, dark road.

The discussions about opening up again are all interesting, but they seem to be split between encouraging massive bursts of productivity and gentle, realistic spurts of things that are more manageable.

So many authors I connect with are struggling these days to write and feel productive, because they’re home with cats, dogs, kids, partners and noise. But, even those without all of the noise and distractions are struggling, too, because being alone is not easy either.

This begs the question, again…What do we need to make the work of writing possible? What makes us feel like we’re productive in terms of creating finished pieces of writing?

I have written many posts over the last few years about mental blocks to writing, and how to work through them. Some of the posts I come back to often remind me of this…

We don’t find time to write, we have to make it.

It’s not just physical time but, more importantly, mental time that we need. That space in your mind that can be focused just on writing…and not everything else that’s going on. This is often hard to do when your head is full of uncertainty and anxiety.

Despite all the rhetoric, we have no idea when we will be allowed to travel again, how long things should be closed, or what kind of ‘normal’ we’ll return to when everything re-opens. As an indie author, if I don’t go to book-signings, or put out new work, I don’t get paid. So, I need to keep writing and being productive.

But, like a lot of you, I’m listless, both figuratively and literally. The emotional toll of all of this should not be under-estimated. Stress has a significant effect on our ability to focus on tasks that require concentration and cleverness.

The uncertainty of the extraordinary emotional strain is perhaps the worst of it – how long is this going to last, and what will the world be like when the pandemic is past?

Talk About It
Don’t just quietly acknowledge this, but make a small space in your online engagements with colleagues and friends to voice some of the anxieties we all feel. We’re not alone in all this, but we often feel like we are, and what we feel is what creates both emotional and mental static that can be hard to work around.

I’ve mentioned it to some old friends recently. I shared anxieties with several of them, found it was mutual and, surprisingly, it seemed to help (me, anyway).

To follow-up on my last post…we all need to seek a new balance, allowing ourselves time to work through the other stuff in our head right now. We need to acknowledge our own stress and anxiety, and be kind to ourselves by creating a work routine…pushing to get things done every day, so we don’t meander around aimlessly, feeling like we’re not doing anything useful at all.

This is not business-as-usual, so we need to let ourselves have a few more moments of listlessness than we usually allow.

I’m certain it will jump-start creativity, and I’m also sure my writing, and yours, will start again soon.

Stay safe.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

How Do You Write During a Crisis?

April 8, 2020

Writing can be lonely work in the best of times.

As we’ve entered the national emergency collective state, the news about COVID-19 has become pretty much all anyone can think about. It certainly made concentrating on this blog, not to mention my fiction writing, hard to get started.

And then I realized that what I actually wanted to talk about hasn’t changed much at all.

Even though I’m no longer young, I’m very lucky and grateful to be healthy and able to work at home.

What this ordeal has made clear to me, though, is how deep my lack-based thinking goes. My house is paid for. The pantry and freezer are full. My spectacular bride and one of my sons are with me. How I can look at my fully-stocked pantry and fixate on the fact I didn’t buy an extra bag of rice?

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? This is a moment when we are all forced into stillness with everything, including our fears. But it can also be an excellent opportunity to learn how to take better care of ourselves and each other.

And those are lessons that extend to our creative process.

If you find yourself at home now with hours of time that could be spent writing, but you can’t seem to get started…it’s all right. You don’t have to.

I’m going to say that again, you do not have to write. If you want to, great. If it makes you feel good, by all means, do it.

But if you’re too scattered, distracted or unfocused, as I sometimes am, give yourself a pass. After all, our very foundations are being stress-tested right now. At this moment, we are certainly not in a position to force ourselves into productive shapes.

Consider Not What You Want, But What You Need
We do not have to create. We can find space for more. We can re-read a book we love. Watch a movie. Binge watch Netflix.

More than that, we can check on elderly neighbors or bake a pie (well, my wife would probably chase me out of the kitchen for that one). We can donate to our community food bank or watch a whole season of reality television in an afternoon, because it makes us laugh and keeps us sane.

Several of my friends, including one who now lives in Florida, sit in our respective houses and text each other every weeknight during the televised game show Jeopardy, answering the questions as if we were still going to the local pub for trivia. It’s not the same, of course, but we all enjoy it, and it’s the fastest half hour of the week.

We can use these moments, if we are healthy, safe, secure and lucky enough to have our friends and all of those other things, to get clear on what really feeds us. And then to give it to ourselves with no strings attached.

Then later, whenever we’re ready and that beam of sunlight finally breaks through, we can write.

Stay safe.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Do You Write With Feeling?

January 29, 2020


It almost goes without saying that every person uses themselves as a yardstick to figure out what another person is feeling.

This includes readers for your characters in a novel. No matter the situation or genre of your novel or short-story fiction, your reader will try to fill in the blanks about fictional characters based upon their own life experiences.

As a writer, you can aid this process by adding sensory detail. No amount of fancy plot tactics can compete with your reader’s brain to create empathy for your characters.

When your readers empathize, they put themselves in the character’s shoes. Once they’ve done that, readers will follow your character through any obstacle, hardship, or conflict because, if you’ve done it right, they are in the story, they are your character.

The elements you need should be fundamental and unalterable to your character. They have to feel authentic. Tacked-on frailties just don’t work. Choose very carefully and build-in the crucial elements from the start.

Remember those compare-and-contrast school assignments?
Give your character a seemingly inescapable social, political, or economic disadvantage. Readers want to see the character overcome those obstacles.

Context is how you use comparison in your story. Compare your hero’s strengths to those of other characters. Hopefully, your reader will have been admiring your hero’s skills and strengths.

When those are put to the test by someone bigger, smarter, or more adept, your reader feels the difference.

The structure of almost every story includes an element of vulnerability. Sometimes everything is tilted to make your hero’s strength a vulnerability. You shed new light on your character, and your reader reacts.

The reason is reader empathy.

This technique is so powerful, you only need to do it once. You don’t need to overdo vulnerability, one instance in your story is all it takes. Every reader is human. The key is to make the reader make the connection to your hero’s emotional frailty. When they see vulnerability in your hero, it strengthens the connection.

This works in any genre. The way a reader comes to know your character is similar to the way we come to know people in real life. Create a vulnerability in your character, then use it at the appropriate plot point to keep your reader engaged.

Weave your hero’s vulnerabilities into the story. Use your plot to find the high points where frailties will have the most impact. Those vulnerabilities in the middle of the story keep readers engaged with your protagonist as you move the story toward the ultimate conclusion.

Give it a try, and you’ll keep your readers to the end of the story.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


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