Posted in build confidence as a writer, character development, character torture, creative writing, experimental writing, good writing, great writing, how to write, novel writing, the art of writing, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process

Writing About the Things We Fear

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” — Natalie Goldberg

Being a writer is a complicated thing. We love to write for the sake of writing, but we also don’t want to write because some days it is just so hard. But still we write, because not writing is not an option.

So what do we write about? People have different views on this. Some like light and happy stories. Some like dark and depressing stories. Some like gore and horror. Some like aliens and cool technology. Some like hot romance where the girl and guy always have their happy ever after. Some like the never ending thrill. And some like deep and moving characters no matter what the story is about.

But we all wonder… what really makes a good story? What draws the reader to each page to hungrily reach the end? What makes writing such an intense and rewarding process for the writer?

I think all these questions have one answer.

Continue reading “Writing About the Things We Fear”

Posted in A Writer's Life, creative writing, finishing stories, first draft, good writing, how to write, learning about writing, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, thinking on writing, writing, writing advice, writing and thinking, writing better

To Be a Good Writer Means to Be a Good Thinker

Writing is 99% thinking, and the rest is typing. — Ray Bradbury

When I first started writing, I did it the hard way. I just wrote the first thing that came to mind. I got an idea, character, setting, or ect. in my head and I wrote it down immediately.

It was fun. I produced a story, or maybe a part of a story, or maybe really just words on a page. But damn if I didn’t feel proud of my accomplishment. A proud Momma with her precious baby.

And then I got some experience under my belt and that happy bubble popped when I realized I was doing it all wrong.

Continue reading “To Be a Good Writer Means to Be a Good Thinker”

Posted in Boosting Creativity, build confidence as a writer, creative writing, free writing, freewriting, how to write, learning to write, learning your writing style, learning your writing voice, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing advice, writing practice

The Amazing Benefits of Free Writing

There are many tools in a writer’s toolbox, but none is as helpful as the simple practice of free writing. It’s something that I picked up in my writing journey, which I used––but never fully appreciated––until I learned how powerful it could really be. This happened after reading the book How to Be a Writer by Barbara Baig.

Nearly all her exercises, in the 265 page book, uses different variations of simple free write and focused freewriting. After doing several of the exercises, I found that all the free writing I’d done up to that point was really just a warm-up. I never took it to the next level, because I hadn’t realized I wasn’t doing free writing nearly enough (it should be done everyday), or even asking the right questions to do focused free writing.

Free writing is a remarkable tool that has, in a short period of time, led me to amazing discoveries about myself and my writing. The act of writing my thoughts directly onto the page, without any censorship, has given me the ability to articulate things that I wanted to say, but never knew how to say. It even unearthed things I never expected, and has led me down an entirely new path of writing, which I never would have seen without the process of free writing.

What is free writing and how does it work? It is actually a very simple process of writing either with pen and paper, or computer––whichever you feel more comfortable––for at least ten minutes without stopping (I use pen and paper because I find it’s easier to let go of the editor and just write). Turn that inner editor off! Don’t erase or correct mistakes! Keep writing no matter what! Set a timer, or an alarm if you want to keep the free writing limited in time (at the very least do ten minutes, if not more).

If you run out of ideas to write about, then just keep writing, “I don’t know what to write now,” until something pops up. Believe me, once you let the gate open, a flood of ideas will hit and you might even find it difficult to stop. I usually want to keep going, but have to move on to something else (but will come back later to explore more). Other times, I find that I’ve exhausted my ideas, and move then on to another subject to free write on, or another writing project all together.

The beauty of free writing is that you can free write on anything you chose. It can be a journal; a way to help get rid of the random thoughts, or the list of things you need to get done that day, or an argument you just had with the next door neighbor––or what I like to call “junk”––filling your head any given day. Once that junk has been expelled, other ideas are free to float to the surface.

The free writing can be on a specific subject or topic you want to write about. It can be on a new character that’s been haunting you. It can be, “I don’t want to do this” over and over. It doesn’t matter. Keep the pen moving! The point is to let yourself go and see where it takes you.

In doing this, you may wander into territory you don’t want to touch on, so change the direction. You may even find something new to explore that you never considered before. It’s up to you where you go and how long you want to go there. Just don’t have any expectations for your writing and allow yourself to enjoy the journey. You are in control!

The most important is to keep any free writing you do private. This gives you the freedom and you need to explore without judgment from others. The pressure is off and you no longer feel like you have someone looking over your shoulder. It is just you and your thoughts. Doing this will eventually boost your confidence as a writer, and will also let you just practice being a writer.

As important as it is for others not to judge your work in this practice stage, that goes double for yourself. If you find what you are writing “terrible” or “wonderful”, just ignore it, and move on. There will be plenty of time later to decide to polish up an idea, or just dump it all together. Right now, all that matters are the words being poured onto the page. Those elusive words and ideas are no longer hiding inside your crowded mind, but in solid form ready for you to use in any matter you chose. So keep that pen moving, and let the ideas flow!

Check out More on Focused Freewriting to know more about the free writing process.

Posted in article writing, creative writing, writer's block

Dig a Little Deeper

Are you stuck and not able to move forward in your writing? Do you find that no matter what you do those words just won’t come, even when you bang your head up against the wall? Are you feeling completely abandoned by your muse and not sure he or she will be making an appearance ever again? Then it just might be time for you to dig a little deeper.

Writing blocks come for many reason:  a lack of material, a lack of direction, overwhelming pressure to complete a task or project, personal issues that remain unresolved and fester, lack of creative stimulation, and self-doubt. All these things and others can cause a person to shut down and not be able to move forward in their own lives and in writing as well. If you are like me, your writing is connected to your emotions, so if you have any sort of emotional upheaval or emotional decline, writing becomes difficult, if not impossible. Here are some ideas you can use to work through this creative slug and find your way back to the light.

First of all, write even when you don’t feel like it. The nature of writing itself will lift you up- that is if you write about something uplifting. As you place words onto the page, you are tapping into that eternal spring within (yeah, it’s there even when you think it’s completely dry), as you dive into it you become transformed by those words. Write happy and you will be happy. Write sad and you will write sad. Write contemplative and- well, you get the picture.

Get those creative juices flowing by surrounding yourself with creative, stimulating things. What inspires you: music, art, candlelight? Also change your venue where you write. Do you normally write at home in your office then try writing in the kitchen, in the living room. Take an afternoon trip to a coffee shop, the library, or take pen and paper out and let Mother Nature spark those creative thoughts.

Another great way to try moving over roadblocks of creativity is by doing writing exercises. It can be as simple as setting a timer and writing none stop for ten minutes or as elaborate as buying books with writing exercises and using that. It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you write. Doing the exercises will break loose the dirt clogs stuck in the mind and sprout a garden of new ideas. Do it every day and you’ll be amazed by the results!

Still feeling the glum of that block pressing down on your shoulders? Try digging a little deeper. What do I mean by that? Pick a topic that is personal, one that elicits strong emotion and write about it. You know what I’m talking about. It’s a topic you may not talk about or simply ignore because it’s too uncomfortable to go there. Dive in headfirst. Don’t think twice about it. Just write. Go where you’ve been holding back. Just let it fly and see where it leads. Chances are you will not only come up with a multitude of ideas for your writing, but you may very well make some key discoveries about yourself as well, so don’t hold back and just dig a little deeper.