To Journal or Not to Journal Part 2

Below is really difficult to share but I realize that those of you who know me celebratewill laugh with me and those who don’t will get to know me. So here it goes. ;) :D

Do you remember a couple of months ago in Part 1 I mentioned that I’d tell you a journaling experience. I really struggled about putting this much of me out there for the world to see but if I can help one of you, it’s worth it (so they say LOL).

This is it.

I, like many writerly and in general, artsy sorts, have doubts. I doubt my skills, my passion, my characters, my stories.panic Fighting with Doubt, trying to dodge Doubt, is exhausting. The journaling class suggests having a dialog with something that blocks you. I chose to confront That Darn Doubt.

Ah, the awkward conversation with someone you’re angry with and/or don’t trust. It started on my part with forced courtesy. I viewed Doubt as my enemy: it was in my way. Doubt’s whole attitude was friendly, helpful, casual even. Seriously?! What was up with that? Doubt had some nerve being all buddy-buddy when it worked so hard at derailing me as a published author.

It turns out, I hadn’t given Doubt enough credit. I thought I was asking hard hitting questions, things that would make it curl up in the fetal position and begging for mercy. Instead, I think it really wondered why I was asking such easy questions.

Doubt had been making me think. It brought up questions about any idea, new or old and made me analyze. Doubt had been doing its job. Doubt was awesome. We hugged it out but I still had this block, so I asked Doubt what it thought the problem was. It asked me leading questions (I think it knew but felt I should work it out on my own). I got to thinking that Faith and Doubt counterbalance. Faith must be the one I needed to talk with.

I thanked Doubt, my partner in intelligent analysis and went wandering my head looking for whipFaith. I had words for her.

Me: “Hmm, I can’t find her anywhere.”
Doubt: “Did you check the back closet?”
Me: “What? Faith is front office stuff. Why would she be in the back closet?”
Doubt (shrugs with a wink to the camera): “No idea, maybe she’s organizing.”
Me (shake my head): “We don’t organize, but I’ll look anyway.” (Kicks the stuff that’s accumulated in front of the back closet and looks around) “I don’t see anythi- wait a minute. What’s this? (I pick up a small 5 inch cube box from the back left corner and open it) “WHAT?!”
My exclamation as a 5’6″ blond takes my proffered hand and blossoms out of this 5 in cube seems to amuse Doubt. (It’s doubled over guffawing.)
Faith (smiling warmly and still holding my hand): “Whew, thank you for letting me out of there. Nice to be back to work.”
Me: “What? Why? Huh?”

It turns out that I felt she had failed me – something to do with ridiculous expectations – and I had shoved the poor thing into this box as far out of my way as possible.

So now you see my weirdness. (Bet you find some weird stuff in your head too, by the way, so no judgement.)journal

Take about 15 minutes or so and have a little dialogue with your blocks and gremlins and see where it takes you. You might be surprised what you find.

Your Story, My Story, Our Stories

“Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make introverts_smalltalkeye contact while doing it.”
John Green Thoughts from Places: The Tour

I saw this quote and had to share it somewhere. This seemed the best blog post for it.

I think many of us writers are introverts. And that’s a good thing. Never let anyone tell you any different. We are needed and we have our own important things to say. Without someone interrupting. Because sometimes we all are overly courteous and allow other people to voice their opinions over ours.

But our words are just as important.

Every one of YOUR words is important.

April and July are about getting out there and keeping the habit going. Writing daily is harder than it seems, especially in the brutal heat of our July so far. If you have the habit started in November of writing your 1667 or more words a day then way to go and keep up the great work. For the rest of us, let’s not overdo it.

The lowest goal we can set for CampNaNoWriMo is 10,000 and it’s not a bad goal. Start small, even if you beat your April goal, even if you know you can do 50,000.  It gets hot out there in July and it’s hard to think (and in our family there are a million birthdays, so we have family get-togethers constantly). If you exceed your expectations, you can always do more and raise your goal. July is a great month to enable yourself. Make your goal realistic and attainable then adjust as necessary. You can push yourself in November.umbrella-691229_640

Most important, be careful composing in the sun. Umbrellas are great shade and make you look pretty classy.

Though if you have an umbrella, people will probably try to move into it with you. So be careful of that too.

While we’re chatting (hahaha Okay, I’m chatting), Make sure you check out the sponsor offers at Camp  http://campnanowrimo.org/sponsor-offers

Happy writing. :D

POV, Flash Fiction, and Honing Your Craft

(aka-One topic was too short so I added stuff)

We are given the option as creative beings to write from any POV (point of view), um, excuse me, any POV as long as there’s only one per scene and it’s not ours. In other words. First person is fine (from the character’s POV), and third person limited is fine. No omniscient. In spite of the fact that we as the writer and creator of the story knows all and sees all that goes on with our characters, we’re not allowed to write it.

I remember through grade school that omniscient was okay. Apparently omniscient is one of those childish things that we’re supposed to put off when we’re grown, like giggling at bodily functions and sticking out our tongues. :-P What-ever. I intend to giggle until my dying breath.

So being a good lemming – okay, I’ll admit it, a lemming who wants to sell – I changed POV to third-person limited.

Darn it! It turns out they’re right. One POV per scene is working so much better. Cleaner, tighter. And Head hopping confusion yes, less confusing.There are solid reasons for this. “Head-hopping” as it’s been called can be leave the reader uncertain as to whose head their in during any given conversation or action. We may think that we’re giving them the information they need but chances are what was in our head didn’t fully translate to paper.

The best thing is that it’s become a puzzle and word game for me. How can I turn this conversation between estranged sisters into a compelling scene from only one sister’s view? Cut, cut, reword, cut.  Ah-ha!

I’m not saying it gets easier to rewrite but, I do know now that I’m aware of it, I’ll be writing better. That means less rewriting. :-D And that is a very good thing.

A great way to practice this is Flash Fiction. Now Flash Fiction is a full story (beginning, middle, end) written in 100-1000 words depending on who you ask. A great goal is midway, 500 words. (Mine tend to be around 600-700.) This is a great opportunity to work on POV and also to work on word choice. You have to get rid of all of the extraneous words such as adverbs and excessive adjectives and the extra “ands” and extra “thats”. (See what I did there.)

Check out Holly Lisle’s Flash Fiction that Doesn’t Suck (clickable link and the class is free). She has a great program to help. I mentioned this program before in The Eternal Question post and how I have to work it. Try it out when you have a bit of time. It doesn’t take much.

Doing these Flash Fiction pieces can really help develop some great writing skills; brevity, precision and POV.

Have you tried Flash Fiction? Give it a shot and work to make a full story with clear point of view for each scene (if there’s more than one) and very concise words.

Good luck.

Off To Camp – July 2015 CampNaNoWriMo

(aka Campy Campy Camp Camp)

And so we meet again. Me, the de facto camp counselor and you, the intrepid Warm Weather Warriors of cabin-768716_640Wordsmithiness (I can’t help it, I LOVE unnecessary alliteration [I wanted to go with gratuitous but it didn’t alliterate as nicely]).

As we step forth and prepare for another month of crazed creativity it’s good to look back at our past.

What did we learn in April? Did we exceed our expectations or did we expect too much? Did we find brilliant ways to express our story or were we frustrated with limiting words?

Did we fly? Or did we fall?

Allow me to answer that for you (trust me, I’m a  professional*).

You flew! (Does flew look weird to anyone else? It’s right, I checked. Okay, moving on…)

YOU FLEW! I know you don’t think you did, but you did! You FLEW like a crazy Bird of Words. Remember, if you added anything at all, you did something. And something really and truthfully is better than nothing. It’s not just an overused saying. And seriously, I’m not just saying this to placate, enable, or patronize you.

YOU flew.FlashBuddy bald-eagle-521492_640

Writing is surprisingly difficult. Do you know how many stories have wandered through my head that were never written down? (You probably do, you’ve had them too.) So you know how hard it is to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, thumbs to phone. And then, if you manage that, you sit and tap your fingers, not writing, just tapping a surface, all words having fled the mind. Frustrated, you slap your hands on the table and get up and actually clean the house (we all do it, my house is never tidy, but in November things get put away – it’s weird). You stalk to the kitchen to do dishes or eat your frustrations (disguised as Oreos and Cheetos) then pace back to your chair.

Eventually you start with anything that pops in to your head (it might be the Cheetos/Oreos combination talking, but go with it).

A sentence or two is written. You’ve done it! It flows.

People who don’t write do not get it. They assume it’s so easy. How hard can it be? they mock. But they don’t know. They don’t understand how hard it is. You pour yourself out and hope that someone loves it as much as you.ClkerFreeVectorImages proud figure-25590_640

And you did that. You boldly got those words out of your head.

I’m so proud of you. :’-D

So as we move into July’s camp just remember

If you flew once, you can do it again. :-D

*Hehehe A professional what? (Okay, I am actually a Life/Nutrition Coach among other things. I’m sure this falls under the life coaching aspect.)

The Eternal Question

Plotters ask questions first. They outline, they plan, they process. Plotters have there, um,notes stuff together and know where they’re headed. They surround themselves with filled notebooks then write. Give or take a bit here and there.

Pantsers are the opposite. They write almost as if they’re the reader, just as surprised by characters’ antics. There is no plan, no outline, no idea where they’re headed. They just write and maybe ask questions later.

My name is Pacifika and I’m a pantser – to the core.typer-584696_640

I’m finding that my difficulty with pantsing is that novels are huge, unwieldy things that are far more difficult to edit than were my collage essays.

The Holly Lisle* Flash Fiction program has you come up with lists of ideas to begin. Pretty cool, but I had a hard time writing from them. Turns out it’s the way my brain works. Once I’ve put it on paper, I’m done with it. It’s old and I’ve lost interest – time to move on to something new. But I can bang out an awesome little flash fiction piece in my pantser way.

The question was, How will I get better? How will I learn to organize better, make my stories tighter, if I don’t adopt some plotter techniques.

The answer came to me at random. (Yea! for my random brain.) I won’t totally bore you with the details, I’ll just say, in my youth, I began writing first and outlining after. (Shh, don’t tell Ms. Bell. She’ll flip.) Total pantser behavior.

Now it’s just a matter of reversing the plotter process. Write first, ask questions later. My next steps will be taking what I’ve learned and going over my stories. (Ugh! Yes, it means I have to go over what I’ve already done, put off the new and exciting, but I actually love my stories. My passion shows up in my pantsing as opposed to when I tried to plot.) (Hmm, that didn’t sound awkward at all)

image

Are you a pantser or a planner? Have you ever tried to do the opposite? How did it turn out?

*If you haven’t done it yet, check out Holly Lisle’s writing lessons. She has at least one free and it’s a great place to start. Also check your library’s online list of digital resources for access to Gale University for any writing classes by Steve Alcorn. They are in-depth for helping you work out why you write and what to write.

Whoooooo Aaaaarrrre Yoooouuuu?

CheshireCat

(Yes, Cheshire cat is Horrifying but I had to credit the quote, my title. And this one was less frightening than the others.)

Sit down.
You heard me, sit.
I’ve got startling news for you, and you’re going to wish you were sitting if you don’t.

Okay, now take a deep breath.
No, deeper than that.
Come on, suck that oxygen in, cuz you’re going to need it for your brain to take in what I’m about to say.
Now take two more.
Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin.
Oooooooouuuuuut.
Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin.
Oooooooouuuuuut.

YOU are a writer.
Oh yeah, that’s right. I’ll say it again in a little different way.
You ARE a writer.
Once more.
You are a WRITER.

Are you with me so far?
I know the doubt. I’ve had it too. It comes about, slinking in when you’re not looking, like the neighbor cat. It curls up on the rug in front of your mental fireplace and you think “How cute.” Then when you’re not looking it scratches the furniture, shreds your certainty. Darn neighbor cat.

Okay, You and I, writers.
You know what convinced me?
A quote that I can’t find. I looked. I found some other, wonderful and inspiring quotes but not the one I was looking for. Ah, the internet Rabbit Hole and the difficulty of modern research. LOL

Take this one instead

Real Writer

Got it? Do you see what I’m saying now?

You are a writer. :D Now WRITE! (or edit if that’s what you’re doing for CampNaNoWrimo.)

Remember, if you are doing CampNaNoWriMo.org this April, nanomail Pacifika and ask for an invitation to our local SpokaNano cabin. See you all at the lake.

To Journal or not to Journal Part 1

journalBlah, blah, blah journal.

That was my view. But I kept hearing that it was really good for the brain and sorting mental and emotional clutter. Basically a big bucket you can dump all of the random garbage that blathers in your head. (Or am I the only one with that problem?)

And of course it’s “so important” for writers, so I decided to try.

You’d think it would be intuitive but I need to know what the rules are before I do something so I got online and took a class*.

I was surprised that there are a lot of different types of journaling and different exercises. It’s not just “sit down, bare your soul on paper, hope no one reads it.” You can do a Gratitude Journal (useful for accentuating the positive in your life), lists (great for clarifying), unsent letters (excellent way of giving your older siblings “what for” without hurting their feelings or getting your butt kicked). There are others and all have different outcomes and uses.

You may have heard of Julia Cameron and her book The Artists Way. (Don’t panic! journalcatYou, as a writer are an artist, but don’t let that stop you. Deep breath. You don’t have to be a hoity-toity “artiste.”) She suggests “morning pages” which is just free writing three pages first thing in the morning. Just babble and that’s it.

I did a technique called “Dialogues” and it was an enlightening experience which I’ll make you sit through in another post. Mwahahaha.

Have you journaled? How long have you done it? Has it helped you quiet the brain and focus?

* Spokane County Library District (scld.org) is partnered with Gale University to give its patrons an astoundingly wide variety of free and awesome classes. Check them out when you have a moment.