Writing Resolutions

Hello, everyone! The combination of stress and joy that is the Holidays has passed. 2012 is gone and 2013 has begun.  New Year’s is always a time for goal setting and newfound optimism. This year isn’t any different.

New Year’s is also a time for resolutions. In addition to the usual personal improvement resolutions, involving work and social goals, I’ve also made a number of writing resolutions. I thought I’d share them.

  1. Write something every day: It doesn’t matter if it’s a character sketch or a random snatch of dialog, as long as it is something. There is no minimum word limit here, just to write something.
  2. Spend more time in character development: Let the characters speak their own minds to me. Let the plot develop organically from their personalities rather than trying to make them jump through hoops and fit into boxes I make for them.
  3. Set a writing schedule: Schedule time in the day that will be my writing time, and stick to that schedule.
  4. Read more: Nothing helps my writing like reading good writing. Also, I have a lot of craft books that I have not read yet. I resolve to read those before I acquire more.

I realize fully that these are fairly standard suggested resolutions that one will see in any given writing book or blog. None of this is original. But, I hope that publishing this here will help me keep my resolutions. I always believe that telling people about your resolutions makes you more accountable to them. Don’t you agree?

I would like to know what some of your writing resolutions are.

Have a great 2013!

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The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge: Results part 1

I decided to post the first week’s results from The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge! Enjoy. I’ll post the second week’s results, plus the analysis next week. In the meantime, enjoy!

Monday:  I wrote this in the morning, before work. I was tired, but calm, and drinking coffee.

Prompt:  You arrive at work to find that something is missing and has been replaced with something else.

“Monday again.” the sigh could not help but escape me. I dropped myself into the desk chair and looked around the office. The light on the phone was blinking: a message.

I picked up the phone and pushed the blinking button.

“Are you there? Can you hear me?” It was a child’s voice speaking to me.

It was a moment before I could respond. I looked down again, and I was talking into the face of Spiderman, his eyes speakers and his mouth a microphone, and a little walkie talkie antenna sticking out over his ear.

Suddenly, it was summer, and I was eleven years old.

Tuesday:  I wrote this late at night, before I went to bed. I was tired, but in a good mood. It had been a fun day.

Prompt:  During your morning coffee, you open the newspaper and read something shocking about someone you know.

The story was amusing, truly. I laughed as I read it. Someone had gone into one of those stores you have to be eighteen to get into, stolen a rather elaborate marital aid, and ran from the shop. What made it even more entertaining, was the fact that someone else was waiting outside in the car. The car sped off down the street before the person who worked there could even get the number on the license plate.

The fact that it was planned, a sort of “heist” was what got me laughing the hardest.

I was still laughing as I related the story to my elderly grandmother, who had the taste for naughty humor that only comes with the sense of self old age grants. But, she didn’t laugh as I told the story.

She only blushed.

Wednesday: I wrote this on notebook paper during my shift at work. It was a slightly stressful shift, and I was tense and a little annoyed.

Prompt: You go swimming and while you’re at the pool, you meet someone from very far away, who is in need of your help.

It was the summer of 2012. What a vibrant and exciting summer, and one I will never forget. It was the first warm day, and the pools had just opened. I was happy to go. Singing to myself as I got into my swimsuit, I stood under the required shower and entered the pool area.

I could see that there was someone in the lane reserved for those who only want to swim laps. I’d always rather just swim around, so I ignored that part of the pool anyway. Yet, I noticed that the person swimming there was amazing.

He doubled everyone else’s speed, and his form was like something I’d seen on TV.

He came up to take a breath and shook the water out of his brown hair.

“You’re Michael Phelps!” I said.

He grinned a crooked toothed smile at me.

“I’m lost.  I’m supposed to be in London. Can you help me?”

Thursday: I wrote this after lunch. I was feeling a little sick, and had a headache that day.

Prompt: Write about the best possible way to meet the love of your life.

Today, I went to a writer’s group. I was bored as we shared our work. It was the usual range, nothing really bad, but nothing struck me as exceptional either. I include my own work in this assessment. A listless feeling was beginning to creep over me.

I was looking out the window, when I heard a poem that made me turn around and pay attention. The reader was a young man, about my own age. I could feel the smile spreading across my face without my willing it.

When the leader of the group asked up to divide ourselves into critique groups, I did not hesitate.

Friday: This is another late night one.  I was quite tired. Interesting to note: BCITW (Best Cat in the World) was on my bed. I believe he inspired it.

Prompt: It’s the end of a long work day. All you want to do is relax, but something keeps preventing it.

It had been an exceptionally difficult shift, at the end of an amazingly difficult week. I wanted nothing but to make some tea, sit in my chair, and watch my favorite TV show.

If you’d offered me the moon, but I had to work one more shift to get it, I would have had to respectfully decline.

I went to make the tea, but there I found my cat, Logan, on the counter. I put him gently on the ground and made the tea, sighing in frustration. I sat down and put on the TV, but I heard him meowing in the kitchen. I realized that I’d forgotten to feed him. After I filled his dish, I realized that the little jerk had coughed up a hair ball on the floor. So, I had to spend ten minutes cleaning up the carpet.

When people ask me “Why do you keep a cat?” I always answer “Because, he helps me relax.”

The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge!

If you’re reading this blog, you write. And, if you write, you probably use writing prompts.  Even if you’ve taken so much as a Jr. High language art class, you’ve probably used writing prompts. But, how does your mood affect the way you would respond to a prompt?

It’s a bit like the famous Rorschach test. What do you see when you look at the ink blots? What do you think about when you read the prompt? People in different emotional states will give different answers. So, it occurred to me, does my mood have an effect on what I write? Are my characters’ emotions subject to my own?

So, I propose a challenge. Feel free to take it with me and share your results.

  1. Take these five writing prompts. Write on one prompt a day, Monday through Friday.
  2. Each day when you write, make note of the time of day, your mood, etc.
  3. Take the weekend off from the challenge!
  4. Repeat starting on the following Monday. Do not re-read what you wrote the first time you wrote on the prompt, but do go back and look at the notes. Try to write on the same prompt, under the different circumstances.
  5. Compare! How do you write when you’re stressed versus when you’re calm? What is the difference between how you write in the morning versus in the evening?

I’ll post my own results later in September. I’d love it if someone else wanted to try it and shared their results with me. I expect some of them may be radically different, and some of them may be exactly the same. Who knows?

Now, to the prompts!

Monday: You arrive at work to find that something is missing and has been replaced with something else.

Tuesday: During your morning coffee, you open the newspaper and read something shocking about someone you know.

Wednesday: You go swimming and while you’re at the pool, you meet someone from very far away, who is in need of your help.

Thursday: Write about the best possible way to meet the love of your life.

Friday: It’s the end of a long work day. All you want to do is relax, but something keeps preventing it.

I hope you like it! I can’t wait to see what results this yield!

A New Project and Camp Nanowrimo

Badge courtesy of CampNanowrimo.org

Fifty thousand words in thirty days.

That feels like a lot to write in a short time.

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, is something that I throw myself into every November. It’s always such an insane and wonderful month. It’s always full of creativity, joy, stress, character love, character hate, friends, competition, alcohol, and randomly deciding to write sex scenes until I figure out where I want my story to go next, because I used up all my plotting notes in the first twenty thousand words.

Yeah, it happens.

But, I really do love it. So, this month I have decided to embark on “Camp Nanowrimo.” For those of you who don’t know, it’s when they do the regular November insanity in the summer months.
This decision was made rather suddenly. My current project is one I’ve had in mind for some time, but it was the concept behind the novel that I’ve been thinking about. The plot and characters are much less solidified in my mind than they usually are when I start writing. So, this project has taken me from being a “Plotter” (someone who plots everything out before they write) to a “Pantser” (someone who flies by the seat of their pants.)

When it comes to the “Plotter” vs. “Pantser” debate, I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong way to write. It’s merely a matter of personal preference. The only advantage I think “Plotters” have is that “Pantsers” have to do more re-writes to make the finished project more cohesive. Although I’ve never had a “plotted” project where I didn’t deviate from the planned plot. So, maybe that’s not even true.

As I said, we’re all different.

But, be that as it may, “Pantsing” is a very different experience for me. And, maybe writing in a way that I’m not used to is good for me. I think I’m writing a lot of things that will get scrapped in the very next draft. But, that doesn’t matter. I feel like I’m stretching myself, and going outside of my comfort zone.

It’s stressing me out terribly, but I’m enjoying it. I’ll write more about my new project in the next blog entry.

Now, I wonder if I can count this entry towards my Camp Nanowrimo word count…

Date your Character

Tell me the truth. You’re in love with at least one of your fictional characters, aren’t you?

As writers, I think we all have intense emotional relationships with our characters. Whether you would describe it as love, or hate, fascination, or even feeling that your characters are running the story and you’re just taking dictation, we’re all emotionally invested in our characters.

We know what our characters like and want. We know their tastes, and their whims. So, here’s a challenge for the writers out there:

Date your character!

We’re all busy trying to work our writing into our daily lives. But, putting some time aside to get in touch with your character can be a fun way to recharge your creative batteries, find inspiration, and end writer’s block.

Let’s look at a “What If…” scenario.  What if your character traveled across time, space, death, and reality to spend the day with you. You, my friend, are taking them out on the town. Character not of your preferred gender? That’s fine! They’re now your best buddy!

  1. Determine your character’s choice of music.
  2. Pick your character’s favorite color. Wear it! If you have an outfit you know your character would want to wear or want to see a date in, that’s even better.
  3. Figure which restaurant would be your character’s favorite, and what dish they would order.

Play the music, get dressed, go out and order the meal, and ENJOY!

I realize this may seem silly to some of you. Try it anyway! Remember, you’ll only get out of it what you put in. If you put thought, planning, and emotion into this, it can be a fun way to kindle a new sense of excitement and enthusiasm for your character and your story.

So, go ahead! I won’t wait up!