Monday, September 30, 2013

October: Show Your Colors

It's October and officially one month before National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Now is the time for all writers to prepare for the challenge: 50,000 words, 30 days with no excuses.

Mimic Mother Nature. Use October to prepare for the NaNoWriMo challenge. Generate your ideas, devise your plot, develop your characters, loosely plan the setting, stock your refrigerator with your favorite beverages, store snacks in your cabinets and pantry. Warn your family and your friends that you are accepting the gauntlet and will be writing throughout the month of November.

Check out Join the millions of writers around the world who participate annually. Sign up "to write with wild abandonment." This event is a "significant emotional event"(Maslow) for any writer.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Observation: Springboard of Inspiration

 Observation is the springboard for all INSPIRATION.  The simple act of watching the trees move, a cat stretched in the sunlight, children playing, a couple holding hands, a headline, or a date on the calendar commemorating an event can catapult me to place pen to paper.  Observation allows one to look for the soul or the spirit of an action which transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. It sounds simplistic, but stop, watch, listen, and take in the ordinary. You will experience the more by just being present in the moment. You may become inspired.

"Rain isn't just water in the desert, it is a religious experience. 
It is life's nourishment." (Coffey).

 When a clerk asks, "How's your day?" and you answer back "Great, how's yours?" Be open to observe the richness of that person's life unfolding before you. Even the crowded streets are more than the impersonal masses in a hurry to a destination. Close scrutiny of the crowd reveals individuals: each with a story, and each with a mission, each driven by a deadline.
         Observation is the springboard to inspiration, experience it. Use it. Make it the first step in the outline of a blog, story, poem, or journal.  Take what you see to another level. Transform what seems mundane to the magical or mystical.  Write about how you felt when you were observing. Sing about the music you heard. Snap the moment that brought inspiration to you, print it, and pass it on.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Recharge:Attend a Writers Conference

My "Inspirations"from the 2013
League of Utah Writers Conference
Thanks Amryn, Brittany, Les, Cheree, and Ron

Writing is a solitary activity. Writers need to get out and talk to other writers struggling with time lines, outlines, characterizations, plots, point of views, editing, publishers, queries, marketing, etc.
Conferences are the place where writers get this type of support. Yes, critique groups, small writing chapters are supportive, but the synergy of a conference cannot be measured by dollars and cents. A unique aspect of a conference is its energ. The exchanges of conversations between fledgling writers and published authors, presenters and struggling wordcrafters, the one on one exchanges fuel the gathering.

It doesn't matter if you attend a conference of 65 attendees or  500, it is those intimate exchanges which make a writer take stock. It is in one of those moments an ideas arrives, a timeline is adjusts, the "knotty" problem with your character or villain unravels.

Like all learning, which I personally believe is continuous, one needs to be open to it. Sophie Littefield, author and presenter, (League of Utah Writers Conferences, 2013), spoke about ways to strengthen a writer's determination. One of her talking points was "Know your Community." She spoke about knowing other writers, publishing trends, existing agencies, current genres and rising trends. She insisted writing was more than pen to paper. She told us to go out and learn from one another.

Yes, you may run into a presenter you find to be dull and whose material is not as interesting as you thought. Yet, you could leave and enter another session or stay and see if the information has merit for another use. You could ask a table mate at lunch or a break, if they every thought about using the presenter's techniques, allowing you to learn something from someone else. New knowledge doesn't have to come from a presenter, but from a friendly, collegial writer who buoys your spirits and sends you home with new resolve. You are recharged and ready to take on the blank page.

If you are just venturing into the world of writing or are a battle weary veteran of the craft, you should always consider attending a Writers' Conference. Yes, I know they can be pricey. Sometimes it requires airfare or a long distance drive and a hotel room for a day or two. Plus, you have to juggle your schedule and your family life to manage it. Then again it maybe you might have to get out of your sweats or whatever you wear when you write, find someone to feel the cat or walk the dog, get into semi-business like clothes and go out in public. Believe me it is worth it. As, the picture at top demonstrates, writers need writers to recharge.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Word Choice: Demographics or Competition

As part of my prep work for my next book, I am reading classic and contemporary romances and short stories.  One of the most glaring observations is the vocabulary used in the books I have read. Perhaps it is my choice of books, but the more contemporary the writer the few syllables their words contain. It seems at some point either the writing schools or the demographics have changed how writers chose words.

Here are some examples of words used in early twentieth century writing (left side) and (on the right side) the words used today.

  • voluminous – big
  • languorous –  slow
  • luminous – bright
  • unwholesome- nasty
  • immeasurable – vast
  • unilluminated – dark (today unilluminated is not considered a verb)
  • ludicrous- ridiculous
  • ruinous – harmful
  • momentarily –shortly
  • coquette – tease
  • proposition – plan
  • abjure – avoid
What caused the change in word choice? Is it brevity? Is a faster paced world? Is the demographic of readership changing? Is it competition with technology? I would be very interested in learning what you think has happened to change the vocabulary used in leisure reading. Why did we as a civilization evolve into tight writing void of the rhythmic syllables that sometimes drew the reader deeper into the story?