How to Write More Meaningful Symbolism — A Writer’s Path

by Millie Ho Netflix’s Luke Cage was an entertaining series, and it also helped me understand how to write better symbolism. Here’s a summary of my talking points. AVOID USING SUPERFICIAL SYMBOLISM In school, I was taught to reference existing works or mythologies if I was writing symbolism. For example, a guy who […]

via How to Write More Meaningful Symbolism — A Writer’s Path

Beware the Social Media Snuggie–One Size Does NOT Fit All

Just as I have been spending a lot of time re-thinking my whole social media strategy, this post crossed my newsfeed. An interesting look at author platforms, and how to focus on the best options for your needs. ~ Flynn

Kristen Lamb's Blog

So last night I’m watching TV and this ad comes on for an item called, Forever Lazy. Basically, its a blanket with a zipper and legs (oh and there is a zipper at both ends and I will just stop there). Basically, it’s a cousin to the Snuggie.

This got me thinking…

What if we just gave up wearing clothes and just took to wearing Lazy Blankets or Snuggies? I mean, my thighs that haven’t properly fit in a pair of jeans since fifth grade would no longer be a problem. And how much time would we save going to the gym? With a Lazy Blanket, no one could see our cellulite or our less-than-impressive-pecs. No more sweating at the gym and bring on the cheese fries! Shaving our legs could be totally optional. No more sorting the laundry, either. Our Snuggie is already fuzzy, so just throw that…

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The Return to Blogging

Hi everyone, I’m baaaack. Sort of. I’ve been around on social media again for a while, but have had a complete blank on anything to blog about. So as my grand return post, here are a bunch of interesting things that other people have said : )

George R R Martin Quote

“You know how writers are… they create themselves as they create their work. Or perhaps they create their work in order to create themselves.” ― Orson Scott Card

Robert Benchley Quote

“The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn’t.” ― Iain M. Banks

Terry Pratchett Quote

“A novel rough draft is like bread dough; you need to beat the crap out of it for it to rise.” ― Chris Baty

“Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.” ― Theodore Dreiser

Mel Brooks Quote

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” ― Hugh MacLeod

Internet Fatigue and My Web Holiday

Internet fatigue, or perhaps more aptly, social media fatigue, has been causing an increasing disruption in my life. The endless cycle of news, opinions, scandals, advertisements, and largely useless information, has been clogging up my brain and causing both anxiety and an enduring sense of exhaustion.

(Wondering what exactly “Internet Fatigue” is? Check out this great article: http://au.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/03/is-internet-fatigue-ruining-your-life)

I should point out here that I still think the Internet is a wonderful thing – never before have we had access to so much information at our fingertips – but it is a dual-edged sword, and the flip side is information overload and misinformation. With a discerning eye, research, and a little practice, weeding out misinformation is not that difficult. Information overload, however, is an entirely different problem, particularly in a world where we are already being bombarded by information from all angles in everyday life. 

From our TVs, radios, billboards, posters, food packaging, magazines, newspapers, and pretty much anywhere we look the minute we set foot outside of our homes, information bombards us from all directions. Add in the Internet, particularly social media, and this information bombardment increases exponentially. 

Yes, social media can be fun. It can be a great way to keep in contact with friends and relatives, and to network professionally. But it also becomes exhausting. It can become a compulsion to check Facebook or Twitter (or your social media of choice), every spare second. It’s the first thing you look at in the morning, and the last thing you check at night. You scroll through your timeline when you’re bored. And it all becomes overwhelming.

Which is why, in the interests of reclaiming a good portion of my day, re-prioritising, de-clogging my brain, and reducing my stress levels, I will be on hiatus from blogging and social media for the foreseeable future. Thanks for all of your support, and hopefully I will return with a clear head and fresh perspective at some point in the future.

Stress & Burnout—How to Get Your Creative Mojo Back

A very relatable and informative post from Kristen Lamb about the negative effects of stress on your cognitive and creative abilities.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image courtesy of Eflon via Flickr Creative Commons Image courtesy of Eflon via Flickr Creative Commons

The past few years have been just brutal. My grandmother who raised me was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it was just one crisis after another and it just never…freaking…let…up. I felt like I was in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu being crushed all the time, but not allowed to tap out. Then, on Independence Day (ironically) my grandmother finally passed away.

I really never appreciated how much her declining health was impacting me until she was gone. It was like I was wandering around in a fugue state only aware that my knees hurt. Then out of nowhere a hand lifted off the 500 pound gorilla and I could breathe again. I never noticed the gorilla, never noticed the lack of air, only the knee pain.

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So now I am in the process of rebuilding. I plan on taking a couple days off to…

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Proofreading Tips for Writers

Proofreading

If you have written anything before, whether essays, reports, fiction, articles, or any other form of writing, you will most likely have discovered the difficulties that come with proofreading your own work. Even if you have an impeccable knowledge of the English language, there is one pitfall that is almost impossible to avoid:

Our brain tricks us into seeing what should be there instead of what is there.

No matter how often we re-read our own writing, or how much distance (time) we place between ourselves and our work, sneaky, simple mistakes will almost always slip through the cracks. As an example, I wrote a short story where a character “threw her bag and keys on the table”. Or, that is what it was supposed to say. Despite multiple readings over a period of two months, I never picked up that it actually said “threw her back and keys on the table”, until someone else pointed the mistake out to me.

These sorts of errors slip easily past spelling and grammar checkers, and often only a fresh pair of eyes will find them. It is also small errors like this that can drag a reader out of the flow of the story, lessen the impact of your writing, and affect your professional image if you write for a living.

There are, however, a few tips and tricks that can help you pick up on as many of these pesky little mistakes as possible:

  • Take as much time as possible between writing and proofreading your writing, so your work has become less familiar
  • Read very slowly, or read out loud (or both)
  • Re-read the work several times, focusing on a particular issue on each pass (punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc.)
  • Print out your work to proofread it
  • Change the typeface, colour, size, and/or background to trick your brain into thinking you’re reading something new
  • Take breaks, be well rested and as alert as possible

While all of these techniques can be useful, nothing really beats getting another person to proofread your work, if at all possible. Just to be safe.

 

Helpful Links for Proofreading Your Own Work: 


Get Your Eagle Eye On: 10 Tips for Proofreading Your Own Work by Leah McClellan:

http://writetodone.com/get-your-eagle-eye-on-10-tips-for-proofreading-your-own-work/

21 Proofreading and Editing Tips for Writers by Melissa Donovan:

http://www.writingforward.com/writing-tips/proofreading-and-editing-tips-for-writers



Are You Botching Your Dialogue?

A great post on writing dialogue from Kristen Lamb.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Today we are going to talk about dialogue. Everyone thinks they are great at it, and many would be wrong. Dialogue really is a lot tricker than it might seem.

Great dialogue is one of the most vital components of fiction. Dialogue is responsible for not only conveying the plot, but it also helps us understand the characters and get to know them, love them, hate them, whatever.

Dialogue is powerful for revealing character. This is as true in life as it is on the page. If people didn’t judge us based on how we speak, then business professionals wouldn’t bother with Toastmasters, speaking coaches or vocabulary builders.

I’d imagine few people who’d hire a brain surgeon who spoke like a rap musician and conversely, it would be tough to enjoy rap music made by an artist who spoke like the curator of an art museum.

Our word choices are…

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There Is No “Right Way” To Be A Writer

  
Writing advice is abundant everywhere around us. Books, magazines, websites, social media, and blogs, are filled with tips and formulas from experts and bestselling authors. There is advice on every aspect of the writing process, from avoiding procrastination, to outlining and planning, to character creation, plotting, description, dialogue, and editing.  

Much of this advice is excellent and very helpful if you need to work on a particular aspect of the writing craft. However, much of it is also conflicting and very subjective, and can leave an aspiring writer feeling as though they are doing something wrong if they are not meeting certain standards or goals.

Writing, like any creative process, is very personal. While there is always room to improve of the craft aspects of writing – the “nuts and bolts” so to speak, such as sentence and scene structure, plotting, dialogue, setting, description, and characterisation – the actual process of writing is highly personal.

Some writers prefer to work from outlines, make copious notes and plan extensively before beginning a first draft, while others prefer to dive straight in. Some will write out their first draft as quickly as possible, while others prefer to work more slowly and make sure each part of the story is just right before continuing. Some authors advise writing every day, while others write in bursts with breaks in between.

There are writers that can churn out a first draft within a few weeks, and publish several novels per year, while others work more slowly, perhaps writing only one novel per year, or even less. Each writer prefers to work in a different environment, has certain rituals, and preferred tools to work with.

All of these aspects of being a writer are highly individual, and unlike the craft aspects of writing, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Just because a certain process works for a famous author, does not mean it will work for you. By all means, read their advice and adopt what feels right for you, and continue to experiment until you find your own process.

 
But don’t feel that you are somehow lacking or a failure if you can’t churn out a first draft within a certain time frame, or if you can’t meet a certain daily word count. Don’t feel as though you should quit if you don’t write every single day, or can’t write 2000 words an hour. Don’t feel inferior if you can’t set and maintain a strict daily writing schedule.  

Yes, writing takes dedication and work, but we are all different and have different rhythms and schedules. There is no single “right way” to be a writer. Whether you sit down and type up an entire first draft over a weekend, or if you ruminate, take notes, plan, and gradually draft out a novel over a period of many months, you are still a writer.

It can be very useful to set goals, but be a little flexible as well. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that stressing out about writing (or a lack of writing) is taking up more of your time than writing is.

There is no faster killer of creativity for many people than worrying too much about keeping a rigid schedule or maintaining word count goals (of course this is also subjective – some writers thrive in just such an environment).  

Remember to have fun with your writing. Enjoy the journey. And don’t be too hard on yourself. 

Why Your Author Blog is Stuck & What To DO

I started this blog last year with no plan at all, and no idea what I was doing. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, though I’ve learned a lot over the past 9+ months. This article by Kristen Lamb provides a lot of solid advice on planning and maintaining a successful blog, focusing on blogging for authors and building an author brand.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

Ah the blog. Some of you might perk up at the word. Others? Blog sounds like some radioactive creature that hatched from a meteor and is only there to feed. Feed on your energy, your hopes and your dreams.

Many writers start the blog with high hopes, then a few months in? You can’t bear to go to your computer because the screen is a reminder of that shiny blog you started…then abandoned to the spam bots.

A blog done properly is one of the most powerful tools in our social media arsenal.

Twitter could flitter and Facebook could face plant, but the blog will remain. In fact, blogs have been going strong since the 90s and have taken over much of what used to be the sole territory of traditional media outlets. Additionally, blogging is the only form of social…

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