Advice 2

So, I had to give up on NanoWrimo. School decided that this semester wasn’t quite hard enough, so it procured three research papers and a creative writing portfolio for me to put together and then lumped on top of the pile of misfortune two final cumulative exams on the same day.


So, I have a partly finished novel that I am forced to put aside until the semester stops dogging my heels. In the mean time, I am also taking a larger hiatus from here. Don’t worry, it is only three weeks. I will be back before you know it. I do, however, want to offer this to you until then.

So, my creative writing professor here at college is Dr. Robert Vivian, a man who walks around the world in perpetual wonder. He is amazing and offers some of the best advice when it comes to writing that I have ever received. This is my third semester in a row with him and I regret nothing except that I have taken all of his creative writing classes and can no longer continue (though, I am currently trying to devise a way to change that… we shall see). His curiosity about the world can never be fulfilled and he is continually astonished by the beauty he is surrounded by.

Seriously. You may think I am exaggerating, but I am not in the slightest. He refuses to hold his creative writing in a normal classroom because he feels his mind is too confined and moves them permanently to a corner in the library where we are surrounded by books and that unique smell they give off or the basement of the chapel where occasionally piano music drifts through the floorboards as we work. He offers assignments where he simply gives us a list of characteristics and asks us to write a story where they are all included, has us create a fictional town and then insists we propagate characters to fit inside, takes us outside to sit in the sunlight on the lawn and write about a ray of light on some object, or sends us on a scavenger hunt for the last half of the class period to find the oldest book in the library and then write about it (by the way… I highly suggest you do these prompts. They are quite engaging.).

So, I have decided to share a bit of his wisdom with you. He is a firm believer that writing comes from a place of other, a dream space that sends us inspiration to the point where we are simply a conduit of words and phrases to place upon the page… sound familiar? Yeah… kind of like my theory about my Muse. That probably explains why I like him so much. The following link is a paper he wrote about the writing process and I do hope you will take the time to read it. He wrote it several years ago, but it is still relevant to what he teaches and the writing process in general. He explains his theory in more detail within and I think it will help those of you who are actually managing to finish NanoWrimo or simply write and are looking for some new inspiration/writing advice.



Brain Dead Muse

If you will recall, I once wrote a post about how my Muse sometimes goes into a coma and no amount of poking or prodding will awaken her twitching form?

That is how it has gone for me for the last two weeks, and she is still passed out cold even as I write this.

So, I apologize for the wait to those of you who loyally follow me and thank you for your kindness. Those of you who are new… sorry for wasting your time when you want to read a blog post from someone you randomly found. Hello, nice to meet you, and here is the meat of the matter.

And the fact of that matter is… I don’t know what to talk about. After all, didn’t you just read that my muse is passed out cold, slowly dying without any hope of resuscitation? But you still kept reading, expecting some wonderful post about life, writing, whatever. Silly reader, tricks are for kids… sorry, off topic.

Anyway, a brain dead muse is a common thing we all deal with, but lately my prescribed methods are not working. Caffeine is a bust, inspiration is dead, and I’m basically only writing this because I’m avoiding a 5-page paper due tomorrow that I can’t figure out how to write either.

Yup. There you go. A summation of my current writing failure and inability to focus. I truly cannot wait for my muse to wake up.

I’ve even been mulling over a new book idea the last week but whenever I sit down to write down ideas I draw a blank. It’s like the bucket from which I draw water from my well of inspiration has a hole in the bottom and no matter how fast I work or how hard I try, by the time I draw it up all of the water is gone.

This does happen sometimes, of course. Every writer deals with it, the famed ‘Writer’s Block,’ the nemesis of every author, writer, blogger, and student. The Joker to our Batman, kryptonite to our Superman, etc., etc. That which can never be entirely beaten, only tolerated and worked around.

Right now, I just want to get a gun and kill it, though. I’m tired of the games and the constant match ups and quarreling… I just want to end it. I want to sit down and have the words flow naturally to my mind, without having to take tweezers and pull it like a splinter from my mind.

Sorry, I’ll stop my whining and go and write my paper now. I just felt bad since I haven’t written to you for a while. I promise that the next post will be more than me griping about how I can’t write right now. Until next week, then, have a wonderful day and godspeed in all of your endeavors.

One Door Closes….

There comes a point when you have to realize that… your story is not yet ready for the world. It that will take a long time to reconcile with yourself. And by yourself I mean… myself. I have been pondering this for weeks and am finally ready to face it head on. Hypothetically. Okay, I’m still having trouble facing it but I’m hoping that writing about it will help.

For a couple of years I have been placing the framework for my book. I’ve made a map, planned the races of my world, figured out the plot… basically taken a barely remembered, half-notion that I woke up with after dreaming one morning and smoothed and plumped it up into something real, with tangible ideas.

And now, I’m trying to force myself to recognize that this book may have to wait a while.

I’m starting to lose interest in it, to look at this particular story as a chore. Instead of working on it I’m thinking up plots for new books and my fingers itch to write these instead of my old one. I spend my driving hours imagining new worlds but… not the one I’ve already created.

Even so, I don’t want to put it aside yet. I love my book. In my mind, the world is real and the idea of placing it aside for a half-baked notion is hard. I’ve put so much effort into this book. This grand adventure that I hope will be on the scale of Lord of the Rings or David Eddings in its depth and scope, in its culture nuances and land descriptions, begs to be written and yet…

I’ve only recently accepted the thought of placing my work aside and it came from one particular realization: I have not actually worked on writing the book for at least half of a year. I’ve gotten bogged down in the details and I’m reaching the point that I don’t really want to write it. At least, not yet.

Instead, I am putting it aside. One day, I will pick it up again and make it real, but I don’t think that I’m mature enough as a writer to bring it forth. I need more experience as a person, a student, and a writer before my world can become reality.

So, this is what I leave you with today. Don’t be afraid to move on. The story is not dead because you do so. It still lives on inside you and one day you can always pick it back up again. I think that being able to recognize that you are not yet ready for a task is a sign that you realize how important your story is.

But at the same time, do not continually do this. Do not be bogged down in fear of failing the perfection your mind has created. Eventually, you must take the plunge and replicate what you imagine. Otherwise, all of your work will be for naught and your stories will never come to fruition. You can always go back and change what you have written if it is unsatisfactory, but an unwritten work will never live in the mind of anyone else besides you, and that seems like a shame.

My Muse’s Block

O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!

O memory that engraved the things I saw,

Here shall your worth be manifest to all!

– Dante Alighieri

As some of you may know and others of you do not, a muse is basically an inspiration for an idea. According to Wikipedia, upon which so many of us depend on for quick knowledge, Muses “are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.” They were Greek goddesses and many poets and writers of the time would ask for their guidance at the beginning of their writing, as Dante Alighieri did in the quote above.

When I’m writing I tend to refer to my little inner voice that inspires me as my ‘Muse.’ If you are a writer, you probably have your own version, where sometimes it seems like words flow out of your mind like a river and you are just along for the ride. As if you are just the conduit, a source for the words to burst out of.

I’ve just taken that feeling and personified it into my Muse. She’s a spiteful creature whose contrary nature tends to drive me insane and she often seeks forgiveness by giving me writing ideas at times when I am unable to write. She thinks it’s funny to take a nap when I have an essay due and whispers to me while I am driving in my car and there isn’t a single piece of paper nearby for me to write ideas upon. I’ve had her fall into a coma for a couple of weeks when I had to write a poem every other day for a class and I’ve had her whisper to me in class so I’m writing furiously to get the ideas down rather than paying attention to the lecture. Basically, she is, if you will excuse my language, a bitch.

Yet, I love that little voice. Whenever she speaks to me, I get really excited and desperately rush to write things down before she goes away. The problem, though, is when she abandons me for a long period of time and it is absolutely essential that something is written. I’m sure you are familiar with this type of problem; it is usually referred to as ‘writer’s block.’

Everyone has suggestions for how to break the block. Some suggest just leaving your project for a little while, which I admit works if it is a short time break. The problem stems from the fact that, very often, writer’s block is a long term occurrence.

For this problem, the main suggestion I’ve received is to ‘just start writing.’ While this does sometimes work when I am writing a creative piece, it fails miserably when it comes to essays. It seems that stress is the only thing that is able to prod my Muse into wakefulness and it is dangerously easy for her to roll over and go back to sleep.

That is when caffeine becomes a key factor.

Drink coffee, pop, energy drinks, whatever hits your fancy. Then, when the energy hits you, sit down and write furiously. Don’t think too much about it; going back and editing is far easier than creating words to put upon the page. Skip your intro and just dig into the meat of the matter. Quote like a fiend and use synonyms to make barely passible sentences into matters of genius.

Note that this is only for desperate measures. Caffeine-induced writing is often of a lower caliber than Muse-induced writing, but sometimes there isn’t any other choice. I also realize that it may not have a good effect on others since this is just my personal method. For me, the energy caffeine gives me is the push I need to actually sit down and write, so try finding the push that will make you work.

To those of you who this fails on, I suggest finding your own way. I think that everyone has their own way of pushing through the block in dire times and that mine may not fit for you. If you have any other ideas, I would love to hear them. Leave a suggestion in the comments.