Two Pieces of Advice for Fiction Writers

Taking a break from writing always proves to be a good thing, despite feeling guilty for doing so—that’s a subject I’ve written about on here a few times now. However, that isn’t the topic of this post. Instead, my unintended time away from the blog gave me time to mull over a few other bits of writing advice that, despite having already talked about on here and on my bookstagram, bears repeating. One is abstract and the other is more practical. Both are principles I keep coming back to regardless of what stage of writing I’m in, or how much I think I’ve learned the lesson. There’s always more to learn.

1. Don’t think in terms of characters vs. plot

An earlier post titled “The False Dichotomy of Plot vs. Character” covered this idea in more detail, which I recommend reading for a better understanding of why I stopped thinking of stories in this way. All story elements are intricately connected. An uneven relationship between plot vs. characters in your story is a sign that something is lacking and incomplete—often in the area you think is actually strong. If you plot is lackluster, then you don’t really know your characters (or perhaps your story world or theme) as well as you should. If your characters are flat, that means your plot (and theme, for that matter) is going to suffer even if it’s technically sound.

To reuse one of my analogies, characters are nouns and plots are verbs. You have to have both working together in a way that’s meaningful and comprehensible to have the main structure of a sentence. Pitting these two story elements against each other in the way we speak about them separately impedes the process of finding the proper symbiosis between the two. Ditching the dichotomy gets rid of one hurdle in an already complex and difficult process.

2. If something isn’t working, go back

Writing, like thinking, has a flow of ideas. The more you learn to conceptualize ideas in your head and then communicate those ideas clearly through words, the easier it becomes to immerse yourself in the process and continue it with few, if any, interruptions. A big part of mastering communication (and I mean mastering as a life-long process) is learning how to aim so you can hit the target you want. To continue that metaphor, your mental muscles have to get used to how to load the arrow, how tightly to pull back the bow, how to judge the distance between you and the target, how to move your fingers to allow a clean release. Any failure to hit the bullseye can be traced back to some miscalculation at the beginning—a movement that was too quick or too slow, or forgetting to account for the direction of the wind, or maybe even using the wrong equipment for the distance.

What does any of that have to do with writing? Whenever I come to a scene or chapter that just will not work, there’s always an issue with the scene before it, or the scene before that one, or the opening of the chapter—or a chapter or two I wrote earlier. If I set up a scene correctly, everything that needs to happen follows naturally. If I re-evaluate the events leading up to the trouble spot and then change them to better “aim” at what I need that part of the story to hit, then the ease returns and I’m able to continue on with the story. Sometimes finding the solution is easy, or sometimes it takes weeks to sort out the issue. Regardless, if you’re stuck, reevaluate what you’ve already done and see if you miscalculated. In those cases, backtracking is necessary to move forward again.

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Alright, your turn: what writing advice do you think is important enough to bear repeating?

Books I Want to Read in 2022

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a mood reader, and I have no intentions of putting undue pressure on myself to read at a particular pace (having to do that in school was plenty for me!). However, I’ve been considering what books I’d like to read in the near future and there are quite a few (some of which are sitting on my bookshelves, judging me), so I thought I’d share with you what I hope to read in the coming year (or two…or three), in no particular order:

Continue reading “Books I Want to Read in 2022”

Why I No Longer Use the Enneagram

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Backstory

Personality: the intersection of mind, spirit, and soul, innate yet malleable to some degree by the world around us. There is no way to inventory the totality of what makes up any individual, but that has never stopped humanity from trying—and sometimes succeeding—in describing broad patterns of human behavior as well as specific traits. The human mind, after all, likes patterns. For this reason, psychology has fascinated me from the time I was young; I’ve wanted to understand not only myself, but those around me—and in turn, as an author, understand the characters I write on the page.

Continue reading “Why I No Longer Use the Enneagram”

My Top Reads of 2021

In the past, I’ve welcomed the new year with a recap of every book I’d read the previous year—and as fun as those posts were to write (and hopefully read!), they could become quite long depending on how prolific I happened to be. So this time around, I’ve opted to write about my favorite reads of 2021, and ended up with seven I wanted to particularly highlight.

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Blog Update

Greetings, travelers—it’s been a little while, hasn’t it? Between computer troubles, life changes (vague, I know), and some spells of creative block, the schedule for this blog has gotten completely off track in the past few months. That’s one reason I’ve decided to officially pause the blog for the month of December, and tentatively resume a more regular (though perhaps adjusted) schedule in 2022.

The other reason for the brief hiatus is because I need time to develop some posts that have been percolating in my mind and spirit for several months—posts that deviate from the usual writing and book topics, but retain the same themes and, hopefully, allow me to show more of my style and thinking than what I’ve shown here.

So fret not! More posts are coming in the near future. Don’t miss me too much this December. 😉

Rating all the Agatha Christie Books I’ve Read So Far

I’ve read 13 Agatha Christie novels this year (so far), not including an earlier reading of Murder on the Orient Express, and for a while I’ve wanted to do something more than the one review I did for Death on the Nile—but I have a difficult time coming up with how to assess these mystery books. Do I judge them by how well I guessed (or perhaps how well I didn’t guess) the murderer? Do I judge them on technical merits and originality, scrutinizing them more as an author than a reader? Do I judge them purely based on that hard-to-define and subjective thing called enjoyment? To be honest, I still don’t know the best way to approach them—so I’ve elected to speed rate them all, with a little bit of each of those metrics thrown in and with the disclaimer than my opinion could change tomorrow.

Warning—there might be spoilers for the follow titles: Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None, Crooked House, The ABC Murders, Five Little Pigs, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Poirot Investigates, The Body in the Library, A Murder in Announced, Death in the Clouds, Peril at End House, and Dumb Witness. If you want to avoid spoiling any of the plots, proceed with caution!

Continue reading “Rating all the Agatha Christie Books I’ve Read So Far”

80 Instrumental Tracks for Writing and Studying

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Do you listen to music when you write? While I don’t consistently (it depends on how focused I need to be!), I find that having a playlist of songs that capture the settings, characters, or moods of what I’m writing can help me immerse in the feelings of a scene when I’m having trouble doing so. Instrumental soundtracks are especially helpful when you don’t want to get distracted by lyrics, so I’ve put together a list of 80 of my favorite tracks to listen to when plugging away at my WIP. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite!

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Taking Breaks

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If you’re at all like me, you don’t like taking breaks from your projects. I’ve always been a “work first, play later” sort of person, and when I decide to undertake a task I like to exert a reasonably high amount of energy toward it, finishing it with as much speed as possible while still doing a good job. When those projects have an artistic bent—and this is especially true when it comes to my writing—that tendency becomes exponential. And sometimes I am capable of superhuman bouts of typing, finishing thousands upon thousands of words in a day. There’s one notable instance where I finished two whole chapters in one day (and I write fairly robust chapters). Those days, however, are almost always followed by a creative crash—a day or two or several where I’m lucky to eke out a few hundred words, and the ideas that previously flowed like water rapids are reduced to a dull trickle, like a leaky showerhead.

I’ve come to use variations of a phrase over the past few years: “it isn’t all-or-nothing.” There aren’t just two extreme options for how to go about doing or thinking of a task, project, or abstract concept—you don’t have to stop driving entirely just because you don’t want to go 15 MPH over the speed limit. You don’t have to adopt an extreme moral stance in order to oppose another extreme stance. Most of the time, I don’t have this problem; most of the time, I like to think I’m moderate in pacing myself, in having reasonable expectations for productivity, for balancing work and play. There isn’t anything innately wrong with saying “work first” as long as you do eventually allow time for “play later.” And normally I do! Yet I resent the “play later” phases of the creative process where I’m forced to take a break—whether by other life responsibilities, burnout (usually self-imposed), or the natural ebb and flow that comes with making art. No person can be “on” all the time, and attempts to do so—attempts to go beyond your limitations—do not produce better results.

Every person has a limit of creative endurance. Including environmental reasons, there’s only so much mental, emotional, and spiritual energy one can devote to a project each day before you lose your sharpness and focus and instead drift off into vague, perhaps mediocre territory. Part of growing as an artist is learning where your cut-off is, then balancing that with the discipline necessary to overcome moments of procrastination, perfectionism, and laziness that can pull us toward the other extreme. That’s not a new idea, either broadly or personally. I’ve had enough of those superhuman writing days to recognize they can’t be sustained, no matter how much I want to do so. I also know that distance from a project for longer stretches of time give new perspective, especially when taken between the writing and editing phases. But lately I’ve been struck by just how beneficial micro-breaks are, too.

Here’s an example. A few weeks ago, I had a nagging feeling that a recently finished chapter wasn’t right. There wasn’t anything blatantly wrong—I’d even followed my outline—but I couldn’t shake the feeling, especially as I went on to other chapters that built upon those events. So I went a walk, and realized during the walk what the problem was (turns out I needed to cut the chapter entirely). So I went back, quickly fixed the problem, and continued writing without issue.

Why haven’t I built in such “moments of clarity” before, if they’re so useful? At the very least, a diversion of attention gives your mind a chance to breath before its next bout of exertion—and at most they may save a lot of trouble and creative blockage by solving a problem sooner rather than later. If the goal isn’t incredible word counts but consistency—for consistency is the key to success—then the discipline of writing on a regular basis also needs the discipline of knowing my own limits, and implementing breaks that help me overcome them. The idea of not taking any breaks except for when all energy is depleted is as silly as thinking I could exercise intensely for three hours without stopping to get a drink or catch my breath—and do so every day of the week on top of it. Who could last one day with that sort of routine? What benefit would come of it? Good stewardship of time and talent requires finding that balance—don’t slack off, but don’t run yourself into the ground, either. Writing, after all, isn’t all or nothing.

Rating the Openings of My Favorite Nonfiction Books

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Welcome to part 2 of my book opening analysis series! The first post covered 15 introductory paragraphs from my list of 4-5 star rated book, so this post will be the same format but for 8 nonfiction books instead (most are historical biographies or memoirs). Sometimes nonfiction books have the reputation of not being as stylistically compelling as fiction reads—perhaps because we forget just how many genres of nonfiction exist—so I hope this post is not only helpful for writers but also proves that there are quite a few interesting and beautifully-crafted books that aren’t about other worlds.

Continue reading “Rating the Openings of My Favorite Nonfiction Books”

Book Ratings and Favorites Lists

Today I finished reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson—a book that has lingered on my to-read list for two years and was recently gifted to me by a dear friend. After a slow start and a brief break, and with speed reminiscent of True Grit and West with the Night, it took me around 24-hours to complete the remaining portions after that initial startup (perhaps longer than that, if I want to be specific, but I don’t want to be). It’s now amongst the books on my ironically-titled “Favorites List” on Goodreads. I fully intend on giving it a proper review in the coming weeks, too, although I’ll go ahead say I give it 5/5 stars.

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Rating the Openings of My Favorite Fiction Books

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that writing openings is hard. One might say it is the best of times and the worst of times.

Alright, alright, I’ll stop. But even putting aside wordplay, openings are difficult, whether you’re dealing with fiction or nonfiction. That’s why I thought it’d be fun (and educational) to analyze the openings of my top-rated books to 1) see examples of techniques that hook readers from the first sentences and 2) see that great stories don’t always have the greatest openings.

Continue reading “Rating the Openings of My Favorite Fiction Books”

Outlines: The True First Drafts

I love all aspects of writing. That doesn’t mean I always like them (nothing worthwhile is easy), but I’ve found that I truly enjoy each stage of the writing process when I’m in it. The early stages of brainstorming and research and planning bring a rush of excitement, intrigue, and adventure into the unknown; drafting reveals a depth of unforeseen discoveries, the slow and meticulous carving of stone to reveal statue and the satisfying burn of strengthening muscles; and editing clarifies and sharpens, leaving something beautiful once the sting of its blade has dissipated.

Continue reading “Outlines: The True First Drafts”

How Characters (And Settings) Create Plot Problems

In English (as in many languages), there are eight parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections. All of these pieces come together to create sentences—and, ultimately, convey meaning to others. But what’s actually required to make a sentence a sentence? Toss some adjectives, nouns, and prepositions together and you might end up with some artsy poetry, but you won’t have a proper sentence. Interjections (like “yay!” or “oh!”) convey a lot in a few letters, but they aren’t sentences either. Verbs can evoke strong imagery in our minds but they aren’t enough on their own. Grammatically, the minimum requirement to make a sentence is one noun (or pronoun) and one verb—or, in other terms, a person/concept/idea and action/being. How you build upon those things or play with them opens up an array of sentence structures, but they all start at that same place.

Continue reading “How Characters (And Settings) Create Plot Problems”

A Mere Introduction to Classics

Have you wanted to get into reading classic literature, but not known how or where to start? It’s a daunting undertaking even for those of us who are inclined toward liking older writing. The term “classic” is broad and applied differently almost every time it’s used, which makes something as basic as determining what constitutes as a “classic” difficult, much less deciding which ones you might want to read! So, rather than simply suggesting a list of books, this post is about how to research and determine what classics you might enjoy most (and why you might want to give them a try in the first place).

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2020 Reading Recap

You know the old saying about quality over quantity? It came to mind as I reviewed my Goodreads list at the end of 2020 and realized I only read 7 books that year (8, if you count a re-read). By bookworm standards, that’s rather paltry. Even by my slow-reading standards, it’s minuscule! But this is the first year—perhaps ever—that all my reads were at least rated four-star. All about perspective, hrm? So, without more delay, here’s an overview of my year in books.

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The Ebb and Flow of Creativity

Recently, I’ve been struck again about the importance of viewing writing holistically. I’ve written about this idea in previous posts—particularly when speaking about worldbuilding or the “character-first vs. plot-first” dichotomy—and, likely, many other authors and artists have talked about the same concept using different language (nothing new under the sun, amiright?). But it’s resurfaced in my mind because I’ve come upon another slow patch of writing my WIP, and like all other times before, I don’t like it.

Continue reading “The Ebb and Flow of Creativity”

The Last of the Myshkins: The Idiot, the Author, and the Read-Along

While most of my posts for #thelastofthemyshkins will be on my Instagram, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write a little bit more about The Idiot, Dostoyevsky’s aim for the novel, and how I’m going to approach my second read of my second-favor novel. After all, there’s only so much that a social media post can hold (literally and figuratively).

Continue reading “The Last of the Myshkins: The Idiot, the Author, and the Read-Along”

The Last of the Myshkins Read-Along Announcement + Upcoming Plans

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It’s here!! My long-hinted-at Instagram read-along, The Last of the Myshkins, is slated for November of this year, and I’m extremely excited to be hosting it. Although it’s still a while until then, I wanted to give some extra information not found on the infographics, as well as tell you why I chose to create this read-along (and a little update about a change of schedule coming up!). Continue reading “The Last of the Myshkins Read-Along Announcement + Upcoming Plans”

The Basics of Plotting a Mystery

The Basics of Plotting a Mystery

It’s a cliché sentiment but it’s true: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love mysteries. Although classics and memoirs take up the majority of my reading time now, mysteries dominate my television preferences—in fact, I don’t think I watch much of anything except crime dramas (of both the fictional and non-fictional varieties). There’s something so compelling about a narrative that invites the audience to gather clues and piece together puzzles along with the characters, and the stress and tension caused by the plot can do amazing things for character development if the writers take full advantage of the conflict. Better yet, the elements of a mystery can be incorporated into and enhance any other genre—some of my favorite classics (The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, True Grit) involve some form of investigation, search, or journey to solve a crime. And, perhaps most of all, the general characteristics of a mystery arrange the plot in such a way as to allow for compelling thematic exploration: what is justice? Are some secrets better off kept hidden? What is truly right and wrong, and how do we uphold what’s right? What drives people to commit horrible acts against others or themselves? Continue reading “The Basics of Plotting a Mystery”

Why I Edit as I Draft

Why I Edit As I Draft

One quick internet search pulls up post after post admonishing writers not to edit as they write. This piece of advice has to be one of the most popular in the author world (right behind “don’t use adverbs”), and it’s one I see followed regardless of genre, age, and experience. If you read the title of this post, then you know that I don’t follow that advice—strictly, at least. But it would be unfair not to acknowledge its usefulness before I explain why I often break it. Continue reading “Why I Edit as I Draft”

What I’m Learning and Re-Learning about Writing Dialogue

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Some feedback sticks with you for a long time—and not always the painful kind. One such helpful critique has been on my mind lately. A few years ago, I was able to have a published author read the first chapter of my novel’s first draft (so much has changed since then!) as part of a writer’s workshop. Apart from his graciousness, I remember what he told me about a section of dialogue: that I had gone over the natural beat for when it should have ended, and if I edited it to fall on the right beat, the conversation would be much more meaningful and interesting to read. I’m sure that he explained it in more detail, too, but what’s lingered in my mind is the idea of not overextending dialogue. Continue reading “What I’m Learning and Re-Learning about Writing Dialogue”

Weaving Themes into Stories

Weaving Themes into Stories

In last week’s post, I discussed how themes, just like plot and characters, are innate parts of storytelling, and how we cannot divorce theme from the rest of our writing. The natural follow-up question, then, is how do you handle thematic elements well? Readers and writers alike are well aware that things like theme, symbolism, and motifs are delicate and difficult—give it too much space and your book becomes a sermon, and give it too little and your story suffers for lack of clarity and meaning. To quote my previous post, “poorly-handled themes are a result of their disharmony with the characters and plot of a story.” But how do you find that wonderful harmony of story elements? Realizing that theme is always there is the first step. The second step is understanding how themes operate (often uniquely) in creative storytelling; and the third step is finding techniques to question your themes in order to extract nuance. Continue reading “Weaving Themes into Stories”

The Hidden Third Element of Storytelling

The Hidden Third Element of Storytelling

What are the bare basics you need to tell a story? Characters are essential, of course—stories can’t exist without them; plot goes-hand-in-hand, whether it’s intricate or loose; and, to allow for some obviousness, you always need a medium by which to communicate the tale, whether written, oral, or visual. But that’s not everything, is it? Although we may not always realize it, there’s another element that always comes alongside characters and plot, but often remains hidden even from the author: theme. Continue reading “The Hidden Third Element of Storytelling”

3 Tips for Writing Short Stories

3 Tips for Writing Short Stories

Anyone who knows me knows that I love writing long novels, so it may be surprising that I also love writing short stories. That wasn’t always the case, however—in my earlier authorial years, I hated trying to condense my ideas into 2,000 words (the usual word limit for projects and contests). I even had a hard time when the word limit was bumped up to 3,000 or 4,000. But, slowly, my love for crafting short stories grew and helped me hone some skills that would have otherwise been forgotten in the sea of tome worldbuilding and plotting. Still, it’s tough to come up with a compelling idea that can be conveyed in only a few thousand words—how do you do it and do it well? There are three tips that have helped me over the years and that I hope will help you, too. Continue reading “3 Tips for Writing Short Stories”

How Much Should I Research for My Story?

How Much Should I Research

Every now and again, I ask my followers on Instagram for blog post ideas—not only does it help me when my inspiration is running low, but it helps me know what my fellow writers would like to see addressed. Well, today’s topic is one such suggested question: how much should you research for your story? The short answer is “I don’t know.” It’s very hard to quantify how much worldbuilding any author, much less story, needs. You’ll also get different answers depending upon who you ask; someone like me who loves worldbuilding will likely encourage you to do lots of research, while an author who focuses more on small-scale (micro-first) stories might tell you it doesn’t matter. However, that aside, I do have 2 tips that should help if you’re debating if you really need to read a book about 1500s England or spend half the day learning about space travel. Continue reading “How Much Should I Research for My Story?”

The False Dichotomy of Plot vs. Character

The False Dichotomy of Plot vs. Character

How often have you heard writers say “characters are the most important part of a story”? If you’re like me, the answer is often—and if you’re like me, you’d have had unidentifiable qualms with that piece of advice for quite some time. Perhaps it’s that I’ve long identified with being a plot-first writer, and it seems a bit unfair to focus so much on characters (and needlessly lament how hard plots are). But it’s only recently that I’ve determined what really bothers me about comments like that one: characters and plot do not exist separately from each other in actual stories. Yes, you can separate them during the brainstorming process, and there are benefits to that, especially in the case of a specific problem with one or the other. But in practice it’s harmful to view them as separate entities on opposite sides of a sliding scale, rather than two parts of the mechanics that make a story run. Continue reading “The False Dichotomy of Plot vs. Character”

How to Craft Perfectly-Paced Scenes

How to Craft Perfectly Paced Scenes

Now that I’m writing the second draft of my novel, I’ve been pondering the technical parts of story and prose—and, lately, I’ve been thinking about pacing. Generally speaking, I think I have a good grasp on how to pace my scenes, whether they’re full of action or dialogue or time jumps, but I know that’s a skill I’ve developed over a lot of time (and a lot of drafts) and still need to keep developing. And, just because I feel more comfortable with the pacing of my novel doesn’t mean there still aren’t times when I struggle to insert my protagonist’s inner dialogue into the prose in a natural way, or make tense dialogue short and snippy enough to evoke emotion. All prose-related skills take time and (lots of) editing. But I do think there are ways to help writers nail the essence of a scene on the first or second try, and that comes down to becoming aware of the passage of time and how action affects our senses. Continue reading “How to Craft Perfectly-Paced Scenes”

A Case for Adverbs

A Case for Adverbs
“Someone out there is now accusing me of being tiresome and anal-retentive. I deny it. I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.” (Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft)

Writing advice is tricky business. Of course, a writer who is successful, especially one who has wide acclaim, will have insight into how to craft a good tale or beautiful paragraph. It’s immature—and a bit flippant—to write them off entirely (pun intended). But the longer you dip your toes into the realm of writing, the more you’ll realize that certain subjects have conflicting advice from the pros. Prose style is, perhaps, the most varied and heated of these cases, and adverbs is perhaps the most famous of them. Continue reading “A Case for Adverbs”

2 Reasons to Stop Complaining About Writing

2 Reasons to Stop Complaining About Writing

Anyone who knows me well also knows I have a long list of pet peeves—often minor issues or preferences that cause a moment of frustration before I move on to more productive things. But there are a handful of items on the list that cause a deeper sort of agitation, especially when I see them everywhere I look. In the realm of writing, self-deprecating humor and complaining are two frequent offenders. Continue reading “2 Reasons to Stop Complaining About Writing”

Writing Grief Well

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I’m close to finishing the first part of my WIP, and (no spoilers) the last chapter I wrote deals with the death of an important character—an event that catalyzes the rest of the novel. But even though I’ve planned this part of the novel for months, imagined the sequence of events down to small details, I was still at a loss for how to go about writing such a tragic and, in some ways, delicate event. I’m still working on the first page of the chapter that comes right after the character’s death, and it’s been a while since I started. Just like in real life, death is hard to process, and seems like everyone (real or fictional) deals with the grief that comes afterward in different ways. Continue reading “Writing Grief Well”

The Question I Ask to Overcome Comparison

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Comparison is a nearly ubiquitous problem for humanity, but because I’m a part of and immersed in creative spheres, the way comparison creeps into the minds of artists and writers is particularly apparent to me. It’s also apparent because I’ve fallen into the trap myself, and will likely fall into it again, or come near the edge, in the future. The line between admiration and comparison (and jealousy) is fine and easy to cross. What begins as “wow, this author does such a good job with themes! I want to write strong themes like they do” quickly degrades into “I wish I was as good of a writer as they are,” then “I’m so bad at writing, everything I create is shallow,” and then “I’ll never be as good as other writers are.” And by that point, the comparison hole is so deep that it can takes hours or days to crawl up out of it. Continue reading “The Question I Ask to Overcome Comparison”

The Importance of Reconciling Faults

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I finished my WIP’s outline last week and started my 2nd draft this weekend. To say I’m excited is an understatement—this novel has been over three years in the making, with years of formulating ideas and writing old drafts before I finally honed the specific ideas, setting, plot, and characters. Beyond the excitement, though, beginning the 2nd draft reminded me of an integral part of my writing journey: reconciling myself to my faults. Continue reading “The Importance of Reconciling Faults”

A Case for Pre-Writing

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For as often as writers discuss their favorite methods and tricks of pre-writing (that stage before a draft that’s dominated by researching, brainstorming, and outlining), a lot of writing advice stresses the importance of just writing. That’s the entire point of being a writer, after all—getting stuck in constant planning eventually becomes a procrastination tool or a safe place to hide from the reality (and fear) of what comes once writing commences. Just as often, writers are admonished to write bad first drafts—just write, and you can edit and fix the problems later. Just write. Just write. Just write. Continue reading “A Case for Pre-Writing”