Blogging

I’ll be honest.  I usually come into these blog posts knowing exactly what I intend to write about, but this one is different.  I’m not entirely sure what I want to write about.  You see, at first I thought there were only so many topics related to writing that I could write about, and thus the list would inevitably run dry.  For a little while I feared I had finally reached that point.  But the thing is (at least in theory (or at least in a theory that I just created)), there should never be a lack of topics to write about.  There are so many nuances to writing, that books and books could be written on the subject and only begin to scratch the surface of the diverse craft.  So, how could it be that I’ve only written roughly ten blog post and I went into this one thinking I’d wrung the topic stone dry?  Well, I don’t know.  But I think it has a little something to do with the task itself.

That brings me to this week’s topic, which I literally just decided upon two minutes ago; blogging.  It’s a repetitive task.  Usually bloggers update their blog whenever they find the inspiration or whenever their readers expect them to, but considering I’m swamped with end of semester work and I have no dedicated readers (that I know of), neither of these factors play a role in my blogging.  What does, however, is my passion for it.  I enjoy free writing and luckily, that’s basically what I do for this blog.  I pick a broad topic and write as much as I can about it until I can’t anymore.  It’s fun, even when there are so many other things I need to be doing.  It’s an easy way to de-stress and let my creative juices flow.

It also helps that this is a topic that I enjoy discussing.  It’s easy for me to sit down and talk about it for a prolonged period of time.  This is probably the best piece of advice I can give to any blogger, whether you’re writing it for a class, an actual audience, or simply yourself: love it.  Otherwise it’s going to be brutally difficult experience trying to sit down for thirty minutes and write something substantial.  You’ll probably just end up spouting nonsense for a few paragraphs about nothing in particular, slap a catchy title onto it, upload it and call it good.  Sort of like I just did now, right?

Just kidding.  But seriously.  Make sure you chose a topic that you thoroughly enjoy before writing a blog.  If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get over this most recent obstacle.

Trying to keep my head above water,

~A Fellow Writer

Read

Read. If you're going to be a writer, it's something that you have to do.  It’s like any artistic craft; there are countless examples of those works deemed “good” by society, which in turn can be models of your own future pieces.  I’m pretty sure I told this story in one of my first posts so I won’t bore you with the details, but the reason I’m now a writer is because of my own experiences with reading.  Every time I read a book I discover new techniques I might utilize later in my own writing endeavors.

Now, by no means am I suggesting that a writer must plagiarize.  If you were to publish a book and then someone came along and stole your ideas, characters, and world, would you appreciate it?  I know I wouldn’t.  Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but there are other ways to express your admiration.

What I’m talking about is style and technique.  For the longest time I thought writing long winded, wordy sentences was the “right way to write.”  For whatever reason, I also thought the longer and more complex my words were, the better my writing would be.  Boy, was I wrong.  By reading as many books as I possibly can and thus exposing myself to a variety of authors and writing styles I have discovered new and improved ways to approach the craft.  Some of these techniques I’ve discussed in recent posts, while others I might tackle in later ones.

In closing, my advice is to read.  As simple as it may sound, it will help you immensely in the long run.  I just finished the seventh book in the Sword of Truth series, The Pillars of Creation, and not only has Terry Goodkind taught me so much about character development, dialogue, description and detail, his characters, Richard and Kahlan, inspire me to continue pursuing my craft.

That’s all for now,

A Fellow Writer.

A Whole New World

I’m a writer.  It’s as simple as that.  I love the craft.  I enjoy sitting at a computer and pecking feverishly at the keys as ideas flood my fingertips.  I lay awake at night and let my mind wander, untamed, to discover fresh material.  But most of all, I revel in the prospect of creating entire worlds from nothing but my own imagination.  (Or with the help of a friend’s, as you will come to see.)

Azryen.  It’s a word you probably don’t recognize and if I weren’t about to explain what it is, you’d write it off as nothing more than gibberish.  But it’s not.  In fact, it’s so much more.  Azryen is a world, very different than our own, that my friend and I have constructed from nothing.  We’ve spent close to a decade perfecting its lands, developing its magic system, fine tuning its races, building its cities, and bringing to life its inhabitants.  We currently have a few novels underway that take place in Azryen and there are countless more planned.

Whether the task is as grand as creating an entire world, or on a scale as small as the city of Nuark, the entire process is endearing to me.  Yes, there are challenges, but there are ways to overcome them.

1) Keep everything straight.  Try not to contradict yourself.  There’s nothing more off putting than discovering a piece that doesn’t fit into what should be an intricately crafted puzzle.  To do this I write everything down.  Keeping records is essential, otherwise you might forget something and eventually replace a name or idea with something new, altering everything that was once based off of it.

2) Make sure it’s interesting and fresh.  There’s nothing worse than day old McDonald’s french fries.  I take that back—there’s nothing worse than McDonald’s french fries.  Period.  But that’s beside the point.  Make sure your world isn’t as stale as a thrice fried machine cut potato.  Once a reader has explored Narnia, they’re not going to settle for some cheap knock off.  And that’s a fact.

3) There’s a difference between fresh and complete, utter nonsense.  Try not to go too far “out of this world.”  If your reader can’t draw any parallels or make any connections to the world he or she lives in, they’re not going to want to spend their free time in the one you seemed to randomly construe.

I might be alone in this (but for some reason, I doubt it), but this is by far one of the most engaging parts of writing a story.  Sure, you can write realistic fiction and set it in our world, where the connections your readers will be able to make are endless, or you can experiment with something new.  Tolkien created Middle Earth.  Goodkind crafted the Midlands.  Collins envisioned Panem.  No matter how grand the tale, all the kinks in the setting have to be worked out beforehand or your readers will be able to sense the disconnect.

That’s all for now.

A fellow writer.

The Balancing Act of Life

Any student, college or otherwise, knows of the stress that comes with a full workload and the seemingly endless stream of assignments that professors and teachers enjoy sending our way.  So, what’s a writer to do when all our free time is spent constructing formulaic essays and completing sets of inane calculus problems?  I can’t speak for everyone, but there are times when I finish everything I need to do on a particular day and experience an overwhelming urge to write something creative.  Then, even more common, are the days when all I want to do when I’m done is eat junk food and watch Doctor Who.

If you’re as in love with writing as I am, then you’ll know how rewarding a solid hour spent tackling your next chapter can feel on a lousy day.  I can’t stress this next point enough and I have countless times before.  If you don’t love it—if taking a few hours out of your hectic lifestyle to sit down and let your creative juices flow isn’t appealing—then nothing will get done.  That being said, I’ve recently devised a plan to make sure I always have at least a half hour to write on any given day.  I schedule it.  It doesn’t get more spontaneous than that, right?  Sarcasm aside, if I know I’m going to be incredibly busy, I fit it into my schedule.  It’s an amazing way to unwind after a long day of work.  Think of it as if you’re reading a book before you fall asleep.  The only difference is that you’re writing the words for someone else to enjoy in the future.

Scheduling is the bane of any college writer’s existence.  “I have class from eight to twelve, then I have to give myself time to eat lunch from twelve to twelve thirty, then I have class again until two, then I have work from three to eight and somewhere in there I have to write a two page essay and finish my problem set for Chemistry.”  I don’t see a place where creative writing might fit into that schedule, do you?  But if you really want it to, you’ll find the time you need to accomplish something substantial.  Maybe it’ll have to wait until the weekend, but who’s to say you can’t be productive enough then to make up for the hectic week during which you could get absolutely nothing done.

If you honestly love it, you’ll find the time.

That’s all for now,

A Fellow Writer.

A Few Words of Writing Wisdom

Telling a writer to focus is like telling a squirrel to stop protecting its nuts.  It’s not going to happen.  You see (I may just be the exception, but I doubt this is the case), us writers have way too many thoughts and ideas up there to keep them all straight.  So what happens if you’re working on what you’d call your “main project,” the story or novel you’ve decided you need to finish before you can allow yourself to start something new, and you have the sudden urge to take a break and work on something else.  Well, you do just that.  Your other project will be waiting eagerly for you to return, but in the meantime let those creative juices flow.

As I’m sure I said in an earlier post, this is also a great way to get over even the most severe cases of writer’s block.  If you’re stuck on a certain part in your current project, focusing your energy on something else for a while can often lead to newfound inspiration.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve used this exact method and days later found myself ten pages into a chapter I’d before thought was going to be impossible to write.  It might seem like an unproductive way to finish a story, but think of it like this:

When you finally finish your main project (because you will and you have to believe you will with all your heart) then your next one will already be partly written, ready for you to jump right in. 

That’s all for now,

A Fellow Writer.