Category Archives: Creation

Motivation: The Struggle

I’m feeling a theme for my blog entries today. It’s a real struggle to find the motivation to write lately, but when I do start writing I don’t want to stop until I essentially finish the chapter or the scene.

But finding that initial motivation to start writing is the real struggle.

Between work and just relaxing I find no motivation to write unless it’s at the most inopportune time, such as when I’m attempting to sleep. Though I was very successful during a slow day at work (I wrote over 1,000 words on paper that day), that doesn’t mean I’m successful during any other time of day.

Finding motivation is a challenge in of itself. Yes, I really want to finish this story and yes, I really want to get it out there eventually to the public. But there are several things going through the back of my mind that are related to both my personal life as well as my writing life.

Questions pertaining to jobs and financial stability are big one on my mind right now, but in terms of my writing I ask myself is it good enough? Will people be interested in reading this? I know there will be both good and bad reviews, but will the good outweigh the bad? Why am I worry about all of this now before I’ve even finished rewriting?

Frankly, I don’t know those answers. And then there are the questions about finding an agent, publication, etc. There’s a lot of things that I need to think about for this novel.

The biggest question I’ve been asking myself lately, though, is: is this the novel I want to write? As in, is this the novel that I want others to read?

I love the concept behind the story and how the story is playing out, don’t get me wrong, but I have so many other ideas that I want to get out there that I’m unsure of what to go with first.

Plus I hate writing drafts with a passion. But I got to do it, right?

The motivation thing is killing me, here, but I’m trying to find times where I’m really inspired to write. I find it difficult to just “do it” and instead try to find the times where I feel most capable of actually doing it.

Do you struggle with motivation for writing or anything else you do? Do you have any advice?

Advertisements

NaNoWriMo 2014 Revision Plans

This was originally posted on my other blog, Reader Rayna.

I never posted this here initially, or really kept up with updates, but I did win NaNoWriMo this year with over 50k words (50,281 to be exact)! I’m very proud of myself as I won on day 29, and I wrote my butt off to catch up when I fell behind.

If you want to read a synopsis and excerpt from my novel, you can go check out my page.

So let me talk about my revision plans. I’ve got a lot of them planned, I’m just not going to get them started until the new year because my brain needs time to recuperate after all that writing and other busy things going on, plus my husband and I are going on a honeymoon to Disney World over Christmas, so… I have no time to think about my story.

Anyway, now that I’ve rambled, let me get on with my revision plans:

  • I’m going to rewrite the entire novel in first person point of view present tense from the perspective of my main female character, Dahlia, whom I connected with much more than my main guy character, Jake.
  • After that second draft (since my first NaNo draft is… my first draft) I’m going to polish it up and have several people who were interested in reading it read it.
  • Upon feedback from them, I will revise more and start looking for/querying potential literary agents who might be able to help me get my book published.
  • Yes, my ultimate goal is to get my work published, and I do love the story very much and I believe it would be a great debut novel (at least I hope). That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to grow in my writing from doing multiple drafts or anything of the like. As many people say, it’s not about getting published, it’s about the writing process.
    • What I’ve learned from it is that I missed writing. I missed being creative and spewing out as much as possible to create a feasible, entertaining story.

So my revision plans are pretty standard, I think, for any aspiring writer. I love my story and want to share it with the world. I have many other story ideas and writing plans, I just need to implement them and begin writing. No one’s going to tell those stories but me, so I may as well get on it, right?

Did you participate in NaNo this year? How did you do? What are your revision plans, if any? Let me know in the comments below!

Make Good Art

I wanted to take a moment to write about Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech at the University of Arts, Philadelphia in 2012.

I’ve heard this speech before, probably when it first came out, or maybe in a classroom, but I didn’t really get it then. I mean, I understood what he was saying, but I didn’t fully grasp the concept that Gaiman was talking about.

As I listened to the speech again, I realized something: everything he said is true.

As someone who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in English Studies, my options for jobs in my field are limited. Many jobs, in many fields, require you to have previous experience before you can get experience, or they require something else of you before you can really start. It’s a tough world right now for certain degree majors, but it’s not impossible.

Gaiman’s speech was one to inspire, for sure, but it hit something within me that rings truest of all: Make. Good. Art.

It doesn’t matter if the work doesn’t get published or never leaves home, it doesn’t matter if you make money or not from what you do, but what does matter is that you make it and that you enjoy it.

Reflecting back on my college career I went through three majors before landing on English: biology, earth science, pre-major (no major), and then English. I was thinking of going into education to have a more solid foundation for which I could lay my work, but I didn’t want to be in school the rest of my life, so I went for the next best thing, something I knew I was really good at: English.

I love to write; I have since I was a child and since I started writing stories as part of classroom assignments or for fun. I once wrote over 100 pages on the computer when I was just eleven or twelve, something that many people may not even fathom to do when they’re twenty or thirty. I was immersed in story and I had such a vivid imagination that it always came naturally to me.

But I still wanted to be a veterinarian. I still wanted to study dinosaurs. Don’t get me wrong, those pursuits are amazing and if I had had the ambition and drive to continue my studies, I would have, but as someone who struggles majorly in math (minus a few select subjects), I couldn’t do it. I was constantly disappointed in myself, and I knew my parents were, too, even if they didn’t want to admit it.

When I started pursuing English Studies with a focus on Professional Writing, and then later adding Art as my minor, I knew that it should have been my first choice going into college. I had found the passion that had been dormant for so long in me spark once again, I found the will and drive to be creative again. When it came to my writing classes (not the ones that focused on literature) I told stories that moved, confused, astounded, and amazed my fellow peers and professors.

I had found where I belonged.

Now, as a graduate, that passion is dwindling yet again. I started writing my first novel, just two sections of it: the end and a middle-to-end section, but two sections nonetheless. I have ideas written down of several other novels and I realized something: I have so many passions, but I am so afraid of what might happen, or not happen, next.

I am worried about helping to support my fiance and I as we come closer to our marriage date and his return to school, I am worried about not being able to find a job in my field that I will enjoy, I am afraid of the future, of what’s to come. I am just afraid.

But listening to Neil Gaiman’s speech sparked something in me that I should have never let go of: just keep writing.

I have put this blog on the back burner because life keeps happening, and I don’t want to do that because I enjoy seeing people actually enjoying my voice and opinions. I have stopped writing because I am afraid and worried that I won’t get anything published eventually or, even more presently, unable to finish a single story. I have put what I love on hold because of “life.”

Well, life can suck it.

I love to write, I love to read, I love to be creative to the point where I am more passionate about it than anything in the world.

So why not just keep making good art?

Blogging vs Vlogging

We all know what blogging is – heck, what is it that I’m doing right here?

But what about vlogging? Have you heard the term before? Essentially it’s blogging but in video form. Some vlogs are really short, just the span of a minute or a few, or really long, over fifteen minutes.

Blogging holds a special place in many people’s hearts because of the fact that it’s been around for so long and they might be bloggers themselves.

Vlogging is relatively new, especially in the last few years since YouTube came into being. Many people vlog about whatever is their heart’s desire, just like blogging. Some vlog about health and fitness, others vlog about books, while others vlog about personal daily lives. It really all depends on the individual.

A great example of a popular vlog community is the vlogbrothers, which the two main “hosts” of the vlog are author John Green and his brother, Hank. They post funny, witty, serious, historical, interesting videos and call their community audience “nerdfighters.” They’re engaging and oftentimes positive, making them successful at vlogging.

Blogging, on the other hand, is more about the written word and how you can grab people’s attention through that. Blogging, like vlogging, can come in many forms from informational, to fun, to personal, and beyond.

I personally have two active blogs, this one and a new one I just started after I began book vlogging called Reader Rayna. I find it to be a great way to get my own personal thoughts and opinions on something that I’m passionate about out there, plus it’s much easier for me to get my words out in writing than verbally.

So, here are some pros and cons to vlogging:

  • Pro: You’re able to be more interactive and silly on camera if you choose to be.
  • Con: Some people might not understand your humor.
  • Pro: You can talk about whatever you please as long as it’s within YouTube’s ToS guidelines.
  • Con: Some people might not appreciate what you have to say, therefore “disliking” your video or saying hurtful/mean things in the comments.
  • Pro: Many people are doing it, so it’s always good to be able to do some research and get ideas for how you want to run your own vlog.
  • Con: Plagiarism can still happen via camera, so you have to make sure you really make your vlogs your own.

And here are some pros and cons about blogging:

  • Pro: You’re able to get your thoughts and opinions out to a large audience, like vlogging.
  • Con: Some people might not be interested because your topic might be too similar to others, or yours might not have the same “spark” as other blogs.
  • Pro: Many people are doing it, so you can always do some research and get ideas for how you want to run your own blog.
  • Con: Plagiarism can happen, so you have to be careful of what you put out there.

The lists can go on and on, but those are some of the major pros and cons for both blogging and vlogging. It really all depends on how you want to reach your audience and how you want to express yourself, whether that be through words, camera, or both. Take the time to consider each and do some research ahead of time to see which would be better suited for you.

Here’s the link to my own vlog: Reader Rayna vlog

 

What about you? Do you have a personal preference as to how you blog/vlog? Which do you prefer and recommend? Let me know in the comments!

The Magic of Fantasy

Magic and otherworldly beings have been a part of our folklore and tales for as long as anyone can remember – from the unicorn to wizards to witches to whole new worlds, fantasy is part of our culture.

Creating a whole new world can take a lot of time and research as it has to be believable enough to fit into who your characters are, and it also has to be fantastical enough to draw people in to read about it.

The same goes with fantasy characters. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a great example of fantasy characters: though her characters are places in a parallel world to our own, the events in which they live through, plus who they are – witches and wizards – put them into the fantasy realm. They are real life characters in that they go through their own trials and triumphs, they have feelings like any other person, and they deal with any typical thing that teenagers do, too (angst, jealousy, anger, love), but they have the ability to use magic, to talk to snakes, and they see fantastical creatures such as griffons and elves.

When you’re creating a fantasy realm, what should you add? How can you form it to fit your needs, your story, your characters? How can you tell the best story possible without going into extreme details as to every little nook and cranny in this world?

  • Start simple. This goes for any story building, really. You don’t need to make it super intricate and elaborate – tell what you know! If you lived in a suburban area, then make the world like that: close-knit families, but different races/species and cultures.
  • If a mythical being already exists somewhere in the world, then do the research beforehand. Yes, it’s okay to change it up a little bit, like with how Stephenie Meyer made her vampires able to withstand sunlight, or how Sophie Jordan used dragons as her mythical creature of choice, but changed it so that they could transform into humans. Think outside the box, but do the research as well.
  • Draw out your world yourself! Yes, I said draw. Why not doodle what you have in mind on some scrap pieces of paper and try to envision what you world looks like from the ground to the trees to the sky. It may help you to envision where you want characters to go.
  • Know the ins and outs of your world before you start writing. This can help with names, culture, determining climate, plot points, and more. Have a general overview to begin with before fleshing it out as you go.

Of course there are many more tips and tricks to making a fantasy world realistic (or at least believable), but I wanted to give my own two cents on some of the aspects I believe are important to creating a fantasy world.

Many fantasy novels hold places in our hearts, and without them there wouldn’t be as much wonder or magic and excitement in thinking outside the box. So take the time to sit down and really think, “How can I make this world come to life?”

 

Have you written any fantasy stories? What tips and advice can you give to making those worlds come to life? Let me know in the comments!

Finding Inspiration

Whether you’re writing your first novel or your 100th, inspiration can come and go in the blink of an eye, so you have to be aware of where and when you can find it.

There are many types of places, people, and even objects that can strike up that muse of inspiration when you least expect it. If you’re out on a walk, take a look at the scenery: are there other people around? What about the wildlife? How’s the weather?

Or if you’re at school or work, take a look at who’s around you and create a life for them. It doesn’t have to be true, and it doesn’t even have to take place in this world, but just try it out to get the juices flowing.

Often the easiest place to find inspiration for writing is nature. There are so many things that it can offer, such as the different kinds of flora and fauna, or how certain plants may grow in nature, or how the weather can change, or anything that can be seen. It’s always changing and it’s always an easy way to write a scene for your story. You can place your main character in that setting and see if he/she fits. If so, then great! Keep writing. If not, that’s okay, just try somewhere else.

There’s also a way to find inspiration in destruction. Go to a dump or a recent demolition site, or the site of a recent fire or anything, and look around to see if anything strikes up an idea in your mind. Not all stories have to be focused on the good in the world; sometimes the bad makes an even better story.

You can also find inspiration in mad-made nature. Dams, bridges, skyscrapers, schools, anything made by man can be used as inspiration. Are you writing a tale of cowboys and dastardly fiends? Incorporate trains into your story, or even a steamboat. Have a character that loves doing daring things? Have him jump off of a bridge into a canal.

There are so many options and so many places, people, and things that you can draw inspiration from, all you have to do is try it!

 

Where have you found your greatest inspiration for writing? Let me know in the comments!

Listening to Music While Writing

Have you ever listened to music while you wrote? Did you know that it can effect the way you write or the type of scene you write?

Think about it. If you listen to slow, rhythmic melodies you tend to write in a way that the action is either progressing slowly or there’s some type of romantic or calm scenes, whereas if you listened to fast-paced, dance type of music you’d write an exciting piece of action.

Take a moment to think about what exactly you’re working on in terms of writing. Are you writing an epic historic novel? A sappy love story? A fantastical journey through the ages? How will you write certain scenes in these stories? Are you going to start with slow beats and soft sounds, or go right to the hard, fast, and gritty?

Ready for an exercise? Pull out a pen or pencil and a piece of paper – yes, I want you to actually physically write this down.

Plug in your iPod, turn on the radio, do whatever you have to in order to listen to some form of music. Pick a song that’s slow at first. Let the sounds of the instruments run through your mind and concentrate on how it’s being played. Write down a scene from your current work or just make one up that fits the song. Write until the song is done then pause your music.

Look at what you wrote and see if it matches the tempo of the song you listened to and title it after that song title.

Next, pick a fast song. Pick something with an upbeat rhythm – try a dance song! Write out your scene until the song is done. Do the same as before and review it, also titling it with that song’s title.

Next, pick a harsh song, like a metal song (Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, etc.) and write a scene based off of that. This scene will probably end up being a lot darker than your previous ones, but that’s okay. Title it in the same way.

You can keep doing this with a multitude of song types, from rap, to pop, to country, to blues, to gospel. It doesn’t matter what kind of genre you listen to, but just know that it can affect how and what you write. So if you’re not ready to write a type of scene where the main characters start spilling their feelings for each other, then skip that song! It can help in the framework of making a scene, so just keep at it and try new things!

 

What kinds of songs did you listen to when you write? Do you find that listening to music while writing helps or hinders you? Let me know in the comments below!

Monthly Writing Challenge

Yup, I’m joining the bandwagon and am going to start doing monthly writing challenges for any and all to come participate in! How these are going to work:

  1. The monthly challenge prompt will be themed (so since it’s April 1st, today’s theme will be April Fool’s Day).
  2. You can respond to the prompt at any point during the month it’s for (aka leave me a comment on this post!).
  3. Let’s all have fun with it!

I want to get the creative juices pumping and the blood flowing, so let’s begin, shall we? Here’s the prompt:

The dreaded day is finally upon us: April 1st. It’s dreaded by some because they are easily susceptible to pranking, while others find it a marvelous way of unleashing their fury (and laughter) upon others. You are the person who dreads it. You’re going about your day, minding your own business, when suddenly at your workplace, local coffee shop, school, wherever, when suddenly – BAM! You’re hit with the worst prank you’ve ever been hit with (or by). In 500 words or less, tell us: what happened?

I hope this can be a fun and engaging activity for you all to participate in!

Mini-Series Part 3: Developing Content

Placing characters into your setting is the first step of creating the content of your story. But what about the content of the story? You know, the stuff that makes up the meat of it? How do you form that around the characters and the setting you’ve chosen to write about?

Take out a scrap paper or open a new document, but also open the document you put your initial idea about what you wanted to write about on. If you’ve chosen to write about a teenage girl who ends up at an asylum because she hears voices, but she’s really seeing the ghosts of her ancestors, or if you’re writing about an alien planet where you characters have supernatural powers, then start there.

I’ll use the asylum idea as my example for the upcoming tips and advice I’m about to give.

  • Start with a scenario. What’s the main idea of the story? For my example, the girl who is essentially a medium tells her parents about the occurrences and she is thought to be crazy, so she is sent to an asylum.
  • Begin at the end! Sometimes starting at the beginning is more challenging than starting at the end. Think of how you want your character(s) to end up and how you want your plot to end. Will the girl escape the asylum? Will the bad guy get what’s coming to him? Or are you going to have a cliffhanger and make a series out of it?
  • Don’t write the climax too soon. The climax of the story is the “big bang” that happens usually toward the end of the middle half of the book. For my example, the climax could possibly be when the girl in the asylum discovers that the person she had been sharing a room with is actually dead, but she’s been controlling everything around her. What does the main character do? Does she run for help or does she find another means to the end? Or does the person she discovers to be dead help to plan her escape? The climax is typically the most interesting part, so don’t write it too soon in your story!
  • Write the beginning as if you, yourself, were the main character. Typically writing a story is from your perspective through your character, but instead place yourself in your character’s shoes. Take a moment to close your eyes an imagine yourself as the girl with the ability to see and talk to the dead. Imagine the fear she must have of telling her parents, imagine the scenario of telling them and being called a freak. Imagine what happens when she is rolling up to the entrance of the asylum in her parents’ car and how the nurse and doctors are both in white. Think about everything your character is going through and write it down. You might not use all of it, but you’ll get the idea as to how it should begin.
  • Don’t write “filler.” Filler is not fun, not engaging, nor interesting. Filler is just to get something more out of the story, but nothing is really going on. You can write for pages about how white the walls of the asylum are and how white the floor is and how white the hair on the old lady sitting in the corner is. But it’s not interesting, it’s not filler. Don’t get me wrong, you can mention these things, but don’t go on for pages and pages about it. Always have something going on that can further engage your story.

So we have the bones, the blood, and now we have the vital organs of a story. The content is what makes the story, well, a story! It can turn a one page paper into a novel and it can turn an idea into something great. Without the content of the story, you really have nothing. Take the time to think about how you want to write this story and how you want to connect your plot together while placing the characters into the plot.

You’re well on your way to having a completed story! If you haven’t already, just continue to write about what is going on in your story and try to complete it within a year’s time. Yes, it takes time, and when you do finish just remember to breathe and pat yourself on the back for completing such a fete.

But there’s just one thing I want and need to cover: audience. It’s an important aspect to writing a story and is probably the most important aspect of story writing next to actually writing the story itself. So tune in next time for the last part of my mini-series on development!

Mini-Series Part 2: Setting Development

The sky allowed only a few rays to break through, casting a glow on the pavement ahead. The road stretched on for what seemed like forever, disappearing over the hills to unknown lands. The car’s radio was playing the typical things, pop music, country, and whatever else she felt like listening to. All she knew was that her hometown sucked and she needed a new place to go.

Welcome to part two of four of my mini-series for creating stories! Tonight I’m going to talk about setting and how you can include the characters you made from the advice I gave last time into your new setting.

Okay, so you have your character and you know him/her inside and out. Great! Now where do you place them?

There’s many different settings you can place a character, whether it be in the realm of fantasy or reality is up to you, though. If you plan on writing a story of fiction, placing them in the realm of reality – a familiar place – is something to think about because writing from experience is actually something that I have often read about as advice when writing a story.

If you decide to write in a realm of fantasy, be sure to keep in mind the climate, the culture, the flora and fauna that belong to that world, and more. Think about your favorite sci-fi movie or novel and how the directors and producers (and the rest) made the world come to life. You obviously don’t have to include every single little detail in your own story, but writing down everything in a separate log will help you to remember just what is included in the world you’re creating.

If you create from reality, be sure to also know the same types of things that you would have to know for a fantasy world – culture, food, flora and fauna, etc. For a beginner, you might want to consider writing in reality because it might be easier to write from what you know.

When creating a setting, there are a few things to consider:

  • Keep it within a small range. Unless you’re writing a story about pirates (which you should do research on, if you are), try to keep the location of your story down between one to three areas. You don’t want to over-complicate things by making your character go from Boston to Cairo, Egypt to Manhattan all within the same chapter – unless it’s relevant.
  • Write down everything. You’re going to want to write down everything you can think of about the setting you’re placing your character, from their home to their room to their car (if they have one) to the outside world. Do they have a magazine collection? What does their car look like, smell like? Has he/she ever been to the other side of the state? Write it down!
  • Show what your setting looks like, don’t tell us what it looks like. Instead of saying that there was a “red house with white shutters and a white porch,” show us what it looks like, for example, “The house was dull from years of rain and whether, the red paint chipping away onto the clean porch.” It’s okay to not tell us the color of every little thing that’s in the setting – give us what we need, but show us, don’t tell us.
  • How does the character act in this setting? Take your main character and place them in the setting you’re thinking of. Do they fit in? How do they feel when they’re there? Are there a lot of memories for them there? Do they associate some event with the location? Write it down and incorporate it into your story if you like.

Though these are just a few tips, there are always hundreds of thousands of resources you can find out there on the Internet and in libraries and bookstores. But for the sake of my mini-series, try to utilize the tips and start jotting ideas down for your story.

If the characters are the backbone of a story, then the setting is the blood of the story. It provides the story with filler and it gives the character a place to live and grow. Without a setting, all you have is a character, and where can you go with just a character without having some sort of setting?

Take the time to plan out your setting, from sky to grass, from mountain to sea, from house to skyscraper, but sure to include every detail that you can about your setting. Placing your character(s) there and making them feel at home will be its own project, but as long as you mold the setting around your character, they should fit together nicely!

Next time I’ll be talking about the content of the story, a.k.a. the body of the story. I’ll provide some tips on how to start and finish the story, and how to not lose the climax of it.

Optional: Tell me your new setting and how you came to the conclusion for it!