Making Real the Moment

Interview

Interview (Photo credit: smiling_da_vinci)

I’ve always been able to daydream away my problems, at least for a little while.

One of my writer dreams since before I committed to actually writing (last year) … since my early twenties really … To have Oprah Winfrey select and use my work of fiction in her book club. Followed, of course, by an author interview on her show.

The only change to this dream over the years has been style related. As fashion changes so does what I’m wearing in my visualization.

Now that Oprah has moved on to do her OWN thing, I haven’t kept up with her shows or formats. I know she still does the book club but I don’t know the details.

As a result, my visualization has changed. The interviewer is faceless. The set is different. Again my outfit is different. But the one constant:  I arrive at this moment. In my mind I make real the moment of becoming a published writer, an author. Sought after. Movie rights sold.

So … out of my writer’s toolbox into yours, I give you visualization.

It helps when I get discouraged or feel inadequate or hit a wall and become blocked.

I imagine an interviewer asking me questions about the point in the story where I’m blocked. I imagine that the end result is so fabulous that people want to know how I pulled it off in my novel.

By answering the questions the interviewer asks, I work out solutions and overcome the writer’s block. In essence, I interview my way back to writing the story, back to momentum.

This may sound weird but I’m not the only one who uses such tactics. It comes in many forms.

For example, earlier this year I came across a blog where the author had a friend take his book jacket photo. It was a brooding black and white of the author. Artistic. Clever. I thought it was brilliant. This author was making real the moment. The moment of success and accomplishment.

I plan on doing this as one of my milestones. I love it.

Some writers I know print images to post in their writing spaces to represent their characters or their environments.

My writing partner sent me a picture of a Queen of Hearts Halloween costume. I’d just figured out who my villain would be and this image made her real. Dark hair and tanned skin, clothed in a red and black Elizabethan collar dress. She’s my Red Queen.

Another writing friend sent me a picture of cupcakes via Pinterest. How can you go wrong with an image of cupcakes? The cupcakes were decorated for an Alice in Wonderland theme party. Her note said, “This is how we’ll celebrate the completion of the first draft.”

Since my writing space is portable, I carry the images with me by pasting copies in my journal.

Both my writing partners in their own way were holding me accountable by making real my villain and finished draft. They were helping me visualize success of my WIP about what happens before and after Lewis Carroll’s works:  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

And today, I stood in the mirror curling my hair thinking … How will I create the history for this story? How were The Few formed to protect the mirrors that lead to Wonderland?

I didn’t have answers. My reflection looked at me and shrugged. That’s when the interviewer showed up. Now I have some notes that will help me move the story along. Call me happy writer.

What’s in your writer’s toolbox? What tricks do you use to stay motivated to write or overcome writer’s block?

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I’d Rather Be Writing …

Don’t get me wrong, I like my job. I enjoy it. It fills some of my basic needs like a way to earn a paycheck. It also gives me the opportunity to learn new things every day; the opportunity to educate others (to a degree); and there’s variety even when everything is exactly the same.

Oh and did I mention, I’m good at it. That’s not a brag, it’s a truth. I’m good at my chosen profession.

Can you guess what’s next? Can you hear what is coming? Can you imagine the word on the tip of my tongue, on the point of my pen?

BUT …

I wouldn’t say I love it. And it isn’t my dream. It wasn’t my first choice. Which is probably why I’d rather be writing?

Remember taking career assessments in school? You know that ones … based on your interests and skills, they tell you what potential careers you should pursue. Well when I took them in junior high and high school my current job didn’t show up on the list. None the less here is where I’ve ended up.

So what did show up on the list? Journalism. Every single time I took a career assessment. And that was the path I thought I would follow. I loved writing and reading but not research. I still feel this way.

I’m not a journalist but I am a writer. This is my personal declaration despite lack of publication.

I’d rather be writing … more than handwritten correspondence … more than clever blog post … more than emails and business letters.

I’d rather be writing more than anything else in the world. This alone makes me a writer, right?

 I find myself fully distracted at work and home. At the oddest moments I find myself craving a pen and paper or the click of my nails on the keys of my laptop. It’s so strong that I wish I could quit my job and walk away without regrets.

It’s NOT good. It’s NOT convenient. It’s NOT an option.

Do you have dreams or passions like this? A desire that’s all consuming? Feel free to share in the comments.

This distraction is paralyzing … You would think I’d be spurred on to write in the gaps of my days like a junky jonesin’ for a fix. But I don’t. Instead, I waste time watching TV or playing games on my computer (while I watch TV). I read or find any number of things to do with my time.

Why? When there are plenty of opportunities for me to focus on writing, the thing I’d rather be doing. Why am I squandering my dream?

It’s because it’s hard, as best described here by author and blogger, Jeff Goins. It’s because I’m most productive sitting at my desk at work in the early part of the day. It’s because I want it to be what I do in my “full time hours”.

Trust me … I know I need to use my time wisely so I can get to the point where I can transition to writing instead of carrying around this feeling. I will buckle down and get back to my novel.

Another personal declaration:  I am a full time writer, who’s on the road to writing full time.

Anyway, just so we’re clear. In case you missed the meaning of this post. Let me say it again … I’d rather be writing …

What would you rather be doing?

The Suspension of Disbelief in Writing

My boys know I am writing a novel. My oldest even remembers to ask me how it’s going from time to time. I love that about him. He’s very thoughtful.

Recently, he wanted an update:

“Mom, when will your book be published?”
“Well, I have to finish it first.”
“When will that be?”
“Next year I hope.”
“Okay. And then you’ll get it published.”

I love the fact that he assumes publishing is the automatic next step. He doesn’t know how difficult it can be. He doesn’t know that it may not happen. I am glad that he isn’t limited by the realities of chasing a dream. I hope he keeps that innocence.

I wish I still had the attitude of an eight year old; the child-like faith. Remember when we believed anything was possible? Remember feeling invincible? Remember thinking we would conquer the world? Well it’s still inside of you!

When I sat down a year ago to write my novel, I had this naïve outlook. Nothing was going to stop me. I thought it would be easy. What was my goal?

  • Goal #1:  90,000 words in a year and a completed manuscript.
  • Goal #2:  6 months to edit and send to publishers.
  • Goal #3:  Publish the manuscript.
  • Alternate Goal #3:  Self-publish. (Okay, so maybe it’s Goal #4)

And I wasn’t afraid. It was do-able. I believed I could pull it off. I’d made the decision. Nothing else was necessary.

Until I sat down to write. I wrote 4 paragraphs that were flat. They didn’t match the pictures in my head. I realized I didn’t know what I was doing. But it was still possible so I kept my goals intact and invested in learning what I needed to achieve my goals.

Writing is a process. It starts with an idea. Sometimes those ideas flourish and sometimes they fizzle out and die. Sometimes they can be resurrected.

I’ve talked about some of my writing rescues before. This one is new. I subscribe to a blog called WRITEtoDONE. In a recent post, Unleash Your Writing With This Trick from the Movies, they talk about “suspension of disbelief”. This concept helps me view my writing in a whole new way.

As August 31, 2012 draws near and I’m only a third of the way to my first goal, I’ve decided to reset the clock. I will add a year to my project counter in Scrivener. I’ll adjust the word goal accordingly.

I will sit down and write in a state of suspended disbelief. The realities of life won’t hold me back. My story will unfold as it does in my head. I’ll wait to ask questions like:  “Is this possible?” or “Is it realistic?” or “Will my readers believe this?” I’ll reserve my judgment on issues like:  “How will this plot idea work?” or “Is the dialogue authentic?”

My Suspension of Disbelief … my new affirmations …

  • I am a novelist. It’s possible.
  • I am an author who is invincible.
  • I can conquer the world of writing. Why not?

Reclaim your child-like faith. Believe again in the impossible being possible. Dare to tell people you’re invincible and then leap. Start conquering the world around you in every positive way.

Writer’s Block: A Breakthrough in Progress

When I started blogging I thought I would write about writing more frequently than I have. I guess I don’t have a lot to say about writing.

One benefit of blogging is that I am writing almost daily. I realize writing comes a little easier when it happens frequently at least for me.

Blogging allows me to write in burst and have a completed story at the end. I like finished projects that are ready to share.

This is different than novel writing where I have a burst which is immediately followed by a block. I walk away from these writing bursts with more questions than answers, especially because I am following the story instead of leading it.

Blocks force me to turn to my writing resources looking for motivation:  books, online articles, events, bookstores, and my writing partners.

My hope? To better understand the writing process. But sometimes that’s not enough.

I am reading a book, Imagine:  How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer, which breaks down the creative process. This work of non-fiction intrigued me because I thought if I could just figure out the process of creativity and what it means to be creative, then I could figure out how to write.

Creativity is the header and writing is the subcategory. So, if I understood creativity than maybe writing the novel would come a little easier.

One of my favorite lines from the book, so far is, “The first stage is the impasse: Before there can be a breakthrough, there has to be a block.”

I’ve shared this quote with my writing partners. It’s a good reminder and it takes the pressure off. It gives me permission not worry about putting words down. It tells the story that no matter what I do there will be a block and I should just go with it.

So my focus today is not on the block but the pending breakthrough. Just around the corner waiting for me are the answers to the questions, the decisions on direction, or the epiphany about how to finish.

Writer’s block is part of the journey and I am learning to be grateful for it.