How to tackle a writing session (when your project is done)

writing session

All writers have that moment where you’re not technically busy with a big project anymore but you still have the urge to write (after all it’s addictive) or perhaps you simply want to keep the habit of writing regularly from slipping from you.
Whatever your reason is; now you’re sitting there in front of your computer (or notebook) but you have no clue what to write.
So I gathered the ways that I handle these days in the hopes that they help you.

 

First I would like to set some form of goal for myself to work towards for the day. That way I am focused and less likely to abandon my writing in the middle of a session.
There are two ways in which I can set my writing goal.

 

The first is a timed goal.

Back when I was still starting out with my writing and I still typed slowly I would give myself the goal of writing for an hour. This worked because it’s easy enough to just set a timer on my phone and then no matter how badly I write, or how slowly, I will still have given attention to my writing.

 

The second is a word count goal.

These days, whenever I sit down to write I give myself the goal of typing 1500 words which is approximately one scene from a story. These 1500 words can be achieved through any method.
It can be three flash fiction pieces or one long scene. Anything goes as long as I meet my goal.

 

Once I have my goal I need to figure out what I want to write (obviously)

I’ve got three exercises that I prefer to use for this.

Turn a melody into fiction.

When I was little I had an art instructor who would put crayons in front of us and turn on some music. We were then expected to listen to the music and start drawing lines that we feel represented it. A happy song was bright colour and a sad song was cold colours.
So essentially you have to represent the song in a different medium. You still with me?

Now, what you can try is to put on a song (perhaps one without lyrics) and then listen to it. You must pick up on the tone of the music and let it inspire your creativity. If this music was describing a place what place would it be? If it was describing a person how would they look? If this song was a scene from a story what events would take place?
Play around with it and write as much as you can.
This is one of my favourite exercises.

Use a prompt.

They are all over the internet.
My favourite prompts come from the fake red head. Her prompts are a lot more creative and witty than most prompts on the internet. I feel like the prompts honestly set my imagination on fire and that is why they work well for me.
Again just basically pick a prompt and roll with it. Try to get as much words down as possible.

 

Lastly – read through your old scrap writing and see if anything inspires you.

If you don’t already know – I am a big believer in the principle of saving all your old writing because no matter how bad the writing is you never know what a good idea is.
So if you are like me with a bunch of half ideas scribbled down somewhere or pieces of flash fiction saved on your computer then go read through it and see if anything jumps out at you.
Ask yourself if you can continue with this piece or if it connects to something else you’ve written.
Perhaps you had a cool magic system in one piece but the character wasn’t so great; then go right ahead and write a different version with the right character.
Play around with your old ideas because they might just spark some new ones.

 

Those are my favourite exercises and I promise you that I do not recommend anything that I don’t personally think will benefit you.
With that said I suggest that if you have a time sensitive goal you know where your recourses are beforehand so you don’t have to start googling things during your precious writing time. If the internet distracts you too much it’s better to just turn it off and stumble along on your own.

I hope this helped and as always if you liked this post please share it or comment. I would love to hear your favourite method of tackling a writing session.

My top 3 resources for writers.

3 writing resources

The only things a writer truly needs to write is an idea, some basic language skills and something to write on.
Yet if you do some digging you’ll find dozens of resources on the internet designed to make writing easier for us. Some resources are to inspire us while others are to help as plan or write faster.
I figured that since I’ve been writing for a couple of years now I might as well share with you my favourite resources so you can benefit from them as well.

The first one is obvious and you probably already know it exists.

 

Pinterest…

I tell people about the magic of Pinterest all the time and I still stick to it. Pinterest is an image based social media where you can see other people’s ideas, creations, thoughts and more. I use it throughout my writing process.
It has helped me pick names and faces for characters and I’ve even formed entire plots around some of the opinions that are shared on pinterest. So I suggest you open your Pinterest account and start searching. Look for photos and quotes.

 

Bibisco.

This one you probably haven’t heard of yet but it’s one of my favourite things ever.
It’s a computer program that helps you organise your planning. I specifically use it to help me shape my characters because it has built in character questionares (that actually work)
My experience is that it’s easy to use, it helps motivate and it’s just generally well rounded.
You can even write your story on it but I prefer not to because it just doesn’t compare to word’s Spelcheck.
I used this last year when I got stuck with Pink and it helped me slide past the probable very easily.

 

Finally Hemingway.

Hemingway is the ultimate spellchecker site.
You can copy and paste entire pieces of your writing into it and it will tell you which sentences are confusing. Which sentences are written with a passive voice and which words can be replaced.
It helps you trim your work and round off all the edges.

 

I hope that you try at least one of these things because they have helped me as a writer a whole lot and I wish for them to help you as well.
If you like this post and found it helpful please share it or comment.
I want to know what resources you would recommend. (I’m always looking for new stuff)

(Please know I only recommend things that I honestly feel you would benefit from)

The creative process #3 : Practice and improve

Creative life #3

While I’m writing this, I am sitting on my friend’s bed after finishing reading a book. I’m a whole town away from home and I have no homework or day job here.
I only have a friend and books.

I like it here.

 

So for the first time in two weeks I feel inspired to write a blog post on the topic of being creative again.
So to continue on with the creative life series let me share with you how important it is to practice and improve.

 

The creative process step 3: practice and improve.

We started off by gathering inspiration, then we copied a bunch of other artists but right now we need to practice and improve our art.

Start with taking a look at something you created recently. It could be anything from a poem to a dance routine. Examine it and notice if there is anywhere you can improve. Think according to all the little rules you’ve picked up from other artists and compare yours to “the standard”
The standard by the way it how good other artists are.
Look at how your art differs from theirs and ask if you want to keep it like that or change it.

(disclaimer: I’m not saying you need to completely copy someone else and lose your individuality. I’m just telling you to honestly try and improve your work.)

 

Now that you know what you want to change – change it. If you can, keep both the old and the new version.
I personally like to keep everything I write so when I make changes I create a whole new file on my computer. I hardly ever delete until I’m sure I have the version I want.

 

Step 2: get feedback.

Another important part of improving your art is to get feedback from someone who knows something about your art.
This means you can’t just ask your mum and ask her what she thinks. (sorry mum)
Get it to someone who knows what they’re doing. Preferably get it to someone whose art you admire or someone who you know is better at you in your art.

Ask them questions. Ask them about the things you feel needs to be changed if they agree then you make the change if they don’t agree the choice is up to you. If they dislike something you like honestly think about what they don’t like and ask yourself if they are correct. No being personal at this stage. You need to ask yourself if your art will be better or worse without the thing they dislike and make the change yourself.

 

Now this is a process you repeat constantly.
You create. You get feedback. You improve. You create again but better.

 

I hope this was helpful to you. I hope to bring the last part which is all about creating original content out soon enough.

The 2nd part of the creative process.

Mimicking other artists.

Creative process

 

Last week I posted about how we need to surround ourselves by creativity and other creative people so that we can take in their work to fuel our own.
This week I want to do something a little different. We will be pin pointing certain elements in other artist’s work and mimicking it.

 

Why should we do this?

Well the only way for us to know what art looks like is for us to observe it. Or in other words we are going to be looking at art and dissecting it so that we can understand how it works.
Through mimicking other artist’s you aren’t only looking at art but you are also busy building up your own creative process. When you mimic artists you are figuring out how things are done and what methods work bests for you. You are forming a habit or a flow of creativity that will help shape your future original content.

 

Now this is all nice to write down but the important question is where do you start?
Where do you start when you want to mimic an artist?

 

Well to speak the obvious you will need 2 things.
1. The right materials.
2. Some art work that you want to copy.

 

I’m going to leave the first part up to you, because I don’t know any details about what you want to do with your life.
The second part though, I can tell you isn’t so hard either. The internet is full of amazing artists that really can use your support. I talked about this in last week’s post so if you haven’t read it then you are probably regretting that now. (go here)

 

Now to imitate it.
You can do that school thing where you analyze the art and try to fully understand it.
I suggest you take notes on paper of what the artist did. You can ask what is it that drew you to the piece? What style did the artist use? Do you think there’s a meaning behind the art?
Put these notes where you can see them and now honestly putting the artist’s thing next to your own blank canvas/page/music sheet/dance floor start to mimic what the artist did.

Mimic them while looking and while not looking. Try to memorize what the artist did before trying.

 

Now here I would like to add that you shouldn’t worry about perfection just yet. Instead focus on creating art. Focus on simply getting something done even if it’s horrible.

 

For this week’s mission I want you to simply go mimic as many artists as you can.
Try to do a little every day or every second day otherwise. Really just practice a lot.
Get into the flow of being creative and you’ll be surprised what happens before your eyes.

 

That’s it for now. I’ll be writing more on the topic next week. I hope to hear from you 🙂

The first part of the creative process.

1st step ofCreativity

Last week I wrote about creative block and how it’s normally more of an emotional block than anything else. But today we’ll be talking about something else and that is the first step in the creative process. Hint it’s letting yourself be surrounded by other creative people and things.

Before anyone ever decides to be an artist they first see art and fall in love with it. (Or hate it and what to do better)
This is the first stage to getting your creative Mojo back. I personally can confirm that nothing inspires me to write as much as reading does. So that’s where we’ll start.

 

How to surround yourself with creativity.
The first step is to understand that everyone lets things into their soul differently – if we didn’t we would only have one sort of artist.
Think of it in terms of the different learning styles.
If you weren’t taught about this in school then the quick explanation is that there are seven ways to take in information and some ways work better for certain people while the other methods work better for other people.

 
These seven methods are
Visual (this is if you use pictures to understand things)
Aural (this is when sound helps you learn things)
Verbal (this is when you prefer words – either spoken or written)
Physical ( you use movement and touching to learn things)
Logical (you prefer using logical systems)
Social (you prefer learning in groups)
Solitary (you prefer to work and study alone)

Figure out what way you take things in and exploit that method.
I’m a visual and solitary learner, so from that I know that I need to sound myself with pictures, books or blog posts like these.
Now that we understand that some things will work better to inspire some of us then others it’s time for us to surround ourselves by as many types of art as possible. After all you never know when inspiration will strike.

First of all if you already have a chosen creative outlet (like I have writing) then delve in that direction first.
If you are a writer then go read.
If you are a painter then go look for art.
If you are a musician go listen to music.
You get the gist.

 

Still try other things though – here are different kinds of art that I think you need to let into your life.

1. Music.
Music is an art form that surrounds our sense of hearing and it can take people completely out of their surroundings. Try all kinds of music from rock and roll to Beethoven – and let it affect you.

2. Spoken word poetry.
Again this is an art form that surrounds our sense of hearing but this is a little different. This is one of my newest obsessions and I find it inspires me to listen to other people’s opinions. And because spoken word poetry is generally about something someone is really passionate about it can ignite fires in those who listen to it.
This is a link to button poetry where you can find all the spoken word poetry you could ever want to listen to.

3. Written poetry.
Written poetry can be long or short and can either convoy a story or a feeling and honestly it’s just great to read even if you don’t write it yourself. (I suck at poetry)
This is something you can get in old school poetry books or you can check out my Pinterest board of poetry.

4. 2D art.
This is to say paintings, drawings, charcoal sketches, photography and everything else that can be 2D.
The is the thing that normally springs to mind when people say art and it’s definitely where I draw a lot of inspiration from. The perfect place to find lots of art is art galleries which is always nice to visit but if you don’t have time for such things then head over to Pinterest because there you can find all kinds of art.

5. Sculptures.
This is the non 2D art that I think is really cool especially for all the kinetic learners out there.
Sculptures are one of those things that just inspire awe every time I see it. Again a great place to head is to art galleries or Pinterest.

6. Dancers.
Thinking of our kinetic learners, dancing is also one amazing thing to witness, especially live.
I suggest that you go see dancers live if you can because there is something about sitting in a dark theatre and witnessing that amount of hard work and skill that just send my heart racing. If you can’t see it live watch it on YouTube.

7. Comic, manga, graphic novels.
These are awesome but aren’t always given a chance by people because they look like kids books but I really suggest you go find one in your local bookstore or library because they are really great. You can also find them online obviously especially opinionated comics which are everywhere.

8. Books!
Obviously I suggest you read books. Books are awesome. They pull you into a new world and make you connect emotionally to people who don’t exist. Books are just wonderful for inspiration because they just they can give emotional depth and light-hearted laughs at the same time. Books are better than people. Know this.

9. Movies and TV series.
These are really great too. They also share a story and can amazing emotional depths.
Basically books but where they can’t exactly give all the depth they can give a clearer picture through things such as the wardrobe of the character (sewing is an art in itself) the lighting and much more.

There are so many more art forms than this but this is what I have for you – and if you feel like it, you can list others creative types to surround yourself with in the comments.

 
Surround yourself with people as well.
Surrounding yourself by other creative people is nearly as important as surrounding yourself by creativity. Why? Because as steel sharpens steel so men must sharpen each other.
Trust me when I say that other artists are just amazing to be surrounded by. They make you want to strive after creativity and they fill your life with amazing things.
My sister is studying graphic design and she is so inspiring to be around. She eccentric and solutions to creative problems just pour out of her.
My aunt is a seamstress who makes handbags and she is equally inspiring to be around. Her conversations are on a deeper level than most. She’s hardworking and bright.
I also have tons of writer friends who are all amazing people who encourage me to be better every day.

 

So that is your mission for this week, surround yourself with art and artists. Look at everything with open eyes and don’t be afraid to ask questions or to interact with the art.
Goodluck 🙂

The 4 steps to being a creative genius

 

4(1)
Being creative can be both hard and easy. Sometimes it comes as easily as breathing and other times it’s as hard as running 10k up hill.
Now me, I swing between the two polar opposites quite a lot and my “Creative blocks” are something I’m becoming used to.
So I was wondering how exactly creativity works and how can I start forcing it when I need it?

A lot of people would now tell me that if I have writers block then I need to just sit down and write because apparently I’m procrastinating… as if they know my life.

If you are like me who end up having writers or creative blocks a lot and don’t believe that you’re simply procrastinating then please let me tell you that that is perfectly okay. I believe you.

Creative blocks have a tendency to originate as something personal.
Things such as, crippling self doubt, depression, hopelessness, or in my case a bit of anxiety.
Creative blocks are first and foremost emotional blocks that you’ll need to go pin point yourself and work through. Confide to a nice friend what you’re going through and see if that helps. If you don’t have someone to confide in then feel free to talk to me  I would love to help you. (Seriously helping people with creativity is my passion)

 

So let’s assume that we’ve now sorted out what is at the root of our creative blocks. I went to a couple of sessions with a therapist now my anxiety is better. You have taken some sort of action for whatever is bugging you and now you feel like you can start being creative again.

 
The question now is, how do we start being creative again?
How do we do this?

I went and I outlined the creative process. I plan to go through each of the four steps that are involved to help myself – and you – to better understand creativity so we can get going again.

To explain it simply creativity is a give and take process. Before you can be creative you first have to surround yourself with creativity, you have to practice creativity, you have to better yourself and only then will you be able to create unique and original art.

 
So the four steps are:
1. Take in other people’s creative works.
2. Mimic other people’s creative works.
3. Grow your skill.
4. Create new and original content.

Makes sense?

Okay so I’m going to be writing a blog post for each and every one of those steps but for now I want you to focus on what is blocking your creativity.
What is at the base of your creative and emotional block? Did you go through something recreantly? Did you get hurt? Where you discouraged?
Whatever it is, look for it and spend a week working and praying through it. Write down what you discover about yourself. Tell someone about it and then figure out a way to get past it. Remember you are the creator of your own life.

Good luck, I look forward to hearing from you.

PS: if you would like to know when my next posts come out then please sign up to my email list so you can be notified immediately.
Click here to sign up.

Newbie lesson #1 – Planning out characters.

For the past few weeks I’ve been a part of the Young Writer’s workshop – which has been awesomely put together by Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe.

What I love about the workshop the most so far is the facebook group that is filled with the most awesomely amazing nerds ever. They all support each other, answer questions and read each other’s work. (I got my first beta reader btw!)

I really love being a part it!

It does mean that I’m exposed to a lot of brand new writers though. Writers who haven’t written their first novel yet. Writers who don’t know how to write that fist sentence or how to plot that first character. There are questions being asked on the group every day.

Inspired by their questions, I have decided that I want to write a writing lesson on one of the basics of writing.

How to create a character.

So here it is.

How to create a character – My own method.

In my time writing I’ve discovered that no matter how bad the rest of your story is, people will still love it if you’re characters are well written. That’s not a promise but that is how it works for me. For me characters are the heart of a story.

So that’s why it’s the first thing I want this series to cover.

Let’s get into it.

The first thing you need to do to create a character is grab a piece of paper. I use a normal A4 sheet with lines on it. You will hopefully not need too much more paper than that at first.

Now what do you put on the paper?

(there is an example of how it should look at the bottom of the post. Fill in sheet style)

Name:

At the top of your paper write down your character’s name. If you can’t think of anything go check out this baby naming site.

I like using a name with a meaning behind it, because that way I already have the first aspect of my character figured out. (example: Nava- beautiful. Bellona – goddess of war)

Gender:

In the next line write down either male or female… simple right?

Age:

Third line is age. I was taught that if you’re a new writer try to keep your characters around your own age – give or take two years. That way you can relate to them and as a result they’ll be more realistic. If you’re a grown writer who wants to write children’s books you may skip this advice.

Appearance:

Now the fourth part is where things get exciting.

In about 6 lines (on the paper) explain how your character looks. Go into detail.

When I was just starting out I thought that all you needed to describe a character was eye and hair colour. I was very naive back then.

No – eye and hair colour is not what takes to make a character appear to your reader. Instead try to go into depth in how your character looks at certain times of the day. Think about how they move. Think about the tiny scars that cover their arms etc.

Good things to use in descriptions are how they move, what kind of body build they have, how they dress, if they have long thin fingers or short chubby ones. These details help make a character real so take a minute to write down as much as you can think of.

Where necessary also add how they feel about their appearance.

Hermione had large front teeth. She hated them.

Doesn’t that give way more of an impression than eye colour?

Character’s life

Now take another six lines and fill in a bit about the character’s past and present.

Before you can write a story you need to know what mindset your character is currently in.  So go ahead and write down what you have figured out about them by now.

Here you should basically start by writing a quick overview of the character which can be prompted with questions such as. What social class is your character in? How caring is this character? How many family members does this character have, who do they care for the most etc.

Next think about their past. What have they lived through? What was a couple of defining points in their lives? Who helped them along the way?

Lastly what is your character’s current mindset? What is your character busy doing with in their life before your story begins? What is your character doing day in, day out? Does your character have any goals?

This will help you know who your character is when you just start off with a project.

That’s it. Those are five simple areas that if answered correctly give you a character.

Now write.

The next step would be to honestly observe your character. I’m going to give you a scene and then you just place your character into the scene and write it out so you can see what kind of character you have.

This helps because it sets you into the mindset of your character, and if the character acts out of the guidelines you built, you’ll be able to decide how to fix that problem before you start with your main project.

Scene

Your character is about to have a lesson in (insert interest of choice) and is laughing with their friend to the side when their instructor barks at them to come show off what they had been practicing the week before.

How your character approaches the lesson is up to you.

Got it? Go.

When you’re done, feel free to share your writing with me. I love reading how other writers interpret my prompts.

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