Insight over Nail Clippings

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By Anishshah19 (17th Century art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s weird when a Wednesday feels like a Monday. All the Monday vibes, none of the Monday placement in the week. It’s still a two-cup-of-coffee-kinda day, and my nails have gotten to that length where they’re annoying for typing.

A symbol of the cycle of time.

Though it’s not really a cycle, is it, when the week gets all turned around like this, days out of order. Arrgh, excuse me for a second, I’m off to perform a partial nailectomy. Hmm, that sounded more ominous than I thought. See? They were quite a distraction.

Let’s say a nail reduction and call it a day. And it worked, too.

Unencumbered now, my fingers are stretching their legs all over the keys, and the ideas are getting leggy with them. So that’s something to consider.

Sometimes a small physical change can unlock a mental one. A walk can spark something, can give you ideas, can get oxygen into those specific nooks that needed it.

A new place to work — even if it’s a different spot at the same table — is a whole new perspective. That chair that digs precisely nineteen minutes into writing may be the reason you can never get past the 1000-word mark in a session.

Don’t give yourself obstacles you don’t need. Don’t miss the chance for change to, well, change things up.

Sometimes it’s as small as hacking at your nails with a nail clipper.

Sometimes.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

#MAYkingItWork: Get Cozy with those Manuscripts!

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And so here we are, our first full week with our choices chosen. It’s a bright, sunny Monday with the faint echoey racket of something being built in the distance, a day with muted traffic sounds and, mercifully, no hammering.

As I wrote that, the echoey construction sounds turned to hammering. Touche, universe. Touche.

All I can think about at the moment, though, is the Sally Yates hearing later today. It’s tough to focus on the fictional world when the real one reads with far more plot twists.

Artists have, throughout history, created art in the most bleak of circumstances. Creativity is also a form of escape, and when it works, when it’s flowing, you can disappear inside of it as the real world melts away.

Yes, even the sound of heavy metal tools on heavy metal beams.

OK, maybe not that.

If I stop paying attention to it, maybe I won’t notice it anymore. What was I saying?

Right. Creativity.

It’s not always a smooth road to a finished project. Actually, I’d say it’s rarely a smooth road to a finished project. So as we find the potholes where we threw our hubcaps of momentum the first time (trust me, I know, I know) consider maybe the time just wasn’t right then. Maybe there’s something about now.

Have a dusty, unfinished manuscript you need to work on? Join us in May for #MAYkingItWork! Commit to a project and commiserate with us!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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#AtoZChallenge: Hiccup

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By Thomas O’Neil (http://www.thomasoneil.com/photo.php?f=416) [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Whatever ails you, Aunty Ida probably has the cure, and  is only $0.99 for a limited time! Though watch it with her. She’s tricky.

So far with this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge, on most evenings, a word pops into my head, an idea for a blog post follows, and there we are, easy peasy.

Didn’t happen with H.

Last night while I fell asleep, and fell asleep again, and fell asleep again (wasn’t the most restful night’s sleep I’ve ever had) I tried to think of H words, but they were all so bland. So bland that I couldn’t even tell you what they were, aside from “hungry,” which was on my mind this morning for pretty obvious reasons.

The blogging challenge is a month-long marathon,and there are bound to be hiccups along the way. I’ve seen some of you have had technical glitches (knock on virtual pages); others stuck for inspiration; and then there are problems out there so devious,so diabolical, they are like the collective nightmare fueled by writers’ worst fears (dead laptop).

But we persevere. We torture a metaphor in to the rough shape of a post, and onward we go!

Because what else are we going to do?

We’re writers, dammit. Writers use words and stuff.

The Great Cleanup of 2016 Begins

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During my period of not-so-much-writing, or The Dry Days (months?) as they shall now be called, I started several projects, but couldn’t push through them.

It’s time to face  what I wrote.

I’ve tried this before with a novel that’s about 85% finished, and haven’t managed to go through the whole manuscript (not the bestest sign in the world). I have a completed first draft I’ve never edited. And then I have a start on another novel, one I thought would catapult me through and break the block.

It did not.

But now that I am feeling interestingly writerly again, the time has arrived to start sifting.

And hope for gold? Who said that? Oh hello there, again, hypothetical reader. It’s been such a long time. You suggest I hope for gold while sifting through?

Snort. In first drafts? As if.

Every writer knows, hypothetical reader, that first drafts are for cutting up and coloring in and hacking apart and stitching back up. You might as well serve your dinner guests raw steak.

What’s that hypothetical reader? It’s so hard to understand you when your mouth is full. That’s an actual dish? Steak tartar? Fine, whatever, the metaphor still stands.

Courage, my friends, wish me courage, as I am about to wade into the writing abyss.

“Me Inside Me,” A Writing 6 Revue, Fridays 7:30 pm Jan. 8-29 at Donny’s Skybox at Second City. Click for Tickets.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Writing is, uhh

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Today is gray, and fall-y (I think) and tinged with wind and rain. And I’m stuck on a level on a game on my phone, which sounds way less productive than it is.

What’s that, hypothetical reader? You don’t by the spin? Why, I’ll have you know, hypothetical reader, that playing strategy games is good for building the strategy muscles in your brainular area. It’s science. Studies have shown it or whatever.

Fine, yes, I’ll concede. I’m trying to loosen the blockages in the old writing zones. Sometimes it helps to do something slightly mindless that requires just enough thought to trick your brain into thinking it’s not thinking about the thing you need to think about at all.

How’s it working, you ask, hypothetical reader? Hmm. I think I’d rather not say.

I’ve got so much work to do for my sketch comedy class, and I have my regular writing that has been neglected, mainly because the sketch comedy is such a challenge for me, it takes up a good part of my resources. And I hate to point this out, and I suggest the squeamish among us avert your eyes, but NaNoWriMo is juuuuuuuuust around the corner.

Yes, hypothetical reader. Yikes indeed. Thank you for your empathy. And your probably similar moment of uh-oh at the thought of November lurking not-so-far away

So wish me luck. What’s that, hypothetical reader? On the writing? Oh, no. On the level. I have some cookies to explode. I think. I’m really not sure what this game is about.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

Wrassling with Writing

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For the first time in a long time, I don’t have any writing homework to do this week. I’m starting a new writing class — the fourth one already, which is tough to believe — and so there is no assignment currently. It’s a nice break, writing a sketch every week can be a little draining on the writing resources.

I’ve found, taking these classes, that it’s tough to balance the work that has a definite deadline with my regular writing, which doesn’t. The deadline always wins.

Writing is strange work. The first thing is that it is, in fact, work. If you don’t sit down and do the work, nothing happens. Nothing is created. Ideas stay locked in their tiny idea closets, the cobwebs gathering around them. Poor cobwebby ideas.

Oh, hello there, hypothetical reader! You haven’t been around in a while. What’s that you say? You’ve noticed the whole “sit down and do the work” thing from the absence of my regular blog posts? You’re truly observant, hypothetical reader. Truly observant.

Writing is a mental contest, there’s really no other way to describe it. It’s about the drive to sit still for as long as it takes, to have nothing in the world but a keyboard and a screen. Or a pen and paper for those people who are so inclined and have the handwriting to allow them to have at least an inkling of what they wrote later. I am not one of those people, given the handwriting.

Sometimes you can take that mental challenge and just knock it into the stratosphere, the words appearing like a rapidly-knit sweater. And other times, your fingers won’t even say hello to the keys.

I’ve had a lot of those other times lately. But watch out, mental contest. I’ve got my writing shoes on and I know how to use them. OK, I don’t actually tend to wear shoes when I write, but you know what I mean.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

The Not Writing of Writing

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Focus-wise, this week has not been my week. My mind’s felt slow and clumsy, and I cannot seem to get my thoughts where they need to be. Some weeks are just like that. It’s not as though you don’t get anything done, you do. But is it everything you wanted to do?

Not even close.

I’ve been working on a manuscript, or, to be more accurate, very much not working on a manuscript. I am stuck, and not in the way that any of the wiggling tricks are going to unstick. No, this one I have to untangle, there’s no other way through it, and my brain just hasn’t found the loose thread.

But because I feel as though a portion of my brain has been left on its own, trying to work out the solution, it’s deserted me in other arenas. Doesn’t it know I need it?

Perhaps it doesn’t care. That’s probably the more accurate scenario.

Being in a static place while writing a novel is a very real aspect of writing. Some people claim there is no such thing as writer’s block, that it is an excuse, but the truth is that now and then, getting to the right place with your story takes time. It takes having the that thing spark you, so you say, “Oh, yes, now I see it.” It takes something you just don’t have at your disposal at the moment.

I will continue to let my brain chug away at the answer, and I know that I will get there in the end.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Feeling Uninspired? Me Too!

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Inspiration is a beautiful, glorious thing. It hits you like a static shock: unexpected and something you just can’t miss. When it has you cradled in its creative arms, words flow effortlessly as if from the great beyond.

But it’s fickle.

You can’t always count on inspiration. In fact if you want to be a writer, a real writer and not a dabbler, you can’t count on it at all. You can hope for it, of course, and welcome it when it does arrive, hoarding all of its beautiful suggestions for drier, emptier days. But you will get nowhere if you sit waiting for inspiration to strike.

Inspiration has other things to do. Inspiration has a packed calendar and reminders on its phone that beep every three minutes. Inspiration is really, really busy.

The work of writing comes when you’re standing in the middle of the idea desert, not even a mirage of a thought for miles in every direction, the sun beating down you as though you were under interrogation. The work comes when you are in a tundra of white even sameness all around, with not even a hint of warmth to spark an idea.

The work comes when you stare at that blinking cursor long enough and just start typing.

I’ve talked before about how we like to romanticize the idea of writing, that it seems like it should be all quills and garrets and smooth, unbroken stretches of silence. It’s nothing like that.

Nope, writing — real writing — is knowing when you’re not inspired. And it’s sitting down to do the work anyway.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

Where Are the Inspiration Imps When You Need Them?

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I’m having one of those uninspired moments about, well, everything. Perhaps it is the change of seasons; perhaps it’s the idea that that icy-white specter of winter looms just weeks away. Or maybe it’s the side-effect of caffeine deprivation.

It’s probably the caffeine deprivation. Sometimes I really miss it.

Whatever it is, today there is a wall between me and that creative part of my brain, and no matter how I knock, it’s not answering. Why would it? It’s probably off doing something creative. I only wish it had invited me.

But here’s the thing. Inspiration or no inspiration, drive or no drive, caffeine or no caffeine, I’m plowing ahead. Creative work doesn’t get done if you wait for the Inspiration Imps to gild your path with feathery motivation. Inspiration Imps are notoriously unreliable.

It’s an imp thing.

No, the work grows and shapes and breathes precisely because of those times when the imps are frolicking without their cell phones in some inaccessible area. That is when you have to roll up your sleeves and face the keyboard. Well, you don’t literally have to roll up your sleeves, because it’s not like they are going to get dirty or wet, and if they are, then you have some computer maintenance issues.

But the point still stands. Imps or no imps, onward I go.

Have a minute? Watch this video.

Rather read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

4 Ways to Write Yourself out of a Corner

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As I said yesterday, watch this space for an upcoming announcement about Aunty Ida. It should be fun.

Getting to the business of blogging, let’s talk about backing yourself into corners while writing. You have that moment where you’ve closed all the doors and windows, and there’s nothing but two slabs of wall meeting behind you. It all looks impossible and bleak, and you’d like to see your character manage to get out of that one.

And then you realize you’re the one who’ll have to hatch the escape plan. Oops.

So now what? I have four suggestions:

1. Look at your characters and who they are, what they want, and what they have to do to get it. You have a protagonist trapped in a cave with a dragon breathing fire at her. Who is your protagonist? How would she react? What does she want (not to be barbecued, the dragon’s mystical, nonflammable oven gloves)? What does the dragon want? Death to the intruder? Her fabulous, glittery shoes?

2. Examine your environment. Even a corner isn’t always a corner. Back to our gorgeously-shoed protagonist and our fiery dragon. What is behind her in the cave? Is it rock? What kind of rock? What happens when the dragon’s fire hits the rock? Maybe it results in a sparkly mineral the dragon’s never noticed before and the protagonist can use to help the dragon make its own fabulous, glittery shoes.

3. Invent something or someone. Does this one feel like cheating? Well, it isn’t, because you can always, always fix it later when you edit, placing earlier references if you need them. Unlike the warning message on the dragon’s cave, your story isn’t written in stone, unless you’re using the most unforgiving medium ever.

4. Set a timer. This method is one of my favorite ways to get going when I can’t seem to move forward. I set a timer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30, and just write without giving myself time to think.

Don’t dread the corners. That’s where the story gets good and the challenge sets in.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!