The Challenge of Writing for Entertainment

This writing for entertainment is fun, although challenging.  I’m finding it difficult to disengage my ‘deep and meaningful’ tendencies from getting the words onto the page.  Just as I think I’ve got the hang of it, I find myself slipping into worrying about what ‘higher truth’ my story will hold.  Once that happens, I start to doubt everything, from my craft to whether anyone will truly be interested in this story.  Next thing you know, I’m bogged.

I won’t call this ‘writer’s block’, because I refuse to experience that.  I think writer’s block happens to me when I break my ‘just keep writing’ rule.  It usually happens because I’m not using the magic words ‘work in transition’ or ‘insert a bit in here about…’.  These are my writing fail-safes, and they work every time.

There is a school of thought that if you’re not passionate about your writing, the reader will know.  I used to think this meant you needed to have something important to say, but in this world where we’re challenged so much by things beyond our control, entertainment and escapism have become important survival mechanisms (when used in moderation).  So I’m finding the older I get, the more passionate I’m becoming about fun.  It requires reworking old habits of thought, but it’s also freeing.

So I’m going to keep going with this, even though it’s taking me a long time and my masterpiece is waiting.  I think it will make me a better writer in the long run, and that’s what keeps me going when I have a crisis of faith in what I’m doing.

Just needed to remind myself!

Excellent Resource for Writers

When I first started delving into the world of blogs, I came across Jennifer Lee‘s website for Artizen Coaching.  Jennifer talked about business planning for creative people, a concept that immediately appealed to me.  I’ve been waiting for Jennifer’s book The Right Brain Business Plan:  A Creative Visual Map for Success with much anticipation.  It’s arrived in my post box, and it’s an interesting read.

The thing that I like about The Right Brain Business Plan is the fact that it translates a left brain task like business planning into a right brain creative one for artists.  This is particularly relevant for writers, because while we are creative and therefore use our ‘right’ brains, we deal with words, which are left brain.  We necessarily straddle the brain divide, and I believe we need support tools that straddle this divide also. 

Maybe it’s because I have a day job, or maybe it’s because I’m a planner in my writing, but I love the fact that Jennifer brings business concepts to creative entrepeneurship.  It’s reminded me that there is a reason why I’m doing this, and it’s not just about having a hobby.  It’s about my life plan as well.  This is something that’s easy to forget when I’m in the middle of the humdrum of working, writing and sleeping.  Too often it’s too easy to let the writing go for a night or two, which could end up being a week or a month.  When you don’t get ongoing feedback from regular achievements, it’s too easy to forget you’re aiming for something here, even if it’s just some level of excellence in your chosen field.

I’m only up to Chapter 1, but I’m looking forward to the journey from here on in.

My Writer’s Journal

I love my writer’s journal.  It’s an essential part of my writing process, and things flow so much better when I use it.

I write in it when I’m about to start a chapter, and I need to jot down some thoughts without the pressure of having to make sense.   I write down what the chapter is about, what I want to achieve and how I feel about it.  Sometimes it becomes a detailed outline with the general gist of how a piece of dialogue is going to go.  Other times it’s just what I think the character is feeling and why.  Sometimes I’ll keep the journal open next to me when I’m writing the chapter for inspiration, other times I’ll close it and not open it again until I’m ready for the next chapter.  It’s all very flexible.

The beauty is that it helps me get rid of the panic of the blank page at the start of a chapter, and revs my writing engines.  Usually, I don’t get any of my manuscript done on the days I write in the journal due to time / energy constraints, but as I use it so infrequently (maybe once a week), it doesn’t really matter.  It gets things going, and that’s the main thing.

A Long Time Between Drinks …

It has been a long time since I updated this blog, hasn’t it?  I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself!

But I needed a break to get my head together for my writing.  I was stalling, big time.  Juggling the full-time job, sore arms and voice operated software, not to mention still recovering from studies finished last year, left me coasting along without much driving power. 

That all changed after having attended WorldCon earlier in the month!  For those who don’t know this is a Speculative Fiction convention that’s held across the world annually.  This year it was in Melbourne, and I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.  So I packed my bags, trying not to think about the money, and barrelled into my first panel breathless and glad to be there. 

Many have probably blogged about WorldCon, so I won’t go on, except to say that being around my peers talking writing all day every day, was good for my soul.  It zapped my energy reservoirs and put me on track again.  I’ve got the mojo back, and I’m making the most of it!

Another Idea!

I went to a workshop today on writing crime fiction at my local Writer’s Centre.  Why crime fiction, I hear you ask, when I’m a fantasy writer?  I was curious about how authors in another genre go about building their stories, and was looking for some fresh approaches I could apply to my own work in progress.  I find this stops me from getting stale and I encourage other writers to explore outside your genre to build your craft. 

The result was surprising and exciting.  While the exercises given were similar to what I give myself when I’m planning a fantasy work, I fleshed out an idea I’ve had for a historical courtroom novel!  I thought I would really struggle, not being a crime writer myself and not knowing anything about writing it, but as is often the case, things flowed when I put pen to page and applied myself.  Now I’ve got at least one worthwhile idea I can move on to if my current manuscript doesn’t get picked up by a publisher. 

Nothing like a succession plan!

Time for a Change

Can I change the way my blog looks?  I like the old theme, but I also like change.  I guess branding should be consistent, but sod it, I’ll be adventurous.

The thing I like about this new theme is that it’s more visual than the old one.  I’m getting back into painting after putting it on hold to finish some study, and I’m finding everywhere I look I see a painting.  Interestingly, this coincided with getting a whole lot of new ideas for books.  There must be something about visual creativity that runs parallel with written creativity.

But it’s also telling me something else.  I’ve got to finish this book and move on to the next one.  It’s all well and good refining and making something better, but it only improves you so far.  I’ve got a bit of room to grow yet, but it isn’t infinite.  This is the first time I’ve had this feeling – maybe I’m ready to try something new in writing too!

To Writers Who Work Full-Time

I heard about a writer today who has the opportunity to take a break from full time employment when he’s writing a book (which takes him a year).  This is because he has a partner who supports him.  I was once told by another writer that success wouldn’t happen until I dedicated myself full time to writing, as ‘you can’t do it part time’.

That’s all very well and good, but I’m not being supported financially and I’m not someone who thrives on stress.  Therefore, I have two choices.  Wait until I’m retired to write or buckle down and get on with it now.  The former is not an option.  I’m left with the latter.

It’s not ideal to be working full time and writing around your day job (or night job, as the case may be), but it can be done.  It requires focus and perseverance.  It requires carving out a small amount of time consistently and committing to that writing time.  There are times when you wonder why you do it.  There are times when you consider giving it up.  There are times when you have a choice between sleep and another chapter or two and you take the sleep.  But you keep going.

What keeps you going is that you want to do it.  Who knows why, or how, but you do.  Being told you need to commit to it full time doesn’t help and isn’t worth worrying about.  Smile kindly, take what’s helpful in the advice and get back to your work. 

It’s your life, and you only get one.  When you get to eighty and you’re looking back on it, do you want to be saying that you gave up because you couldn’t do it like you would have preferred?  Hell no!

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