Write What You Don’t Know

“Write what you know.” I’ve heard it a gazillion and three times. I still don’t believe it. If you write what you know, you never learn anything (k)new.

What if you just read what you knew? It’d be really boring and we’d all still be reading what we read in the 4th grade. What if you never met anyone new and just stayed with the friends you knew. Sure, you’d have some great lifelong friends, but you’d never have the chance to meet people from other places or find someone you with whom you really connect. Isn’t that kind of the same thing?

Probably what was meant all those gazillion and three times is if you get stuck or can’t find your way out of a story or a sentence you should write what you know and that will help the writer. However, as a writer and even as a copywriter, I can immerse myself into a different subject and become an ‘expert.’ Obviously, three weeks of learning and researching doesn’t qualify you to run a lab and conduct forensic testing, but you can learn quite a bit if you expand your horizons.

So I say write what you don’t know and then you can learn what you didn’t know. Isn’t that way more fun?

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Why I Read.

Why do I read?

10. I like to learn, experience and enjoy other people’s point of view on things.

9. At 5 or 6, I used to check out the smallest kid’s books in the library because I thought they were cute. It escalated from there.

8. A book can take you anywhere you want to go. A book can let you be anyone you want to be.

7. It’s one good habit I do have.

6. It’s fun, relaxing, exciting, and/or sometimes depressing working your way through a story, but you always grow as a person when you experience those feelings.

5. I like to see how other authors string together words and phrases to make stories. Writers have to read!

4. Humans were made to appreciate “story” in any form. I happen to like words.

3. My imagination has no limits. The big screen does.

2. It’s better than cleaning out the litter box.

#1 Why wouldn’t I???

Why do you read?

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Success for Writers According to Schrödinger’s Cat

Success for Writers: According to Schrödinger’s Cat

Author note: This is the best worst or worst best thing I’ve ever written.

Writers should look for little wins throughout the writing process. Here are some of my success points, lick, lick, to encourage you as you write the greatest piece of litter-ature of all time.

When you pull up your document and it is a purrfectly blank page, declare success! You have neither ruined it with your tedious drivel nor created the beginning of your masterpiece.

No other line can make or break your story quite as much as the first line. But no pussyfooting around, just write it down. Then, celebrate that success! It can be the worst of times, the best of times, or it can be both.

You are at the end of a vital line of dialogue from your character. A rather catty remark, too.  Do you put a question mark? A period. An exclamation! Or could it use all of them. Celebrate success before you ruin it with erroneous punctuation.

Now, you’re in the middle of your project. You are both here and there in the writing process. It’s as satisfying as coughing up a hairball and as nerve wracking as rocking chairs.

Success! You’ve finished your piece and now you must become your most evil, finicky self for the editing process. Hiss! Also, be kind to your story, mew.

Your work of art is complete and has been sent to your publication of choice. Cheers! The publication has not accepted, nor rejected you, so pounce on that hope. Remember, if the editor never responds, you have achieved total Schrödinger’s success.

Meow, get to work and create. I’m going to play in this box a while.

(Click if you weren’t up to date on your Schrödinger’s Cat information, then re-read.)

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Writing Stinks (Sometimes)

Sometimes writing and creating stinks. Not in an odoriferous way, but the emotional feeling you get when it doesn’t work out the way you planned. (Life lesson time: nothing works out as planned.)

Writing stinks when:

  1. You actually have the time and the solitude to write, but your mind is racing in every direction or you come up empty on ideas and inspiration. I liken this to when you go shopping and you have money, but can’t find anything you want to try on.

 

  1. You have a bazillion ideas or one really awesome one, but you don’t have time to write them down. I liken this to when you go through a store and find many items you’d love to try on and purchase, but you have no extra money.

 

  1. You are at the bank/school/family holiday and the banker/other moms/relatives ask what you do for a living. Because next comes… ‘So you aren’t financially stable?’ ‘Anything I might have read?’ ‘And how’s that working out for you?’

 

  1. There’s a profound statement your character needs to make, and it’s on the tip of your tongue/finger, but it’s not coming out right.

 

  1. I need to mention #1 & #2 again, because they really stink.

 

  1. You find half of your story is in first person and the other half is in third, and somehow it all seems passive.

 

  1. You get stuck on Perfectionism Circle or in This-Is-So-Bad-It’s-Easy Land.

 

  1. You find there’s nothing else in the world that makes you feel quite as good, or that you would ever consider doing.

 

When do you think writing or creating stinks the most?

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Back in the Saddle Again…(Excuses)

I have not written on my blog in ages. I’m sorry. Sometimes life truly does get in the way. Or maybe that’s just an excuse. Here’s a list of funny excuses of why I didn’t write. I do have days where my inner critic is setting me up to fail, and perfectionism, and fear, and getting sidetracked, and spam is a problem, and what would people think! And, oh well…

I honestly don’t ever not write due to makeup, fingernails or my weight. Or clowns…clowns don’t affect my ability to write. Unless they are standing behind me looking over my shoulder while I’m typing, and then that is just WAY creepy. God help me, if the clowns had balloons, too. Ugh. Okay, clowns are officially a good excuse not to write.

Nancy’s Handy-Dandy List of Excuses to Use For Not Writing

  1. My computer is having issues.
  2. My brain is having issues.
  3. My kids are having issues.
  4. My inner critic is super mean today.
  5. I want it to be perfect and it’s not, so I have to start over. Again.
  6. I need to paint my fingernails so they look pretty when they dance around on the qwerty.
  7. I am afraid I’ll offend someone.
  8. I’m afraid I won’t offend anyone.
  9. I need to lose ten pounds first.
  10. I got sidetracked by (choose one) a) social media b) reading c) errands d) the clown standing on the corner downtown e) all of the above.
  11. Kids are sick. Hubby is sick. I am sick.
  12. I’d have to put on makeup first.
  13. People will laugh at me, and then ask who do I think I am.
  14. I have so much spam on my blog it will take hours to get it all down and then post, and I have to be somewhere soon.
  15. It’s a holiday! National (fill in the blank) Day can’t happen without me!
  16. The Muse didn’t hit me with the genius stick today.

What’s your best excuse?

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Creativity Course

As a writer and a creative person, I recently finished up an online course from Penn State about creativity. (Yes, I know, seems weird, but so am I). I wanted to share with you some of the earth-shatteringly normal things I learned.

Everyone is creative. Everyone, from the mathematical engineer to the Banksy-wanna-be is creative. We are just creative on different levels and in different ways. This is based on everything about us from our experiences and intelligence (skills and talent) to our preferences and abilities. I need more structure in my creativity than someone else who prefers to just innovate with no structure/organization. Motive and opportunity also play a big part in creativity. Before you say, “Well, I never get an opportunity to create my life-size mural of Charlie Chaplin,” let me say opportunity may be that you are given the opportunity to create one on canvas first, and how you respond to creating it on canvas instead of a building is part of creativity. It’s how you respond to opportunity, not just opportunities you are given.

Let me also throw out some key words that also relate to creativity and innovation and you see if you can have your own little aha moment by reading them: Character, Entrepreneurship, owNership, Tenacity, Excellence, Relationship. There… aha! Right?

The More Failure the Better. Don’t think of failure as failure. Think of it as a way to change your idea. As a matter of fact, the faster you fail, the faster you will have a real solution. Have the courage to succeed AND to fail, as they can be one in the same.

Stop. Collaborate & Listen. Collaboration is good. It doesn’t have to be between like-minded people, it can be between those who are your naysayers. Listen to what they have to say and see if it has any validity. Change accordingly if needed but don’t compromise yourself/your idea/your product/service just to appease a constant naysayer. You have to know the difference between those who are there to help and those that want to hurt, and yes, the ones closest to you are sometimes the most hurtful ones. Tread lightly but be open.

Do you have the tools, the time, the knowledge and drum roll, please, the confidence? During this course we had to pick a project to do. My project was to do something musical I always wanted to do. We had to plan how we would achieve the goal and any problems that may occur and how we would handle them. (Jaycees, anyone?) Part of the reason I chose my goal was to also develop creative consistency (You wanna create? You gotta show up and do the work. Pressfield puts it to writers as, “Put your ass where your heart is.” At your desk, writing.) By working towards my goal, I would develop creative consistency in something and whether I would achieve the goal or not, I would still achieve the consistency I desired. If I did achieve the goal, I could build upon my success. Success breeds success for me. So what do you think happened?  I’ll give you a moment to ponder…

Confidence. So, by the second week I had already achieved my goal, so I kept expanding on it. Just like in the Wizard of Oz, it really was within me all along, I just had to believe. Sometimes in creativity the worst naysayer is really our self.

Perfection. Was I perfect? Nope, but I did it.  Creativity means also that you are willing to be imperfect.

I hope this has helped you. It’s not anything you didn’t already know. It’s just putting it into action (which is a whole different ball game).

—————————–

On a different note a couple of friends and I are planning to read the United States, based on this information. 

Most famous book set in each state

Want in? However, let me go on record in saying I am disappointed in the choice for Arkansas. True Grit or I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings would have been MUCH better.

 

 

 

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What I Did With My Summer Vacation

This summer I did one million big and little things that go along with raising kids, cats, husbands and families. What I did for my writing this summer, simply, in one word, read.

Or, as I like to think of it: I visited both the east and west coasts and got involved with a cult that loves books and mystery and another “cult” that loves technology in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore; I enjoyed the company of Dorothy Parker’s witty and sarcastic ghost in Farewell, Dorothy Parker; I took the stage with Bruce – Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce!; I felt the pain of class warfare in a small England town in Casual Vacancy; I did all sorts of crazy things just to survive and felt the joy and pain of being a leader/warrior in the Hunger Games trilogy; I revisited the joy and witty banter of a favorite old TV show, and learned a few of the ins and outs of the acting world in Someday, Someday, Maybe; I felt pain of the suburbs and growing up in Where’d You Go Bernadette; I relived a former life full of anxiety and people pleasing (copywriting) in Truth in Advertising; I learned why I do the things I do in War of Art; and right now I am becoming more interesting by being myself in The Interestings. That’s just a few things I did (read).

I read everything. It all started with the back of cereal boxes on the breakfast table before school.  You should read everything, too.

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Off To See The Wizard-Being-Guru

If there were a wizard, a guru, an all-knowing-writer being, I’d walk that yellow brick road to ask him/her a few questions.

For instance:

Dear writer wizard being guru, why is it so hard to start and so hard to get over all those irritating voices that say, ‘oh heck no,’ in your head?

These voices plague me daily. Yes, it is others voicing their thoughts and my own self-doubt, but really, how much doubt CAN one person have about a thing.

Dear writer wizard being guru, how can I find a writer online who’s been there to answer my silly questions about my work, for free, you know like a mentor?

I don’t have time/or access to a group of people who write that I can bounce ideas off. Since we do most things online these days, isn’t there a way for this to happen? Sure you can pay for this, but what writer can actually PAY for this.

Dear wwgb, will the comparing ever stop?

When you have a child, the first thing you hear about development of the child is to not compare his/her development to other children as all develop differently. Then, when the child gets to school the first thing they do is take a test in order to see where the child falls in comparison to others. Yes, you see my point.

However, I’m sure just like Dorothy, any writer wizard being guru, would be sure to let me know I had the power and knowledge inside me all along.

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Man, I Hate It When Life Gives You A Lesson.

A year or so ago, I woke up and told my husband about this vivid dream I had that would make a perfect book. It was not my usual “literary” taste, but it was really cool in my dream and I could just picture it as a book and a movie. I explained to him that it was about zombies and how one ‘human’ girl fell in love with a zombie and all the things they went through to be in love. It had tension, love, humor, supernatural peril, a plot… all the good things. As two people who think vampire fiction should not have vampires sparkling in the sun but burning instead, hubster and I debated this concept. He said, “No, zombies don’t feel, that’s why they are zombies!” I said, “But I have a plausible way of making that not an issue.” “But they can’t have relationships, they are zombies.”  Etc…etc.

About six months after that, I had forgotten about my zombie idea because I’m iffy and cautious about my writing and can be talked out of anything. Hubster called and told me, “I will never, ever say you are wrong about anything ever again.” I thought well those are the words to my heart no matter what it is about. Later, he showed me the movie trailer for “Warm Bodies.” I laughed, “Nooo!!!”

This weekend that movie based on a novel by Issac Marion made $20 million dollars opening weekend.

 Lessons incurred from this experience include, but are not limited to:

  •        There is nothing original under the sun, just make it your own. I have always known this but am reminded of it yet again.
  •         If you believe in it, do it, no matter what anyone else says, even if it is your sweet hubster.
  •         Being “right” doesn’t make you $20 million in one weekend, but writing might. (Technically, that writer won’t see much of that at all but still…)
  •         I know writing and I know me, and really should have some confidence. (Or in redneck terms, I need to grow a pair.)
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I Love/Hate Writing.

I tried to explain to someone how writing is not something I do for enjoyment. I enjoy it, but I also hate it. I detest it. But, I love it. I don’t know if anyone other than a writer or artist could ever understand this.

I love when the words flow and the story and characters take on a life of their own. I love it when I become just the vessel, the person allowed by the heavens to relay that story and those characters to the world for whomever may decide to read it.

I love the puzzle of weighing every word in one single sentence, to make sure it is exactly as it should be; I love it when even the title becomes an integral part of the storytelling process.   

I hate the hem-hawing around stalling because the story or character seems greater than my ability to give it or them the life they should have on paper and in the minds of others.

I detest it when I struggle with each and every word and it seems forced and then you go back and read it and it sounds forced, not natural.

I hate beginning.

I really hate ending.

The middle kind of sucks, too.

But, oh! How I love it!

 

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