An updated version of "The Mansion's Twins" is coming soon--but it will be far later if I keep blogging every week. I'm going to take some time off the blog, to put my focus solely on the books for a while. There may be the occasional post, if important announcements come up, or if my head is bursting with new thoughts. But until then, it's time to edit! Crossworlds is under construction until further notice. I hope you all have a most delightful summer, and I will return when everything is new and (hopefully) amazing.
I might be taking a blogging break for a while, so here are the last few Tuesday tips. All of these relate to getting back your creative flow after feeling stuck.
Getting it Back:
The most important thing to remember is "writer’s block" isn’t real. Ask yourself what you’re really feeling and what you really need.
If you're tired, and feel like you've been banging your head against the wall trying to keep writing, remember, it is okay to take a break. Set a schedule for getting back your creative flow, so your one week break doesn't turn into a month. And when you’re not writing, keep reading!
When you're ready to return to your work again, take a deep breath. Read over what you’ve written before you continue, and then give yourself permission to write crap. Perfectionism is your enemy here--all you're looking for is progress.
Reward yourself for putting new words down. Even if you think they all suck, anything is better than nothing.
Here are a few ways to wake up your brain and get your creativity flowing again:
Writing down your dreams
Writing/drawing with your non-dominant hand
Taking a class in something new
Reading/reading your own work out loud
Keep an “Experimental” book
Make a copy of your book to take some wild risks with your writing. Big or small. You might find some gold, and keep a good deal of it. Or, you might throw out most of it. But either way, it’ll get you writing again, and you’re sure to learn more about your fictional world.
It may feel like you’re writing fanfic of your own book, but this can be quite motivational. Imagine what kinds of fanfiction people will create when you’re a famous author!
As always, remember your three golden rules: keep writing, keep reading, and be persistent!
Happy Monday! I absolutely adore this soloist, and this cover is ambitious! Enjoy!
Ever wonder why I like acapella so much?
I first heard an acapella choir when I was in high school. I was in a normal choir class, where no one really has to audition, and the teacher plays the piano while we sing. An acapella choir came to visit us and performed a few songs, and I fell completely in love. After that, I searched for acapella covers of all my favorite songs, and decided this right here is the literal best thing ever.
I love how so many covers are mash ups, or have just the right amount of pieces of other songs mixed in. The creativity in acapella is incredible. I was thinking about how some people argue that creativity doesn’t exist anymore because everything’s already been done. Like, apparently there are only seven basic storylines. Yet people keep telling new stories, because they can basically do mash-ups of those seven basic plotlines and turn it into something new. Acapella groups do this beautifully in their songs.
But I think the number one reason why I love acapella is (warning, this will get cheesy) because it shows how our differences can work in harmony. Think about every evil dictator plan you’ve ever heard about. Real and fictional. They usually think they can achieve world peace by making everyone the same. Differences can cause conflict, and sometimes, chaos. So, wouldn’t it be easier if we all decided on one right way, all followed that? What if we all just sang the same lead line? Beautiful music right there, right?
We know this doesn’t work. We can’t all try to fit into the same mold. We need to embrace what we really are, while accepting that others are embracing something different that works for them. And when we do, holy crap can we ever get something beautiful. Some folks are meant to sing tenor, or baritone. I’m meant to sing bass. And sometimes we can change up our own parts, too. But when we all sing our different parts as one, we all sound beautiful together. And sure, it can take some work. Some tuning, adjustments, practice and patience.
Acapella music highlights the best way our differences can work together. We need all the parts. Sometimes you’ll be in the spotlight singing the melody, sometimes you need to step back, let others shine, and sing do-wah do-wah do-wah in the background for a bit. It’s still an important part.
"But doesn't normal music highlight that too?" Eh, maybe, but not as much. With acapella it's just humans making all the sounds, and just listening to each other. With nothing else to rely on. It really puts the focus on the people. How cool is it that we alone can make all those sounds into real, beautiful song?
So, next time you’re frustrated with someone because you just don’t get why they think or act so darn differently than you, think about singing in harmony with them. They don’t have to change. You don’t have to change. Your differences can actually make you both better together.
Another great way to get your inspiration back when you’re feeling stuck is to take some wild risks with your writing. Copy your whole book into a new document. Save it as “Experimental (title of your book).” I have an “Experimental Mansion’s Twins” I’m working on right now, to see what will work best for the updated version.
This is now your zone to take risks. Big or small. You might find some gold, and keep a good deal of it. You might end up tossing most of it in the bin. But either way, it’ll get you writing again, and you’re sure to learn more about your fictional world.
A few things I’ve tried: What if someone who originally died actually survived? What if someone else died instead? What if this character was removed from the story entirely? What if these two new people were romantically involved? What if the hero first meets the bad guys, but they’re pretending to be the good guys? What if the villain was redeemed? What if he only seemed to be redeemed, but tricked everyone?
Flip things around. Play with it, and have fun. Sometimes it might feel like you’re writing fanfic of your own story, but that can be very motivational. Imagine what kind of fanfiction your readers will write when you’re a famous author! That ought to get you moving again.
Have fun, and good luck!
Anybody need their faith in humanity boosted? Here you go! Happy Monday!
Memorial Day. I finished work, and was going to pick up some fried chicken for dinner. There’s one couple in front of me, and they’re acting like selecting their pieces is a life and death matter. The woman at the deli counter is obviously stressed, because they’re out of a few things. I watch a rather annoying scene play out and wait... Finally, the annoying couple make up their minds and get out of the way. And I basically tell the woman at the deli counter that I’m fine with whatever she has, because OMG it’s just fried chicken, like, it is actually all good. She was all flustered from the previous people, which makes sense. And I just wanted to tell those fools to seriously chill. I mean, maybe for Memorial Day you should appreciate what you've got? Soldiers are far from home putting their lives in danger, and you're stressing out over not getting the pieces of chicken you want? Like, how unnecessarily difficult do you make everything in your life?
My life is so delightfully ordinary. I go to work, come home to my boyfriend and pets, I go to acapella every week, and I work on my books and blog when I can. And it’s awesome. Sometimes I’ll be watching or reading something where a character is in a fairly extreme situation, and I just pause and wonder, what if that was my life? Because for some people, it is. Fighting in wars. Living on the streets. Or on the flipside, living a super glamorous life. Like, the royal wedding. Lots of people watched that thinking it’s everyone’s dream, but how straight up weird would that be if that was your actual life? Or, other people who dedicate their entire lives to one particular skill—athletes, for example. You have to start super young, and commit all your free time for years to even have a chance.
It's funny how something like me, who lives in (and for) fantasy, can really appreciate and enjoy ordinary life. Often times, I have weekends that I find very intense. What did I actually do on those weekends? I wrote my books. I read other books. I lived out all kinds of crazy things in my brain that would be really boring for others to hear about, but for me, it was everything--yet I tell others it was nothing.
The appreciation of ordinary life is also why love stories can be so difficult to write. You need conflict to make a good story, but there’s a fine line between giving a romance enough conflict (us against the world), and too much conflict and drama (you against me), which can quickly turn it into an unhealthy relationship. No one wants to root for that.
The trouble is, in real life, an awesome, loving relationship is kind of boring to read about. The best parts are the little things: coming home from work and talking about your day. Cooking together. Watching your favorite movies/TV shows together. Going out on dates. Silly conversations in the language only the two of you understand. Sure, it can be cute, but too much cuteness isn't really a story.
Sometimes our lives feel like books, sometimes they’re the exact opposite. Do you ever have a moment where you think “if this was a movie, we’d be fading to black in this scene right now.” But you don’t, you have to sit through it. For example: you’re having a really difficult and awkward (but important) conversation with someone you love. You both finish saying your pieces, and it’s sort of over, but how does it really close? You’re both just sitting there processing your emotions. In a movie: end scene. In a book: end chapter. In your life? Sit through it. Bleh.
In a blog? Thanks for reading this ramble, and see you next week!
Not feeling so inspired? Sometimes pushing right through is the answer, but sometimes you need to let yourself breathe a little. What can you do to get that creativity flowing again?
Write about your everyday life. This will keep you (or get you back) in the habit of writing more often, and get you moving again. You can even write about how you're feeling stuck in your writing, and maybe ponder why. You might find the answers you've been looking for.
Writing down your dreams will get you back into the habit of writing, and often give you some unexpected inspiration.
Try drawing your characters, or settings from your book. They don't have to be perfect, or even true to your fictional world. You might find inspiration by drawing something a little off--how might that scene you drew happen? Drawing will also keep you in your fictional world while stirring up your creativity again.
Maybe drawing isn't for you--or maybe it is. But either way, coloring is easier. Put on some music and chill out for a bit. Especially if you've been banging your head against the wall trying to conquer the blank page, coloring is a great way to let your mind unwind while still keeping a little bit active.
Write or draw with your non-dominant hand
Weird suggestion, I know, but trust me. You'll wake up parts of your brain you don't normally use. Who knows what else is in there?
Again, a good way to get you in a creative mood. Plus, how long have you been sitting still staring at your computer? Moving your body will do you some good.
I'm an acapella girl, of course I'm recommending this.
Try something new—take a new class, join a new club.
It'll wake up your brain, and help you shake out of your funk. Who knows? Maybe you'll learn something new you can apply to your main character.
Read--or read your own work out loud
When all else fails, it's time to hit the books again. Read, read, read, and when you take another look at your own work, maybe try reading it out loud instead of skimming it quickly. You're sure to find new things when you not only look back on it, but hear it spoken.
Best of luck to you!
A few weeks ago at the acapella competition, I got to see these ladies perform live. Holy shit. They are next level amazing. And what's really crazy is, I might actually sing in a quartet one day. I mean, I'll never be this good, but that would still be an incredible thing to do.
Do you ever freak out a little inside because you think you’re too old for whatever personal crisis you’re going through? Like, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way because I’m an adult now! I’m 28 and should be past this!”
I was recently talking to a friend of mine about a mini personal crisis I was going through: social anxiety. I’m trying to do a new thing, and it’s scary. I’m comfortable behind my computer screen, or in various fantasy worlds. I love singing, and I thought attempting to be a better singer would be the toughest part of joining Sweet Adelines. But there’s the making new friends part, too. Everyone is wonderful, friendly, and welcoming, and yet I’m still nervous and awkward. It doesn’t really help that I’ve dreamed of being part of an acapella group since early high school, and have built this up in my mind.
But why am I so worried about how I’m coming across? Haven’t I had enough practice by now to know who I am, and how to interact with others? I’m a full grown adult! I should be past this!
So, my friend told me of her personal struggles, something similar she went through in high school. And you know what? She had those “I should be past this” thoughts too! At fifteen! I’m over here at 28 thinking this way.
Then I had a sort-of revelation that made me feel much better. What’s the alternative?
We both know someone significantly older than both of us, who thinks he’s always right because he’s older, and older = wiser. He can’t take direction, and you can forget about criticism. Arguing with him is a complete nightmare, because a disagreement is a personal attack. The kind of person who tells all kinds of stories about other people acting crazy around him, because he’s never thought to look inward and see the pattern: sometimes, things are your own fault. I'm sure we all know someone like this: someone so set in their ways it's unbearable.
This is what it looks like when a person stops growing. Age brings wisdom most of the time, sure. But how? A pesky little thing called self-reflection, where we look back and learn from shit. Why was I so anxious? What could I do differently? What did I say that I probably shouldn’t have, and what will I say next time instead? To be honest, self-reflection can really suck sometimes. But it’s so necessary it’s not even funny.
Just because you achieve a certain status, age, whatever, that doesn’t mean you’re the ultimate thing now and you’re done. That’s an awfully dangerous perspective to have. Start thinking that way, and you'll stop trying. Stop learning. Turn into a narcissistic grown-up baby who can’t take direction, criticism, or anything that doesn’t align with your personal worldview.
So, the next time you're having a personal crisis, and need to sit through some troubling thoughts, remember that you will grow from this. You will be better for it. Don't ignore what you're feeling or blame it on someone else. You're just another step closer to being the best you it's possible to be. I’m sure I’ll still have moments of crisis in my thirties, forties, and onward, but that's actually a good thing, because there's nothing more frustrating than an adult who can't learn from their mistakes.
Maybe this "revelation" won't help you much when it comes to getting to the answers of your personal crisis, but I hope it'll make you feel better about the process.