Devastating

The one thing that writers can’t Stand!

So the other day I was typing away and suddenly out of nowhere my computer flashed red. I rushed to the other side of the room, grabbed a cord, dashed back, hooked up the charger AND…. nothing. My charger decided to tear on me plunging into death. For normal people this isn’t a huge problem.

But when you are trying to finish NaNoWriMo, on a strict schedule, with only paper and pens, it isn’t going to work! Out of pure hate I cursed the world, asking God “why me!?! Isn’t there someone else you can pick on?” I was lost that day among the sorrows of what writers dread most.

Let me just say I freaked out, and this wasn’t a normal person freak out, but a writer’s freak out. You see writers tend to be a little crazier in the brain, which explains all of our great ideas, but this also means that I was living in a psycho universe.

I yelled, I cried, stomped around like a five year old, held my breath hoping someone would change my predicament. I thought it was the end of the world, or at least my world, and I didn’t know what to do.

Although, that was just the first day. Now the second and third days, something very strange happened. It was like I had been stuck in my house for FAR too long, and I had become one of those crazy people that neighbors steer their kids far away from. When I finally went outside I began to do stuff.I hung out with friends, went for a ride, and talked to my lovely neighborly strangers

Yes, it’s true. Over the last three days I have become a normal person. Someone who is almost sane, actually. There wasn’t any writers block fits, no emotional baggage with my characters, and certainly no stress with the deadline.

My head was clear today, and it felt as though the three days were casting magic over my fingers, because I could write as fast as a demon can fly with wings. Which is to say it was pretty darn speedy.

The point I finally understood today, and possibly why God (or the creator/Divine/ Etc.) placed this horrible event upon me, is we need to take a break every once in a great while. Its halfway through the challenge, and there is no way we can all stay sane if we don’t have a break. So put away your laptop, take a breather, and enjoy the bliss of life. Even if it is only for two days, it will help you more than you know.

Until next time,

A. Willow

Change

Change is inevitable, irreversible, and necessary for every living thing. We all must age, everyone changes their perception, but the change that seems to matter the most are the changes we make on our own. woman-moving-boxes-istock-de

Today while I was packing, trying to figure out why on earth I had decided to move, it hit me. We all must go through change, but its our own choices that make us grow. We chose to walk a different path. We wanted to move on from the life we were previously living, and most of all we wanted change.

Although I have to admit, it can be really scary. Thinking about my life financially, friendships, and family really made me nervous. It affected each of them in different ways, and I didn’t know if I was making the right choice.

But if I stumble and there are a few mistakes here or there, that is okay. If for some reason this move doesn’t work out, and I’m left crying about the separation, I know that, in the process, I will be GROWING. 

I laughed at myself with this thought as I taped a box and set it on top of my small stack.

Think about it in these terms, and if you are a writer or avid reader then you know exactly what I mean.

Each protagonist in a story is going to change. The characters that grow are the ones that you view as your heroes. Now think about the villains or the ones you don’t like. Change seems to affect them very little if at all. That’s because a villain is set in his/her ways and they don’t want to grow.

This shows us that as individuals we want to see ourselves as well as our heroes grow in life. You cannot love a superhero if he keeps fighting the same battles and making the same mistakes over and over again. You would get frustrated and say “didn’t you learn anything from last time?”

So if your writing a story, or reading a book, look for this in particular. If you dislike a certain character this could be the main reason.

I will admit, I did stop packing to write this post, but I felt the need to tell everyone what was running through my mind. I want everyone to see that we all must grow in order to move on with our lives and learn new things. It may be a scary step, and possibly not in our choice to make, but the outcome will be well worth it.

Thank you for reading, and I hope everyone can begin to see change a little differently. Comment below if you have any thoughts, or feel free to tell a story about what changed you.

A. Willow

 

Having Dialogue Anxiety?

Hello fellow writers,

For some of us dialogue comes to us easily and it’s the first thing we think of. Others of us may struggle with certain words in a phrase but know the basic idea of what we want to write. Then there are the unfortunate who don’t have a clue what the characters are going to say.

I have experienced all three of these in the writing of my books, and I’m here to give you some helpful tips as well as advice on why it may not be working for you.

When it comes down to dialogue and getting it right really depends on how well you know your characters. So please take this into consideration as I give the examples below.

Scenario 1: You know exactly what your characters are going to say and can write out conversations easily-

Congratulations! This means you know your characters very well, but you still must be careful. When you start getting used to your characters word choices you can become redundant and continually say the same things over and over again. Don’t worry though, first write everything out: finish the book, chapter, or sentence that’s in your head. Although, to avoid a catastrophe of words you must go back after a long break, and reread everything. You may be surprised how many “Aha’s, So’s and But’s” you find consistently within a chapter.This is when you must reshape and mold the words so your dialogue can flourish.

Scenario 2: You kinda sort know what you want to say, but you kinda sorta need help.

All you need to do is write, write, write. Even if you don’t know what your characters are going to say exactly, the best way to figure it out is to write out the scene. Even if the dialogue doesn’t match your characters personalities you know what is going to happen. This action forces you to get everything off your chest and its the editing part that can get a little difficult. Look over the dialogue and just continue to edit until you get your characters voice. Although I must warn you, if you try editing ten minutes after you write it, all you are going to do is frustrate yourself and be thrown into a dark place you won’t want to be in. My advice to you is skip over this section if you want to continue writing, wait a few days (a week is best) and then go back and think as hard as you want to on the dialogue. It’s never good to get dialogue anxiety and the best way to avoid dialogue becoming your enemy is by leaving it alone for a while.

If that still doesn’t help, and you can’t even write out the scene then you my dear friend are having writers block. Its at the point where you know what you want to write, you know how you want the scene to go, but you just can’t think of how to write it out.

If you need more help on writers block please visit my other posts that will help you more thoroughly:  Writers Block and How to Handle it.

Scenario 3: Your characters are elusive and there is nowhere you can go without saying to yourself, “Dang, I know what he will do but how the hell does he respond to this?”

Dialogue is hard enough as it is, but when you don’t know your characters as well as you should dialogue nearly becomes an impossibility. Think of it this way, when you are talking with a friend or a family member, you always seem to know what they’re going to say . Are you psychic!?! Sadly, your probably not. You just know that person very well, and if you know your characters well you’ll know what they’ll say in any situation. Your characters need to become your best friends, your family, and the people you know best. If you don’t know them well enough then you NEED to.

My best advice for you is to go explore the world. If someone you know acts like your character go become their best friend for a week. If your character is like a TV show star then go stalk them for a month (the character on TV, NOT the actual star. I am not encouraging you to go lurk outside someones house!) If you don’t have a clue  on anyone who is like your character, then you have to go take risks and adventurous endeavors.

For example:photo

If your single go date people you never even thought you would be interested in. You don’t have to be into them, but I will tell you this. Dating someone is going to let a lot more doors open for you then just listening in on conversations. When you date someone you get very personal and hopefully honest with the other person. You begin to notice their little quirks on the third date and possibly even learn why they’re tormented by large dogs.

Here is why I know this can work.

For about a year I was stuck on my second novel in my series. I knew what I wanted the protagonist to be like, I knew what skills he would have, but I had no clue how he would react or what he would say, because to be honest I had never met a guy like this before. Then one day an opportunity arose and a guy asked me on a few dates. To be honest I wasn’t completely into him, but I thought why not give him a chance.

That chance turned into me finally being able to step out of my writers block and write-write-write until my book was finally complete.

Meeting new people gives you the chance to meet the character you never knew!

So whether you are stuck with what to say, or if it comes fluidly, you must look over every detail. Get out into the world, listen to conversations, and explore. Dialogue may not be your top priority but it’s very important to your book, short story, or novel.

Struggling Through the Abyss of Time

Hello Fellow Writers,

Today I will share with you a problem I have been facing over the last six months. I have bashed myself down time and time again because I simply tell myself, “I don’t have any time to write.”

Is this statement true for me as well as for you? Do you feel that time is your enemy with your studies, work, family, and friends that you are unable to make time for your writing?

For some this is a daily struggle, others a few times a month, and a few that hardly have to worry about time. To those of you who don’t worry about timing Hurray to you! but for the rest of us time-crunchers, here are a few of my thoughts that may help you as well as me.

imageThe way we writers must view things no matter how busy we are is that time doesn’t stop just because you’ve stopped writing. You may want to be a big famous author or poet one day, but here’s the thing, if you aren’t writing you are stuck in time. The literary world isn’t going to stop the busy route it’s taking and slab you on the best sellers list.

You have to work for that all on your own.

You won’t be handed your accomplishments, instead you will have to work for what you want in life. We as writers must MAKE time everyday to write, we must make time to market ourselves every week, and we most certainly have to send out our works at least once a month. You need to start being that annoying writer who never takes no for an answer. Get your name out to the public, the publishers, and the literary agents. You need to imagine yourself as a persistent hornet, striking at every opportunity you are given.

Praying to God, talking to your friends, and writing when you simply feel like it isn’t going to be enough.

In america we have this sort of motto, that you can do anything you put your heart to, AS LONG AS YOU WORK YOUR TAIL OFF!

There are no tomorrows without the beginning of today, so start getting off the “another day” train and begin writing today!

Write, write, write.

Work, work, work.

And Advertise yourself.

I know that time might seem like it’s out to get you, but honestly only you can take time by the shirt collar and hold it down to go in the direction you want. Time is not completely our enemy, it just takes the courage to becomes friends with it and make it a frenemy.

The Problems with Being a Writer

A. Willow

Ever since the dawn of time, writers have struggled to survive.

We each have our own style of writing, a way we like to do things, and a certain audience we are searching for. We strive to become noticed, or talked to about our work, to see what other people are thinking and if you have changed any one small person in some way. Once people start reading our work we begin to love our job, and we take pride in what we do.

The burden of this task doesn’t lay in the writing though, it lies on the outside.

For centuries we have seen, or read about the penny-less writer. Starving artists who have no choice in the matter of doing something else because they know deep down in their hearts that they are meant to write.

So here we all are, poorer than we had hoped, but feel helpless in the matter because no matter what your family and friends say, no matter how many times people bash at your life choices, you have no choice but to write with all your heart.

Choosing the path to follow your heart and dreams is one of the many sacrifices we must make in this world. We could have went to school to be some sort of doctor, even with a little interest, but where would you be now? You picked the writer path because you loved writing, and when you type your words on a page it feels like your fulfilling your life with meaning.

In this world, we are supposed to strive to become wealthy, long lived, and have so many expensive hobbies that we can’t even keep track of them all.

But imagine, if we didn’t live in this world. Imagine a place where money didn’t matter, and all anyone cared about was the passion they filled their lives with. A place where everyone followed their hearts and nobody second guessed themselves as to what to do, because they could see their soul as clear as day.

*Sigh

But we do not live a part of that world…not now at least. Because beyond the boundaries of our human race’s small minds, we can’t see everything no matter how smart you think you are. Everyone may think they have life and our surroundings all figured out, but in truth I doubt God or the Divine, or whatever you believe in gave us the minds to understand everything. For if we did understand everything we wouldn’t have wars to see what religion is right, we wouldn’t keep a stock of food for months when people are starving somewhere else, and we wouldn’t doubt that love surrounds all of us, but it takes a time a serenity to grasp it.

So for me at least, and perhaps for many of the other writers out there. I am not just writing for myself, or for the people I think might be able to get me rich or whatever….but I am writing for my soul. For I feel deep down, within my very core, that I’m meant to write words to help people understand that love isn’t just a myth of this world, and that every war does come with a consequence.

Each of us writers have our own reason to write, some unseen force pulling us along to tell a story to the world. I hope you find yours, and you learn from your own writing just like I am.

To me, it doesn’t matter if I am  penny-less and striving to get by in this world, but what matters is that I strive to show the world how much love and passion there truly is out there.

Goodbye my fellow writers, and if you’ve found your own reason for writing let me know. It’s a special gift our creator gave us to write out our feelings in song, and it’s just as special to share it.

Love Always,

     A. Willow

 

A Scene’s Complexity

imageWhat makes your writing unique?

Is it the way you spill it onto a page or could it possibly be the types of things you focus on?

Everyone is unique in their own way, and when it comes to the image inside your head, nobody else is going to have the same thing.

The landscape falls with just enough sunlight to stretch across the grass. The flowers, blooming red, symbolize the new beginning to my life. Stress has overcome all the senses, but soon a tranquil breath will wash over and release me from this heavy burden. 

Seeing an image like this one in your head is all your own, and something you might want to share with the world. But how do we effectively put a strong image into words? No matter how hard you try, you probably won’t give every person the same exact picture that’s inside your own mind, but you can try to get close.

Here are the things you should be thinking about while writing a scene.

1. The mood-

You must insinuate the mood you are feeling while you see this image. Does it seem to lift your spirits when you do see that sunrise. Can you feel the taste of freedom in the soft flowing air?

OR- Is it a drastic change where darkness sets in and you feel lost. Its feels as though your trapped in a dark cave with no light around you. You can only feel the course dank walls of your tormented enclosure?

Try to make your audience feel the way you do. Once you’ve achieved that you are getting closer to showing your audience the essence of your scene.

2. Vivid Description-

Now the question is what do you want to focus on? Is the narrator focusing on one object?

The coffee cup was still dripping with condensation. Letting the water slide down the side, and drip off the edge of the table. It’s as if the cup knew he felt the stress of his job beginning already without even taking a sip of his black bitter coffee. The cup was white, like his pale face, and resembled the staleness of life he had possessed over his many years of greed. The cup was a symbol of his life, and he knew that eventually the cup would drain down his throat dry without any comfort from the outside world. 

Or

Is the narrator unable to focus strictly on one thing, where everything is in a blur?

I heard the phone ringing, but could only focus on the people around me. There was a girl talking so fast it was as though her red lips puffed out in a blur, the man next to her eyeing her goods on his way to his lower end table, the lady in purple drummed her fingernails against the counter impatiently, the man chomping on his gum so loudly it made my stomach twist in nausea …

“Excuse me, you gonna get that or what?” 

I heard the snarky comment from a flimsy girl, but my head grew fuzzy and everyone began turning into one big blur of solid movement. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, but instead of answering the bar’s phone like I was supposed to, I bolted out of the spinning room and coughed up my lunch from earlier. 

What was it with me and large impatient crowds?

By looking at these examples you can see a drastic difference when you focus on one main object or too many at one time.   Whether it be a really quick glance of a description, or a long enduring eye for everything in the room.

My last piece of advice on the matter is you should be able to feel the writing being soaked up by your story and not disturbing it. Even if the paragraph is phenomenally written, if it isn’t flowing with the story you might have to save it for a later date.

3. What Feels Right-

When writing out your scenes, don’t focus on anyone else’s opinion but your own. It’s hard enough to write everything by yourself, but when you have more than one voice in your head it can get stressful. All you need to do is close your eyes and visualize what you think you should focus on in your heart. If the writing is rough, and you don’t know how to fully describe whats in your head, just write down random words that make sense to you and the scene. Come back to it later, and fully edit in the sentences. Writing isn’t supposed to be perfect, its supposed to be an expression of thought.

If you want to share, I would love to see hear how it helped you and even share what you came up with.

Enjoy your scene writing,

A. Willow

Move On To Write Long

We writers have all been there before, the horrifying truth that you are, in fact stuck. You are unable to keep your words flowing, and you can’t seem to think of the next step. Some of us may call this writers block, and most of the time it is. There are other times though, when you just feel dry, like you’re sick of writing the same story over and over again.

wpid-1369258192104

What I’m here to tell you is to MOVE on.

It does us no good to just stare at our computers for hours trying to think of the next big step you or your character must take. What’s important is that you keep writing.

Getting stuck on a certain piece of your writing may make you angry, and impatient to finish, but what I have learned is that when you push yourself to finish a project even though you aren’t feeling it, the story is going to turn out horrible!

Trust me I have done it many times. Staring at the page without a thought in my mind is torture, but what is even more treacherous is reading the end result after bulldozing through. To help you through this, I have something I would like to share.

There’s a secret I’m going to tell you about myself that might frighten you, but could eventually help you along your writing careers.

I am one of those people who have a million thoughts zooming through my head. I have so many ideas for books that I begin to start a few chapters into a new book, but then stop after the first day. At first I thought this was my downfall, because I’m also the type of person who likes to finish what I have started in a timely matter. (In other words I’m impatient and I don’t like a jumbled mess of projects- it distracts me too much). I have realized  over the past few years of my writing that this also helps me.

Let me explain.

To have more than one project to work on isn’t a bad thing. It helps you move along fluidly in your writing life. Yes, it might be a bit of a mess, but it sure helps you write longer.

If you are stuck on a story and it’s the only thing you are writing on, then you can’t do much practice now can you? With more projects its easier to move on from where you’re stuck and continue to write what you love. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, there are certain ways to help you with writers block, or ways to help your creative juices flowing, but this is probably the most important to a writer.

As we all know,

The more you write, the better writer you become.

Isn’t that our ultimate goal, to become the best writer we can be?

*

If you need more help on writing, look around at my different posts. If you can’t find what your looking for feel free to ask me a question in the Thoughts box below.

As always, I love listening to everyone, so don’t be shy.

A. Willow

Should You Judge a Book by its Cover?

I’m sure many of you have heard time and time again to never, EVER, judge a book by its cover. It’s something that’s been drilled into us since the first time we could read, but does it still do us any good to ignore the one thing that catches our eye?

image

 I am here to tell you to Stop following this rule and to START judging!

The phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” may truly have  meant something a decade or so ago, but with this new generation of YA books it’s hard not to disagree?

In earlier years I put my heart and soul into this one little phrase, but as the years went by, the more books I read, the more I realized covers in the Young Adult genre are unique for a reason. YA has stepped up to be the boldest genre in the book world, and for that reason publishers are putting more time into their covers. Covers are now providing the readers with more meaning behind the artwork, and beginning to grasp the concept of the book as  a whole. All it takes is to take a  closer look, into the depths of the illustration itself.

Today I will tell you how to judge a book, and why it is significant.

There are 3 specific qualities that will help you:

Step 1. What grabs at your heart?- There are people who believe that artwork is the gateway into one’s soul. So look around and find the cover that speaks out to you.  When skimming through the hundreds of books on the shelf, it’s easier to find a cover you fall in love with a lot faster than reading every single back that you pass.

So, when you find that one book that seems to be screaming out your name, take it!

Step 2. Take a closer look- Glimpsing a magnificent cover isn’t the same as thoroughly inspecting it. There are going to be certain quirks to the cover that tell you what specific sub-genre it is, and little quirks that will tell you the main theme or plot of the story. For instance, it will be pretty easy to tell if it is a contemporary, romance, fantasy, or paranormal book by just looking at the cover. Teens in their swimsuits on a beach is usually contemporary, while a wolf standing next to a girl with odd colored eyes is normally going to be paranormal. After doing this, you’re going to start getting a sense of the book you are holding in your hand, but we must dig deeper to find the actual story within the artwork.

Usually, the cover will hold a certain trait that is very significant for that book. It will be a little hidden symbol that represents the book as a whole. It could be as simple as a phrase on the front, or a discolored star in the sky, or simply a rock on the ground that is glowing from the moonlight. This shows the interesting aspect that makes the book unique.

Step 3. When in doubt, don’t toss it out- If you aren’t sure about the cover, or even if you’re obsessed, you should still read the back before placing it back. YA covers are supposed to help you decide if the book is right for you, but they shouldn’t be the ultimate decision. The back is there to guide you further into the story you have already seen unfolding in the cover-art.  So when I say you should judge a book by its cover, what I’m actually saying is you should judge a book by the front cover first, and then the back .

With such an intense and wide variety of YA, it might seem like you are being bombarded by all these books you could never hope to read in your lifetime. These steps are supposed to help you find the book that YOU love, but if you have a natural knack for adventure, then maybe it would be wise for you to do the opposite.

Enjoy your crazy cover journey, and let me know how it goes!

Writers Block And How To Handle It

We have all been there. The page is blank with anticipation. You can seem to feel the vibration of the keys that you  want beneath your fingertips, but have no words to compensate them. Your inspiration is at a loss, your ideas are down the drain, and you are left with the  BIG   WHITE   PAGE.

This my dear friends is writers block.

Many a time have I been through this torture. In fact I have went through this many times within my books. It is a dilemma we must all face as writers, but it doesn’t have to be your way of life. Below I will show you how to overcome this issue through different circumstances.

writers-block[1] (2)Fresh Out of Ideas-

If you are stuck on the imaginative side of any project than you need to read. Reading helps make the creative juices flow, and as soon as you get your ideas back immediately stop the reading and turn your words into a page of wonder.

Other ways you could come up with more ideas is by simply watching a movie, surfing the web, and even just talking to your best friend or next door neighbor about what they think. If you are at a loss of creative ideas than you must look elsewhere for them.

Inspiration has Disapeared-

I have felt this very often. Its not that you lose inspiration for the passion you have with your book, but rather, you lost interest in your writing  at the moment. You feel like “Eh, I can do this tomorrow.” or “I’m not really feeling like writing today.”

My answer to you is follow nature. I have mentioned it better in my other post Nature’s Blessing ( https://a0willow.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/natures-blessing/ ) if you would like to go more in-depth with this section.

Nature gives you a chance to connect with your surroundings. When you connect with things you tend to feel more inspired with them as well. Get outside and breathe in the fresh air.

Don’t Know the Next Step-

If you are currently writing a book or a short story and are clueless as to how the next part is going to go- skip this section! If you have ideas for what comes after that particular part than trudge on through. The more you write your book the easier it is to know what you want to do with it.

Writers Block is one of the most infamous struggles writers must face. If you have writers block at all there are a few key things you can do to help yourself: read, write something different, take a break to get inspired, and brainstorm with friends. If that doesn’t help at all and you still can’t think of anything I would stop working on your project and try to write for something else.

Hope that helps and let me know if you have any Q’s.

A. Willow

Are You A Rebel Writer?

Are you one of those format writing junkies that can’t stray away from a perfectly structured sentence?

OR

Are you the type that says, “I don’t need formality I need Originality”, you stray away from the rules of writing and do your own thing?

I must say if you answered yes to the first one…YOU ARE B-O-R-I-N-G!

The second answer I define as a Rebel Writer, and I highly recommend you write this way, but there is a right way to be a rebel writer and definitely a wrong way.

1. Know Your Bounds-

As a writer you need to know the right way to do things. You must know correct punctuation, structure, formality, and grammar. If you struggle with this either surf the web, pick up a writing guide book, or click on the links below.

http://www.towson.edu/ows/sentencestruct.htm,

http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/effWrite.asp,

Knowing the correct way to do things is important, because if you are being a rebel writer by accident…well then, you aren’t truly a rebel at all but more so an ignorant writer.

Learn the right way to write and your on your way to better writing!

2. Use Formality With A Rebellious Twist-

Balance is the key! People don’t want something completely foreign. They like to know that there is still something familiar within your writing as everything else, but then again, they don’t want something to be like EVERYTHING else.

So what you must do is stretch out your creativity and abuse the steps of the writing rules.

An example of this is through Dialogue.

Formal: “I’m so exited I can’t wait.”

Rebellious: “I’m sooo excited….I can’t wait!!!”

Be unique with your writing to show the audience what is happening instead of just telling. Here is another example for a paragraph.

Formal: I stepped foot into the pond and felt the cool water dance along my toes. I don’t think I have ever felt anything more chilling or more wonderful all at the same time. Suddenly around the bush I heard a crunching noise. I quickly pulled my toes out of the water and ran away in fear it was the ghost.

Rebellious: I stepped foot in the pond and felt the cool water dance along my toes. I don’t think I have ever felt anything more chilling, and yet more gloriously wonderful, all at the same time.

*Crunch

My heart raced, my vision blurred, and I felt frantic. What if….

I quickly pulled my toes out of the water and ran, too fast for my own pleasure, but I needed to. I looked behind me in fear that The GHOST was upon me.

What I have done is change the different sections to be a little more staggered. I try to envision how it would feel if I was in the characters position. At first it was slow, but then everything seemed to jump at you faster as you went. I didn’t completely change the paragraph because this way people will still be familiar reading it.

3. Be Cautious-

You should use your rebellious side, but with caution! You want to use it in your writing to mean something. You can’t just use it every time you get the chance to. Even in my example above I drenched it with too much Rebellious, but I needed to show you something.

Use your rebellious side sparingly and only when you want something to stand out.

Effective rebellious writers use it for uniqueness and to explain their story through their different way of showing. If you use it like I did above (too much of it) then it might appear as poor quality writing.

After what I have shown you today I hope you can stretch out your rebellious side, and use it effectively within your writing. Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts, or would like to ask for help.

See you next time,

A. Willow