You get a new book to read because someone recommended it to you, or the cover just looks freaking awesome, or it’s a promising jewel you happened to stumble upon. It sits there in your lap eager to be read, but the cover, the title, the words splashed across the pages are meaningless. It’s just a book. Like all the other books taking up space on the bookshelf. But you open the cover and begin to read anyways, because it’s calling to you. There’s this pull to open it you can’t quite explain. So you do and you begin to read it.
“But you also have choices. Yes — and choices are nothing less than the power of creation. Through them, you can create your own life, your own future, your own destiny… By your choices you might even create an entirely new world, one that will spring into being from the ruins of the old.” — T.A. Barron from The Mirror of Merlin
Is it luck? Is it perseverance? Is it some combination of the two? Or maybe its an age-old secret only handed down to a select few? Or maybe the answer lies somewhere else entirely? How do we truly become the person we always wanted to be?
Oh man, I have to come up with more goals? Don’t I already do that almost everyday of the week? And didn’t I just kick butt with my 2012 goals? Okay, so maybe coming up with some new things to strive for may not be a bad idea. Here are some things I would like to accomplish in 2013.
This is a goal I still need to keep on doing. I did better in 2012, but I can do even better. My goal to read at least a chapter or short story every single day.
This I have been doing pretty good in, but I’m putting it down as a goal to remind myself not to become a slacker. I must write everyday!!!!
Beef up my Self-Editing
This is something I have been wanting to do for awhile. I have a great ability of finding plot holes, character flaws, and inconsistencies in stories, but when it comes to grammar, spelling, and punctuation I don’t shine as bright. My goal for 2013 is to read a few books, and take a few classes so I can become a super editing machine!
Finish Blood Feud
Do I have to say it? Really? My goal is to have Blood Feud completely finished by the dawning of 2014. I’m nearly done with my first draft, so it has a possibility of happening. I’m going to keep fighting the good fight and see how far I get!
Work on Short Stories
Because I have thrown so much time into Blood Feud, my short story writing has fallen mostly by the wayside. I’d like to try to at least finish several short stories I have on the back burner, and maybe even come up with a few new ones. I can do it! I know I can!
Do More Posts for My Blog
I really do need to be more proactive at posting for my blog. I actually do have a list of ideas to write about, but I haven’t taken the time to write them out. My goal is to try and post something every two weeks at minimum.
Break into Travel Writing
This is something that has interest me for awhile now. I’m not sure what it will take, but I would at least like to try my hand at travel writing and see where it leads. I know I love to travel, and I have several awesome vacations in the works this year. Well, see how it goes.
Wow! I’m already excited to get things going and I can’t wait to see what happens next! So what are your goals for 2013?
*Listen to inspirational music What types of music inspires you to write? Make a playlist and play it. Write to it or simply play it in the background until the Muse decides to speak.
*Find a picture that touches a cord within There are may times when surfing through the internet or looking through books that I find a picture that I have to stop and stare at. It calls to me and something inside blossoms. Find those pictures, remember those pictures and create a scrap book of them (either online or an actual book) to reference for when the they are needed the most.
*Read things that move you: Read everything and anything. Find things you like and things you hate. Know what is out there so that it can be used in future stories or avoided like the plague. Mostly just read and you might be surprised when and where the magic might hit. Read blogs (a from inspired me to write this blog), inspiring emails, a good book, short stories, magazines, the backs of cereal boxes, anything and everything is game so dive in and be prepared to be inspired.
*Find quotes that inspire It’s amazing how a short cluster of words can be the catalyst to an spectacular moment when light bulbs go off and the Muse kicks into to high gear. It’s happened to me many a time, so get in the habit of looking for quotes that inspire and make a library of them to be gazed upon when the Muse grows distant. Check out this site to search for your quote.
Go for a walk Sometimes it is a simple matter of displacing oneself from the normality and routine of the everyday to get in touch with the Muse. A great way to do this is to go for a walk. It also gets the blood pumping, which is also a good way to get the brain working. So drop what you’re doing and get outside to enjoy the beauty in the world around. Inspiration might just be down the block from your doorway.
*Mediate on a regular basis Another great way to get the Muse to come is to meditate, especially on a regular basis. Meditation is all about clearing the mind of the everyday clutter and junk so that the mind can rest, once rested the mind can then focus better. So sit down and take 10 or 15 minutes a day to sweep out the trash and be amazed at what you find in the cobwebbed corners. Check out this website to help learn how to meditate and here is a video as well.
Try something new: Sometimes finding the spark of creativity is about stepping out of the normal and trying something new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t? A sport, learn to dance, learn a new language, learn to scuba dive, be more out-going, ect… Try it and it may even earn a spot in your next story.
*Take time out to observe the world around you and become inspired by what you see: The knowledge we posses is what makes us great writers and gives us tools to create the prefect character and universe, if we stunt out knowledge then we stunt the Muse within. Get inspired by observing the world around. Sit on a park bench and watch kids play, go to the mall and watch people shop, get outside and observe nature around you, let the world around you bring the Muse back to life.
Watch a movie that has inspired you in the past It’s important to note here that if you want REAL inspiration you should turn the television off because it is usually more of a distraction than a help, but at times there are movies that can inspire writing. For me that would be movies like Gladiator or Adaptation. And the TV series Doctor Who. Every time I watch these emotionally charged movies and show, I always leave with a deep sense of profound wonder as it sparks the beauty within.
*Spend time and talk to other writers This can end up a two way street. The writer(s) may inspire you and in return you might be the one to inspire, either way it’s a wonderful thing to be able to share your successes and failures as a writer. Some times talking to someone who shares your passion of writing can make all the difference in the world.
*Free write: To be a good writer one must first develop the habit of being a writer, which means writing everyday. This can be difficult sometimes, especially when the Muse is playing hide and seek, but I find free writing a great way to expel the the clutter from the mind and allow the Muse to flow. Several ways to free write is using writing prompts or just write for a period of time about anything that might come to mind usually 10 to 15 minutes.
Sometimes the spark of creativity is so buried that it might need some “extra” help. This is when the big guns should come out. It then becomes a matter of peeling back the thick layers that are keeping you from reaching your muse.
You’ve decided that you have a love of writing and would like to pursue it further whether it be as a hobby or a career, but you just don’t know where to start. As someone who has “been there and done that”, I can sympathize with your predicament, so decided to compile some basic information that will help on your journey to discovering the imagination inside.
Take it slow
The very first thing you need to remember is to take it slow. Don’t become too overwhelmed by all the possibilities, story ideas, or writing information. I know it’s easier said than done, but the last thing you want to do is to become so bogged down that you just don’t write at all. Also, a lot of pressure can have a negative effect your creativity, so try to keep it positive and fun!
Get the story out of your head
If you have a great story idea then don’t let it disappear in the chaos of your head, get it down on paper! Even just a few short sentences to get the gist of what you want is fine. You can always go back and write it out later.
Keep a journal or notebook
Where do you put all those story ideas? If you haven’t already, then you need to keep a journal or notebook. It can be a paper notebook or files on a computer. Whatever works for you. Just make sure you put it somewhere you remember, so it won’t get lost and it’s easily accessible.
If you feel the urge to write then do it, even if it’s for a few minutes. In fact, writing EVERYDAY is the best way to go. It keeps you in the habit of writing and the more you write the better you will get at it. So just let your thoughts pour onto the page (even if it doesn’t make sense). You have to get the junk out of your head before the real gold nuggets can be found.
Reading is very important. It can inspire new ideas for stories, but it can also teach you how to write. The best way to learn the craft is to study what other writers have done. So read and read often. Read about how to be a better writer, read the area you want to write in, read areas that interest you, read things that don’t interest you (even areas that may not interest you still have great writing, the point is to be open to new ideas no matter where they might come from). Reading a variety of books, magazines, blogs and more will give you a bigger toolbox to pull from and will widen your reading experience. That being said, keep in mind if you read bad writing then you will produce bad writing. Reading a badly formed novel or story every once in a while isn’t going to kill your writing abilities, in fact, it will show you what NOT to do. Just don’t steep yourself in it.
Another way to be a good writer is to practice, but more important that that is to rewrite pieces you’ve worked on. Don’t just write it and put it away. Keep writing and rewriting until you find something you like then put it away and come back to it a few weeks later. This will allow you to learn to rework a piece until it becomes better and also it will eventually help you find your voice. Voice is the unique tone in a story that makes it special and stand out. This only comes with lots and lots and lots of practice. It also usually comes when you least expect it. Read my blog on Finding Your Writing Style and Voice for more information on Voice.
Getting feedback on writing is essential to any writer, but most especially in the beginning. It is how you will find out what areas of your writing need work and what areas you excel at. It is important though that you don’t rely on just anyone to give you that feedback. The best kind usually comes from fellow writers, but not always. I have read critiques from writers that were not very helpful at all. They key is to look for someone who can give you constructive criticism that helps and doesn’t tear you down.
Join a Writing Group
This is the best way to find fellow writers whether you join a local writing group or find one online. It is important to be surrounded by people who think the same way you do. The will be instrumental in providing the support you need and will also be there to give you the feedback to make your work better. I found my writing group through www.meetup.com. Check them out and see if there is a writer’s group near you!
Discover your weakness and strengths
When you first start out writing, you might feel like you have no strengths and all weaknesses. Believe it or not, this isn’t true. We all have areas that we are better at than others, even in the beginning. Yes, all of your writing will probably need help at some point in time, but there will be some things that you are naturally better at, and some you will need lots and lots of help to get right. What I do, even now, is to I pick an area I feel I need the most help with and focus on that area only. Once I feel like my skills have improved enough, I go to the next area I want to work on, and so on. This keeps me from being too overwhelmed with what I don’t know and helps give me goals to shoot for. It’s also a lot easier to see progress if you focus on one area instead of jumping all over the place.
If you want to be a good writer than you need to set goals for yourself. This will keep you motivated to write and will keep it interesting. Set some short term and long term goals of what you want to accomplish in your writing and it will keep you moving forward. Also realize that life happens and that sometimes you’ll have to adjust those goals every once in a while.
Good luck with your writing experience and feel free to post comments with any questions you might have!