The Magic of Reading

unnamedBooks. They amaze me. They captivate me. They are true magic. Imagine this.

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.

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How Do We Become the Person We Always Wanted to Be?

The Mirror of Merlin

 

“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?

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Goals in 2012

It’s January 1st once again and like the years before I want to reassess my goals and where I would like to go on my writing journey. After a Year in Review, I have come up with some things I want to accomplish in 2012 to better the craft of my writing. 
Read
The best way to get better at any craft is to study those who have gone before in the field you wish to know about. So if you want to learn to write what better way than by reading what others have written? Reading something every day is my goal, even if it’s as simple as a blog post. 
Write
How can a person get better at something when you don’t practice? You can’t, so that’s my next goal to write every day. A good friend of mine once told me that it takes approximately 10,000 hours working at something to really be good at it. Looks like I’ve got a ways to go. My plan is to put a decent sized dent in that 10,000 hour mark.
A New Path to Walk
I have discovered a new way to approach my writing and the writing process through the book How to Be a WriterI plan on making the book’s exercises a regular practice not only in my writing but my life as well. Also my views on deadlines and publishing have made a 180 degree turn. I now realize that to save my sanity, I need to not focus on deadlines or publishing, but writing simply for the sake of writing and that is all.
New Niche to Write In
I have been struggling for some time with a niche to write in, so far I have dabbled in speculative fiction (my favorite), science fiction, supernatural and mainstream fiction. Recently I have discovered that I truly enjoy writing about past memories (mostly from my childhood), so for right now this is what my writing will be focused on, creating a bunch of short stories with the eventual goal of putting them all in one book for my son to enjoy, as well as my family.
More Blogging, but Not Scheduled
In this past year, I have struggled with my writing, but the one area that had the least of that struggle was writing on my blogs, which is interesting. Every time I wrote on my blogs (personal or writing) I didn’t consider it real writing at all and was upset that the blog writing took away from my other writing, and yet when I did get to the “real” writing I never got very far because writer’s block would settle in and not let go. This year I’m going to make blogging more of a priority. At the same time, I will not be pushing myself to create blogs. I had a schedule (on this blog) of posting Tuesday and/or Saturdays, which didn’t always happen every week, so I’m tossing out the schedule and posting when I feel like it and see how that goes. This blog (and personal blog) might end up with four posts a week or one post a month, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Learning the Craft of Writing

In 2011, my main focus was learning the craft of writing, but for 2012 I think my focus will change to learning the love of writing. I will, however, still focus on the craft when I have a chance and have recently purchased a few writing books to read. I look forward to diving into Michael Knost’s Writer’s Workshop of Horror and Josip Novakovich’s Fiction Writer’s Workshop, and doing the fun looking exercises in Bonnie Neubauer’s The Write-Brain Workbook.
Be More Flexible
I have the personality- or perhaps more correctly- the learned traits of being a bit of an anal person. Yes, I said it, I’m anal. This may have some use in the world- though I’m not sure what that is- but mostly it just gets me worked up about stuff and sends me into supercharged panic attacks, which even spills over to my writing. This year I’m attempting to take a “chill pill” and not get so worked up about things. I’m not sure how well I will accomplish this, but a person has to start somewhere, right?
I think that sums up my goals for now, but I realize that things change. It’s a part of life (see that chill pill seems to be working already). All I can do is my best and make changes when necessary. It will be interesting to see what happens, and what 2012’s Year in Review will look like. Until then, a happy journey to all and I wish you the best in your own writing endeavors.

NaNoWriMo Alternative Challenge: A Month in Reflection

Today marks the last day of November and the last day of my NaNoWriMo alternative challenge. My original goal was to complete 15,000 words on a work in progress novella called Fahrenheit, as well as to keep up with my two blogs and other writing. I also had a side challenge to write everyday and read everyday, something I had not been doing like I should the last several months. Did I reach my goals? Did I reach my goal of 15,000 words. Yes and No.

I say yes and no, because no I did not complete my 15,000 word count on the novella, but between writing on my blogs, other works and journaling I exceeded my word count to nearly 20,000 words in total, of which 5,895 words were on Fahrenheit. So though I did not do as much on my novella as I had liked, I did succeed in some manner. The  most important thing I accomplish was writing and reading every day, which has made a big difference in my mindset of writing.

What do I mean by this? I have found my mind more open to ideas. The act of writing has become easier and I have become more aware of the world around me. In fact, this process has led me to a reflection of sorts and I have become more diligent of areas that need extra help and concentration. What had started as a challenge has become much more and I feel myself ripe with change.

I am reminded once again of the importance of challenging oneself and the unexpected benefits that occur. Though, the challenge may not have yielded the fruit I expected, I ended up with a better outcome than expected. I can ‘t wait to my next challenge and the surprises that it will hold. Until then I will keep up with the routine I have now and see where it leads me going into a new year.

Books Anonymous: Are You Hooked on Books?

Are you an addict? I’m an addict and a big one, a book addict. It seems I have no self control when it comes to books. I pick one up and start reading. I reach a certain point (usually the 2nd to 4thchapter) when I can’t stop reading. The house could be burning down around my ears and my eyes wouldn’t move from the page. It’s sad but simple fact. 
I have tried to restrain myself, but my efforts always end with failure. So what’s my solution? I stopped reading, which then affected my writing. It’s a proven fact (I’ve tested the theory myself) that if you want to be better at the craft of writing then you need to read every day. This made my so-called solution no solution at all. Is there a real solution to the problem?
Oh, I know… How about becoming more disciplined? -yeah, tried that. I suck at it. It then occurred to me that I couldn’t stop reading because I became so involved with the characters and story I was reading. The thought occurred to me. What if I switch from reading whole books at a time to reading a short story every day? Now that would be more manageable. 
So that is my new goal to read one short story every day. I don’t know how it will go, because I just started this endeavor at the beginning of the month. I am glad to be reading and I can already feel the dam in my head starting to break open only after a week of reading. For now it seems I’ve found a way to get that addiction under control and still benefit from the wonderful world of reading!

2 Ways to Be a Better Writer

Writing is a love affair of words and emotion, but there is also much more to it. There is a lot of work that is involved that includes perfecting craft, plot, character and much more. A writer’s journey never ends as he or she blazes the trail of art and soul. The further along that trail a writer travels, the more he or she realizes that perfection will never be achieved, only stages of good and bad writing; however, a writer can accomplish better writing by putting into practice two very important things. Are you ready for the most important advice you will ever get?

The best way to be a better writer is to read EVERYDAY and write EVERYDAY.

Does this sound familiar? It should, because that is the advice that all writers have received at one point or another in their interactions with other writers, taken writing classes, or read articles about writing. If you really want to learn better writing skills and habits, there is no better way than reading as much as you can and write as much as possible every single day.

This is easier said than done, because most people, like myself, live busy lives. Writing for some is a favorite past time or thing that they can do when all else is completed in the day. Schedules may already be at the max and adding more might be a stretch, but look closely and you might be surprised where some extra time can be made for writing and reading.

I challenge you to setup a schedule for the next month to see how much writing and reading you can possibly cram into each day. When that month is over I guarantee that your writing will have grown by leaps and bounds (I know this from experience from past writing challenges I given myself). I plan on taking part in an alternate NaNoWriMo challenge with this goal in mind. Join me with your own personalized challenge and see where it takes you!