Daily Writing Tip 75 of 100, Put Your Heart on the Page

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Put Your Heart on the Page

Source – What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter

Too many writers avoid their own strongest feelings because they are afraid of them, or because they are afraid of being sentimental. Yet these are the very things that will make beginning work ring true and affect us. Your stories have to matter to you the writer before they can matter to the reader; your story has to affect you, before it can affect us.
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The Exercise

Make a notebook entry on an early childhood event that made you cry or terrified you, or that made you weak with shame or triumphant with revenge. Then write a story about that event. Take us back to those traumatic times, relive them for us through your story in such a way so as to make your experience ours.

The Objective

To learn to identify events in your life that are still capable of making you laugh and cry. If you can capture these emotions and put them on paper, chances are you will also make your readers laugh and cry as well.

It takes courage to do this. When the letters of strong old truth start the fall onto the page, the Resistance wells up and is strong. This must be fought through. This fight is the essence of living a worthwhile life.

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Daily Writing Tip 74 of 100, Let My Fears Rest Where They Are

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Let My Fears Rest Where They Are

Source – Walking on Alligators, A Book of Meditations For Writers by Susan Shaughnessy

If we wait until the fear of writing goes away, we will never write.

If we wait until the fear of self-exposure goes away, we will never be published.

If we wait until the fear of failure can be somehow managed, he will never attempt anything.

If we wait until the fear of being laughed at goes away, we will indeed stall out. Studies have shown that children’s greatest fear is ridicule – not the dark, not being lost, but instead the embarrassment of being mocked.

All these fears are valid. They have deep roots in the truth. If you write, you will court failure. If you publish, you will court exposure. These fears will never be banished. But perhaps they can be harnessed.

More important is that by writing you will encounter inner reserves you never dreamed up – stores of serenity, courage, and confidence.

These treasures will be doled out to you little by little, as you come to write each day.

Today, I’ll let my fears rest where they are. I will write, and by writing I will discover my inner resources.

This is very good advice and I certainly hope that it is true.

Daily Writing Tip 73 of 100, Don’t Stop Too Soon

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Don’t Stop Too Soon

Source – The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack Bickham

Good stories result from the writer’s taking a few days off to rest, then returning to the fray to take one more cautious and caring look at the “finished” work.

Revise, revise and be ready to revise again. After all the work you’ve done, it would be tragic, wouldn’t it, if you stopped a day or a month away from making those final adjustments which could make all the difference in the product’s acceptability?

Writing isn’t writing – editing is writing. First drafts are just pouring letters onto paper. It’s the revision where the real story – the one hiding in your unconscious mind begins to get teased out.

It is so hard, though.

Daily Writing Tip 72 of 100, Listing the Stories

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Listing the Stories

Source – Writing for Your Life by Deena Metzger

I like to make lists. Once it amused me to keep a journal with a formal title – “The Book of Lists: A Writer’s Journal.” The lists became a catalogue of ways in which I could approach my life, ways to remember experiences by categorizing them. In that book, I kept lists like the following: stories about my body; synchronicities and miracles; visions; childhood friends; mentors;recurrent dream images; stories about my children; gifts received.
….
Recently I added a catergory: lists of lists to be made. Here I included: losses; death stories; memories of nature; stories that help me survive; teaching stories; bird stories; wolf stories. Needless to say, the lists overlap. But when the same story possibility appears on several lists, the story itself is altered by the different perspective of each list.
….
I once heard someone say that the mind is one part of the brain telling a story to the other part. Perhaps the self is the composite of all those stories told.

I like the idea of keeping lists; I like the idea of lists of lists more; I like the idea of a journal of lists the best. I think I’ll start it tonight.

Some lists right off the top of my head: Things I didn’t do that I wish I had; Seductive lies; Books never written that I’d want to read; Secrets I still don’t know; Stuff I don’t have the courage to write down.

Daily Writing Tip 71 of 100, Fairytales and the Existential Predicament

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Fairytales and the Existential Predicament

Source – Dreams and Inward Journeys, A Rhetoric and Reader for Writers by Marjorie Ford and Jon Ford

Chapter 4 excerpt, an essay by Bruno Bettelheim, Fairytales and the Existential Predicament

There is a widespread refusal to let children know that the source of much that goes wrong in life is due to our own very natures – the propensity of all men for acting aggressively, asocially, selfishly, out of anger and anxiety. Instead, we want our children to believe that, inherently, all men are good. But children know that they are not always good; and often, even when they are, they would prefer not to be. This contradicts what they are told by their parents, and therefore makes the child a monster in his own eyes.

This is exactly the message that fairytales get across to the child in manifold form: that a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence – but that if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious.

Modern stories written for young children mainly avoid these existential problems, although they are crucial issues for all of us. The child needs most particularly to be given suggestions in symbolic form about how he may deal with these issues and grow safely into maturity. “Safe” stories mention neither death or aging, the limits to our existence, nor the wish for eternal life. The fairytale, by contrast, confronts the child squarely with the basic human predicaments.

I am sometimes referred to as “A Terrible Person” because of my penchant for doing bad things, especially killing, the characters in my writing. I defend myself in that “nothing happened, it’s only words.”

And here is a scholarly essay (from a somewhat controversial author) on why it is necessary to do bad things to good people, not only in fairytales, but in all fiction.

Yeah.

Daily Writing Tip 70 of 100, Finding Your Niche(s)

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Finding Your Niche(s)

Source – 1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get Published By Scott Edelstein

One of the best and fastest ways to build a writing career and to sell your work talents and services is to find or create a niche and fill it. Better yet, find and fill several. To find or create your own niches, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What can I do that no one else can?
  2. What do I know or understand that no one else knows?
  3. What have I experienced that few others have?
  4. What ideas do I have that are new or unique?
  5. What perspectives do I have that are special or different? What do I see that do that others do not?
  6. What does the world country state city suburb neighborhood industry etc. need that I can offer?
  7. What seems to be missing that I can provide? But have other writers overlooked?

An intimidating list. It’s hard to imagine that you have something to say that hasn’t been said already.

You are wrong.

Daily Writing Tip 69 of 100, Things That Get Stuck In Our Heads

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Things That Get Stuck In Our Heads

Source – The Mind of Your Story, Discover What Drives Your Fiction By Lisa Lenard-Cook

I use the word “stuck” intentionally because when I visualize what happens when I obsess, I not only see a needle stuck in a groove on a 33 1/3 record, I hear the repetitive oddity such a scratch creates….For those of us who grew up listening to records, carefully picking up the needle and setting it down just past the offending scratch was something we did so often it never occurred to us that it took some skill and finesse

That repetition, that over-and-over with no way out unless someone physically lifts the needle from the groove, is how it is when something gets stuck in a writers head. She’ll start thinking about something she said (or wishes she said), or did, or saw, like that woman with the suitcase in the rain. She starts spinning the thing out, imagining what comes next. But then she gets to a certain point – and it’s always the same point – and she skips right back to the beginning.

These ruts can be maddening, and in fact, if we weren’t writers they likely would drive us insane. But when we write, there are things we can do with them.

I have spent a lot of time writing stuff that I knew wasn’t going to be good – stuff I didn’t really even want to write. But there was something stuck in my head and I knew the only way to get rid of it was to write it out.

That is how it is.