Monday, May 30, 2011

The Big "N-O"

This past few days I've been sick (which would explain my absence in the blogger world), and feeling in a generally low state of moral. Let me explain. I've been lazy, and haven't written a word in a couple of days. Added onto that I just heard back from a writing contest I entered a few weeks ago. I didn't win. Sure, I entered it on a whim, and it was for poetry (believe it or not), but it still hurts a little. Now, I don't want to talk about my laziness, or being sick, because I know how to "fix" those. I want to talk about rejection in these post.

If you write you will get rejected. It's part of putting yourself out there, and being a writer. Rejection is often viewed as failure. I suppose in a way it is, but it shouldn't be. When we were kids we were really good at failing. Think back to learning to read. You remember an adult reading you stories, and then you thought "Wow! I want to do that!" So you'd open a slim picture book and stare blankly at the words. You learn your abcs, and soon you're starting to sound out words. You'd mispronounce a word, and then try to sound it out again. You kept sounding out those words, no matter how many times you failed and got them wrong. Finally you were reading. That's the kind of gumption we need to apply to our writing. If our work gets rejected or bad critique the first time, we need to first ask for advice to fix it, and then improve, and try again.

I was reading an author's advice on this particular topic, and she challenges the reader to get 1000 rejection slips before they give up writing. She goes on to say that by 250 rejections she was getting her books published. Yes, it does seem like a lot of "no"s, but that's were that good old perseverance comes in. We don't become pros at writing over night, or over weeks for that matter. We must give ourselves time to learn, and time to write without great expectations. When I realized that I felt a whole lot better about my writing. Take for example, J.K. Rowling, one of the most popular authors of the twenty first century, it took her a year to publish the first Harry Potter book. She persevered, and has become a very successful writer. Now you probably haven't written the next HP series, but the point of that example was the show that even huge authors had to persevere, and keep writing no matter the amount of rejections.

This post, has been a little ramble-ly, but my main point is to not let rejections get you down. We all need to time to learn our craft, and we, as writers, need to persevere. So I challenge you to get your 1000 rejections, before you give up on writing. Take a break from wild expectations, and just write for a while. You'll be amazed at what you get done...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Word Wednesday: May 25/11

It's time for another Word Wednesday! I'm going to get back in the flow of things, as last week I did something a little different. Here are your three words:

Cajole

[kuh-johl]
-verb

to persuade by flattery or promises; wheedle; coax.


Tantalize

[tan-tl-ahyz]
-verb

to torment with, or as if with, the sight of something desired but out of reach; tease by arousing expectations that are repeatedly disappointed.


Idiosyncrasy

[id-ee-uh-sing-kruh-see]
-noun

1.
a characteristic, habit, mannerism, or the like, that is peculiar to an individual.
2.
the physical constitution peculiar to an individual.
3.
a peculiarity of the physical or the mental constitution, especially susceptibility toward drugs, food, etc. Compare allergy ( def. 1 ) .



All definitions compliments of Dictionary.com



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Multitasking- Messing Everything Up Simultaneously

A couple of months ago I subscribed to the author Holly Lisle's weekly advice email, and I have been enjoying it throughly. Her most recent email dealt with how many stories one should take on at once, and I though it was great! It has inspired me to post about the number of writing projects that I believe is healthy to pursue at one time.

If you haven't yet figured out my opinion on this topic by the title, then I'll clarify it for you:

Writing one thing at a time is the best way to succeed with writing!

Now of course there are some exceptions, but I'll get to those later. For now I want to explain my reasoning behind my one-at-a time belief. I find that when I try to do three or four things at once I get no where. For example, when I write blog posts I'm usually doing a couple of things at once. Right now, I'm talking to a friend, Destiny, on Windows Messenger (I know, I know, I'm behind the times), listening to music, emailing another friend, and trying to write this post. Needless to say, I'm taking forever to respond the Destiny, writing a half thought out email, and writing a sentence or two on this post every couple of minutes. To be frank, I'm doing each thing poorly, instead of doing one thing really well. It's like trying to spread a little scoop of PB over a huge piece of toast. You end up with a paper thin layer of PB on a huge piece of toast (a classic case of quantity over quality). So all analogies aside, when a writer tries to do more then one story at a time then they end up doing all the stories badly instead of doing one story well (that is if they even finish them!). We're human (well at least I think you are...), and we simply can't give 110% if we are trying to focus on to many things at once.

I mentioned earlier that there are some exceptions, however I don't think they quite apply to us teens, considering most of us aren't professional writers. If you are though, sometimes deadlines happen. People ask you to write things for them and you also have a personal project going on, or something similar. If this happens work on each project for a length of time then switch, or stop one until the other is done. For example, work three days on one project, then three days on another project. Don't ever voluntarily do that, because there's a pretty good chance your work will suffer for it.

I know that some people just need to have more then one idea going at once, and I understand that. I don't recommend it, but I understand it. If are one of those people, this author recommended that you never have more then one project in each stage of planning, first draft, and revision.

To sum up this fairly short post (a short post,*GASP!*) writing one story at a time is best. Writing other types of things, however is fine. Writing a story, and writing a blog is fine, as long as you are doing one thing at a time. Writing two stories at a time is just too much for a writer too focus on. I know this is a debatable issue, so feel free to discuss this in the comments section!

P.S. If you'd like to subscribe to Holly Lisle's weekly tip email list, the one I've been referring to, and don't mind a little salty language go here. There should be something on the right side of the page.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Word Wednesday: May 18/11

Hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday! I wanted to do something a little of the beaten path of Word Wednesday. Instead of doing my usual definitions, I want to talk about the difference between practise, and practice. This popped up over the last week, and I thought it was a worthy issue to tackle.

In many English speaking countries (Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa) "practise" is a verb (an action), and "practice" is a noun (person, place or thing). However, in the U.S. of A. "practice" is most often used as both a verb, and a noun, which is why when you write"practise" it often pops up in spell check.

An example of the verb practise:

Don't forget to practise your instrument!

An example of practice:

I have to go to soccer practice after school.

All that being said, if you're in doubt of practise vs. practice, choose practice. Hopefully that's been of some help to you. So if you're Canadian (or from the UK, Irish, South African, or Australian) use your "practise" proudly, but if you're American then you can just ignore this. Anyways, have a nice evening!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dear Diary I'm a Writer!

This is going to be a fairly brief post. I want to talk about the importance of keeping a writer's journal. Through some extensive reading *cough cough* I've realized that a writer's journal can mean very different things to very different people. Some people use it as an actual journal, so it's literally a writer's journal. Some people use it to jot ideas down. Some people use it to write practice scenes. The good thing is, you can use it for whatever you want, it doesn't have rules. However, that much freedom can be a little intimidating, so here's some ideas I suggest for a writer's journal:

The Journal: it should be small, and light weight, so it's easy to carry around. It doesn't even necessarily have to be a journal; it can be in the notes on your ipod, or phone. However most people like having a pen and paper to doodle ideas down. If you are going with the more traditional journal, the pages should all stay inside so you don't lose any. This sounds like an obvious thing, but I've seen many journals with most of their contents on the floor. The moral of the story, make sure the paper in the journal will stay in if it gets tossed around a bit, because if you're carrying it around all the time then it surely will (get tossed around a bit).

The Contents: Like I said before, anything and everything. Some ideas for things to write in it are:
-Quotes. People say funny/insightful/inspiring/passionate things that are worth writing down. I can't tell you how many quotes from people I've spun into scenes. It's hard to remember quotes so if you have your writer's journal handy then it's the perfect place to put them.

-Ideas. Sometimes you'll see something, or hear something and get a brilliant idea for a story that you're likely to forget if you don't write it down. Writers' journals are also helpful to plan out side stories, and other aspects of the plot that you haven't quite perfected yet while you have down time. For example, I plan out family trees for my characters while I'm waiting in the van for my mom to grab some milk from the grocery store.

-Organizing thoughts. Sometimes I have so many "what ifs" floating around my head that are to underdeveloped to add to the plot line, so I jot them down in my writer's journal. I write down the "what if" and start adding other arrow ideas around it until it forms into a reasonable event
that can be added into the story. Here's a picture of a "what if" page from my journal:


As you can see I like arrows.

-Writing scenes. I've been known to scribble down a scenes in my journal. They can be scenes that are currently coming up in your story, or scenes that are completely unplanned. Writers' journals are good for writing your story in a more portable way if you are writing it on the computer. Just write down the last paragraph or so that you wrote on the computer and you're all set up to write. It doesn't really matter if you end up transferring the scene into the actual story or not, because you are practicing your writing skills.

Alright, so that was my "brief" post. I can't stress enough the value of having a writer's journal. Just remember it's there to help you, and make you a better writer. It doesn't have to be neat, notes can be scrawled in the margins, and it can be anything you'd like it to be! As you can see, mine is certainly not neat, but it is an immense help to me, and I've made it my own. I've found this link that talks about writer's journals, and some more ideas for contents of the journal. Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Word Wednesday: May 11/11

Confused? Check out the first Word Wednesday here.


Believe it or not, these are all words I've heard, or read over the past week, not just random ones I picked from the dictionary! Enjoy!





Plethora



[pleth-er-uh]




–noun


1.

overabundance; excess: a plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance.

2.

Pathology Archaic . a morbid condition due to excess of red corpuscles in the blood or increase in the quantity of blood.



Vocation



[voh-key-shuhn]




–noun

1.

a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.

2.

a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.

3.

a divine call to God's service or to the Christian life.



Pariah



[puh-rahy-uh]




1.

an outcast.

2.

any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.

3.

( initial capital letter ) a member of a low caste in southern India and Burma.





All definitions complements of Dictionary.com


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Writing with Intellect, You Too Can Do It!

Recently, in Canada, we had a federal election, and I've heard so many uninformed opinions about government, and all things political. All of that spurred on my annoyance with ignorance, so I wanted to address the importance of knowledge. I think most of us value intellect, and having conversations with people who actually know what they're talking about. From my previous little rant, I'm sure you know that I value it. In writing, it is also key to know what you're talking about. That's were research comes in.

Research isn't just reading. Research is the search for knowledge, and that comes in many forms. The most reliable form of research would be going to the library, and getting a book on the desired topic. However that isn't the only way, as I'm sure you know. Other great resources are:

-The internet! It does provide some margin for error, but if you look at a few different sites and balance out the information you usually get the basic idea. Besides, your novel isn't a research paper, tiny details don't matter as much.

-People. Yes, those real living, breathing people that exist outside of the computer. Everybody has experiences that they can share with an aspiring author. This can be hard for writers that are shy, but I find it much easier to listen to someone tell me what an army ship looks like, than read about the precise measurements in a textbook. Talking with someone who has experience in the desire topic also helps a writer understand the essence, and feeling of something.

Now, I'm not going to go on about how to research things, because I'm sure you've all had your share of history papers, or other researching assignments. I will say that it's key to always be listening, and taking in information to be a good writer. Even if the information doesn't apply to the story, because who knows when knowing how the government works (or any other random fact!) will come in handy?

I've narrowed the categories of research down to three main ones; setting, jobs, and skills.

1. Setting. This is the most common research category, I would say. This is also the reason why most teens, who write fiction, write fantasy. In fantasy, the setting is something that the writer gets to make up, which eliminates that aspect of research. However, I digress. If you're going to write a book that takes place in NYC then you better know the streets, the shops, and everything about it. Although this can be researched, why not just write in a setting that you're familiar with? Anyways, good tools for researching settings are atlases, pictures, Google maps (especially the street view feature!), normal maps, movies/tv shows that take place in the setting, and other written descriptions of it.

2. Jobs. Sometimes you want to give your character a job you've never had before, and writing it requires research. You have to get to know the ins and outs of it (ex. what kind of hours it calls for, how much it pays, how many people do it ect.) Sometimes you can get away with not knowing a whole lot about a character's job if it doesn't play a huge part in the story. However, for those jobs that need to be researched there are some good ways to learn about them, such as, Career Cruising (see if your school has an account with them, I know my school does, and it's a really good resource), looking at career sites, talking to someone who does the particular career, going to the place of the career (ex. writing a grocer, go to a grocery store), watch documentries on the job, or if you're particularly dedicated, job shadowing.

3. Skills. Often, I want characters to have skills that I don't have. For example, the other day I was writing a scene where my MC is learning archery. I have no idea how to shoot an arrow, but I thrifted this little book called "Archery: Know the Game" that explained how to prepare for archery, and different types of arrows, ect. Unless your MC is a carbon copy of yourself they'll probably have interests that you don't share, and will require research. There are so many ways to learn about other skills, but these are the ones I came up with: read about them, talk to people who have the skills, watch movies/tv shows (be wary of this, because sometimes movies/tv shows embellish things), if possible, try to do the skill, or watch someone else do it.

In closing thoughts, it's easy to believe that only some genres require research, such as, historical fiction, but I'd argue that all genres require research. As you've seen there are different categories of research, and if you want to write a realistic, interesting story then you should be doing some research in at least one of the categories. A final cautionary remark, just because you know a lot about the topic doesn't mean you have to put it in your story. The readers don't want to feel like they're reading a textbook, so sometimes less is more. A few well placed details do much more then pages of boring details. Anyways, that's all I have to say on research, so go and write informed stories!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Word Wednesday: May 4/11

In case you missed the first Word Wednesday, and are wondering what this is all about check out the first post on it here. Alright, now that that's taken care of, let's get to the words!


These week's words:




Adhere   



ad-heer

-verb



1. to stay attached; stick fast; cleave; cling (usually followed by to ): The mud adhered to his shoes.

2. Physics . (of two or more dissimilar substances) to be united by a molecular force acting in the area of contact.

3. to be devoted in support or allegiance; be attached as a follower or upholder (usually followed by to ): to adhere to a party.






Arbitrary   



ahr-bi-trer-ee

-adjective



1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.

2. decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute.

3. having unlimited power; uncontrolled or unrestricted by law; despotic; tyrannical: an arbitrary government.





Subterfuge



suhb-ter-fyooj

-noun



1. a stratagem employed to conceal something, evade an argument, etc







All definitions compliments of Dictionary.com
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