Reflections of Contentment

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Lately, I’ve done a lot of complaining about not having enough time, or feeling like my time is not my own.  That I am subsumed by other responsibilities and then do not utilize what free time I do have to its fullest capacity.  It’s an old song, one that I think every writer or artist sings throughout their lives.  It is rare to find an artist who is happy with the amount of time they spend on their art.  It always seems to be too much, which leads to burnout, or too little, which leads to intense frustration and despair.

But I’m not going to talk about that today.  You already know about that particular current, so let’s appreciate the scenery for a while.  Let’s look up and see where the river is flowing.  Because despite all of the moaning and groaning about set-backs, I’m surprised to find that, right now, I’m actually pretty happy with myself.

There’s a text I got from my onii-san after I told him that I hadn’t won the Dark Crystal Author Quest contest back in 2013.  I hadn’t honestly expected to win, but I didn’t even make it into the top five.  It was discouraging to receive no tangible reward after putting in so much intense work for so long.  But David reminded me of something important:
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Creative Origins – ”Astral Rain”

Happy Vernal Equinox (Ostara) to you all!  With the increase in temperature and amount of sunshine, my creative instincts are stirring slightly.  I haven’t quite been able to get back into writing on a regular basis, but at least the interest is slowly returning!

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost April.  Last year around this time I was preparing the script of my graphic novel Astral Rain as my entry for Script Frenzy.  Because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about Astral Rain recently and thought it might be interesting to share the origins of the story.

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Creative Spaces

Where do you like to write?  What kind of place is the best to get work done, to focus your thoughts on writing?  What kind of environment do you need to write?  And do you have that space already or are there improvements you’d like to make to the one you’ve got?

All writers have special places they like to go and write.  Some like coffee shops and cafes with the background noise of other people while some prefer to hide at a desk in their attic or basement.  Me, I’ve always been a fan of sitting alone at a computer in a homey office.

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Outlines and Inspirations

HAPPY PECULIAR PEOPLE DAY!  Yes, today, January 10th, is the annual celebration of the peculiar people in your life!  (If you’re like me, then this is the perfect excuse to dress in as many insane, non-matching articles of clothing as possible.)  Hope all of you have a wonderfully peculiar day!

Okay, back to the serious writing stuff.  Like outlines and such.  ^_^

There seem to be two major “schools” of the writing process:  those who outline and those who don’t.  I’ve heard the arguments for and against both sides of this amiable conflict.  Outliners like the sense of direction and control that outlining gives them, establishing a sense of order and importance to the story and combating the dreaded writers block.  Free-writers like the sense of mystery, evolution, and surprise that comes from just sitting down to write with nothing more than a general idea.  They like the spontaneity, the twists and turns in both plot and character that take them places they didn’t expect.  Outliners accuse free-writers of being too flighty, spending time on areas that may be fun but aren’t conducive to the plot which wastes time or sitting staring at a blank screen because they’ve written themselves into a corner.  Free-writers claim that outliners are too stuffy and rigid, suffocating their stories with the weight of outlines and predetermined outcomes that lack true originality.

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10 Ways to Get Inspired

Every writer needs inspiration and we all have different ways of bribing our muses to stick around and help us finish our projects.  So, here are ten different tricks that you might find helpful, or just plain fun, in your quest to complete a book!

1)  Listen to music, especially themed playlists.  Whenever I hear a song that makes me think of a scene or character, I take note of the song and what it made me think of, then add it to my playlist.  For Astral Rain, I actually have a “theme” for each of the main characters.  Listening to that music when I’m trying to write a scene or just to have in the background when I’m writing for a story helps me drift into the writing mindset.

2)  Look at artwork (photographs, paintings, sculptures, etc.) that reminds you of a character, a setting, a mood, and event that helps propel your writing.  A photograph of a landscape that looks like your world, a painting of a person who looks like your character, a piece of abstract art that just gets you in the writing mood.  DeviantART is my favorite place to go for this, but the art can really come from anywhere.  Also, if drawing your characters or a scene works, go for it!

3)  Watch a movie that gets you in the mood to write.  This happens more for Foxglove than me, but I know that when I watch anime, I get in to mood to write anime-style stories or characters (although this can lead me into writing fanfiction rather than focusing on my own work.  ^_^;;)

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One Writer’s Evolution

A thought struck me as I was rereading passages from some of my older, unfinished works:  “Wow.  I’ve certainly changed in the last decade.”

Rereading old works can be both cringe-worthy and heart-warming.  Cringe-worthy because, hopefully, if you’ve been working to improve yourself, you’ll be thinking, “Good grief, I had NO grasp of pacing,” or “My magic system in this story made NO logical sense,” or “AHHH!  SO MUCH FORCED CHARACTER DESCRIPTION!”  (I’ve always been über-descriptive in my writing, so that’s always been a problem of mine.)  But the cringing will hopefully be followed by the realization that, “Hey, I’ve come a long way since then.  All those problems seem so obvious to me now and I know how to avoid them.”

I don’t know about you, but I also always get a warm, slightly nostalgic feeling when I reread my old stories.  I’m like a parent amused and indulgent with her children’s finger painting and story-telling antics.  They might not make sense in the adult world I now inhabit, but there’s a great deal of old-fashioned charm in the nonsensical-ness.  Horses used doors and buckets, magic was thrown in willy-nilly to make up for a lack of opposable thumbs and tornadoes were a perfectly acceptable method of transportation.

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Handling Dry Spells

Every writer goes through dry spells.  Some people call this phenomenon “writer’s block,” but I think writer’s block and dry spells are two different things.  Writer’s block is when you are working on a story and keep hitting a brick wall.  You have a scene you need to write, or an assignment to finish and you just sit and stare blankly at the screen.  You want to write, but the words just don’t come.

In contrast, I think of a dry spell as a time when your very creativity dries up.  It’s not that you don’t know what to write or how to write it, but rather you don’t even feel like writing.

Personally, I find dry spells far more terrifying than writer’s block.

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Plot Writer versus Character Writer

How do you start writing your story?  What creates that spark of interest that makes you commit your time and energy to a project?  Every writer has their own peculiar modus operandi.  Some free-write while others outline, some write chronologically while other start at the end and work their way backwards.  The genus of an idea and how that idea is developed is also unique to each writer.  However, I have noticed a general trend among my friends who write and authors who discuss their creative process.  I speak in generalities and understand there are exceptions to every rule, but, in my experience, this trend creates two groups of writers:  Plot Writers and Character Writers.

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