It’s All in the Perspective: Considering Your Personal POV and Journaling

I’ll start by saying that I’m not discussing matters of POV shift and usage IN your writing, but rather, the effect your personal POV has ON your writing. And a great way to monitor and track your own POV is through journal entries where you can view them with some objectivity and distance.

Yes, I suppose I’m still going on about the new year, but my own ambivalence led me to consider past journal entries, and what I found both amused and surprised me. Because I found I was experiencing the same things in my life, the same struggles, even though my life now is considerably different than in those previous years. What I think this tells me – and you – is that sometimes the most important perspective we have to beware of is our own, because it’s the same excuses, the same feelings of inadequacy, the same fears that can hold us back from creating the best things we can, from becoming the best people we can be.

I’ve been writing about resistance and how to overcome it, and I think a huge part of that always must come back to the idea that we create our own reality and our own experience of reality. Sometimes we get so caught up in the present (not such a bad thing), that it becomes difficult for us to get perspective and decide whether what we “know” is indeed fact, or perhaps a result of our own perspective.

Writing in a journal often happens when you’re swinging on either a high or a major low (at least for me, since I’ve never been able to keep up with daily journaling – if you are, power to you for it). Looking back on past entries, you’ll probably quickly start to see patterns if you can avoid getting sucked into the experience of that past day. For example, when I look back on past journal entries, it’s clear evidence that I’m falling into the same traps for writing bad habits and emotional swings. Are you doing the same thing?

Every year I seem frustrated by my lack of progress the previous year – I can never achieve enough to be satisfied, it would seem, so perhaps I’ve set impossible goals.  I continue to see time slipping away from me, and feel I’m living in some kind of limbo – but rather than waiting years more for what’s after that limbo, why not see that perhaps that IS my experience of life? Indeed, I may want more – and by all means, goal-setting, future-planning, these are all essential, but what about living in the present? What about experiencing and appreciating the life that IS?

Journal or diary entries are a great way to judge how you’re feeling at a particular time, and to also watch for habits and tendencies. How do you feel when you start the first draft of a WIP? How long before you start to droop, around what word count or number of days writing? At what point do you think the whole piece is crap and want to throw it all away? And finally (yes, I’m skipping a few steps), at what point do you come back to the beginning and think the WIP is worthwhile, and actually, it’s pretty good?

This can be extremely helpful when you’re in the low point of the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies a WIP. If you know where you are (ie: a high point or a low) you can moderate your response and anticipate what will likely come next. Mostly, you can get over the over-emotional crap, and just get on with what’s important: the creation and your writing. Because after all, that’s what really matters, right?

And hey, if the retrospective doesn’t help your writing, at the very least you can look at a past rotten day and think at least you survived that and you’re not experiencing it today.

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and hoping today will earn a “wonderful day” journal entry. J

Do You Believe in Magic? : 15 Ways Magic Rules Supreme

I confess that recently I’ve been focusing a great deal more on my post-apocalyptic writing (if you’re interested in that, check out my other blog: ebfeir.wordpress.com). It very much depends on a mundane and non-magical world, and I’m guessing that between the diaper changes, bottle warmings, and endless Cheerios, I haven’t been feeling magic at all.

So, in celebration of magic – particularly in fiction – and to help remind myself and you why it is I love magic in writing, encompassing the magical, mystical, and fairy dust, here are:

15 Ways Magic Rules Supreme

  1. There is nothing mundane about magic.
  2. We too often lack magic in our real lives, so we definitely need it in our fiction.
  3. Magic is a marvelous problem solver. Not sure how that character did something or arrived? It was magic!
  4. Magic is fun. Magic can be silly, light, dark, and all the shades in between, especially when in so many ways the most literal interpretations of magic can be downright ridiculous.
  5. Magic connects us with our mythological roots and ancestral histories.
  6. Magic taps into ancient beliefs, fears, and ideas about how the world works.
  7. Fairytales – those timeless, moralistic, prolific teaching tools – are encompassed and defined by magic, and playing with the familiar and putting your own twist on it is foreign and familiar at the same time.
  8. Magic can and will lead to the unexpected and adventure for characters and readers alike.
  9. Magic takes us places and creates peoples and places sprung directly from our dreams and nightmares.
  10. Magic can make characters more heroic, sexier, stronger, more of a fantasy.
  11. Magic unleashes the possibilities of fantasies and playfulness in worlds where there are less limits on the possible.
  12. The belief in magic can return us to our childhoods where anything was possible, in real life or otherwise.
  13. Magic can bring new dimensions and possibilities to familiar ideas, like new possibilities for battle scenes, love scenes, struggles, etc.
  14. For a little while at least, while reading or writing the book, we can pretend to be magic, too.
  15. Magic frees our imaginations and dreams from the constraints of reality where we can create and rule worlds where good always wins, and there is always a happy ending.

Have I missed any reasons why magic does and always does reign supreme? Please let me know. Otherwise, I hope you have a magical week, and thanks for reading.

Five Ways to Break Through Creative Resistance

Okay, so I was thinking about it, and while last week’s post discussed my own desire to break through my own creative resistance and fear, I didn’t really address how others can do this, which is kind of like cheating. After all, if the post isn’t useful to you, what’s the point?

So, first, let’s look at how to identify resistance in yourself. Do you have the following (or have you felt) the following symptoms:

– an almost irresistable urge to suddenly go clean or organize something rather than write or create what you’re supposed to?

– a sudden spatial aversion to going anywhere near your area of work – as though by not seeing the workspace, you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing work?

– a desire to watch hours of mindless television?

– a long list of mindless necessities that MUST be done before you do anything you “want” to do, like actually create?

– a mind whirring on all cylinders, but like a sieve and focusing on nothing?

– a sudden need to do all sorts of things you’ve either suddenly remembered but which haven’t been important for the past year, like reading that latest book, learning the rules of cricket, or cleaning the grout in the shower?

– a lack of time for creativity because it’s all been used up somewhere else?

These symptoms and many others – since resistance is a master at customizing itself for each of us – are a sure sign you’re facing resistance. What you do about it is part of what defines you in part as a person, and certainly as an artist and professional.

How to overcome resistance:

1 – Don’t quit. This sounds ridiculously stupid, I know, but here’s the thing: if you keep fighting, keep chipping away at whatever is blocking you, eventually you will break through the resistance. Indeed, it may take a few drafts to correct the section or get it how you want it, but at least you’ve been working, even if the pace isn’t as you’d like.

2 – Recognize the resistance for what it is: fear (almost always). Why is it there? Is it valid? What are you going to do about it? There are lots of games where you encounter a monster or something, and your choices are to either face and try to beat it, go around, or run away. Which will you choose?

3 – Go around. Resistance is wily, but so are you – can you go around it? Beating your head against the brick wall won’t get you through – but there’s probably a door or window in the wall, so why not go that way? Allow yourself another option to get through or in.

4 – Work up to it. Perhaps it’s one particular aspect of your creation that is causing creation, because it’s so essential to the plot, it brings up issues from your past, it will be so visible, it isn’t something you’ve done before, etc, etc. So, lead yourself up to it, gently, like leading a child frightened of a dog up to the dog. Don’t jump or startle the dog, but make friends first, make it friendly, and move slowly forward. Eventually, the dog will be running along beside you.

5 – Release rigidity and the need for perfection – especially in a first draft or attempt. We may want things to be “just so,” but it’s amazing the places you can be taken if, instead of ordering and demanding your work go somewhere it clearly doesn’t want to, you follow and see where it may lead to. This is similar to brainstorming, when you don’t reject any possibility, and instead let form and imagination carry you.

For further reading and suggestions to overcome your own resistance, I highly recommend to any artist – writer or other – the following books (no big surprises here if you read the blog  – I’ve recommended these books before):

The Writing Warrior by Laraine Herring

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

 

So, has this helped you out? Have you broken through resistance? Have you found other methods work for you? Please, share so they may help others. Otherwise, thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Resistance is Futile! : Breaking Through Internal Resistance

As I’ve been getting back into the writing groove this year, I’ve found myself floundering a bit when I found I was unable to focus on any one thing or any one project. I think most of us can recognize that this is a kind of resistance we all face in our creativity, a resistance to create, to try something new, and sometimes, to continue on with work that we’ve already begun.

For me, I know that I’ve still been having quite mixed feelings about the new year, and about where it is I want to go, and where I think I’m headed (unfortunately, not the same place). And it’s also these sorts of thoughts that keep me from doing what’s the most important: writing. Because whether I’m the most successful at why I do, or still struggling to find my place, at all stages I’m useless unless I’m actually producing my product, which in this case is a new manuscript, new writing, new words.

So, I’m back to work, and deciding resistance is futile, because I won’t let it stop me. And you know what? Today, it really hasn’t been. Last night I forced myself to ignore all the voices in my head telling me I wasn’t writing the right thing, perhaps I should just abandon the projects I’m working on, nothing is what I want, it’s all too much work, etc, etc, etc. Instead, I thought of just one project and tried to identify: what is it that’s stopping me? Why have I been struggling with getting work done?

I realized that it was fear. Indeed, fear usually prevents us from doing what we want to do. And sure, it can be great when some part of our brain says “jump off the cliff” – since jumping off the cliff is risky, and so our fear protects us. Unfortunately, it also likes protecting us from things we need to do, and need to accept into our lives, like change, evolution. In my particular case, I decided that what I wanted to do was embrace my fear, and in fact, incorporate it into my writing, use it as a central theme and idea – and indeed, prove that it can and will be overcome.

So, how are you projects coming this year? Is fear trying to hold you back? What fears do you have? How do you plan to combat them?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Happy 2012! : Goal-Setting and Reflection

So, are you a goal-setter, a year-in-review junkie, or a bit of both?

I’m usually a bit of both, but this year I’m not quite sure what I want my goals to be, probably because I’m being pretty hard on myself for not achieving all of the things I wanted to in 2011. I mean, I guess I did accomplish some things (had my first child; ensured that I, the child, and myself survived the first year; completed a terrible rough draft of a new WIP). And, as I received another rejection letter today, I also noted that last year I sent out 20 queries, which didn’t sound all that good when I’d promised myself to send out way more. However, it was far better than 8 in 2010 (which is downright shameful to me).

Okay, enough of my moaning. It’s a new year. A blank slate. Or in writing and creation terms, it’s a blank page and canvas. Time to either revise rough work from last year, or possibly start on something completely new and different. The whole year stands before us, and while we often face the end of the year desperately trying to finish up things, January is a time for new beginnings. Perhaps this is part of why I know that I’m at my most productive in the early months of the year. And part of the secret, I believe, is allowing myself the freedom to play.

Indeed, I know I’m mentioned before how important play is in the creative process, and indeed, in our lives from infancy to death (Here’s the link the past article here.) The problem, of course, is we become fixated on other things and seem to forget that play is not only fun, it increases productivity and output – a far cry from diminishing these things.

I’m considering playing with my creativity in a few ways, which I’ll share since who knows, maybe they’ll work for you too.

1 – Consider all the possibilities. Nothing is off limits. For me, I’m trying to decide what to start work on, what will get the benefit of this new year’s energy; an existing work? Sure, I could probably finish it, and it would be decent, undoubtedly. But with the revision notes and plans I have, I can probably plug away at that later. So what about something new? Something wild and different? What if it leads me down different pathes for the whole year? What if doing something I don’t usually do – like consider writing a smash-up kind of piece – might be the direction that helps my writing evolve in a new way?

2 – Let  loose, float, and go where the current takes you.  I know, sounds a bit wishy-washy, but I think of it like brainstorming. When you’re brainstorming an idea, you can’t restrict yourself, all inner editors have sealed lips, and everything is included, no matter how ridiculous or useless it may be. Because the thing is, if you say “no, that’s too ridiculous to write down, to consider,” you’ve closed yourself off to that possibility – and perhaps five or twenty more that are now too scared to rear their little heads. Instead, open yourself and your mind, follow the flow of energy. Do I really want to have aliens land smack down in the middle of a Regency ball (since this happens to be a stray thought in my head right now)? No, probably not, but I’ll write it down. And wait … what if someone FELT like an alien, or actually was an alien, but just not the space kind … See where the thoughts can lead? And they can’t go anywhere if you tamp them down in the first place.

3 – Be open to possibilities, and let your imagination soar, or My old friend ‘What if?’  I’ve been reading a lot about raising children, and they explain that toddlers around three-years-old or so believe anything is possible and have a hard time distinguishing between what’s real and what’s imaginary. So if they hear something like their father saying the boss just exploded today, they’re probably thinking it sounded messy, with a literal understanding of explosion. As writers, we need to remind ourselves to do the same, and to create worlds that help readers momentarily recapture the imaginary, to believe in the world we create. And sometimes we can do that by thinking about all the possibilities. What if the boss really did explode? What if unicorns really did exist?

4 – Work hard, work fast. I know, seems a little counter-intuitive to the playing, but the thing is, new year’s energy, just like the resolution to lose weight at the gym, can burn away quite quickly, which means we have to use as much of it as we have and stretch it as far as we can. Working with this kind of energy might last longer some years, shorter others, or might help snowball to carry you all the way through to the next year, but whatever the case, use it while you have it. When you’re working with this kind of new years energy, excitement, the hope and wonder of a new year, a blank slate, even a day may be wasting too much.

Best of luck, happy 2012, and thanks for reading.