Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Creative vs Critical Writing

So today I started a basic writing class. Why? Because no matter how good you are, you could be better. No matter how much you think you know or remember there is more to learn or remember. I know I have a lot to learn.

Today’s lesson was on your creative mind vs your critical mind. You know that mean critical part. The one who interrupts your glorious scene where worlds collide to tell you to go back to that last sentence and correct two spelling errors and a comma. That devil on your shoulder, watching as you are about to put your fingers to the key before shouting “STOP! You aren’t going to say it just right.”

Today was about freewriting first. Letting your creative side go, spleleing errors and all (yes, I did that on purpose) to just get words down on paper. To roll around in the words and enjoy them like Scrooge McDuck in his money pit.

Last, we had an assignment. Let your sides argue. How do they feel about each other? Here is what mine had to say:

Creative: Yay, I get to come out to play

Critic: Only briefly, then I have to come clean up your mess

Creative: But I’m the one who comes up with the great ideas. Ideas that kids will love to read.

Critic: No kid will ever get to read your stuff if Agents think you are an amateur.

Creative: You distract me. You know that? Sometimes I hate you. Seriously.

Critic: I’m the side that pays the bills, Honey. Learn to live with it.

Creative: (eye roll) Fine, whatever. (Stares out window daydreaming)

So what does your creative side really think of the critic?

Writer’s Conference Tips and Advice

With Spring right around the corner, and our New Years Resolutions still echoing through our heads, you may be planning to go to a spring writers conference. If this is your first time or your fifth, here are a few helpful tips and hints for survival. At my first conference I split my pants, had to change into jeans, spilled hot chocolate on my white sweater, and still somehow had a blast. Trust me; Conferences aren’t as scary as we make them in our heads.

Lower Your Expectations

If you are planning on being discovered by an agent in the lunch line, scheduling a meeting by next week, and having your book published in the next six months, then I want to you take a breath and listen. You may meet the agent of your dreams, anything is possible. More than likely, though, you will learn amazing things from the speakers. Get insights from agents. Even find out the Do’s and Don’ts of Query Letters, Cover Letters, Premises, etc. Look at this as a learning experience. Meet others like yourself. Have Fun.

Dress professionally yet comfortably.

You will be on your feet some, mingling and meeting of pros in the industry. Business casual will show you in your best light. This is a business and you must treat it as such. No holes in your jeans, no funny phrases on your t-shirts.

Common Sense

Bring something to write on and a folder Take notes. Listen. Learn. Bring an extra pen or two. Tissues, Breath Mints (garlic bread at lunch?), a sweater, a band aid. • Business card If you have one, keep it simple. Name, contact info, the basics. If you are an Illustrator then your own art is fine, but authors don’t need to distract the agents and editors from who they are. Plus, plain cards give you room to write. (i.e. NAME OF CURRENT BOOK WE JUST DISCUSSED AND THEY SOUNDED INTERESTED) That is more important for them to remember than flowers and butterflies.

Personal Recommendation

No Perfumes. You will be in close contact with people all day. Some people are highly sensitive to smells. What if the editor is pregnant? Do you want to be the writer who made her laugh or the one who gave her a headache because you smelled like daisies?

Have fun

Education is a gift. You will be learning about the craft you love. You will be meeting others who get what you are saying when you talk about the POV for a MG Adventure that would be perfect for Random or Penguin. Or that horrible problem of Head Hopping and Tense Issues. Take a deep breath, smile, have fun. Let me know if you have more helpful hints.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Does writing get in the way of life? Or does life get in the way of writing?

Clearly my dog gets in the way of writing, but I wonder, what is being sacrificed when I write and when I don't write. When I'm writing, there are worlds I am creating. Completely immersed in color, sound, taste, smell, and touch, I am an artist in love with the creation process. Alone in my basement while the family laughs upstairs, I am happy. Content. Possibly a little crazy to love the imaginary worlds I create, big or small. But then there is guilt. What am I missing with my child? My husband? My friends? And,yes, even my pets? I imagine this is an issue all authors and artists deal with. So then we decide to make more time for our loved ones and ourselves. We exercise more, watch tv with our family (even though we hate that show they love so much) and we snuggle with the cat until the dog chases him away. But then there is guilt. What am I not writing that could be amazing right now? What character? What world? What perfect plot twist.
Dear Authors and Artists, all. We will never stop the cycle. Well, I could go live in that mountain alone, a happily writing hermit with a pet rock but that could be lonely. All we can strive for is balance. Don't neglect your family, your writing or yourself. Possibly, we all need some time management skills. We need exercise, food, and most important, our family and friends who love us even though we are weird writerly types. Because without balance... well...