Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are Most Writers Introverts? Nancy Okerlund's Excellent E-Newsletter on the Subject

Nancy Okerlund, of The Introvert Enegizer newsletter, studies how the introvert brain works--and how writers who are introverts often feel better after they spend time writing.

"Compliments of the way we use the parasympathetic nervous system," Okerlund says, "introvert bodies are designed to let our busy brains focus and concentrate deeply for long periods, which makes them feel alert and happy. . . .In the practical everyday world of communicating, writing is a good tool for introverts. Writing a note - or even a letter! - or sending an email allows our characteristic thoughtfulness to come out in a way that may feel easier than speaking. "

To read this article, click here.

Writing Exercise of the Week--Music to My Ears

To access theme in your book, you may need to talk with the nonlinear side of your brain, sometimes called the right brain. So do something nonlinear: For this writing exercise, listen to a favorite piece of music without doing anything else.

Write for twenty minutes about what you heard and felt as you were listening. Then write anything that comes that answers this question: How does my book's theme connect with what I just wrote?

Be non-logical, nonlinear as you explore this on paper. Be prepared for VERY COOL surprises...

What happened? Post it here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Writing Exercise of the Week--with thanks to Carol Bly

List your most important life values (refer to Carol Bly's wonderful book, The Passionate, Accurate Story, for more information on this exercise). What means the most to you? Are these values represented in your writing? Are they demonstrated in your book?

For me, writer's block can come from not aligning my book writing with what I hold dear in my life. Writing about something superficial, for instance, when I am in deep pain feels very incongruous. When I realign, I write better.

What do you think of this idea?
PS Carol recently passed away but her writing (and teaching) lives on. She was a profound influence on my writing life.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Red Smith's "Opening a Vein" versus Stephen King's "Do It for Joy"

When Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein,” he was talking about the vulnerability a writer must bring to the page.

What does that mean? Vulnerability for writers is how much they reveal, show, let the reader see about themselves. Some writing teachers call it “showing up at the page.” Many of us struggle with this vulnerability—how much should be shown, how much should be hidden, and how much “letting it all hang out” will cause the rest of our lives to fall apart.

Last year, when I began writing another nonfiction book--this one about how to write a book, since I'd written and published twelve and was asked so often if I had one on my writing methods--I was also working on two others. They were at various stages of drafting and almost-completion. My novel was being shopped to publishers, who were giving me feedback and suggestions for changes. The novel's sequel was in second draft, with all the sections written and pasted together; it did not yet resemble a book but it held promise. The third, the nonfiction monolith, was in the proposal stage and I was beginning to draft chapters.

One fine day, the novel got accepted by a small publisher with a good editing team. I was thrilled, called my friends, cried with my family, and went out to celebrate. When I got back to my office the next morning, the other two manuscripts looked at me reproachfully, as if to say, “We still need work. Don’t forget you’re a working writer.”

I write and teach full-time, so I have the luxury of many days alone in my writing studio with just my words to keep me company. Finishing the last rewrites of this soon-to-be-published novel was like being in a dream state. Some days, I found it hard to “wake up” and greet the normal world. So I wanted a few minutes with normal activities, like watering the garden and cleaning the bathroom—believe it or not!

The successful writer’s life is all about this balance between creative time and our normal life.

A big myth: writers (and other creative artists) must be financially distressed alcoholics who can’t keep a relationship going. In fact, many writers in the past have been, but today’s book writer has other options. It’s a matter of finding that edge where you can walk in some comfort, produce good work and get your book written, and still be a responsible member of your community.

As Stephen King says in On Writing: "If you do it for joy, you can do it forever."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When You're Stuck--Here's a Unique Way to Get Yourself Moving!

A writing friend sent me this great video. Watch it for a break from your book today! It's sure to get you moving.

Click here, get on your dancing shoes, and turn up the volume.

Then let me know:
What unique things do you do...
to get yourself moving when you're stuck on your book?

Writing Exercise of the Week--Waiting for Inspiration?

This exercise only takes 10 minutes. Try it right now.
First, list 5 reasons you don't take time for your writing. Anything that comes to mind--other people's demands on your schedule? not enough privacy? feeling stuck? eating too much ice cream?
Remember: write whatever you think of--no matter how small or silly.
Pick one of these reasons. Write 3 antidotes to it.
Let these 3 antidotes simmer in your writing brain today. Imagine them like lone trees on the horizon--signifying an oasis ahead. How might you bring one of them into your life?
What brings you inspiration in your writing life? Post a comment below.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Weekly Writing Exercise for Inspiration! Favorite Quotes on Writing from Maya Angelou, Brenda Ueland, Albert Camus...

Spend a few minutes writing about your response to one of these inspirational quotes. How does it pertain to your book writing this week? Do you believe it's true for you? (The photo at the left is from Maya Angelou's wonderful website. Click here to visit and see more of her inspirational writing.

There is no greater agony that bearing an untold story inside you. --Maya Angelou

A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.
--Albert Camus

Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say. --Brenda Ueland

When literature works on you, it does so in silence, in your dreams, in your wordless moments. Good words enter you and become moods, become the quiet fabric of your being. --Ben Okri

There is no hard and fast rule about structure; you can invent your own. --Abigail Thomas