Uncategorized

Performing on a Daily Basis

I’ve discovered in the past several years, that performing has given me a unique kind of joy that I have never felt from anything else. I took a Theatre Arts class in Grade 11, and even now, it is still the best class I have ever taken. I learned about the technical elements of the theatre, and the language, but my favourite part was learning how to be a good performer. We learned how to write a monologue, and how to write partner scripts, and most importantly, how to act on stage. The first couple of performances were terrifying and awkward, but when I look back, I could feel the start of something incredible even in those first shaky steps as a performer.

It didn’t take long before I started to learn the craft of performing, what made a good monologue, how to throw away my serious and shy personality and act the part of a dumb blonde or, my personal favourite, the rich, mean snot. There was a high that came after stepping off stage, too, that I quickly learned to love. It was an excitement that came from knowing I had done a good job at entertaining the audience.

I did well in the class, which made me feel great, but the most important thing that I took away from the whole experience, was that I could be the person that I had always envied. I was so used to being the quiet girl that sat in the corner with a book and missed out on experiencing life with the rest of the kids. Now, though, after seeing the confidence that I displayed on the stage, I could take some of that and put it into my real life and become the person that I wanted to be. It comes back to the expression:

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Image Credit: http://www.lifeinspirationtoday.com (Google)

At first, I did have to fake it, because I didn’t know how to bring that courageous actor out in me when I didn’t have a character to act as, or an audience to draw energy from. I made up my own character and pretended that I was acting a part in a TV show. Eventually, I realized, I was just being myself. I had learned how to use that confidence from acting, and let it help my interact with my everyday life.

My Theatre Arts class gave me the confidence to be a better version of myself, and even though I have no chance to act on stage, I’ll act in my everyday life as a jokester or a a clown. I enjoy bringing other people joy by simply acting the part of a “happy-go-lucky” kid. Finding the joy of performing was the best thing that could have happened for me, and I’m grateful for the experience.

Are there any fellow performers that would like to share there thoughts? Are there any life-changing classes or experiences that you’d like to share?

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Uncategorized, Writing

Stuck in the Block

All writers experience writers block once in a while. For me, it usually happens when I’ve been writing everyday for a few weeks and I run out of steam. I also get writer’s block when I start writing two different pieces at the same time, or if I’m writing a paper for school at the same time as working on a creative piece for myself. It is something that frustrates all writers, and I’m no exception.

I don’t have any tricks in completely getting rid of writers block, but I do have a few that work 50% of the time. The first one is a book that I bought called The Writer’s Block and it’s this fabulous little book that has over 700 ideas to get your motivation going again. There are a combination of pictures and little thought-provoking quotes, and prompts to choose from. Whenever I reach a scene that I just can’t get right, I take a break and do something else, and then come back and flip through this book and after reading a couple pages of it, I’m able to get myself through the scene.

Another little tool that I use is Wordle, an amazing online program that lets you copy and paste what you’re working on, and it’ll pull out your most used words and create this little cloud of writing. Here’s an example of a screen-caped Wordle that is made up of all of the posts on this blog:

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The screen-cap from Wordle using all of the posts from Quillers.

To me, this is something really inspiring about seeing all of your work sitting there in a cloud for you to see. You can tell which words you used the most, and it lets you look at all of the work that you’ve done. It’s one of my favourite programs and I use it after I’ve finished every piece, just to see it all displayed in front of me.

Lastly, I will call up a friend and talk about what I’m working on and the problems that I’m having with it. Even if they can’t suggest anything, just voicing the issues out loud can sometimes get my brain going again. Also, if I’m able to solve the problem on the phone, I get very excited and the only thing I want to do for the rest of the day is write.

If these worked all of the time, I’m sure I would be able to kick writer’s block out the door no problem, but unfortunately, sometimes all it does it make me want to write, but not help me get past the block. Both types of writer’s block are frustrating, because I want to finish something and I have the motivation to write it, but I can’t get past the problem. Or, I have lots of ideas in how to fix the problem, but I don’t have the motivation to actually do it.

Someday I hope to find the perfect solution to the problem of writer’s block, but until then, I’ll keep using what I’ve used previously. Does anyone have any tips for getting over writer’s block that they’d like to share?

Writing

The Right Choice

As I mentioned in another blog post, some of my best ideas come to me while I’m in the middle of doing something trivial, like brushing my hair or making a cup of coffee. The plots that grow from those little glimpses are ones that I develop into novels and work on for several months or years. The hardest part about writing a novel, though, is choosing the right title.

When I write short stories or poems, the title will come to me with little or no work at all. I’ll be in the middle of writing a sentence, and WHAM, there’s the title, clear as day. I’ll always tell myself that it’s a working title and I’ll probably end up changing it later, but for the most part, I don’t tend to think of a better one. My main inspiration comes from music. It’s not as though I choose the title from song lyrics, but something about looking up song lyrics awakens the “picking the name” element inside my head. I’ll be scanning through the lyrics to several songs stuck in my head, and part of a line will jump out at me. I only use that tactic if nothing pops into my head during the writing process.

For novels, though, I struggle for months to think of a name that I can use as a solid working title. I think the difference between novels and my shorter pieces is the length. A novel is hundreds of thousands of words, where as a short story is a couple thousand at the most. Picking a title for a short piece doesn’t worry me, whereas trying to come with one for a novel is something I have always found intimidating.

It seems like a big deal to put a name on something so huge and diverse as a novel. You’re picking a name that will forever be linked to what you’re writing, and it’s hard to get it just right. Personally, I really like having short titles. One word titles are the best, and I won’t usually pick a title with over three words in it. I think that the shorter titles pack a punch that the longer titles don’t. They create mystery for a potential buyer who reads the title off a bookshelf, and the more mysterious the title is, the more likely they are to pick it up and read the blurb on the back. When I say “mysterious” I don’t mean that it has to be a question, I’m just referring to peaking the interest of a potential reader. Titles have a powerful effect, and it’s the first impression that a reader will get. So, it has to be a good impression, right?

How do you pick a title? Is it easy or hard? Do you think a title should reflect the writing style on a book, or can it be something totally unrelated? What are some of your favourite titles?

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Image Credit: http://www.clipartbest.com (Google)
Writing

Publishing Woes

In my time as a writer, I’ve done a lot of research on different types of publishing. I’m torn between self-publishing and publishing through an established publishing house, big or small. There seem to be pros and cons to each option, and publishing something is a big deal, so it’s important to know all the facts, right?

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Image Credit: booktothefuture.com.au (Google)

 

We’ve all picked up books while browsing and have seen the big publishing companies listed on the spine. My personal favourites are Penguin Books Canada and Random House of Canada, as these are the names I saw the most often when reading.

Personally, I’m in favour of publishing via a professional publishing house mostly because I’ve never published a manuscript before, and I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing. Sure, there’s plenty of research, and that’s all well and good, but there are some facts and some information that only comes with experience. Professional publishing brings in the issue of a publishing agent, someone who can represent you and bring your work to a publishing house on your behalf, which costs money. In some places, agents aren’t required, but those spots are becoming rare. As well, due to the growth of self-publishing, establishing publishing houses are losing some of their clients and work. Money is tight, and while they would welcome new material, a lot of times, only established (in other words, previously published) writers are welcome to submit manuscripts, and with tight genre restrictions.

Self-publishing is something that is really intimidating to me. There are some elements that a publishing house would do for you (or, at least, with you) that I would have no idea how to do on my own. Something as “simple” as a copyright page in a common novel…I would have no idea how to create one of those, and probably end up copying one from a book and putting my own things in. That’s not how it should be done, and there’s only so much that Google can provide. Another confusing part is making my own cover art. I’m not much of a sketcher or photographer, but you can’t use images from Google because of copyright, so what else is there? These are all elements that an established publishing house can help with.

As I said, these established companies can help with all the “little” things that confuse first time submitters, and it’s a great learning process. Another huge issue that a publishing house can help with is a good, thorough edit. There will be a lot of material that they can improve and they will see little plot holes that we miss. All writers, no matter how experienced, benefit from a professional editor, and though they exist independently and are often advertised on self-publishing websites, I would much prefer one through a publishing house.

Feel free to share your own opinions and thoughts on the subject!

Writing

Camping Season

A couple of years ago I discovered NaNoWriMo, an online place for writers to unite and write a novel in a month. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and in the span of 30 days, all participants are challenged to write a 50 000 word novel. It’s a free challenge and is open to anyone around the world.

That summer I discovered Camp NaNoWriMo, which is the same as NaNoWriMo, just during the summer months. After the first time I participated in NaNoWriMo, I was no longer able to in the following years because my school work became too demanding. So, finding about Camp NaNoWriMo was great, because it took place during the summer months when school was no longer in session, and I got the chance to participate.

This past July, I participated in my third session. This year, there were some changes that enabled the participants to change their word goals from the preset 50 000 word novel to whatever they wanted. I decided to put mine at 100 000, knowing it would be a challenge, but it was something I wanted to try. With a goal of 100 000 words in 31 days, I had to write 3 226 words a day in order to finish my novel on time, which was a steep amount when I was used to only having to write 1 600 words a day for a 50 000 word novel.

I started off on track, writing 5 000 words on the first day, and managing to somehow keep myself on track for the first week and half. On day 19, that’s where everything fell apart. I didn’t do any writing that day or on day 20, and I had already been behind by 1 000 words or so. It didn’t seem like much when I thought about it, and I wrote a couple thousand words over the next three days. By day 24, I was in real trouble. I was 15 596 words behind, and it was quickly rising. I wrote frantically for days after, and by day 28 I was somehow back on track again. I stayed on track, finishing my novel on July 30th, much to my pleasant surprise.

I look back on the month now and I am proud of all I have accomplished. I made a couple of new online friends from the challenge from all over the world, and I wrote a novel in the process. I look forward to it every summer, and it’s my ideal kind of camp. It’s a safe place for writers of all ages all over the world to come together and write a novel, helping each other along the way. And, now I have this to share proudly:

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My badge that I can share on social media. It’s part of the “Winner Goodies” package that all Wrimos get access to when they pass their word goal at the end of the month.

That’s my experience with Camp NaNoWriMo this year, you can find out more information about NaNoWriMo here, or Camp NaNoWriMo here.  If there are any fellow Wrimos reading, feel free to share your experiences!