Writing

Writer Talk

As writers, we are in charge of a lot of things when creating our imaginary worlds. We have to consider plot twists, character development, and keep an eye on those pesky, ever-present plot holes. It’s not surprising that non-writers talk about how most of us seem to be lost in our own worlds, because we usually are. It’s not easy ruling the world, you know!

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In my Creative Writing classes, we do a lot of critiquing (which I talked about in another post) and it’s great to be able to discuss our work with fellow writers. They will get what you’re trying to do with that expression, or why you put that comma where you did. That being said, it’s hard to include a non-writer in a situation with a bunch of fellow writers because of the difference in conversation topics.

For example, a couple of days ago, I had just finished up in a Creative Writing class and was running off to a Spanish one. When I arrived, my friend asked me how my class had been. It had been an extremely productive class and there had been so much excited conversation that we had gone over the time limit, causing me to rush.

Forgetting that she wasn’t writer, I started explaining about how we had gone over the time limit because we were so busy debating over whether one of the phrases should had had a semi colon instead of a colon. Her blank eyes and amused smile reminded me of how strange and bizarre I must be sounding to her, going on and on about grammar.

That proved to me how valuable it is to have friends that hare writers as well as how important it is to have friends who aren’t. They keep us balanced as people and make sure we don’t live in our writing worlds too much. There is much to be learned from the real world, after all, and we’re missing out by living entirely in our created one.

I have to say, though, having a group of writer friends makes me feel really good about myself as a writer. I can discuss a powerful line in a movie and they will understand why it means so much to me. Even if they don’t like the same particular line, good writing is good writing. Between two writers, the friendship has a level that is beyond words, it’s more about the passion of words. When talking about a good line of dialogue, sometimes the conversation will go in circles just because there’s so much to say about this particular line. To non-writers, it’s incredibly boring. But fellow writers would leave the conversation with a buzz of energy that is telling us to go and write something as amazing as that.

For all the writers out there, what are some inspiring conversations that you’ve had with fellow writers? What about any good writer jokes? Share away!

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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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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?

Writing

Outstanding One-Liners

All of us have connected with an emotional scene in a movie or a line in a book that leaves a lasting impact. Some of us remember the line word for word, while others can remember where they were when they read/saw it. It’s interesting how those small little moments make such a huge impact on us. It isn’t the dramatic scenes of dialogue or description, or the funny little quips between characters, but the small fragments of the story that are so powerful. In writing, those are what some of us call “one-liners.” Sentences with four or five words that make a huge impact on the reader. They grab you by the throat and say “connect with me, feel my emotions” and don’t let you go until you’re there. Some people know this one-liners as words of wisdom, like:

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They have the same impact on anyone who reads them. They’re little nuggets of wisdom that make you want to live a better life and live using this little phrases. We are programmed to be impacted by honest, brutal emotions, and that’s why emotional statements like those are so effective. Writers (of all types) aim to create these effective phrases, and connect with an audience that way. A lot of times they will come out of nowhere while you’re working on an intense scene, or when you really start to connect to the character you’re using.

One of my previous posts was about the differences between using a plot that comes naturally versus one that you think of scene by scene. The issue between each of those ideas was the motivation level, and trying to have equal inspiration to write every plot. The beauty of one-liners is that they either come or they don’t. There’s no struggling over how to make an effective phrase, unless you’re editing one that you’ve already written.

One-liners are the true definition of creativity in my opinion, and they should be recognized as such. That being said, there are some amazing writers that don’t include one-liners in their pieces, and that doesn’t mean that they’re not creative. It just means that it comes in all forms and hits us all differently. That’s the beauty of creativity, there are so many layers and routes that it can take, it just amazes me everyday.

What I’m wondering about, though, is if there’s such a thing as over-doing one-liners. Sure, they’re natural and come when they’re welcomed, but what happens if you’re writing a novel, and there’s an effective one-liner in every chapter? I think, personally, there’s such a thing as too many, but I’m not sure where that limit is. I mean, should we put one-liners into the piece wherever they pop up, even if it’s two per page? Or, should we squelch some of them (which is a struggle itself, because we have to choose which ones!) in order to preserve the effectiveness of others? Let me know your thoughts and opinions! Also, what are somer really effective one-liners that you’ve come across? Go ahead and share them!

Writing

Inspiration vs Work

Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses, no matter what kind of writing they do. There are many fascinating sides to writing, but the element that is most interesting to me is how people come up with their ideas.

Personally, whenever I read or write, I see the events sprawling in front of me like we would see in a movie or a TV show. I can picture my characters and their physical attributes and they’ll be acting out the plot that I created while I try to get it all down on paper. The part that I struggle with the most, though, is coming up with the initial idea.

In my experience, I am always doing something important when a good idea hits me. For example, I was brushing my hair and trying to smooth out a huge tangle, when I thought of a great idea for a short story involving a young girl who was contemplating cutting all her hair so she could donate it to an organization. Within a minute of this original thought, a scene formed in my head and I felt a thrill from it. I ran frantically around the room looking for paper and a pen to scratch down a couple keywords in order to bring the image back later. Unfortunately for me, my hairbrush was still tangled in my hair and whacked me a number of times while I wrote my idea down. In the end, the bruises were worth it because the idea panned out and I got a good story out of it.

Those exhilarating moments of moments of inspiration can often be sparked by the smallest things, such as my hair brushing incident. That being said, there are times where weeks will pass and I won’t get a single moment of inspiration and, needing to write, I will try to create an idea from scratch that I am passionate about. The inspired moments always give me the energy to write them and make them strong pieces, whereas the ideas I create on my own always lack the initial excitement and, though I tend to get excited when I start writing, it takes long for me to complete them.

There is also the fact that I will be in the middle of writing a story that I created out of thin air, BOOM, an exciting new idea pops into my head and then I’m torn between writing the new, more exciting idea, and finishing the other one that I was halfway through creating. Those moments always leave me frustrated and I have abandoned novels that got ditched for a new idea.

So, here is my debate: Is it better to write a story using the the infrequent, unreliable moments of inspiration? Or is it safer to think of my own plots and create my own inspiration to write about them? Or should I use a combination of the two in order to make a really strong plot?

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The Spirit of Creativity

Creativity is something that everyone has encountered, whether it is in an art gallery, a concert, or a play. It comes in all shapes and forms and is a way to express how someone feels when words are not able to do the trick.

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Growing up, anyone with a creative streak would know that being “normal” could be hard at times. We would look at ordinary objects and see something unique about them. For example, we would look at a jungle gym with its bright painted colours, and see the potential it could have to become a piece of art, a setting for a story, or the inspiration for a song. Essentially, being creative means harnessing the imagination and using it to help make extraordinary pieces of self-expression that other people will be able to relate to. In all its forms, art is how creative people communicate with the world.

Creativity can be alienating, which is part of why growing up is so hard. In childhood, imagination is something that all children have and allow to run freely. It is only when we get older that this trait is pushed down in order to fit in with friends and classmates. Creative people are unable to suppress this seemingly undesired trait because it is a part of who we are, and cannot be changed.

Being a creative person can also be hard on self-esteem. It’s mostly because of what you’ve already read, feeling out of place amongst colleagues and friends, but it can also be more general than that. In its simplest form, creativity symbolizes strength. Creative people often feel alone due to their different perspectives on just about everything: we are called weird, crazy, or annoying. We stand up to the world everyday and tell it that being creative is a good thing…that it is different, but not wrong.

An example in from my life where I would have to remind myself that being creative is a good thing would be poetry. For as long as I can remember, I would read a poem as homework, and no matter how hard I tried, I would never understand the message the way my classmates did. Sure, poetry is meant to be open to interpretation, but whatever I understood would be far away from how my other classmates interpreted the poem. I would read the same stanza as them and understand words or placement of punctuation differently. It would frustrate me to no end, and, even now, it still does.

Every single person has a creative streak in them, no matter how big or small it is, and this means that we all have the capacity to understand individuality and original thought. So, creativity is something that should be embraced, and people with a particularly strong streak should be shown that it is something to be proud of and embraced, not hidden away or repressed. What do you think? Am I the only one that believes this?

Writing

Out of the Closet

 

Every writer has those stories, poems, or scripts that are hidden in their closet, deep underneath that one pair of shoes they never wear, so that no one can find it. I have my own fair share of stashed stories, but I also think they are important parts of each writer’s portfolio. We all have those terrible dialogues and cliché characters that we would rather not remember, but if we hadn’t created them, where would we be today?

For example, one of my plots involved a car crash in which my protagonist was the only survivor. Pretty basic, right? I wrote this within six months after I wrote my first short story, so I was still a baby when it came to creativity. It didn’t occur to me to throw in plot twists or just use a different plot idea in general. In my young mind, if I was an excellent writer, like we all think we are (and strive to be), then writing a basic plot story would still be interesting to read, because I would wow the readers with my amazing, unique writing style.

Obviously, that was not the case. I now understand that I have to combine a basic plot that has a few unpredictable plot twists, with my amazing, unique writing style in order to capture the attention of readers. Whenever we finish a project that we have been working on, we’re going to feel like it’s the best thing ever written, and immediately want to show it to friends or family. For some of us, that urge is quickly pushed away and the story or poem or script stays hidden deep within the files on our computers, or in a notebook hidden under the mattress.

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In reality, sharing our work is something that should be encouraged! It gives us feedback from people that we trust. No one is going to think that we’re stupid or incapable of writing because non-writers are in awe of our skills, and any practiced reader that you give it to is going to know that everyone has to start somewhere in order to produce the books that they love to read. There is nothing to be ashamed of, because we learn important rules from every single piece we write!

Ray Bradbury speaks about his own writing experience in an interview, and his own journey through writing is one that most writers are familiar with:

The bottom line is that the more you write, the more you know. So we shouldn’t hide those terrible, sappy lines of dialogue, or plots that have more holes than a golf course. Embrace your inner reader, and remind yourself that all writers are in the same situation. We need to bring out those first pieces and show the world how far we’ve come since we started writing! You’ll be glad you did it!