Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Write Brain, Left Brain

by David Sharp

We've all probably taken some quiz describing us as a right-brained (creative) or a left-brained (analytical) person. It's easy for us to relate to a tendency for one kind of thinking over the other. However, right-brain/left-brain dominance is a modern myth of science -much like the one about only using 10% of your brain. (Unless you're catatonic. But then, how would you be reading this?) The truth is we use both sides of our brain.

Inspiration? It's just past the hippocampus and left at the
medulla oblongata. If you hit the cerebellum, you've passed it.
Certain functions do tend to take place in one hemisphere or the other, but most tasks require the joint effort of multiple thinking functions communicating between both hemispheres. Speech, for example, is made up of vocabulary and grammar (left brain functions) as well as intonation and emphasis (right brain functions). Sarcasm would be incomprehensible without all these functions firing off at once. Like you'd totally get sarcasm with only half a brain.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dog Days of Summer, Redux

by Deborah Nielsen

This is the fourth time I’ve started this post on as many different topics. But those earlier ones just weren’t doing it. Sometimes you have to write what’s on your mind and in your heart.

What’s on my mind are the dog days of summer. Literally. Because in July fourteen years ago I got my first dog, a hairless Chinese Crested. The following July, I got my second dog, Spike, also a hairless Crested. Truly a month for celebration.

In early summer when the days start getting into the mid-80s, the boys shed their t-shirts for the season and soak up the sun. Spike, with dark gray skin bordering on black, turned a deep charcoal by early July. By late July, he’d start snacking on the apples that fell off my neighbor’s apple tree. Spike made all sorts of opportunities to go outside just so he could get another apple. He’d stand under the tree branches and chew and crunch with the most blissful look on his face.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sunshine Shouldn't Stop Us

I should move to Seattle! I love to write when it is raining outside. A freshly steeped cup of jasmine tea next to me, a candle burning brightly, and the pitter patter of the rain on the windows and roof stir up my creative muse. My words flow and time becomes irrelevant.

Well, the issue for me is I don’t live in Seattle, I live in Colorado where we average 300 days of sunshine a year. The blue sky, fresh air, and mountains frequently try to lure me away from the computer to come out and play.

At a recent gathering of writers we discussed how to stay motivated to write during the summer. It is clearly an issue for many (as J.C. also discussed in her most recent post). Some ideas were thrown around, such as take your writing outside, spend more time reading, allow yourself extra time to be outdoors and be more flexible with your writing time.

Then someone said.  "It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter what the weather is like or what time of year it is. If you are committed to your writing, then you will stick with your routine and write. You will make the time to crank out those words and prioritize your writing."

It was hard to argue with that logic, and no one did. The truth is, this is the advice given by many famous authors like Stephen King, John Grisham, and Janet Evanovich: if you want to be a writer then you need to write every day.

So maybe what we need to do as writers is take the inscription that hangs in a New York City post office, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” adapt it for us, and hang it by our workspace. It can't hurt.

How much time do you devote to your writing in the summer months and how do you stay committed to that time?

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dog Days of Summer Too Early

JC Lynne
The Esau Continuum

By J. C. Lynne

I haven’t written much lately. Summer has arrived. I know it’s not an excuse. I have written in summers past. I wrote three-quarters of The Esau Emergence over a summer. Locking myself away in the office for two and three hours at a time, usually before anyone climbed out of bed.

This season sort of crept up on me even though I wait for summer the way a bird waits for a beetle.

I have two projects in full work mode. The last in The Esau Continuum and a non-fiction yoga project to be announced.

My brain is playing tricks on me. I’ve made it a goal to write for two hours a day. Not the same two hours, but taking the gaps in my plans to sit and peck out the words on the computer. I’ve managed a couple of days to hit that mark. Outside of that writing time, I’ve been hiking one day a week. It’s a thing I love to do and didn’t do much of the last two years. Breaking an ankle puts a damper on it.

My Big Evening Plans Turned Into This After Ninety-Five Degrees
I’ve also committed to reading this season. I have two books to review. I’m revisiting an old favorite, which is still fun but so terribly written.

Thank goodness it’s an annotated version, the author made note it was the very first book they’d written, and they cringed as well looking back.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Embracing Revision

by David Sharp

I've heard it before, and so have you. Most of writing is rewriting. This is not a mystery to you, and if you've been to any number of workshops on writing, you're probably rolling your eyes right now. Here we go again!

Ensign, set a course for the
Drawing Board. It's high time
we returned there.
At a recent conference, several writers got to meet with industry professionals for brief feedback on excerpts of their work. The consistent message seemed to be: "Rewrite! I need to see more of X and less of Y."

Recipients of this message responded with deep sighs and drawn faces. Of course, what we all want to hear is, "This is brilliant, Brilliant, BRILLIANT! Sign here, please!" So far, I've only seen a reaction like that one time, and that was interrupted when my alarm clock woke me up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Don’t Want to Be Stuck in a Rut…and I Never Give Up

By Patricia Stoltey

Back in the early 2000s, after my husband and I had been retired for a while and traveled enough for me to get the wanderlust out of my system, I decided to write a mystery.
It wasn’t my first attempt to write novel-length fiction. In the mid-80s, my brother and I collaborated on an action/adventure story based on his experiences in the truck-driving industry. It made it to audiotape … in 1999, almost 15 years after we finished it.
My second attempt at novel-length fiction was a romantic thriller, also written in the mid-80s. It’s not very good, but there’s a kernel of plot that might work if I ever decide to do the necessary revisions. The one printed copy sits on the back of my desk, forlorn, waiting.

My Workspace. Yes, It's Tidy

Fast forward through many years of real world work, followed by travel, to 2003 when I settled happily into a less adventurous retirement and decided to craft that mystery. I took a novel writing class from Brian Kaufman at the Senior Center in Fort Collins, finished the book in 2004, and pitched it to an agent at a conference in Denver.

Worst experience of my writing life, but that’s a story for another day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Become a Story Catcher

by Deborah Nielsen

Retreats and Workshops Can Inspire

Writing is storytelling. Be it fiction, non-fiction or poetry, when we write, we tell a story.

I just got back from attending a writers’ retreat and workshop called the Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop & Festival sponsored by the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society and Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.

What an appropriate name for a writers’ workshop where the purpose is to learn new or better ways to tell a story, to let the story catch you, or for you to reach out and catch a story before it gets away. This was my third time learning new ways to capture a story of my own. The format differs from a writers’ conference in that the focus is on the craft of writing; there are no agents or editors. 

Share a Post