I wish I could say returning to writing after almost a year and a half of barely writing at all, aside from business correspondence, has been a breeze. Well, I suppose I could, technically speaking, but it would be a lie.
Truth be told, returning to writing and soaping has been difficult and rather frustrating. It isn't for lack of trying or a lack of desire to begin creating again. I'm just horribly rusty, so it's a bit like returning to a sport after sitting on the sidelines for a season or two.
Creativity, much like any other mental skill, has been compared to a muscle so much it has become a bit cliche. The thing about cliches though is they come to be because they contain an element of truth. "Use it or lose it" applies to mental skills the same way it applies to physical dexterity and strength.
Have you heard the advice about taking a break between steps in the writing process? As with many things when it comes to matters of art making, there are multiple schools of thought on the practice. Some say it's a waste of time. Others say it's essential. Some prefer short breaks or "pauses," and others believe anything less than months at a time is the same as just plowing through.
Personally, I hold to the pause method. One, just because that's the way I've always worked on an instinctual level, but also because I've learned I need those pauses to produce better work.
Writing their rough drafts exemplify love/hate relationships for authors. When the words come easily, and the scenes blossom full of life and color, it's exhilarating. It's a rush like no other. Other times though, each scene is hazy if you can see it at all, and the words dance just out of your memory's reach. That's when composing becomes difficult and procrastination in all its forms becomes tempting.
I've hit the point where Icarus becomes hazy. Oh, I have it fully outlined. I know what is supposed to happen, but it's all new territory. For most of what I've written in the rough so far, it existed in the old version The Writer's Hood printed back when it was still a thing, or at the very least, I'd worked through scenes in my head over the decade since the e-zine's closing. Having lived for more years and seen more of the world if only through documentaries and news broadcasts changed much of what I'd planned. The entire last half of the novel is brand new, which is just part of why I hemmed and hawed so much following reaching the halfway mark.
I thought I'd mix it up a bit this week by answering a writer's tag I found online. It just has ten simple questions, so this should be short and sweet.
1. What do you write?
A quick scroll down the categories over to the right of the page ought to prove I write speculative fiction. Spec fic covers a wide range of genres and their subgenres as well as mashups of those. I tend to stick more with science fiction, but I do dabble in fantasy now and again. And like with the Yekara series and the Myth and Science universe stories, there are times when I use both science fiction and fantasy elements in the same piece.
About a month ago, I talked a bit about being frustrated when being off the usual routine means finding time to write becomes difficult. However, sometimes these periods can be as helpful as they are frustrating. Even though writing might not work out the way you want it to, you can still feed the muse.
At times the best thing you can do is take a break from your work-in-progress to do something else creative. It can give you a fresh perspective and breathe renewed life into your sense of creativity. This is one reason highly creative people tend to have more than one outlet for said creativity.
Aside from the odd challenge, I've stayed far away from flash fiction, and I've rarely written anything under 50,000 words. In fact, Daydreams and Myth contains most of the short fiction I've written before starting the Flash Fiction Friday series here on the blog.
Why? Well, I had this notion I wasn't a writer who could produce good short fiction. I had a habit of getting long winded, and plots grow faster than I can write them down. I never felt inclined to try and trim myself back, and I considered it more or less wasted effort.
I know action, setting, and characterization in description seems like a bit much for one lesson, but the topic is simpler than it sounds. We've already covered the creation of setting and characterization. Today we'll just discuss how to work them into the story itself.
Today's topic is all about making your words earn their keep. To make the cut, each sentence, each word, needs to add something to the story whether it be to plot, setting, characterization, or background. There's a reason you don't usually see small talk in books. It's boring, and it rarely contributes anything to the story.
If you've been following along the past few months, you should be finished with all the "prewriting" stages. Now comes one of the most exciting and daunting parts of writing: actually getting started.
There's a meme out there with an unattributed quote that reads, "The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn't write." It's pithy but oh so true. You can talk about world building, characterization, editing, traditional versus self-publishing and the like all day long, but what good is knowing all this if you never put words on the page?
Outlining isn't necessary for creative writing in the strictest sense, but many writers find it a useful tool. Not only can it help you flesh out the world building, characterization, and plotting you've already done, but it can act as a kind of vaccine against writer's block.
I used to never outline anything unless it was part of the assignment to be turned in back in elementary or high school. When I first started writing, I was more of what's called a "pantser." I'd just dive in and start writing with no real idea where the story would go. It can be a fun way to write, but as I discovered the hard way, it can also leave you with a twisted mess of a rough draft that's difficult to clean up. Plus I've found it helps prevent those episodes of writer's block caused by knowing where you want to end up but having no idea how to get there. Outlining can help you bridge the gap without investing possibly days or weeks working on material just to scrap it all and start over.
With the start of our writing lessons with the girls, I've noticed Nichole exhibiting a trait I've fought for years in myself: perfectionism.
It sounds like a good problem to have, but I've come to believe "perfectionism" is just a positive spin word for fear of failure or not measuring up. Whether this level the perfectionist is afraid of not living up to is external or only in their own mind is immaterial. The effects are the same.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
77384 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Series Book 2
Sketched w/ Some Drafting
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4