Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In the Flow

I had the day off yesterday thanks to Christmas falling on the weekend, and I made the most of it. No, I didn't take a nap, though I was sorely tempted. No, I didn't exercise, although I really should have considering the amount of cookies I shoved down my throat over the weekend.

What I did do, however, was write.

Over the course of the afternoon and into the evening (with periodic breaks, some of them lasting an hour or more), I managed to write over 3,000 words. I even had an editor helping me out (see proof below), so I know they were good words. LOL

Kathryn wearing her editor's cap.
At one point in the evening, I was about ready to stop for the night since it was after 10 p.m. But something urged me on and I kept going. When I finally looked at the clock, 40 minutes had passed. I was in the flow. I love it when that happens!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Your Process

I ran across a blog post the other day that made me pause. This published writer has refined her process so that she normally writes 10,000 words a day. Yes, 10,000.

On my best day, I've never written that much. But I was intrigured by the concept, so I read how she did it. Here's her post.

Basically, she discovered that she needed three things to be able to go from writing 2,000 words a day to 10k. Here they are:

1) Knowledge: know what you're writing before you write it.
2) Time: track productivity and evaluate. Find the time that works best for you.
3) Enthusiasm: get excited about what you're writing

After I read it, I thought maybe I should give it a shot. After all, who doesn't want to write more, quality words? Her theory made sense to me. If you are excited about what you write, know what is going to come next (no staring at the blank page wondering) and have blocked out the time to do it, why wouldn't it work?

So this weekend, I blocked out some time, took a few notes on the next scene I was going to write, and got to work.

Here's what I discovered.

This may be a method that will work for you, and if it does, that is wonderful. Heck, I wish it worked for me. But it doesn't.

Why? Because I like the thrill of discovery while I'm writing. I don't like to block everything out that I write beforehand because it takes that discovery process away from me. I've had some of my best ideas while in the midst of writing that just pop up. They weren't planned. The writing process revealed them.

That probably means I will never get up to 10,000 words a day and that's just fine. I am in awe of those who can. But that is their process and it works for them.

My process is slower. This doesn't mean it is better. It is just the way I write.

Like our writing itself, the writing process is subjective and unique to each individual. Bottom line: we have to do what works for us.

I would have been this little girl!
What do you think? Would this author's process work for you? Give it a try! You never know!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dreams Don't Work...

I found this picture on Pinterest and I had to share.

Are you working for your dreams?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weak vs. Strong Heroines

I had an interesting discussion on Facebook the other day over a photo. Here it is:
So yes, this is a pro-Hermione photo. Now since I have not read Harry Potter and have not seen the movies, I'll have to trust that the caption on the photo is what happens in the book. Having watched the Twilight movies, I know this is what happens with Bella. I do not think that one movie is better than the other, and I'm not going to argue that point. They both have a place.

So. One heroine is strong - Hermione - and one is weak - Bella. They deal with the loss of their loves in different ways. One sinks into depression, one decides to keep going. Both are realistic. But some argue that Bella is dangerous because she teaches our girls that it's ok to retreat into yourself, and potentially harm yourself over a boy.

I'm not going to go into the myriad characteristics of each character. Instead, I want to ask this question: 

Does this mean that we should never portray weak heroines?

That is the idea one person posited to me. In fact, they went so far as to say that weak heroines were the villains and do not belong in fiction at all.

I disagree. I see value in both heroines. Why? Because for one, we're not all like Hermione. We don't all have the inner strength to go out and get the bad guy. Two, Bella's character is a wonderful way to open a dialogue with your own daughters. I have had great discussions with my daughter over the Twilight movies. She sees Bella's choices and knows that they're the wrong ones. They have consequences. But she also realizes that it is just a story. (And yes, we could get into a deep discussion on how fictional character can influence us, but that is for another day).

The way I explained it was that we need both strong and weak heroines to see the complete picture. It's kind of like not knowing joy without first knowing sorrow. There are lessons to be learned from both.

So. What say you? Is it important to have both weak and strong female lead characters in our stories? I say yes. You?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Are You An Introvert?

When I was in high school, I tended to be an introvert. Staying at home on a Friday night and working on my latest novel didn't bother me a bit.

That changed in college. I became quite the extrovert, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I met a lot of people, had some great experiences - I traveled to New Orleans with a group of people I didn't know and I also went to England on a literary tour - and soaked up life.

In the last few years, however, I have returned to my introverted self and at this point, I don't see myself changing. And you know what? That's ok.

As a writer, it's almost a given that you're going to be an introvert (though I know there are exceptions). I started thinking about this particular phenomena when I read this terrific blog post, 10 Myths About Introverts which then led me to this terrific site that's a home for introverts!

What are the traits of an introvert? According to Marti Laney, introverts have these characteristics:

  • Enjoy time alone
  • Consider only deep relationships as friends
  • Feel drained after outside activities, even if they were fun
  • Are good listeners
  • Appear calm and self-contained
  • Think then speak or act
Extroverts have these characteristics:

  • Like to be in the thick of things
  • Relish variety
  • Know lots of people, considers lots of people friends
  • Enjoy chit-chatting, even to strangers
  • Feel stoked after activity
  • Speak or act then think OR think while speaking
Based on these lists, I can definitely say I'm an introvert. The older I get, the more I loathe crowds. I can't stand to be in crowded malls, department stores, grocery stores, bars, or resteraunts. My instinct is to flee. Immediately. This is a switch from my college days when I adored being in the thick of things.

What's even more interesting to me is the science involved in studying introverts and extroverts. From Laney's book, The Introvert Advantage, blogger and writer Carl King says,

"A section of Laney’s book maps out the human brain and explains how neuro-transmitters follow different dominant paths in the nervous systems of Introverts and Extroverts. If the science behind the book is correct, it turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it. Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place."
Now that's just plain fascinating.

At this time in my life, there's nothing I like more than to stay home, write, read, play games with my daughter, hang out with my husband, cuddle with my kitties, work on my art projects, and enjoy my home. That, to me, is bliss.

What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Remember Pearl Harbor - 70 Year Anniversary

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941. That act sent us to war and became a rallying cry for our soldiers and our nation - Remember Pearl Harbor!

People wore pins.
This battle cry was also used in posters.

Stickers were put on cars.
In fact, the country was determined never to forget the men who lost their lives that day as they fought the long, grueling war ahead.

Seventy years later, we still remember.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Good Kind of Busy - And Some Good News!

On Being Busy

My deepest apologies if I haven't been by your blog lately. I have said that a lot in the past few months, haven't I! But I am sorry. I tend to get caught up in the whirlwind of life a lot more these days and unfortunately, the blog is the thing that gets neglected.

I don't know if that will get any better in the coming month. I've got a house to decorate, cookies to bake, presents to wrap, and a cat to keep out of my Christmas tree. But I know we're all busy during December, so I can't really use that excuse. The excuse I will use, though, is my plethora of writing activities.

My freelance keeps me really hopping, so much so that I haven't had a chance to start on my next novel. This simply will not do, however, as being a novelist is my number one writing priority. So I've cut back a bit on the freelance and have finished doing all my research, plotting, and characterization for my novel. I am so excited by this next story and my characters...this anticipation is one of the best parts of writing!

The Good News

I am also thrilled to announce that I will have an article published in the magazine, America in WWII in their April edition, which should hit shelves sometime in February. This article is about the delightful Mary Lou! I am quite excited by this all, but I am even more excited to share Mary Lou's story. She is such an inspiration. I have kept in touch with her ever since the interview and am proud to call her a friend. And because I love this picture so much, I'm going to share it with you. This is Mary Lou when she lived in Washington D.C.

When she showed me this picture, I said, "You were gorgeous!" And she still is - inside and out!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net