02 February 2016

Writing inspiration: A lesson in conflict

Nothing has been easy this week. And it's only Tuesday.

Case #1: I went to the gym this morning for the first time in three months. I got up early, braved the cold, spent what seemed like hours (but was probably only 10-15 minutes) scraping frost off my car windows. I thought about giving up several times, but in the end I got into my frost-free car and drove to the gym...only to find out that they couldn't unfreeze my account. They'd have a manager call me, they said. But she didn't, so it was on me to call back this afternoon. Sorry, but only the primary account holder (i.e. my friend) can authorize this. Friend contacted, but she's incredibly busy, so no idea when I'll hear back about when she can find time to go reactivate my account.

Case #2:  I just moved, so I called my health insurance company to report a change of address. They got a new system recently, and now the only way to change my address is to reapply. (Really?!?) But that's okay: you can reapply online! Super easy! Except I don't have either of the two supported browsers. But that's okay! You can print the application! Except that I don't have a printer, so I'd need to go down to a photocopy store and pay bunches of money to print it out, and then pay to mail it in. But that's okay! Here's a list of people nearby who can help you! Look, this one has an appointment available this week! Next page: No appointments available. Sigh.

29 January 2016

Cool tools for writers: Timeline software

The other day I hit the point in my current WIP (a historical series) where I need a timeline to keep all the events straight: characters' birth dates, major events in their lives pre-Book 1, historical events relevant to the story, major events in the storylines of the books, etc.

On past projects I'd attempted to use paper and pen(cil) to draw my timeline but found that to be unwieldy. I changed my mind about when things happened, changed it back again, had a bunch of things happening in a short period of time and the writing got all cramped, the tape holding the pieces of paper together ripped, the tape prevented me from folding the timeline up into a portable size...you get the idea.

What I'd love is a home office with walls covered in whiteboard paint, but since that's not going to happen anytime soon, I decided to look into timeline app for writers. After researching several options and asking fellow writers for recommendations, I bought Aeon Timeline because:

22 January 2016

Quality Assurance by Soramimi Hanarejima (a guest post on writing)

Once again I'm delighted to welcome Soramimi Hanarejima back to the blog this week. Soramimi is intensely interested in the how, why, and what of creativity. His first post, "Where Creativity Meets Productivity," explored the How: natural tendencies, rhythms, and habits that writers can foster to maximize productivity during our writing time. In his second post, "The Purposeful Writer: Creative Writing Meets the Golden Circle," he explored the advantages to articulating our Why for writing. In the third and final post in this series, Soramimi discusses the What. In his own words: "How do we make sure that what we are producing—what’s on the page—really shines?"

Quality Assurance
by Soramimi Hanarejima

…we have to use the right words and the right words in the best order.—David Morley

Writing consists of a multitude of individual decisions, massive and complex control of language in depth and considerable personal responsibility…—A.L. Kennedy

A coherent text is a designed object… Like other designed objects, it comes about not by accident but by drafting a blueprint, attending to details, and maintaining a sense of harmony and balance.—Steven Pinker

So far in this series, we’ve looked at the importance of (a) identifying the fundamental impetus behind one’s writing and (b) the importance of regularly, effectively acting upon that impetus.

A writer who has grappled with these knows why she writes and how to get crucial work done, but how does she ensure that her work is in the end truly excellent? Her Why, the deep motivation driving her work, provides some assistance here; her work may be falling short because it isn’t channeling her Why as fully as it could. But clarity of intentions alone can’t keep the caliber of one’s writing reliably high. Writers need to have specific skills and resources to firmly establish the quality of their work. This brings us to the final part of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle: Consistency of What. How do we make sure that what we are producing—what’s on the page—really shines?

08 January 2016

"The Purposeful Writer: Creative Writing Meets the Golden Circle" by Soramimi Hanarejima (guest post)

I'm delighted to welcome Soramimi Hanarejima back to the blog. Soramimi is intensely interested in the how, why, and what of creativity. His first post, "Where Creativity Meets Productivity," explored the How: natural tendencies, rhythms, and habits that writers can foster to maximize productivity during our writing time. In this post, he explores the advantages to articulating our Why for writing.

The Purposeful Writer: Creative Writing Meets the Golden Circle
by Soramimi Hanarejima

It can feel like as writers we go where inspiration and curiosity lead us, to the vistas craft can take us. Purpose, then, could seem transcendent or irrelevant. Yet a sense of purpose, whether majestic or mundane, can be essential to a writer as a way to focus on producing more meaningful work. But how do we go about identifying and enacting purpose in our creative work?

When it comes to leading a purposeful life and pursuing meaningful endeavors, Simon Sinek’s Start With Why is full of insightful and actionable perspectives that can structure how we approach our work. Central to this book is The Golden Circle, a framework that aligns and integrates motivation, action and outcomes—the Why, How and What:
  • Why we do the activities we feel are meaningful.
  • How we act upon that motivation. 
  • What we we ultimately produce, the outcome of enacting the motivation. 

Here’s how The Golden Circle might look when applied to creative writing:
Clarity of Why: Why do you write? What deep purpose drives you to tell stories?
Discipline of How: How do you act upon that purpose? How do you strive to accomplish this vital calling?
Consistency of What: How do you maintain a high level of quality in what you are creating as a writer?

The last blog post I wrote for Sione focused on the Discipline of How, and this one addresses the Clarity of Why.

19 December 2015

Gifts for writers

Whether you're looking for a holiday gift, a birthday gift, or a just-because gift, at least one of the following suggestions is bound to please the beloved writer in your life.

Gift card to favorite bookstore/online book retailer 
The vast majority of writers are readers, and reading helps us become better writers. Support us in our craft by helping fund our book-buying addiction! ;*) Price varies depending on how much you love us. (Just kidding!)

Gift basket
I love gift baskets! It's like getting a whole bunch of gifts in one. I recommend putting one together yourself rather than buying a pre-made one, as it's more likely to be in tune with your writer's preferences. Some ideas for what might go in: coffee or tea (depending on their stimulant preference), a favorite type of pen, a notebook/journal, a sugary snack, a salty snack. Price varies depending on what you put into it.

Qwerkywriter Bluetooth typewriter keyboard
A Bluetooth keyboard that looks like an old-school typewriter keyboard and has a built-in tablet stand. This thing is just cool. It's also regularly priced at $399. (Yikes!) Did I mention that it's really freaking cool?

Scrivener
Scrivener is an amazing software program for writers, and it's available for both Mac and PC for only $45 USD. I have already written a blog post about the awesome sauce that is Scrivener, so I won't repeat all my gushings here. It does have a learning curve at first, so if you're not sure whether it's something your writer would want to learn to use, you can turn them onto the free 30-day trial, which includes a comprehensive tutorial and is 30 days of actual use, not 30 calendar days. Flippin' fantastic.