Happy New Year everyone. No, it’s not January first, but we are in the first week of September, which to me, is a better time to change things up and get things done.
January in Canada can really suck.
It’s cold, icy, and basically miserable. September, on the other hand, is warm during the day and cooler in the evenings. The leaves are beginning to change and it’s a great time to set the RESET BUTTON. Now, I talked about that yesterday (hit the link to take a look) on Auntie Says… so we’re going to take a different focus today and it’s all about building, and more specifically, about building your art.
What Does Building Look Like?
As you drive down the street and look at different homes you admire the finished product, but we have to remember that building takes dedication, energy, and oh so much time.
The first thing that has to happen is the site needs to be cleared.
Think about your art and clearing the site. What does this look like for you? It could be like clearing your calendar to get going on that first draft or cleaning those brushes so you can paint a new picture. Let’s face it, if you want that dang building–aka creation–you have to start somewhere.
For some, getting the “site” ready means different things. Does it mean…
- doing your research for your historical fiction project?
- maybe you need to gather all your notes into one place?
- perhaps it needs a clear desk and getting a bottle of scotch?
- does it entail a fresh new page? a new computer? a new spiral notebook? canvas?
- does it mean silence?
- lighting a candle and inviting in the muse?
- naming all your characters?
- doing an outline?
- finding a quiet space?
- cranking the tunes and diving in?
- or what? What does that preliminary clearing of the site look like for you?
If you can identify how this part works for you, it may be easier to start. If the site is clear of debris and readied for action then there’s nothing stopping you–except you.
Okay, so now you have the perfect location. You pencils, notes, and scotch are all lined up ready to go–now what.
Remember, we’re looking at the process of building. Think of your art as something that needs to be developed, shaped, and created.
Now For The Foundation
To build a strong house, you need a solid foundation. This is what’s going to hold everything else up. It’ll be the arms that cradle all that work you’re about to do.
Don’t leave your foundation to chance, it’s not worth it.
Now, I’m known to be a bit of a pantser type of writer (I fly by the seat of my pants without an outline)…..Does that mean I’m building without the blueprint? I dare say, not!
WAIT!! I call My Twisted Writer Brain to the rescue. Oh man, oh man…. it really is exhausting to have my brain. It never stops.
Here’s the thing, though I don’t specifically sit down and draw up an outline, it’s in my head.
By the time I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, I’ve been climbing into bed with those characters for months. They haunt me while I’m shopping or reading and suggest things at the most inopportune times. I know the story I want to write. I know where I want to go. I know what I’m building.
If you’re an outliner, that’s great too.
The thing about writing is that it’s an individual journey and no one can tell you what way is best for you.
You should be able to intrinsically feel it and know your path but, a plan is always a good thing.
A blue-print, of sorts, is useful especially if you’re prone to building half a structure and then get stuck because you’ve backed yourself into a corner. If this happens then you must have the guts to step back and plot it out step by step. This does not have to kill the creative endeavor but act as a director of sorts.
Often times, stories will hit a wall and that often goes back to the foundation–the very beginning. Read it and start over at the foundation stage if you need to. That’s really the only way around that wall–remove it by tweaking the earlier scenes.
You got this.
Brick By Brick
Houses don’t appear out of thin air and neither do works of art. Be it a book, a poem, a painting, or a sculpture.
Once the foundation is solid then you can begin to build upon it. If you build too quickly, without thought, you may find yourself in that situation of ending up in a closed room with no exit. Pay attention.
Bricks are like scenes. They can be written out of sequence and then assembled. It’s up to you. Don’t get too hung up on writing sequentially. If you’re in the grocery store and your beautiful twisted writer brain comes up with an intricate scene for one of your characters–by all means, write it. You’ll fit it in to the right spot later.
As you build brick by brick:
- pay attention to where you are in the story.
- use a notebook to write down details on each character. Believe me you will not remember that character has hazel eyes or blue eyes. Write it down. Reference each brick if necessary.
- also note down setting details… was there trees on that road? was the school called ABC or BCA?
- know that each scene, piece of dialogue, or description is there for a reason and needs to move toward the building of that “house” or final product.
- pay attention to what you’re using to hold all these bricks in place. Is the glue oozing out and making a mess because the transitions are awkward and unnatural?
- even if you’re in love with something you created–if it doesn’t fit, get rid of it.
- keep a “dead darlings” file where you put all the deleted scenes, brilliant sentences, and clever writing because you may want to reference and use it elsewhere later.
- embrace the idea of building a room or a scene. It needs the floor, the walls, windows, doors, color, rugs, furniture… each piece is a brick that builds a stage or a landscape.
- the pieces, while cohesive in nature, may give notice to something out of place. Knowing that is part of the puzzle because it can all be moved later when the house undergoes renovations–more about that in a minute. Bwwaaaa Haaaa Haaaa
As writers, we all know (or should) that good writing is rewriting. Your first draft is not the end product. All of those bricks that you’ve so carefully crafted and stacked now need to be examined and renovated.
This is of course the wonderful world of edits. Ugh. It’s funny, because my twisted writer brain really balks at the idea of edits and yet once I dive in, the experience ends up being quite positive in that the quality of the story or the emotional stance of the characters becomes better, stronger, and more readable.
Here, I’ve likened it to building a house and it’s a great analogy because each of those bricks is an intricate part of ourselves that we put into the construction of our art. Now it’s important to consider things like over used filler words, passive voice, show don’t tell, or the need for perfection. Learning the intricate details of how those bricks come together makes your craft stronger and more appealing.
Don’t skip over the reno’s–it’ll be really apparent to the reader and reflect poorly on you as a writer. There are a kazillion YouTube videos, online classes, and professionals out there to help guide you. Be willing to listen, grow, and improve your craft. Put a positive affirmation in your work space and read it and breathe it in until it becomes a part of you.
The Sum of All the Bits and Pieces
As writers, we need to allow those bricks to form our work and let it stand strong. Where we can get ourselves into trouble is with our twisted writer brains. While our best asset, they can also be our biggest liability.
If you’re having any issues with getting started then you need to watch out for the negative thinking loops that tell you:
- I’m not really a writer.
- I’m too old to write.
- I’m too young–no one takes me seriously.
- Why bother?
- No one’s going to read it any way.
- People don’t care what I have to say.
- I generally suck–people just haven’t noticed yet.
- I’m a fraud.
- What I’m doing isn’t important.
- Anyone could do what I’m doing.
- People don’t even know I’m alive let alone creative.
If any of those sound familiar–then you need an attitude adjustment. Remember what I said about setting the RESET BUTTON.
Geez…it’s September, a new “year”, and you need a new attitude. Oh man, I love September. The timing is so perfect.
So here’s the thing. Not everyone can write a sentence in a blank birthday card, let alone a full story–whether 5k words or 50k words. To develop characters, setting, and a plot takes TALENT.
Go back and read that last sentence.
You’ve got the talent but you also require TENACITY! And, that means not giving up on yourself, or your craft.
Embrace your uniqueness and your gift. Kick the negative crap to the side. It’s ugly, defeating, and makes you sound like a whiney baby. If you seriously –like seriously– believe you can’t write, or have no talent, then toss it and walk away.
Stop looking for the validation from others not qualified to judge. Wha wha wha…. doesn’t get you very far and gets tiresome quickly. Have a serious talk with yourself. I know you can, now you need to realize it too.
Happy New Year…
Come on! Embrace the idea of starting a new year with new goals and hope to start fresh. Now is the time.
Settle in and dust off those pages and get to work.
There’s no time like the present and believe me, it’s much better than waiting–or worse–not doing it at all. Don’t deprive the world of your talent. That’s not fair.
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my post. I hope you enjoyed it. Please make sure you Like, Comment, Share, and Follow. It is always greatly appreciated.