Category Archives: Breaking Through

Satisfying those old yearnings…

“I don’t believe one reads to escape reality. A person reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.”
—Lawrence Durrell

This week I read an article from Writer’s Digest entitled “6 Simple Ways to Reboot Your Writing Routine” written by Brian A. Klems. Klems wrote this, “…I believe that your writing should be inspired by something much deeper than getting rich or getting famous or getting even with your ex. It should cohere with your own personal vision or belief system.”

So I asked my intrinsic writing self, why do you write? This question is borderline cliche, I know. Ask any writer out there if he or she has been forced to consider this quandary. But, I contemplated the notion anyhow–I always do–and discovered some new ideas. Is it to purely to be published? No, it’s always been deeper than that. Is it to connect to people through words? Is it to use as a venue to pass along messages? Yes, definitely. Is that all? No. Not even close.

See, everyone’s life is in some way, limited. There’s not enough time to experience everything. Even if I obtain everything I’ve ever wanted, there will be other things I’ll never do, see, have, feel. When I write, I satisfy these yearnings. If I find myself preoccupied with engrossing memories, I can relive them through writing–fiction or nonfiction. If I’m coveting an existence I’ll never live, I can do it vicariously through writing.

I have to be able to have that. Regardless of where I end up with this endeavor of mine, I MUST have the capability to fill voids through this system. Without it I’m doomed. OK, not doomed. Just average. It means that much. It fills in the empty spaces. The thing is, there’s nothing I can do about it, really. It’s intrinsic.

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Filed under Breaking Through, Inspiration, Why We Write, Writing Process, Writing Tips

Have you ‘scene’ it?

“If I’m at a dull party I’ll invent some kind of game for myself and then pick someone to play it with so that I am, in effect, writing a scene. I’m supplying my half of the dialogue and hoping the other half comes up to standards. If it doesn’t, I try to direct it that way.”
—Evan Hunter

I think as an intrinsic writer, I’m often looking for scenes. Let me explain: I often examine my surroundings looking for a story to tell. Generally though, a given situation will only supply a scene. A story is more involved; for example, stories involve finely-tuned characters with flaws and backgrounds, and well-structured plot that weaves, riffs, and undulates until all the loose ends are connected, until all the kinks are unwoven.

Scenes, on the other hand, can happen anytime, anyplace. So can ‘concepts,’ or ‘themes,’ if you will. I attended a wake tonight. The deceased was the elderly mother of a cousin. I scanned over the old black and white family photographs glued to the poster board, and reveled a little in her ‘golden era’ shots and poses. Bobbed hair, church hat, porcelain visage, simultaneously carefree and classy. From here a ‘concept’ developed: ten to fifteen years from now, these types of snapshots won’t be occupying the empty spaces of funeral homes. The youthful pictures will depict long hair, sideburns, and bell bottoms. Abracadabra. A theme is born.

This is how I think these days. This notion–however fleeting–could find itself in the pages of my novel one day. I didn’t always know it, or at least I couldn’t always put into words, but I’ve always, without a doubt, for most of my life, been creating scenes. Is that what makes me an intrinsic writer?

I became aware of it in my early twenties. Oddly, at bars. Who’d of thought? While most kids my age were focusing on getting drunk and hooking up, I’d plant myself at a bar stool and observe. I’d look around for a scene to create. For a lifelike moment to imitate in my stories. I’d give strangers identities, and I’d do gut checks…how are you feeling, Katie? Here you are alive in this moment. What do you got? What can you carry forth? I labeled myself a ‘philosophical partier.’

I guess in order to write, one must look to write. It’s a sacrifice in a way. To live on the outer most circle. But to us intrinsic types, it’s not just worth it, it’s second nature.

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Filed under Breaking Through, Description, Inspiration, Prompts & Writing Ideas, The Writing Life, Top Ten Lists, Writing Details, Writing Process, Writing Tips

Just Do It

I just finished a first draft of a short story. I love the after-feeling of writing–imagine the way the body feels after exercise; that’s how my brain feels after writing. These days I believe heavily in forcing myself to write. It used to be if I was having an off-day, I’d cut myself some slack, wait for the creative ebb to re-take its course.

Not anymore. Now I force myself to sit down four times a week and write at least 1,000 words. Then I’m off the hook–unless I want to write more, which I sometimes do. I’ve found that often, once I start writing the so-called inspiration finds its way.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have off-days, and yes, there have been times when I’ve broken my own promises to write. I keep at it though. That’s the ONLY way it gets done. I learned this a long time ago, but only understand the validity of it now, in recent times. That is precisely how I managed to write a draft of a 108,000 word novel (yeah, probably needs some cutting). People have asked me how I managed to do that with a full-time job. The only answer is, I just did. A few hours here, a few hours there. I made it work. And I kept at it. I typed and typed until it was all done. Now I just have to clean it up…which to me is excruciating. That’s the hard part. The revision. The writing is fun.

Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” I used to think that ideas for stories would just pop up when I least expected them. If that were the case I’d have no stories. It doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, us intrinsic types have to physically come up with an idea. It only needs to be a notion. Creativity will take over eventually. But a true intrinsic will need to seek out the fuel from it’s source.

This story I just completed? I decided to come up with a new idea for a story. So, one day while I monitored the students in my class using computers for an assignment, I thought up the story. The characters, the setting, the plot, everything. When I went to write it, it spilled forth. I reached for inspiration, and it arrived.

I only stress this because I’ve learned how crucial it is. If you will write, then you must. Write, that is.

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Filed under Breaking Through, Inspiration

Over-stimulation

I wonder if Charlotte Bronte used to receive issues of writing magazines in the mail. Or if Jane Austen got email updates sent to her Blackberry (OK, yes, I know I need a new phone) offering discounted–or not–issues, classes, webinars, gifts, kits, tools, books, interviews, articles, etc. etc. etc. I don’t know about Bronte or Austen, but all my ‘boxes’ are certainly blowin’ up with it all.

See though, those two ladies were intrinsic writers. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out where I’m going with this. I’ve got a new issue of a reputable writing magazine sitting on my kitchen table. If my BB buzzes ten times, six will be writing sources, either asking me to purchase something or offering me advice on crafting indelible characters. So, here’s the question: Should I read these texts, or should I well, I don’t know, write?

Charlotte Bronte didn’t have a choice in the matter. She wrote. Emily Dickinson–damn, talk about ‘intrinsic,’ she barely left her house–just simply wrote, wrote, wrote. She did have issues with publication though, too bad she wasn’t force-fed advice through tweets and FB posts on how to snag an agent.

Do I sound bitter? I’m not. It’s the business. It just gets confusing for us intrinsic types. My inner-inkling is to write fiction, or creative non-fiction–stories. But I’m learning that there is a lot more involved than just that. There’s conferences to attend, platforms to build, relationships to make, and so forth. And sometimes, well, all that stimulation can cause me to look in eighty different directions at once when I should really only be looking in one direction: my novel, my stories, my writing.

But hey, I want to do it write, (oh wow, no pun intended, look at that! Told ya, it’s intrinsic) and it makes sense in this world why it is the way it is. The writing aspect, I am discovering, is only one part of it. The sitting, the typing, the blocking-out-the-whole-world-and-creating a new one-phenomena is only a certain percentage. The best percentage, any intrinsic will tell you that, but a percentage no less.

The advice is good. It’s needed. In some ways, I still have no clue what I’m doing. I just need to figure out how to filter out the junk.

Happy writing.

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Filed under Breaking Through, The Writing Life, Why We Write