Monday, May 12, 2014

Life Experiences Fuel Your Writing

When I sit down to write my books I put myself into the minds of my characters. I see what they see, feel what they feel, and hear what they hear. Their thoughts become my thoughts, their actions my actions, and their emotions my emotions. I more or less embody the character so I can fully understand the person I am writing about and express them in my words. This is particularly important for me when writing the experiences of my protagonist. How can I create the proper emotional climate if I can't experience what she (or he) is feeling? The answer. I can't. My words fall flat and the writing is dull. 

What I've learned while doing this is that I think I'm becoming the character, and I am, but to a large degree they are also becoming me. The characters that take center stage in my novels all have parts of me and they evolve as I evolve. It's like a beautiful little dance. My life experiences shape who I am and they shape who they are. I'm learning now to observe people as they live their lives. Oftentimes seemingly minor situations are in fact huge sources of inspiration for a writer. I also write in my journal or on my computer, usually if I'm trying to let go of a particular emotion. Those words can later be used for inspiration as well. 

And that, right there, is the beauty of experiencing life. Every new experience can be filed away into your store of writing prompts, plot lines, or character quirks that make a character unique. People, places, emotions, words, as well as sight, sound, smell, and touch. All of these make a character and all of these are how you experience life. In particular, when I have an experience that moves me to tears or hurts so much I think I can't handle it, I'll often give my characters experiences that will bring out the same emotions, because it gives the character depth, it shows what they care about, and it enables the reader to become emotionally connected to them. Through those experiences you can portray beauty, loss, heartache, joy, love, compassion, etc. These are the experiences that take writing from stringing words along a paper to an art form. Once the reader feels that connection, I believe at that point art has happened. That doesn't necessarily mean I've hit that point with my writing. I certainly hope I have. And if not, I will continue to write and to use my experiences to move it forward. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Loving Writer's Block

I've got a touch of Writer's Block. I'll admit it. I do and it's making writing a bit difficult. I've read lots of different posts on clearing out writer's block, and I think it's all good advice. Yet, I sit here with writer's block, re-reading and re-reading the last sentences, paragraphs, and chapters of the book I am writing. Why? I can't tell you. I guess I'm hoping for a flash of inspiration, or maybe just trying to delude myself into thinking I'm actually doing something on my book. Yes, sometimes I'm delusional. The book is going nowhere.

I know how to get out of writer's block. Oddly enough, the solution is to write. It's a very circular scheme. When you write you open up the creative outlets and the words start to flow. The more you write the more creative you get. So when you get into a slump, by golly you must write! So I sit down to write and I stare at my blank page and that first word eludes me. As does the second. And the third. Should I start with dialogue? Maybe I'll make it exciting, somebody's getting killed! No, we've had excitement. It's time for a break. But they're traveling. Something has to happen. I know what's going to happen, yes! Oh wait, no first word. Sigh.

That's my mind on writer's block. Seriously, it's ridiculous. So I read the previous chapters because I'm bored and lacking inspiration, and it does me no good simply because I want to complete delete everything I've written. Start over. Blank page. Try again.

Sometimes I wonder if I should.

The funny thing about writing though is that I have the finished product in mind, I have the story line figured out, and these characters are opening up as I go. I love it! It's like getting to know someone bit by bit; piece by piece they reveal themselves to you. It's a very intimate affair getting to know your characters, and once you do the story unfolds beautifully, simply, incredibly, and you have a finished book.

I do not know my characters, at least not for my current book. They are still revealing themselves to me. They seem to be shy. Maybe, just maybe they are afraid of me. Like a scared child I need to coax them out of their shell until they blossom for me. Then I will see their beauty. Then I will see their scars. Then I will see how they play into my story. Or, maybe, they'll create their own story. They have a story to tell, I am simply the medium through which that story will be told.

It will be wonderful. It is a beautiful story.

And there you have it. Writer's block is dreaded by an author, but it's there for a reason. It's telling you something. I for one think I'll listen to what it's telling me. It is my chance to unearth the secrets of my characters and expose all of their innermost secrets.

So writer's block, I want to say Thank You. Thank you for telling me I have work to do. This is going to be fun.