Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Break Time

With not many sleeps until Christmas, I will be taking a blogging break so I can catch up with friends and family, refresh, eat and relax. I'll be back early January. In the meantime, please have a wonderful and joyous Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.


Monday, December 12, 2011

5 Reasons to Embrace the Genius Within

After reading some of the comments from my previous post about why we should shed the genius within, I thought it was important to write a follow up post on why we should also embrace the genius within. In truth, it's about finding the balance between the two.

Below are my reasons for also embracing the genius within and finding that balance:

1. To guard against the doubts. It's easy for us writers to think our talent isn't so fabulous, especially when we compare our work to the polished pieces sitting on our bookshelves. When a novel is well written, it appears effortless. We think, 'I can do that!' only to discover, it's not so easy and there's far more effort involved than we thought. Doubts begin to set in. Those doubts can cause us to quit too early. If we embrace the genius within, then we can know we can get through the days when the doubts speak loudest. We can know we are good enough if we keep striving.

2. To keep the passion alive. To ride the rollercoaster to publication, I believe we must nurture passion for our work and slog on regardless of what the inner voices say about it, regardless of what reviewers say about it, regardless of what family members might think about it. It's the passion that keeps the hope alive, that drives us forward, that helps us to persevere. 

3. To have the courage to share our work. If we never think our work is good enough then we'll never get a second opinion. We'll hide away our writing so that no one ever gets to read it. That, I think, would be a tragedy. Part of the joy of writing is sharing it with others. 

4. To know that anything can be fixed. Often when we're writing a first draft we think we've come up with the best concept in the world and we fall in love with our characters. It's when we sink ourselves into the revisions, when we question everything we're just written, that the task becomes daunting. We realise we don't have a masterpiece. This is when it's important to both shed and embrace the genius. Shed, because we have to find the faults. Embrace, because we have to know we can fix the draft and turn it into something special. 

5. To gain confidence and a clear perspective. I don't think anyone's work lacks potential. I don't think natural talent is a prerequisite to publication. I do think perseverance and hard work are key. If we're too busy trying to avoid over confidence, then we'll swing the other way and hate our work. We'll believe the lies about not being good enough. To gain a clearer perspective I think we should accept that maybe, just maybe, we have enough genius within us to do what it takes to achieve our dreams.

In summary, find your passion and love your work. Take satisfaction in the hard slog because deep down you know it will be worth it in the end because you'll be able to take pride in the words you've produced.

Do you lean one way more than the other when it comes to confidence? What do you do to keep a balance in the way you approach your writing life?

Thanks so much to Shah from Words in Sync for the One Lovely Blog Award. It is hugely appreciated.

Pic: I just wanted to share with you the grandness of almost seeing a lunar eclipse. That's pretty much all I got to see of it on Saturday due to clouds.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

5 Reasons to Shed the Genius Within

One of the problems we often have to face as writers is thinking our work is pure genius. We've come up with the next bestseller, we've written a masterpiece of prose, producers will be scrambling to get the movie rights to our story. Wonderful dreams, but they aren't necessarily a good thing. Below I've listed the reasons why we should shed the genius within us.

1. A genius doesn't need to work hard to achieve great results. If we think our work is genius, then we will be less likely to seek second opinions. We will cloud our minds in fairy floss fantasies of the brilliance of our work and fail to see it needs at least another two editing passes (minimum) before it's ready.

2. We need permission to fail. As a genius, the expectations as so high, that we begin to throw those expectations on ourselves. We begin to judge our work too early and think we need to achieve perfection. Inevitably writer's block will come knocking because we can't meet those expectations. We need to give ourselves permission to fail so we have the freedom to explore, experiment and improve.

3. It's not realistic. Yes, we should dream, but we need to dream with our feet firmly planted on the ground. If we forget the realism of our dreams, then we could fall a long way when those dreams fail to realise.

4. We need to know we are normal. There is a perception that geniuses don't make mistakes, but even they get it wrong. Recently Einstein's theory of relativity has come under question with scientists possibly pushing objects faster than the speed of light. As writers, we need to know that when we have doubts, it's okay and it's normal. We need to know it's sometimes a struggle to get the words down on the page and that's nothing unusual. 

5. A genius stands alone. They are set apart from the rest of the world and are often disconnected from the majority. But writers need support and we need to make connections with our readers.

This post was written for the Insecure Writers' Support Group. 

How often do you think your work is sheer brilliance only to discover it could do with some improvement? What do you do to keep your feet on the ground?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Interview and Blogging Tips

Laura Barnes has given me the honour of including me into her Saturday Savvy Sensation interviews. For some blogging tips and to find out a little more about me, pop on over to her blog, Laura B Writer. I'd love to see you there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to Write the Perfect Sentence

The perfect sentence doesn't have to be grammatically correct. It doesn't have to have a certain number of words and a certain number of beats. The perfect sentence is an entity in and of itself while belonging to a conglomeration of other sentences, forming paragraphs, scenes, and stories.

Or it can stand alone.

The perfect sentence is a snug fit in the place where it belongs--as a whole, as a half, as a fragment.

Or it can be a jagged shard that draws attention to itself.

The perfect sentence needs to convey meaning, although not always through the words alone. It can be a string of sentences mashed together in a rambling muddle that carries the characters and the reader on a rocking and roiling ride of confusion.

Or it can flash and vanish.

The perfect sentence can shock, it can amuse, it can announce the end of an age. It can do anything you want it to do, except perhaps open that jar of pickles.

To write the perfect sentence, don't be afraid to write an imperfect sentence.

As some of you already know via Facebook, I finished NaNo. That's 50k words written for the first draft. I still have a long way to go with my YA scifi, but I'm having an awful lot of fun.

A huge thank you to S. L. Hennessy for the Versatile Blogger Award. Please visit her blog and say hi from me.

I also won a copy of Secrets of the Knight by Nina Jade Singer from Romance Reader. Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to reading it.

Announcement: On Saturday I will be at Laura Barnes' blog where she will be interviewing me. I'd love to see you over there.