Archives for January 2016

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Good Grammar & Tired Brains Don’t Mix

If you want your writing to have decent grammar, it’s better to do it when you’re conscious (the brain, at least, should be awake). As obvious as that seems, when you’re trying to cram in writing with a full time job, family, friends, car repairs, etc., it’s not the easiest rule to stick to. There are plenty of writers who get their writing in after everyone else is in bed or before they themselves collapse for the night.

Like right now. When I’m writing this.

The only problem with that is that tired brains make more mistakes. Honestly, I make more than twice as many grammar errors when I’m tired or in a hurry (or, heaven forbid, both). And they’re the embarrassing types of mistakes – like typing the wrong “there” or using a possessive for a plural noun. I’m ok with some errors (I’m not the worst grammar Nazi out there). Too many, and I want to hide and apologize to the world for whatever I posted (like if I break the “Top 5 Grammar Rules Not to Break“).

It makes writing grammar articles moderately terrifying (Srsly, what’s more embarrassing than making the mistake you’re telling people not to make in the same article?). At the same time, it makes writing articles take twice as long. That’s because I can’t stand to publish them until I’ve read them a dozen or more times checking for errors (unfortunately, that’s not always an exaggeration).

A little ocd? Maybe. But it keeps the writing closer to the quality I want it to be.

Actually, that’s the general lesson I’d take away from this. I won’t tell you to stop writing in your sleep. For all I know, that’s the only real chance you have to write at all. If you do, however, be aware of the grammar (and continuity) issues it can cause. Be ready to edit more (preferably, when you’re awake) or to have someone do it for you. Don’t assume your tired brain has the same grammar skills it normally does.

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Writer’s Block Isn’t Real Except When We Want It to Be

If you look up “writer’s block,” you’ll probably get something like “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing” (at least, according to Google). Generally summarized, it’s the brain dead moment when you look at the screen and go, “Uhhhhhh….”

The only problem with that definition is that most published authors will tell you that it’s bull – or at least, saying that you can’t write because of that condition is bull. Yes, you’ll have brain-dead, uninspired moments from time to time. If you’re as human as the rest of us, you’ll probably have them regularly. But (and this is a big but) if you force yourself to write anyway, it’ll clear up. While you may not get as much done as you do when you’re on fire with inspiration, you can still do a lot of writing. A lot of good writing, at that.

The only time writer’s block becomes an actual block is when we use it as a handy excuse.

Some people probably won’t agree with me, but I think writer’s block is more of an attitude problem than an imagination problem. It’s a mix between the pouty artist/child (I only work when I’m inspired) and the extreme procrastinator issue (I’m ready to…Wow. That’s a lot to do. You know what, I’m a bit tired right now. I’ll do a better job tomorrow.). It could even be a feeling of terror that you can’t actually write what you’re trying to write, and if you try, you’ll know you can’t. Whatever the reason, that uninspired feeling is the perfect excuse not to push past those issues.

The thing is, you won’t always want to write. You’ll want to have written: however, writing can be &/*^$# hard work. Some days, you may not be in the mood for hard work. You may be tired. You may be grouchy. You may be stressed about something else. Heck, you may have had a vacation and don’t want to start again.

Those are the days when writer’s block pops up its hideous head. If you grab it with both hands (“Oh, no. I can’t write today. I have writer’s block!”), then you won’t write. You won’t get anything done. And the next day, it’ll be even easier to blame writer’s block again.

That’s what makes writer’s block so dangerous. The longer you put off writing, the harder it is to start again. The harder it is to do it, the more you’ll want to use writer’s block as an excuse (and the more you’ll have that “uhhh” feeling). Once you’re caught in that catch 22, you have to really want to write to break out of it. You’ll have to really want to make more progress on your piece.

And isn’t that the point of not using excuses in the first place?

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Speaking of Inspiration, Watch This Forest Breathe

If I were out hiking and saw the ground breathing, I would 1. fall down and sh*t myself, 2. take a video on my phone (once I realized it wasn’t an earthquake/giant/the world wasn’t ending), and 3. run home as fast as I could to write a story based off of it.

Luckily, someone already did the first 2 steps for me (and you).

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Inspiration & Motivation: A Trudi Canavan Quote

“Inspiration comes from so many sources. Music, other fiction, the non-fiction I read, TV shows, films, news reports, people I know, stories I hear, misheard words or lyrics, dreams... Motivation? The memory of the rush I get from a really good writing session – even on a bad day, I know I’ll find that again if I keep going.” – Trudi Canavan quote

Can you go out in public without getting any ideas? That sounds difficult.