Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Writing Advice from Stephen King

Stephen King is perhaps one of my most favorite writers. His imagination and pure excellence in the craft is what makes him one of the most read authors in his genre. You never know what you will get from him but you do know that it will be something to draw several emotions from you. One of the best practices of a good writer is to read about other great writers. You do not have to mimic them but if you listen enough there is so much that can be learned.

He uses humor to explain that there are two requirements in order to be a good writer:

1. You Must Read
2. You Must Write

The other videos discusses the art of storytelling and how many writers and readers have forgotten about the wonderful impact of short stories.

Here's to a great author whose works never seem to resemble one another and stories always seem to get better and better.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Creativity: Spontaneous or Process

In one of my recent classes we were asked whether or not we thought there was a process to that great "idea" or is it something that creeps us on us without warning. I had to admit that I felt it was a little bit of both. While we may find that our backgrounds, experiences, mental and emotional strengths will influence our creative base there is really no question that there is somewhat of a process we all take to get there. For some of us it may be taking a walk in nature and for others it may be playing a game of chess in order to get our creative juices going. However, James Webb Young, author of A Technique for Producing Ideas, provides us with a five step process that most creatives follow in order to reach that ultimate "aha" moment.
  1. Immersion: this pretty much means that at one point or another, and we should all know this to be true in order to be held as credible writers, is to do research. It doesn't matter what it is. Go visit the person, place, thing you plan on writing about.
  2. Digestion: how many of you have recieved one of those emails of a painting of some kind and  you are asked by the sender, "what do you see?" only to discover that the original portrait if looked at from another angle looks like something complete different. We suddenly see the different dimensions of this one portrait. Do that! Try to see how many angles and dimensions you can make out of the research you just found...what can you turn it into? What else can it signify? Let your mind just run wild.
  3. Incubation: Okay, now that you have let your mind run wild....walk away. Don't look at it again...give you mind the opportunity to rest. Go visit some friends...go catch the latest movie. Grab your phone and seep into hours of aggravating fun playing Angry Birds...whatever!
  4. Illumination: Now what I am about to tell you is extremely important. CARRY SOMETHING TO WRITE ON AND WITH AT ALL TIMES. You have no idea when and at at what point that "aha" moment will strike but its best to be safe than sorry. How many times haven't you had a great thought and in a blink of an eye, "poof" that idea vanishes from your mind and memory never to resurface again. I finally was at the point where I keep a small notebook and pencil under my pillow, my ipad in the kitchen and the handy dandy note feature on my cell phone everywhere else. Relying on my memory to store all my great ideas is a waste of time. I can barely remember where I put my keys five minutes ago!
  5. Reality Testing: Let's face it, not all ideas that we think up in our minds look as good on paper. It's a harsh reality but it's reality none-the-less. Write them down...the one great idea or the many very good ideas and put them your desk. As you think of more ideas keep adding them to that one folder. Take your much time as you can at create that great idea rather than the mediocre one. Once you have created that one great idea or those few really good ideas its time to get feedback. What's that saying? Four eyes are better than two. In this case you may want to even go for eight or even ten. However, be sure to ask all the important questions: does it fit? Is the idea too common or cliche'? Does it have a niche? Is it interesting to me but boring to others? Does size matter?
In reviewing Young's processes I realized that, to some degree, I was already following these patterns. Did I realize it? No, I did not. Yet, I can definitely see the benefit. You may be asking, what's wrong with the spontaneous ideas? Absolutely nothing. However, what if those really good spontaneous ideas only had the time to be nurtured and developed so that they could be really great? Would you be willing to change up your habits? I would think so. In reading some of my short stories I can honestly tell you that I did not think these through...I wrote off the cuff, so to speak. I now realize that had I taken more thoughtful steps they could have turned into so much more. I guess that's the great part about writing...there's always editing and re-editing...and editing some more...and...well you get the

For more book suggestions go to my Book Recommendations page.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Meet Mark Twain!

The Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia would like to invite everyone young and the much more mature to an evening of laughs. If you are a writer, entertainer or artist of any kind you are surely to enjoy this. Tickets may be purchased in advance at ShowTix4U

Website Revamp

And so, a new year and a new website. Yes, I's about time! Sometimes it takes the criticisms of others to get your butt into gear and get motivated. Yet still, it was quite overdue. I have added a lot of new pages and areas to the website but please be patient as it is still under much construction. I invite you to take a look around and feel free to offer your opinions.

One of the major changes that I want to point out is where it says "Friends' Creative Works". I find one of the best ways to get your work out there is to share what you have done with those who enjoy the craft as much as you do. So, feel free to send me your work...with name, website/blog address and any other information you think you would like to share about your stories, poetries, etc....