We’ve all become overly familiar with isolation in the last two years. While it’s undeniable that on a worldwide scale, the vast experience tended toward the negative, setting aside time to be alone remains an essential part of the creative process.
My children can argue about anything. Sudden shouts rise through the house to alert the family that a disagreement has reared its ugly head. My job is to intervene before violence erupts. In theory, I want to give them a chance to work things out on their own.
Fitting time for writing with a full-time job and life around it can be difficult.
Finding the time and space for efficient and synergetic writing requires not only a skill in time management but dedication, commitment, and … passion.
I let writing end up at the bottom of my to-do list, turning it into a hobby I can engage in only after everything else is done. It got so low on the list that I haven’t written for five years—sure, I write a poem a day, a journal daily about my fascinating life, and write a short story here and there.
“Everyone [attending the retreat] wanted the same thing: to be reminded of what it felt like to be pulled toward his or her work, and to be unable to resist.”
~Mark Salzman, author of TheMan in the Empty Boat
By Brian Kaufman
I’ve talked to writers who entertain the fantasy of writing a novel in prison. There are good reasons for this. We lead busy lives, and daily chores must take precedence. We work. We care for family members. We even rest and recharge.
Representation matters. I don’t think any socially conscious writer in the year 2022 really needs to be told that. However, I want to share the absolute elation I have felt at increasingly seeing characters I can relate to more frequently in recent years. It truly is the best feeling to stumble across yourself in books or media.
I have no passion for marketing. Naturally, at a recent writing conference I attended, sessions on marketing were at the top of my list. I learned about marketing through algorithms, marketing via the website, marketing at live events, and marketing through subliminal messaging.
I’m reading a book with two intriguing main characters and compelling relationships gone wrong. Still, the repetitive dialog and plot points make it boring.
The issue is with the pacing, intermittent external and internal tension, and lack of cliffhangers at the end of chapters. I’m determined to finish the book, though, since I have this problem of not giving up something I’ve read 50 pages in.
Writers compose in a vacuum. The voices they hear are in their heads. Imagination has benefits, both for mental health and creative purposes. According to neuroscientists, people have “default networks” in their brains that become active (and are exercised) when they drift into the realm of imagination. In addition, storytelling allows an exploration of compelling new adventures without risk.
The risk comes later—when others read what you’ve written.
I’ve always been very interested in Japanese mythology and media. But recently, I’ve been more inspired by other East Asian cultures. Mainly, I’ve been immersing myself in Chinese stories as research for a book I’m working on (since I’m half-Italian and half-English/German mutt).
As a result, I often have to explain Chinese tropes to my partner when talking about the books I’m reading. As my colleague Brian Kaufman pointed out a few weeks ago, every genre has tropes. However, twisting those tropes around can surprise readers in the right ways.
Know the Rules Before You Break Them
I loved Brian’s article, and to quote him directly, “Breaking rules should be applauded, so long as you understand the reason for the rules in the first place.” That sentence is essentially my Golden Rule of writing. I love breaking the rules, but it runs the risk of seeming cliche or jarring if you don’t have a good understanding of what rules you’re subverting.