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Showing posts from April, 2016

An Ambivert Walks Into A Writing Conference...

Photo by Cara Lopez Lee Fifteen thousand people at one writing conference are enough to bring out my inner introvert. That’s what I learned at my second springtime leap into the swarms of the annual AWP Conference , this time in Los Angeles. (AWP stands for Association of Writers and Writing Programs, so can anyone tell me why it’s not AWWP?) People often talk about creative writing and introversion as if they’re inseparable, but thanks to writing’s dual requirements of solitude and communication, I believe it attracts a spectrum of introverts and extroverts. I’m an ambivert: exhibiting qualities of extroversion and introversion in almost equal measure. In Myers-Briggs personality tests, I typically score 51% extrovert/49% introvert. I’ll bet if the tests were not designed for bilateral results, I’d test 50-50. Non-writers often seem surprised to meet an extroverted writer. Meanwhile, writers who know me seem surprised to learn I’m half-introvert. “But you’re so social!

On My Mind...Avoiding Distractions

To write, you need to focus. You can write anywhere - in a coffee shop, at your dining room table, on the train - but you need to concentrate on the words you’re putting on the screen or the page not on the world around you. You need - -   Question: What colour does a Smurf turn if you choke it? - - - to shut your mind to distractions. To immerse yourself in the world you are creating on the page. You must listen to your characters. Discover their rhythms. Their flaws. Their - -   Question: Why is the letter called ‘double u’ when its two ‘v’s joined together?  - - motivations. Every character is unique because so is every writer. We all crave different surroundings. Some write best while listening to music. Many require silence. Others write while surrounded by people, while a number crave solitude. But all writers - - -   Question: Why do we press harder on the tv remote when the batteries are dead?  - - - must develop discipline. You must be able to ignore the dis

On My Mind…Senior or Seasoned?

Back in the early nineties, I published a mini-magazine called the Seasoned Citizens Gazette: The Journal for the Not-Quite-Over-the-Hill-Gang . Because I lived in the Pikes Peak area, I invited seniors from Colorado Springs and surrounding towns to submit short stories, articles, poems, columns, etc. I, too, wrote pieces that were aimed at the AARP squad. My magazine was distributed free in senior communities and centers, pharmacies, and other places seniors frequented; it also could be subscribed to and mailed monthly (not for free) to private homes. Ads covered the printing. Beyond that, it was primarily a labor of love, as well as a fun way to keep my mind both occupied and creatively directed and provide an outlet for fellow seasoned citizens who had something to share. by Verbaska on MorgueFile It’s hard to believe that was some twenty-five years ago. A large number of my contributors are no longer with us, and I look back nostalgically at the experience of working with so

3 Steps to Reinvigorating Your Writing

I have a confession to make. I am a writer. Well, I was before life stepped in. Well, I was before I let life step into my home and make itself comfortable while my writing wilted in the back of a stuffed closet. And, yes, I write here for Blood-Red Pencil, I write in preparation for teaching, I write in my journal, but you all know what I mean, write, er, right? I'm talking about the writing that transports you into a new world that you create, a world full of angsty characters and obstacles and drama and love and hate …and all the other wonderful components that go into making a story. THAT's the writing I HAVEN'T been doing. And when you are a creative at heart, this is painful. When you have characters and ideas taking up space in your mind, but your heart isn't moved to write, this can be extraordinarily painful. Right now, I'm at an impasse. There has been NO progress in my writing life, and there will be no progress until I stand and make a

How to Get Readers Hooked

I don't claim to know all the ways to get readers hooked, but I know some I can share with you. 1. Get a Fantastic Cover.  That's not so easy. One approach might be to study the covers of bestselling authors in your genre, and determine if those covers have anything in common with each other. Or, if an author you happen to know has a cover you really like, ask who designed it. 2. Start Each Book With A Hook. In this fast-paced world, an author has to grab the reader immediately. This may sound obvious, but it can be the most difficult to do. One way to accomplish this is to begin the first paragraph in the middle of an action sequence to pique the reader's curiosity about what's going on and what'll happen next. Or, pose a question. If it's a good one, the reader will want to know the answer. 3. Write a Series . If readers like your character(s), or a certain locale, they're more likely to come back for more, kind of like watching a TV series. 4. Do

Reinventing the Hero

So many posts circulating on Facebook perpetuate stereotypes about men and women. They get a lot of likes and shares. They are funny on the surface and touch on shared experiences. But not every guy is into beer and cars and not every woman wants flowers and chocolates. Eliminating gender assumptions allows for a more interesting spectrum of characters to work with and can help send healthier messages. Traits such as introversion versus extraversion, sensing, feeling,thinking, and judging exist on a spectrum and transcend gender definitions. They are further shaped by our childhood wounds, nurturing (or lack of), and etched by society. There is a movement to change the messages we send girls about how they should manifest in the world, but the messages are still tainted by gender stereotypes. An equal amount of focus should be on the messages we send to boys about their presence in the world, without perpetuating unhealthy gender stereotypes. Tweet this:  As writ