I had seen the advertisements on Facebook for a Seven Day Creative Writing Challenge since it was free and I have nothing but time, I gave it a try. The aim was to write 1000 words per day for seven days. No writing prompts, no hidden agenda, just write. Sometimes we think life has to be much more complicated if we are to learn its secrets. We justify why we don't have the time, or experience, or skills to accomplish our life's ambitions.
Below is a list of seven things I learned, not by years at school, or readings hundreds of books, or becoming an English Major; this is what I learned about writing by writing.
1.) I CAN do it. - I saw people who posted they didn't write because they were sick, or they were tired, or had writers' block, or had a bad day, or they were depressed. Guess what? I had all of those and I still completed the task. Not saying that to boast, just acknowledging that the more I did, the more I wanted to do. I have been sick enough this week that I gave up on the gym because that was something I did not want to share. But I was strong enough to continue writing because that is something I wanted to share.
2.) There is ALWAYS someone better or faster. - I saw people who posted 4,000 to 5,000 words in a day. I saw people who posted 2200 words in less than an hour. At this point, the most I had posted was 1354 words for a single day and it took close to 8 hours to accomplish that. Sure some of that is because I am so weak I randomly fall asleep at times, sometimes I over think, and let's face it my typing skills are bad. It may have taken me 54 years to comprehend this, but I realized, I am not competing with the Universe, I am only competing with my own fears and doubts.
3.) It doesn't have to be ALL or NOTHING. - I am a very slow reader, in part to the fact that I avoided it for so many years. This week I also finished Stephen King's "On Writing" book, which I had only started four days earlier. For me to finish any book in less than two or three months is a major accomplishment. I guess perhaps both goals were the same (to improve my writing), but I did not feel I had to block out the world to achieve either one.
4.) Don't Limit yourself. - I consider myself a morning person, but even on the day that I started at 4:30 in the afternoon I could write. I often write with music in the background but found there were days when I was so eager to get my ideas down, that I didn't turn on the music until after I was done. I used to spend hours upon hours at my desktop and thought it was the ONLY place I could create. Since my surgeries, I have been bedridden for 20+ hours per day. Now I write both on my laptop and on a smaller tablet. This "aha" moment was reinforced because now every day the FIRST thing I do is grab my laptop.
5.) Different can be good. - Sometimes I get a little compulsive. If I decide that I want to write about a person and come up with more questions than answers, it can, and often does, stop me dead in my tracks. Learning a new program called Scrivener, I noticed it had a section for location sketches and for characters sketches. I spent three days of this challenge writing detailed character sketches. I have always been character driven, but I wrote about my settings for a change and surprise, surprise it was one of my most productive days.
6.) Do NOT give up. - I saw people post they only wrote 500 or 600 words and would try more the next day. The sad part was they posted this at 9:30 in the morning. I mean even if you work a ten hour day, you still have lunch breaks, after work, after dinner, etc. It was if they had convinced themselves they can ONLY create during that certain time of day. Yes, I've done that, been there. Don't think me heartless. I know life happens, but the one post that gave me this "aha" moment was. "Sorry, I only wrote 500 words today because my brother died last night." I was writing at the moment my wife took her last breath seven years ago. I did NOT write the next day, but it is possible.
7.) Draft mode is NOT Edit mode. - When I started this challenge I wrote as I always had. Wrote a few words, questioned if they were the right words, looked for the right words, wrote a few more words. When I kept seeing people with two and three thousand word counts, I was getting discouraged. Then it occurred to me, I was not writing a book, an article, or a short story, I was writing to be writing it did NOT have to be perfect. What I was writing about were things I would write about in the future. Another "aha" moment, if you edit while brainstorming you are only limiting your imagination.
One doesn't have to be in a contest or a class or a writing challenge to continue learning how to write better. I don't have to have the best computer or the most expensive writing software. People do not need to go on Facebook and ask everybody else what they think makes the perfect story. If you want to be a better writer, then write.
Award-winning writer/photographer Tedric Garrison has 40 years experience in both areas of expertise. As a Graphic Arts Major, he has a unique perspective on creativity. His photography tells a story and his writing paints a picture. He believes creativity CAN be taught. Tedric shares both his writing and photography skills at his website: http://writephotos.weebly.com.
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Fiction by nature is something considered, not true, or not possible. Yet some of the best Science Fiction is that which makes you suspend your disbelief. We know for example that a man cannot fly, but I've lost track of how many "Superman" movies are out there. Some rely on special effects, to ooh and ahh the viewers. Some try to impress with technical jargon and new inventions that make the impossible possible. But the best way to overcome the impossible is by focusing on reality. Real emotions, real fears, and doubts are signs of good character development. Because in the real world, people are what life is all about.
When it comes to superheroes, I like Spiderman, BECAUSE he had doubts, and was insecure... therefore I related to him the most. Not all of us will have the technical knowledge to write something as earth-shattering as Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" which many claim was the real motivation behind the first nuclear submarine. But what you do have is your own life experiences.
I wrote a short story called "Shooting Goliath" as a realistic story of what happened to me when I fell off a waterfall. BUT I also have a scene in my time travel adventure where my main character jumps off a waterfall to catch someone else's attention. Now I KNOW that's fiction... because I'm scared of heights, but I have had the experience that makes that section believable. I have a character in that book that lost their spouse after 30 years, which has also happened to me. My story is based on the concept you can't help others if you can't help yourself. Every character has doubts and fears to overcome before they can complete their assignments. I focus on what I do know, not on what I don't.
Yes, I have a character that is a writer, and I have a character that is a photographer. My stories are character driven by emotions that I understand. I'm NOT saying settings and plot are not important. What I'm saying is to use your strengths. You don't have to be a cop to solve a mystery. You don't have to fly to write about superheroes. What you must do is write about what you know to catch people's attention. Do I believe a man can fly? No. Do I believe Lois loves Clark? I have no doubt.
Use your experiences to make the story come to life. If you've been hurt, write it down. If you've been scared, write it down. If you have ever been in love, fooled, overjoyed, given birth, buried a pet, been in an accident, run a race, or had your heart broken, write it down. These are the things that will make your story worth reading regardless of what it's about. Using your imagination doesn't mean you make up everything from scratch. Just ask yourself "what if" and plug in your own experiences. This is what keeps the readers engaged, and turning page after page. Be yourself and keep on writing.
Award-winning writer/photographer Tedric Garrison has 40 years experience in both areas of expertise. As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective on creativity. His photography tells a story and his writing is visual. He believes creativity CAN be taught. Tedric shares both his writing and photography skills at his new website: http://writephotos.weebly.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Tedric_Garrison/88147
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If I ask the average person what a Beat Sheet is they probably wouldn't have a clue. Even when I ask writers, they may or may not have heard of it, but many do not know how it applies to them. If I ask what does "Do, Ra, Me" mean, most people associate it with musical notes. But as Julie Andrews pointed out, this is only the beginning. Next, you go... "Doe, a deer, a female deer, ray a drop of golden sun... " Think of a Beat Sheet as a starting point.
Even if you do not like outlines, a Beat Sheet can be an effective tool in keeping a writer on track. A story beat is a type of plot point you include to drive your story forward. A Beat Sheet includes the different beats (or plot points) you want to include in your story. Some writers create mystery, fantasy, tragedy, a quest, or rags to riches. Obviously, they can't all have the same plot points, can they? Yes and no. ALL stories have a beginning, middle, and end. This could also be described as A) introduce a character, B) has a problem, and C) must be resolved. In most cases, there is a fourth point between items B and C known as discouragement. After all, it's hard to make a come-back if everything was perfect, to begin with.
To show how this can be helpful, I'm going to create a new Beat Sheet and walk you through the process. Note: I made mine in WORD only because I don't use EXCEL. You can make yours on paper if you want. Start with three sections. Some people call them Acts (like a three-act play). Each of those Acts will also have a beginning, middle, and end. Do this one more time and you will have a table with 27 blank lines.
There are different Beats templates available online if you write in standard Genres, but I do not. I write Time Travel / Romance, so some of the things I am about to share will vary depending on your project. Just like the song, "Do, Re, Me" we all need a starting point. I took mine from a basic Beat Sheet found online. For Act One I wrote: Introduce protagonist, hook the reader, and set up conflict. So far, we have just a few notes. Remember each Act has three sections, that's why we have three objectives for each Act.
The key words for Act Two include Protagonist reacts, one step forward, and two steps back. If you're looking at these phrases and thinking these are kind of vague, you're right. Remember, we haven't started writing the song yet. Act three consist of Hero gains courage, overcome the odds, and conquer the adversary. So far, this could apply to any story. This is where we start to customize the sheet to make it work for you. With nine blanks in under each Act, you now have an outline for a 27-chapter book. Realizing some ideas may take more than one chapter, I usually aim for 30 chapters.
Under Act One, the beginning section, I wrote: action original hero, boy meets girl, and bigger than both. What does that mean? When I wrote those words, it was a mental note to myself. To hook the reader, I wanted to start with an action scene, and I wanted them to see what he or she was like originally. Everything we have entered so far is just a few words in the first column. You will note column two is empty. This is where you take a few words and make it into a full sentence. My goal is not to create a twenty-seven-page document, but to spark ideas on one easy to read page.
This process will not write the entire novel for you, but... it will give you a roadmap to follow. Once you have 27 sentences, expand it to 27 paragraphs. If you can create 27 paragraphs, you can create 27 chapters. At this point you have 90% of the first draft done. In the Beat Sheet I created I planned for three different side stories (mini time travel adventures) and two plot twists. Do I know what they are yet? No, but I plan to make the story a page-turner. That's like highlighting your roadmap, so you can see where to turn next.
Many traditional writers refuse to use outlines because they claim it robs them of creative options. If it makes you feel any better, you didn't create an outline, you created a Beat Sheet. You don't have to admit being a plotter if you don't want to. I won't tell anybody. Even if you don't expand to paragraphs just yet, you at least have a roadmap of where you're going. This is a tool to be used just like your computer or thesaurus. You can see examples of both a blank Beat Sheet and my completed Time Travel / Romance Beat Sheet on my website.
Award-winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison has 40 years' experience in both areas of expertise. As a Graphic Arts Major, he has a unique perspective on creativity. His photography tells a story and his writing is visual. Tedric shares his insight, experience, and skills at his website: http://writephotos.weebly.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Tedric_Garrison/88147
Software like Photoshop, Excel, and Scrivener are great, but they can also be intimidating. Have you ever paid for a program and never use it? Learning something new can be scary. Many programs have help files, but often that's not enough. Reading something and learning it are two different things. There are three types of learning. They are audio, visual, and hands-on. In this article, I will use Scrivener as my example.
When considering this software, I looked at the Scrivener website and studied the overviews and features section. Impressed enough to make the purchase and read the written tutorial, I was quickly overwhelmed. Note, at this point, I was only looking at buttons and icons.
Next, I went to Facebook and found a group called Scrivener Users. I prefer to hear from those who use the software, as opposed to those trying to sell me something. One advantage was now I could ask questions. Many people kept referring to the book Scrivener for... by Gwen Hernandez, so I purchased that. The book was excellent. Occasionally, I would click on an icon to verify the features listed underneath.
Being a photographer for 40+ years, I relate to all things visual. Therefore, the next logical step was YouTube. Although they had dozens of tutorials most felt like a synopsis, a summary if you will.
I liked being able to see and hear what I was learning. But, I wanted to watch without being dependent on the internet. What I found was a website called udemy.com, which had several outstanding video tutorials. What I had missed to this point, was the hands-on approach. With the program now open, I found the pause button was my new best friend.
The class was reasonably priced and had excellent quality. It was also downloadable. With my slow internet speed, it did take a while (over 5 hours), but each of the 46 videos was downloaded to a folder on my desktop. Now, I could watch, practice, and hear the lessons all at the same time.
If you want to be a writer, you don't just write when it's convenient, you write every day. If you want to learn something new you don't just read a manual and expect to know it all. You use different senses when you want to learn effectively, and you can also use a variety of resources.
Millions of writers write blogs and how-to books with the expectation you will comprehend the subject better. There are thousands of users on Facebook and other social media outlets, waiting to share information they have learned from experience. The key word being experience. You must jump right in and get your hands dirty. YouTube has videos on almost any subject you can imagine. You can find inexpensive courses online. In many cases, you can also find Podcasts and audio CDs on your favorite subject.
The information age does not limit you to one medium. You've heard the phrase show don't tell. This applies to learning as well as writing. Part of my learning process includes repetition. If I can listen or watch something multiple times, it tends to stay with me better. Some people can read something once and retain everything. I'm not one of those people. The more types of learning methods you employ, the better the odds you will retain the information. When getting your hands dirty doesn't help and reading is not enough, try using more resources.
Award-winning writer/photographer Tedric Garrison has 40 years experience in both areas of expertise. As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective on creativity that makes his photos tell a story and his writing visual. He believes creativity CAN be taught. Tedric shares both his writing and photography skills at his website: http://writephotos.weebly.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Tedric_Garrison/88147