Archive for June, 2010

One of the subjects I have frequently come across in reading and in thoughts regarding what would help in writing is creating a workspace that encourages writing and discourages distraction. Personally, I have a very short attention span and if anything flits by that is even remotely curious, I can’t concentrate. I’ve read that people suggest a quiet place with your computer, or journal, where there are few visual distractions. Some people recommend being in a corner with no decorations or windows. Eliminate it all.

This might work for a lot of people but I have another idea. As my short attention span would indicate, I’m a very visually oriented person. My stories, I hope, are very visual. The characters wander through stimulating environments that are unique and fascinating. I usually see my stories as a movie that constantly plays through my head.

So, in my wonderings of how, when I finally get the chance, I am going to set up my home office area to help breed beautiful and often times dark stories I consider the environment around myself.

In my dream office, I will be able to change my atmosphere around me by hanging fabrics and pictures on the walls that emulate the environment in the current story I’m working on. I will have wind chimes that are made of shells and ceramic pieces and if I’m working on a tropical story I will put more plants in the room. I’d also like to put up a relatively large white board to write notes and characterizations.

The whole prospect of creating the environment that I’m working in/writing about really excites me. It makes me want to write more and also makes me feel comfortable with what I’m writing. I think I will feel a bit more connected with what my characters are experiencing. I also think that it will help me focus more on my writing and become less distracted by anything else that is going on in the room because what is happening in my workroom is a mirror of what is happening in the story.

About a week after I started writing this post a coworker told me of some greenhouses she was thinking of purchasing and how they were large enough to grow fruit trees in. I began to wonder how great it would be to have such a space, separate from the house, to put my writing office. However, that would definitely take a lot of time, money and space that I don’t currently have. Dreaming about it is nice though.

How is your work space or office set up to encourage writing and dissuade distractions? How would your dream office look?


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Last week I read about writer’s block and various other subjects. I looked at exercises to try and find something fun so I could get excited about writing…anything. I came across a few interesting suggestions and some others that I wrinkled my nose at but don’t misunderstand me. The nose wrinkling suggestions are very valid and definitely worth trying. They just don’t inspire me and I am definitely looking for some strong inspiration.
My inspiration came this weekend in the form of a movie I went to see with my father and his lady friend. It was a summer action blockbuster, The Prince of Persia, so I wasn’t expecting much from it other than not having to think – just sitting back and letting it happen. In the end, the movie was utterly silly but I LOVED it. It was most likely the mindset I was in and I’m sure if I was forced to watch the movie because someone else wanted to see it I would have hated it. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t inspired to work on the story that I would like to finish this year but was sent in the direction of another related story I placed in the back of my mind until I could discover a character(s) I would like to work with or a plot, which ever came first. The fact that I was sent in another direction did not upset me. The point was that I was inspired to actually write something (a suggestion I found repeatedly in my readings). I find that once I get writing then it gets easier to keep writing.
I spent the whole three-day weekend thinking about this new story idea and came up with seven main characters. Parts of it worked and other parts didn’t and I’m still lacking a plot but I am excited with 3 of the characters.
One of the exercises I found was to design a back-story for your character to help you figure out who exactly this person is and what makes them who they are. You’re not really supposed to write this as a part of your story. It’s just a method of really becoming intimate with your character(s). As I thought about this to develop these characters some more I decided that maybe I should take a break on this plotless story for a moment and try this new technique on my story I’m focusing on. In this story I have at least four characters that I’m still having trouble developing. They are very two-dimensional. So I decided to think about their back-story some more. It seemed so simple and you’d think I would have worked on this earlier – I’m only half way through the story for crying out loud – but I think I just get so excited with my main character that I tend to overlook the rest. When I started thinking about two of my characters, I felt like the whole story was gaining an entire other layer that makes it just a little bit more interesting. Of course my ideas also brought up more questions I have to think about but I think I’m getting back some of that spark I’d lost during the last semester and hopefully I can accomplish some writing before the workload gets extra crazy with school, holidays, work and such.
At my friend’s suggestion, I’m leaving this post with the exercise that helped me. Feel free to use it or just think about it. Consider a major character in your story. Write about their back-story. You can go as far back as their birth or their parents’ story, or further, and develop it up to the time where your story begins. Don’t worry about whether this fits in with the story you are writing. That is not the point of this exercise. You can use this in your story or don’t. The point is to become intimate with your character so you understand who they are and why they behave the way they do.

What other kinds of exercises do you use to get back into the groove of writing and to reach a better understanding of your character?

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