The Write Way 

 

“The Write Way: Tips & Advice for Writers” by RavenCall70 on Wattpad http://my.w.tt/UiNb/ENMEYhDfxA

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Reality Is Broken – A Book Review

Originally posted at Goodreads

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the WorldReality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I find all the negative reviews that are listed for this book to be relatively amusing. It seems glaringly obvious from those who are providing these reviews that they are not part of the 176 million gamers currently residing in the western world.
I also find their conclusions and reasons for disliking this book bizarre and without any definitive specifics for why they disagree with the premise this book is based on. Resorting to calling the author names like “anarchist,”crazy,” and “poor writer.” That last bit seems redundant since if it was that poorly written why are you on Goodreads writing a review about it?

That aside, I may not believe that it is possible for Games to make reality better, but I DO agree that games are good for lifting yourself out of depression, changing your point of view and improving your mindset should it be mildly depressive. I game and I found her statistics enlightening and mildly over-whelming. Anyone who doesn’t take the “mass exodus” of more and more people choosing gaming over social interactions seriously are missing the point of what Ms. McGonigal is trying to communicate.

It isn’t just a book about games, gamers or how games can “fix” everything. It’s a wake-up call to society in general that current and future generations are spending more and more time playing games which will ultimately damage our communities. It is a book about happiness and that gaming provides happiness to those who need it most while reducing their dependence on consumerist thinking that tells them more “stuff” will make them happy.

I feel that many who reviewed this book and gave it such negative comments and/or ratings, missed the point the author was making in each chapter – independent of the title.

It is possible to read a book without making judgements about the author prior to finishing said book. I also don’t think it necessary to name-call any author. Besides, I find anyone who criticizes first-time authors beyond ridiculous if you aren’t also a published author. SOMEONE thought this was a good book otherwise it would never have been published in the first place.

View all my reviews

Endings…

I have been MIA for a couple weeks now, drawn away from my writing practice due to a strong passion for a great game story, namely the Mass Effect trilogy. As a reader and writer I am always fascinated when an author can breathe life into a fictional character and am drawn to discovering the secrets of such an accomplishment.

Copyright: Bioware.com

Copyright: Bioware.com

In the case of Mass Effect, the original authors did this not once or twice, but multiple times with multiple characters over the course of 3 independent games, over the course of a 5-year period beginning in 2007 through 2012.
Not only did they bring these characters to life, but each one has very distinct personalities,complete with rich and varied backgrounds and histories, strong belief systems and opinions and definitive character-defining moments.
This is not something that is easily achieved by an author. Even should an author succeed in bringing to life a fictional character to the point at which readers are emotionally affected by what happens to that character, doesn’t always mean the author will be able to do so in the same story with more than a handful of characters.
In the case of Mass Effect, what has been accomplished with this series, character-wise, is amazing, astounding and extremely note-worthy. As only one of thousands of fans of this story, I too have been emotionally drawn to care about each character to the point that I want to “know more” about each and every one of them – regardless of how big a role they play in the overall plot.
As soon as I have exhausted my immersion into the Mass Effect universe, I plan to explore endings in story, and how for whatever unknown and as yet, never disclosed reason, the writers of Mass Effect chose to end an epic series in such a negative, illogical way. An ending that ultimately lead to some rather loud and undisguised anger and backlash over the authors’ treatment of the much loved characters of Mass Effect and how that treatment lead fans of the series to feel largely betrayed, abandoned and ignored.
Until then, “I should go…” 😀

A Writer’s Mind is a Minefield

socrates

Photo credit: relationshipsurplus.com

And we aren’t talking about explosions here. We’re talking about tangents and branches of thought that go off into left field or perhaps it’s the right field…. or maybe it’s not even a field. Maybe it’s a whole new plant altogether… wait, what? What were we talking about again? Oh right, a writer’s mind, er thoughts.

So no trees really. This isn’t a blog about gardens, although it could be if I were at all passionate about gardens. Not that there’s anything wrong with gardens, I mean really what writer doesn’t like a nice place to sit outside in nature where you can just soak up all that fresh air and sunshine? Well not me, although I find that without a book, I find I just get distracted by all the bugs buzzing or crawling about as the case may be – busy with whatever bug business they’re going about or that chickadee that just won’t stop whistling – I mean what IS his problem anyway? Get a date already. Or wait, maybe I’m in his space and I’m messing up his ambiance. That could be. But hold on, do chickadees even think things like that? Hmm, I wonder if there’s a story there? Chickadees that talk to humans except that the humans are too dense to understand what they’re trying to say. Well probably not. I mean who wants to read about self-aware chickadees? Imagine what they may have witnessed in all their feathery wanderings. Oh the horror! Lol.

Okay so I might be taking it a bit far. Well probably not actually but for me that’s a pretty good example of how a writer’s thoughts tend to flow. I left out a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of other tangents that typically flit through my brain but a blog is not long enough for that. Which we should really all be very thankful for.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that at times I find it is a miracle that any writer anywhere manages to ever stay on topic and stay relevant to their subject matter with all this hoopla roiling around inside their brains on a minute by minute basis. I couldn’t possibly write down everything that goes on in my brain that is noteworthy. And seriously I really wouldn’t want to. I have enough trouble sitting down at my wordpress dashboard writing a new post. I don’t think I could ever be dedicated or narcissistic enough to pay attention to every stray thought that has the potential to be a seed for a new blog.

But wouldn’t that be a great place to find new ideas if we did or could write them down? Then again, we’d probably get so distracted by the “seeds” of potential that we may never get to the actual business of writing. But what do I know? I’m just sharing my “thoughts.” 😉

Related posts: Your Writer’s Mind                Thoughts on Writing

What’s On Your List?

I covered this in a previous post some time ago, but wanted to revisit it. And that is that when you write, you should “write what you know.” Well talk about a blanket statement in randomness. What do you know? Do you know what you know? Most likely you have no idea what you know until after you start writing about it. Or try to start writing about it.

Image credit to: craighildebrandburke.com

Image credit to: craighildebrandburke.com

You may be passionate about a wide variety of different topics or subjects of interest, but your knowledge of these things are sorely tested the moment you try to write about it. Case in point… I recently wrote a post about online dating and as I wrote this post it became clearly evident to me that I really had no idea what I was talking about. My writing struggled. My brain became muddied with a multitude of irrelevant tidbits and facts that try as I might couldn’t be fit into a single post about online dating. I found myself writing and re-writing whole paragraphs because I discovered that I didn’t have enough information on the subject to write an entire article on what I was really interested in.

So back to my topic. What do I know? Well let’s see. I have knowledge of dating, sex, relationships, life events, writing, photography, alternative health, intuition, oracle card readings or the metaphysical realms, social media, special needs children, early intervention programs and parenting. But of those topics, I would be hard pressed to write anything coherent or worth reading on all of them. More than likely I would have to delve deeper by doing more research on a particular topic in order to be able to compose a well-written and well-rounded article on my chosen subject.

I find I have a lot of opinions on life and relationships and certain areas of interest to me, but that doesn’t automatically translate into having the ability or depth of knowledge to draw on to be able to write well about it. Just because you have an interest or a passion for something doesn’t always mean you can write about it.  And I think that is what is the key to writing well. You can’t just go with what you’re interested in, it has to be something you are passionate about and have clearly defined feelings and opinions on. Without passion, you will not have had enough time to form a solid opinion on you topic and as a result, this lack of passion will show up in your work. Either you will find yourself constantly struggling to find the write words, or your finished piece will not show up as your best work… others may not notice the difference right away, but you likely will and you probably won’t like it much.

I guess what’s most important here isn’t so much about “writing what you know” as it is about writing what you’re passionate about while having a strong, balanced and well-rounded opinion on your chosen subject. With all the never-ending supply of readily available online written sources, don’t you want to be one of the few who sounds most credible?

What’s on YOUR list?

Related Articles: Write What You Know: the Most Misunderstood Advice

Write What You Don’t Know

Write What You Know ~ Mark Twain quote

Writer’s Write….Sometimes

I must be bored. It’s the only thing that comes to mind to explain why I’m feeling so compelled to keep writing. I mentioned earlier that I struggle with being succinct, but I don’t believe that is the real trouble. I think the real trouble stems from the fact that as a writer, writer’s write and I haven’t written anything much more than the occasional tweet in many, many years.

Sure I’ve written blog posts and content here and there. Posted the occasional rant or comment on Facebook or made my interests or thoughts known in conversation or shared images of interest on Pinterest. But all that is just avoidance of who I am at the heart of everything that is me. I am a writer. I should be writing on a regular basis. Even if that means short blog posts or excerpts of fiction or commenting on current events that interest me.

I am opinionated. I have ideas all the time. I have comments to make about a wide variety of topics that can’t possibly be addressed in a 140 character tweet on Twitter. So why don’t I write? Well for the same reason that many writers avoid the page or the word document or the blog. We convince ourselves that what we have to say isn’t important or that no one will read it or that someone else has already said it and probably has said it better than we can.

But this is all a lie we like to hide behind. The fact of the matter is, is that no one sees the world the way you do. No one experiences life the same way you do, no one has had the same experiences you’ve experienced from your unique perspective. There is no one else that is YOU. And if you can write about it, how do you know that there isn’t someone out there who would benefit or appreciate what you have to say about a topic that interests them or helps them in some way?

I think that if you can write and you can share stories or experiences that helps others connect to life, love, the world or other communities you should be writing. And honestly, it doesn’t REALLY matter if you don’t connect to someone who needs to see or read your words. What matters is that you honor yourself by writing for you.

I’ve Been Bad

Fog Ahead

“Fog Ahead”
Photo credit: Julie Thibodeau

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last wrote a post for my blog. When I visited it last week I was not impressed by the format or the look of my page, so I changed it. I find it interesting that my last post is dated almost exactly one year ago today. What is it about February that makes me want to write? Musings for another day perhaps.

I’ve always thought that at some point in my life my main source of income would come from writing. Some far-off day in the future when my work would be published and people would know my name and everyone who liked my work would be salivating for more. (Seriously, what writer doesn’t dream of that?)

After reading through some of my posts I was again struck by how well-written my work actually is. How even I as the author feel compelled to keep reading, even though I was the one to write it. I will be the first to admit that it is in no way “perfect.” I still tend to include too many run-on sentences and can be much too wordy at times and being succinct has always been a challenge, and yet the writing is tight, stays on topic and rarely goes off on a tangent into some wild foray into irrelevance. Which was a problem for me many years ago but I have since learned how to avoid such pitfalls.

Basically I can see that my writing has improved a lot over the years even despite the fact that I don’t spend nearly as much time on perfecting my craft as most say you should. So why don’t I write more often you ask? Well I just asked myself that same question and my answer felt rather feeble.

As someone with as many varying interests, experiences and passions as I have, my biggest challenge is finding a topic that I want to stick with, and topics I have in spades. From my list of experiences, I could write about divorce, relationships, children with special needs, death of a parent, single parenthood, job searches, employment experiences from all the different positions I’ve had and even chronic illness. From an interest perspective, my writing topics could range from oracle card readings to history, from writing about writing to sharing dreams and dream techniques to chakras and Reiki. In the well of non-fiction ideas my cup “runneth over.” And if I were so inclined, I could probably write some fiction pieces ranging from romance and erotica, to mystery and horror. And therein lies my dilemma.

I think I have too many topics to choose from and no clear idea of what topic or interest will hold my interest and thus that of my readers. But then again, maybe that too is just an excuse not to write? I will be a very happy camper when all my questions no longer need answers for the simple fact that I will no longer need them because I will be writing. Period.

5 Minute Fiction: Have You Got a Minute?

English: : A mirror, reflecting a vase. Españo...

English: : A mirror, reflecting a vase. Español: : Un espejo, reflejando un vasija. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I talked about how some writers struggle with the blank page that stares back at them every time they settle down to write. How the cursor sits there blinking merrily away while your mind wanders about down a pebble-lined path jauntily daydreaming about nothing in particular.

Today, I have a few more exercise to share and for your reading enjoyment a sample of a piece of “fast fiction” I wrote using the exercises and techniques I described yesterday in my article, Don’t Get Any Ideas. So without further ado, here’s another exercise for you to test out that may spark new ideas and avenues of thought never before contemplated.

Once you’ve had some practice using the 5-minute method I described yesterday, you can try your hand at the following exercise. Again, you will need an egg timer or something else to count down 5 minutes. These may be a little bit harder than what I mentioned yesterday, but could also be easier for you depending on your particular writing practice or style.

Each of the following sentences are to be used at the beginning, end or anywhere in between of whatever story comes to mind. Choose a sentence, set the timer and begin: It was a big house with two rooms. They walked away without saying a word. I laughed silently. After dinner, they went into the garden. She recognized him at once. I glanced at my watch. He put down his glass. She turned white – dead white. The little dog started barking. When he looked, it was gone.

The following short was one I wrote using the technique described above; it is only an excerpt from a longer piece. This exercise was “Write a story about the dark.”

Darkness was everywhere, so thick it was almost suffocating. He couldn’t remember when the darkness had started or why. He couldn’t remember much of anything now other than the dark. As long as he could remember, there had always been darkness. No light, no break anywhere in the unending repetition of darkness. Once in a while he would think he saw a glimpse of light far off in the distance. A mere twinkling of light, like that of a star in a darkened sky. But when he blinked the light would be gone and if he looked harder for it, he’d begin to wonder if he’d seen anything at all. Maybe the light was somewhere behind his eyes and when he blinked it was just a memory of light. Yet he could remember the sun and how bright it had been. So wonderfully warm and intense, yet it had been so long since he’d seen it that he thought maybe he’d only ever imagined it or dreamed it. He had also noticed that the dark seemed cold but he didn’t really understand cold since he didn’t actually feel cold. He couldn’t explain the dark or the feeling of being cold when he couldn’t feel it. It was quite possible, he thought, that he was just going mad.

This next sample was based on the exercise: “Write a story about a noise.” It’s also only an excerpt of a much longer piece that I was inspired to expand on at a later date.

She was afraid to go in he bathroom. Something was in there. She could see them from the corner of her eye whenever she looked in the mirror. It was crazy. She knew this. No one could be in the bathroom without her having seen them go in there. People didn’t live in mirrors and you couldn’t see reflections of things that didn’t exist.

All this ran through her mind even as she clutched a towel to her chest while cautiously approaching the open bathroom door. Never should have taken this unit without a window in the bathroom, she chided herself, taking a step closer to the door. She intended to cover the mirror. Reflections or not, she thought, if I cover the mirror whatever I saw won’t be there anymore. She knew there was a rather large flaw in this line of thinking, but she shoved it aside. Treading carefully and breathing shallowly so as not to make a noise, she quietly stepped to the bathroom threshold. She could see the mirror, but it was so dark in the room that she couldn’t make out any reflections, which as far as she was concerned was just fine by her. All she had to do now was step inside and cover the mirror with the towel she still clutched in her hands. She could hear and see nothing in the dark interior of the room, but didn’t dare turn on the light. Her eyes would immediately be drawn to the mirror and her mind shied away from even the possibility of catching a glimpse of what might be reflected there.

And that dear readers is a small example of how using 5-minute exercises can help jump-start your writing or even point you in a new direction. Hope you are able to make use of these in your own writing work.

Have you got 5 minutes to spare?

Exercises taken from the book Fast Fiction by Roberta Allen

Don’t Get Any Ideas

English: Walk of Ideas sculpture Modern Book P...

English: Walk of Ideas sculpture Modern Book Printing Deutsch: Der moderne Buchdruck, Sculptur des Walk of Ideas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most famous and most asked question that any artist, writer, crafter, architect or other creative worker has heard, is always, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

I think it is the most over-used, blatantly boring, redundant and pointless question ever asked. It’s as though people who read, admire, live in or otherwise experience another person’s work has never had an original thought in their lives. Which by the way, is ridiculous. Where does anyone get ideas? From the same place anyone else does. Just because you’re a writer or artist or designer or whatever doesn’t grant you some magical lifeline into the mysteries of the universe where a well of ideas spring forth ripe for you to pick them out at your leisure. In a word, I think the idea of ideas is rather nuts. Everyone has ideas and the only thing that separates a creative individual from anyone else, is that the creative person holds within them the drive to DO something with their ideas and practice, practice, practice their craft.

Speaking of practice I was perusing a few blogs this afternoon and over the years I’ve seen numerous authors struggle with the dreaded phrase “writer’s block.” Personally I don’t believe writer’s block or any other ‘block’ to your creativity exist. I do believe however, that any block that you may or may not encounter only exists as a way for you, the writer, to avoid writing whatever piece you have in front of you. It isn’t that you’re lazy or that you would much prefer to do something else (all jobs have this element btw, it’s not exclusive to writers). Nor is your topic, writing or knowledge lacking in skill, interest or relevance, although there may be a bit of all of these but not in the way you may expect.

By this, I mean that there may be a part of you that really doesn’t like what you’re writing about. Maybe you started off writing about your grandpa’s antique car collection but you would rather write about grandma’s cooking recipes. Or maybe you’re writing something you feel obligated to write because you have specifically designed your blog, novel or article to be about a pre-determined topic and feel you have to “stick with your plan.” Honestly, unless you’ve received an advance or signed a contract promising this piece of writing to another party, you DO NOT have to keep writing it. If you aren’t passionate about your current writing endeavor, why are you writing it? You and your writing flourishes when you write passionately about something that moves you while also helping you grow as a writer and as an individual.

Now there is the other kind of so-called “writer’s block” when you’re sitting in front of that always dreaded and oh so intimidating, glaringly bright white computer screen and all you can think of is getting another cup of coffee and reading a book. Which is not such a bad idea. Ever heard the saying that when you’re looking for something, the harder you look the less likely you are to find it? And that if you really want to find something that you should engage in any other activity that allows your thoughts to think of something else? No? Well it really does work and it also works for writing.

However, if you have a deadline and all you can hear is the ticking of the wall clock, the growling of your empty stomach or the crunching of food by a family member or co-worker and you just HAVE to write something today, I have an exercise you can try to get those writing muscles in gear.

Several years ago I used to be a member of what was called the Writer’s Digest Book Club and it was awesome. Books I never knew existed could be found in this club, never mind bought at any local bookstore and I felt like I’d gone to writing heaven. I bought more than my fair share of writing books but I wasn’t actually doing any writing, as so often happens when you consign your dreams to remaining dreams. But I knew I would want to write “someday” and so I decided to only invest in reference books that would be available to me when I was ready to read them.

Long story short, I have in my possession a book entitled, Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes by Roberta Allen. It’s a great resource for finding and generating ideas. The concept is simple and once you’ve tried it a few times, you should no longer bemoan your imagined lack of idea generating muscles.Get yourself a simple egg timer, choose one prompt from the sample list below, set your timer for 5 minutes and start writing.

Don’t think! Just write!

Write a story about a lie. Write a story about a wish. Write a story about something that really happened. Write a story about greed. Write a story about a window. Write a story about a doorway. Write a story about water. Write a story about something that hasn’t happened yet. Write a story about a storm. Write a story about a flower, a memory, falling, money, desire, dancing, pain, a secret, air, friendship. (You get the idea…)

If words aren’t cutting it for you, find yourself some black and white photos of anyone or anything you know nothing about. All you should have before you is an image of someone or something. Write about it. Tell a story. Let the words pour forth and don’t worry about editing, grammar or anything else your ego tries to bring to your attention. You’ll have plenty of time to think about that when the timer ends. If you find you have more to say after the timer goes off, set it for another 5 minutes and keep going. Stop after this and review what you’ve written. I can almost guarantee that you will have before you a piece of writing you didn’t even know was in your thoughts. And if you’re really lucky, not only will you have gotten past any ‘block’ you may have had, but you may also have a new plot idea before you. You could also very easily use this technique to write an entire book.

The choice and the words are yours. Begin.