How To Organize Your Schedule To Write Effectively [Guest Post]

It’s my pleasure to welcome Crystal Roman to my blog!

How To Organize Your Schedule to Write Effectively | Guest Post | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Famous writers and masterminds created their own daily routine, balanced between work and leisure, to find sources of inspiration.

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A daily routine is something we all have to follow in order to manage daily chores and work more or less effectively. The basis of everyday life is habits and rites, which we can borrow from others or invent some ourselves. Great writers coped with the same difficulties that we are dealing with today, no matter how brilliant they were.

In today’s post, we would like to expand on how to find the strength to write daily, how to keep a balance between work and leisure and how to manage time effectively. In addition, you might want to see this post and learn how to study more effectively.

1. SLEEP

During life, a person invents their own effective time management strategies. These strategies can be infinitely diverse: a thing that works for one person will not work for the other. Gustave Flaubert, for example, could only write at night, as during the day, he would get distracted from work by the slightest noise. Günther Grass replied to this that it’s impossible to write at night. Although you might have some inspiration at that time, when you read your text in the morning, it will be no good. Therefore, he only started to work in daylight to stay time effective.

Modern American writer Nicholson Baker has come up with time management techniques to accommodate two whole mornings in one day. His usual day begins with the fact that he wakes up at four or half past four AM. He writes something, while sometimes drinking coffee. He writes for about an hour and a half, and then, he goes back to sleep waking up around half past eight.

Interestingly, many creative people experienced problems with sleep. For example, William James was forced to lull himself with chloroform for a quite some time, while Franz Liszt walked restlessly around the room at night and tried to compose music. Charles Darwin would meditate on some scientific problem for a long time even when he was lying in bed at night already. So much for effective time management.

Some found the traditional sleep regime uncomfortable or not effective enough when tasked with the “how to plan your day” question. American architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller came up with an effective planning scheme for “high-frequency” sleep: he fell asleep for a short time during the day, feeling tired, and then again returned to work. As his biographer J. Baldwin notes, Fuller “frightened the observers, plunging into sleep for a few moments, as if he was pushing the switch button in his head. It happened so quickly that it seemed more like a fit. ”

In contrast, Renee Descartes used a time planner and slept every day for ten to eleven hours and allowed himself to wander through the woods, orchards and bewitched castles, where he tasted “all imaginable joys.” Some relaxation and idleness, in his opinion, is necessary for a good work of the mind.

2. FOOD

Many writers, artists and thinkers preferred lean and light food: Picasso, for example, ate only vegetables, fish, rice, and grapes. However, Francis Bacon had two or three lavish meals a day and drank up to half a dozen bottles of wine. This did not impede his work, and he argued that he liked working hungover because the brain was full of energy and all the thoughts were more distinct than ever.

Honore de Balzac consumed up to 50 cups of the strongest coffee a day in order to maintain the right amount of energy. In addition to this, Wisten Hugh Oden was also taking amphetamines daily and called his regular diet consisting of alcohol, coffee, tobacco, and amphetamines labor-saving supplies.

Tobacco in, general, can be considered one of the most common stimulants. Sigmund Freud, who smoked almost all his life, even lamented his seventeen-year-old nephew, who refused to smoke cigarettes.

The Bohemian way of life, which is often adhered to by creative people such as writers, makes them more prone to drinking and drugs. However, there are exceptions here. For example, Ingmar Bergman always worked sober and even drunken alcoholic Francis Scott Fitzgerald in later years said that it became clearer to him that writing a long story, as well as the subtle perception and judgment during editing,  are incompatible with drinking.

Here you can recall the famous statement made by Ernest Hemingway: “Write drunk, edit sober.” For some, a slight intoxication is not bad, but for others, a clear and calm mind is required when writing. In such a case, it is better to drink just green tea. If you still have trouble with your writing, though, you could check out this website to get essay writing help.

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3. REST

A timely rest for writers is no less important than concentration. It is very easy to get carried away in some book, but you need also to find some time to relax, which could be arranged with the help of some good daily schedule planner.

Beethoven would go out for a long walk after lunch if he were stuck with some task, which lasted almost the rest of the day. Another amateur walker Søren Kierkegaard in between work went around the whole of Copenhagen not bothering much on how to improve time management. Benjamin Franklin took air baths for about an hour in the morning and then doze for a while.

Like all of us, the great minds also suffered from a lack of concentration and procrastinated for the lack of a weekly schedule planner. The problem of procrastination was very troubling, for example, for William James. He was a university professor and often postponed the preparation of lectures until the last minute.

For many intellectuals leading a secular lifestyle, rest is all about night binges, receptions of guests, trips to restaurants and bars. However, there are less tiring ways to relax. For example, Francis Bacon read cookbooks before going to bed. Woody Allen sometimes took a shower several times a day to escape from work, and David Lynch practiced transcendental meditation.

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Summing up, we hope that this post encompassing mostly writers along with other great minds demonstrated how differently they went about organizing their own time management plan and daily routine. You may want to make use of some of their habits and see which work for you the best. Another option is to go for some work schedule maker, which you can find online.

About Crystal Roman

Crystal Roman is an American writer who works in the whodunit genre. In his spare time, he helps out university students at TypeMyEssays with their essays and other types of academic works.

How do you organize your writing schedule? Let us know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around. Also, you can check out the other Guest Posts that have been featured on this blog! If you’d like to be a guest blogger on here yourself or ask me to write a post for you, you can check out the Guidelines.

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Why You Need To Read Good Books To Write Good Books [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by James Bee. Thanks, James!

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            You have to read to write. Everyone has heard this, over and over again. It’s usually one of the first pieces of advice that is thrown at rookie writers. Read more! We’re told to read more than we write, read everything we can get our hands on, but why? How can this help?

There’s a whole bunch of ways that reading can help improve your writing but I’m going fo focus on three main ones.

  1. Reading can help you get unstuck. Getting stuck is one of most painful experiences you can have when writing. Writers learn to dread the feeling, sitting down at your keyboard and having nothing to put down. Day after day goes by and you fall farther and farther behind your goals. It sucks, plain and simple. Reading can help save you from this pit. When you read, you get out of your own head and into someone else’s. You never know what inspiration you’ll find in there, what methods or tools that you can use to get yourself unstuck.
  2. Helping strengthen your weaknesses. If you are reading authors who write better than you (and you should) then there is a lot you can learn. Tips, tricks, strategies, they’ll filter into your brain whether you pay attention or you don’t. Writing is a learning experience, one that never ends. Like any discipline, you must study in order to get better. Focus and work hard enough and your weaknesses might just become your strengths!
  3. Keeps your passion strong. If you guys are anything like me, you can get bogged down in the day to day focus of your own work. Writing is a lot of work and like anything can start to feel like a chore after weeks and months of plugging away on a manuscript. The passion can start to leak away. Reading can help fight that off, recharge your inspiration batteries. Can help you remember why you started writing in the first place.

Here’s some specific examples of what I’ve learnt from a few of my favourite authors.

J.K. Rowling: Camaraderie and creating engaging interpersonal relationships. I grew up on Harry Potter. Without it I doubt I would be doing what I am doing today. There are a whole list of elements that make the Harry Potter books special. Yet the one that’s helped me most in my writing is Rowling’s ability to create dynamic and meaningful relationships between characters. Harry Potter is a character defined by his past and by his friendships and feuds. Yet all of these relationships feel real, organic. Creating these is no easy task, and if done wrong can make your whole novel feel awkward. Just the friendship trio of Harry, Ron and Herminone alone is a roadmap on how to craft compelling friendships. They grow with each book and so does their relationships with each other.

Pratchett: The power of dialogue and how to use it. As a rookie writer its hard not to overthink everything, to over explain, over write. You are scared of doing too little so you end up doing too much. Certainly this was an issue I struggled with in my early writing, and certainly still do. However, reading Terry Pratchett’s wonderful novels has helped me gain perspective, to be more minimalistic in my work. Pratchett trusts his audience to be able to keep up and decipher the clues he leaves, mainly in his dialogue. He implies and infers, knowing that a alert reader will be able to pick up on it. The conversations between characters does everything, sets up the plot, describes the action, and is the driving force behind the whole narrative.

Joe Abercrombie: Made me remember why I wanted to write in the first place. Passion is nothing besides discipline. Build a good routine and stick to it and you’ll pump out novels. Yet, passion cannot be completely dismissed. Passion breathes life into your writing, makes it vibrant. Yet passion can fade and must be nurtured and rekindled like a fire in a windy place. Abercrombie made we want to start writing and whenever I re-read one of his novels I’m reminded of this. It gives me a push, forces me to strive to be better, to work harder. To see the passion hiding behind the work.

These are just a few ways and examples of how good books can help you become a better writer! Now get out there and start reading!

About James Bee

James Bee is a novelist and blogger working out of Vancouver, Canada. He’s the author of two fantasy novels with more on the way! You can follow him on twitter @jameslikesbooks or follow him on his blog!

Let James know what you thought of his post in the comments below! We’d love to chat. If you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

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Rhythm

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Thompson Crowley. Thanks, Thompson!

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There’s a certain rhythm in everything. Life, reality, whatever you want to call it, it’s all just a collection of vibrations. For us experiencing it, each and every type of scenario we can encounter trots along at its own unique pace, enveloping us, immersing us, tuning us in. There are some that flow with more ease than others and some that are a little awkward and stuttered; but all move in the direction to which they are heading.

I can’t help but notice the different rhythms in my life, they play such an integral part. For example, in my writing, what I’m doing right now. I take such pleasure in floating along the strings of sentences which effortlessly flow out of me, luring out sweet phrases and thoughts that I didn’t even realise my awareness contained. I feel so free and boundless, restricted only by my knowledge of the English language, which fortunately, for me, is full of a vast diversity of ideas and meanings that I can piece together to get my point across.

Music is the big one though. We all agree on this. When the first note of your preferred style hits you, instantly you are swept away onto a rainbow of flavoursome sensations; a rhythm which glides through you, under you, and above. Like flying in your dreams. And when I’m writing music I get to tap into this flow; I get to muddle through the intricacies, merging my own tempo with that of the sweet, sweet sounds. And when I get to throw words, poetry into the mix, that’s when it becomes even more fun.

I read a short article once by Robert Pinksy, about how all poetry is a physical thing; how it stems from your body, like dancing. And I have to agree with this. When you are writing the words, the sounds, the meanings, the shapes, you can feel them in your chest; throughout your whole being. There’s a reason why certain sounds, certain muscle shapes and thrusts of air, developed into certain meanings; it is embedded deep within us. And when you’re writing that’s what you are tapping into, that ancient, timeless, deep, ingrained, metaphysical, yet physical manifestation from your soul. And that’s why anything well written, anything you read that truly speaks to you, that truly leaves its mark, flows; it has rhythm.

So, whatever your passions: music, literature, sports, conversation, building, drawing, painting, gardening, dancing, computing, whatever; just find the rhythm you feel most comfortable with and indulge yourself deservedly; take endless pleasure in riding it as it is your own. Because that’s the only thing we’re here for…

About Thompson

After many years wandering around Britain in campervans, tents; on bikes; with prams, bags, buggies, I now find myself in Spain, preparing to flee to Australia. I’ve spent my life writing songs and performing with bands, as well as writing journals about my wayward adventures. I now look forward to doing the same down under.

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Literacy’s Role in African American Education

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Yecheilyah. Thanks, Yecheilyah!

I’ve always enjoyed reading. If I could, I can spend an entire day reading, 24 hours easy. In school, I’ve also been far better at English and Literature than I was at math or science. In fact, the better I did in Literature, it seemed the worse I was in math. It got so bad that when I was in High School and my teacher assigned a poetry project, I wrote a poem about how much I hated math. I still hate math.

I am not the only one. Many African American young adults struggled through math and science while excelling in English. Why is that? I thought to explore the answer to this question.

It could have a lot to do with our roots, having arrived at the America’s in ships, sold as male and female slaves, and then sown in the south, slaves were not allowed to read and to write. Adamantly opposed to the education of their slaves, southern slaveholders feared uprisings. Of all the evil they’ve no doubt done to the enslaved, the southern slave-master’s greatest fear was what the enslaved would do to them. For this reason, the law prohibited the reading and writing of slaves with consequences for breaking these laws. One such law, passed in North Carolina in 1830, stated that “any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within this State to read or write, the use of figures excepted or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State.”

As you can see, not only was it punishment for the enslaved, but also to the person who taught him. This fear of literacy was brought on not only due to fear of uprisings but also of the enslaved recognizing his slave status and thus rebelling against the concept of being someone’s property. Like anyone denied human rights, the enslaved learned to read and write in secret, many times with the help of other slaves who were literate as well as whites who taught them privately. Using the bible as a textbook, blacks learned letters and sounds, carving them into the dirt and spelling out names.

Upon freedom, Blacks continued their fight for literacy and reading was highly promoted in the African American community, especially in the south. Segregation prohibited blacks from attending the same schools as whites so that the instruction many blacks received was limited. It was limited because the teachers, only having gone so far themselves, were limited. Many former slaves still had to pick cotton, sharecropping on the same plantations that held them as slaves. This meant that children could only attend school half the time as many were called back to help their parents in the fields. Many young people were then forced to drop out of school. In short, the teachers of the southern black schools could only go so far and many of them were knowledgeable more so in English and reading than they were in any other subject. Since many were not allowed to read during chattel slavery, I suppose it made reading itself more sought after and more cherished.

Since Blacks were limited in the schools they could attend, there were a greater appreciation and passion for learning than it is today. Blacks were integral in establishing their own schools in their own communities and for pushing the importance of education. The position of Teacher was of great importance and treated as such. In “Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom”, Heather Andrea Williams discovered that “freedpeople identified teaching as a critical job for building self-sufficient communities and called both men and women into service.” Young men and women were encouraged to become teachers in hopes that their students would go on, not only to become teachers themselves, but to also go home and to teach their families –their mother’s, father’s, and grandparents—who were denied the privilege as slaves.

Black youth were encouraged to read in their spare time (benefits of a pre-TV and video game era). They repaired books using cardboard, cloth, and cooked glue (cooked flour and water) and were wealthy in the knowledge of Black Literature, not just the books but the artists. According to Williams, placing Black teachers and administrators in Black schools was part of the freed slaves’ larger campaign for self-determination.

According to a video interview by Maya Angelou, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, like Howard, Fisk, Tuskegee, Morgan State and Spelman, were “heavenly abodes.” In her words, “I kind of thought that if a child was good and died the child would go to heaven and become an angel. And if the angel was a good angel and died he would probably go to Howard.” She laughed after this statement and my fingers smile as I write this but the idea, for her I am sure, was to illustrate the importance of education in the minds of blacks at that time, particularly literacy.

I cannot say for certain why many blacks struggle with math and science as opposed to Literature. I do know that our foundation in the importance of reading is a strong one that I am sure won’t be going away anytime soon. The importance of literacy in the black community and the unquenching thirst for education is something history won’t let us forget.

About Yecheilyah

Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the Young Adult, Historical Fiction author of Black American Literature and Poetry. Author of eight books (most notably, The Stella Trilogy), Yecheilyah is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story”. Book One is due for release July 15-16, 2017 at The Tampa Indie Author Book Convention in Tampa Florida. Yecheilyah is also a Blogger, and Book Reviewer. Originally from Chicago, IL, she now resides in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes full time.

Connect with Yecheilyah

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Call To Write

Guests appear on my blog twice a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Reed R. Buck. Thanks, Reed!

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To the dreamers, the creators, and the readers. To the wonderful souls left lost in the darkness of the adult world. To the children-at-heart. This is to you.

Write. Please, write. Write every day you’re able. You may not think you have anything to say, but you’re wrong. You may not think the world cares what you have to say, but you’re wrong. Your voice is your own, a unique beacon in the night. You can draw others to you, people who believed their thoughts could never be voiced by another.

It is the most difficult thing you may ever do in your life. Anonymity makes monsters of men, and there will be those who try to dissuade you from writing. They may say you’re not good enough, you will never be good enough. They may be right. The flame of your voice may be extinguished in the harsh climate of rejection.

Or you may keep it inside you, a warmth from within but not without, a gift stolen from those who might need it most. I will not blame you if you cannot bear to share it. I will only smile, and continue to call.

Write. Please, write.

To the hopers, the secret-keepers, and the dissident. To the rebels without a leader, hungry for change. To the people who will save this Earth. This is to you.

Speak. Please, speak. Speak up against injustice. Criticize the world around you for all its flaws. Shed light upon the skeletons in the closet, the mess swept under the rug for the public to ignore. You may believe your cause is already lost. You may think the world deserves to burn for its sins. You are wrong. This world is a quagmire of pressure and loss, a mold that forces conformity and acceptance of horror. Its people are nothing more than slaves to a power they can’t understand or change.

You can change it. You can speak up against it. Yours can be the voice – the pen – the blog that reminds others what matters most. You can keep humanity on track to recovery, to catharsis. But you cannot do that from inside the confines of your insecurities. You must leave them behind, for the good of yourself and others.

Perhaps your insecurities are unbearable. Perhaps there are days when you can hardly move for the weight of them around your shoulders. I will not blame you if you cannot speak your mind. I will only smile, and continue to call.

Speak. Please, speak.

Did you enjoy Reed’s post? Let us know in the comments below!

On Writing Short Stories

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Hugo. Thanks, Hugo!

So, you want to write short stories?

You’re in luck.

There’s been a focus on general writing and editing so far by my fellow guest bloggers, and it’s all valuable information. Read through the posts, you’re bound to learn something. So for my piece, I’d like to narrow the focus a little bit and talk about writing short stories.

Let’s start with the Wikipedia definition of a short story:
“A short story is a piece of prose fiction, which can be read in a single sitting. … At its most prototypical the short story features a small cast of named characters and focuses on a self-contained incident with the intent of evoking a “single effect” or mood. In doing so, short stories make use of plot, resonance, and other dynamic components to a far greater degree than is typical of an anecdote, yet to a far lesser degree than a novel. While the short story is largely distinct from the novel, authors of both generally draw from a common pool of literary techniques.”

As far as length: “Other definitions place the maximum word count of the short story at anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000. In contemporary usage, the term short story most often refers to a work of fiction no shorter than 1,000 and no longer than 20,000 words. Stories of fewer than 1,000 words are sometimes referred to as “short short stories” or “flash fiction.”

Thanks, Wikipedia!

So, why short stories?

Well, why the heck not?

I’ll give you a little bit of my background so you can see where I’m coming from. Like many contemporary writers, I cut my writing teeth through Fanfiction.net and it became my life-long dream to one day write and publish my own novels in the fantasy genre.

So, fast-forward over a decade later. I’ve graduated college, working a job where I have to wear pants, and on the tail end of my MFA program. I’m also nowhere near close to sniffing a finished novel. And so, I discovered short stories.

READING SHORT STORIES

Writing and reading short stories became the perfect addition to an erratic schedule that included grad school, a full-time job, and freelancing as a journalist. Why? Each of them was a tiny itty-bitty book that I could devour in a single lunch break or read before bed/work without the frustrating “Damn it! It was getting so good!” Not that they weren’t good, quite the opposite, they were great, but they were great in a short span of time. Some people prefer to watch TV over movies for that reason because it conforms better to hectic schedules. Some of you are just as busy, if not much more busy than I am, and this is why I recommend you pick up a few short story collections.

Another thing about reading short stories is that they can have just as much of an emotional impact on you as a novel can. Stories like Benjamin Alire Saenz’s “He Has Gone to be the Dragon” or Neil Gaiman’s “Nicholas Was” are so profound even in their brevity (Nicholas came in at 100 words).

My recommendations: Saenz’s “Everything begins and ends at the Kentucky Club”, Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions; Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek; Oscar Casares, Brownsville Stories.

WRITING SHORT STORIES

There are many authors out there who won’t write short stories because they feel so limited. I never really understood that mentality. Heck, part of the reason I suspended work on my novel was because it started getting so open-ended with dozens of plotlines and I couldn’t keep track of every single one. With short stories, the only real “constraint” is the word length and even that isn’t so much a constraint as it is a way to flex your writing muscles.

So, how do you start writing a short story?

That one is entirely up to you.

One technique I’ve found to be successful is taking a writing prompt and asking yourself a: “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if—?” or “Heh, imagine if—“ and then riffing off of that to whatever it is you want to write about. The best part of it is, if you really, really like a character and want to continue writing about them, you can!

There’s also the planning aspect of it. With novels, it is highly recommended you have an outline. That’s why tools like Scrivener and Novlr are indispensable for writers. For short stories, your outlines (if you have ‘em) are nowhere near as extensive.

On the piece I’m currently revising, my outline was essentially the following words scrawled out on my journal: “taco truck” “law school” “finals”. In comparison, the outline for my novel project was 12 pages.

The thing about novels is that if you don’t plan, you’re not going to get much done. That’s why tools like Scrivener and Novlr are lifesavers for any writer. But with short stories, you take away from the amount of time you’re spending planning and you’re adding it to the amount of time spent writing.

Writing short stories is also a good way to increase your visibility. Because you’re able to send out many submissions to different journals and magazines, whereas compared to writing novels, you’re going to need an agent before someone e to test your fiction on a larger audience, and to see what you like, to experiment, to explore.

For me, I think if there was going to be a best part about writing short fiction is that it flows naturally from my background as a journalist and as a poet. I want to tell many stories, not just one. One day, I will finish my novel, but until then, I’m comfortable writing just short stories.

Maybe you can get to be like that, too! If you’re ever interested in bouncing off some ideas, please let me know.

Hugo Esteban Rodriguez Castañeda was born and raised in Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Brownsville and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. His poetry has appeared in the 2014 Texas Poetry Calendar, HEArt Journal Online, and the Latino Rebels: Bolder Anthology; and his fiction is forthcoming in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. He lives in Houston, Texas, with his girlfriend and two neurotic fur-children. You can follow his writing shenanigans at www.dosaguilas.org and on Instagram @DosAguilas.

Creativity’s Invitation to Discovery and Wholeness

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Phyllis Edgerly Ring. Thanks, Phyllis!

The Munich Girl Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Seven years ago, I made a bid on an eBay item that would change my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the time. Something within me was strongly drawn toward it, though I didn’t yet understand why. It was a portrait of Eva Braun drawn by an artist who never gained acclaim for his work — though his infamous name is branded on history forever. Eva Braun chose to die with him 71 years ago this spring.

That portrait is at the heart of everything that became a part of my new novel’s story, set largely in the Germany of World War II. The experience of writing The Munich Girl showed me that, rather than being something I “do”, writing is a process that acts upon me, strengthening my sense of connection with my own wholeness. My responsibility is to listen and watch, rather than impose ideas or plans of my own on what comes forth as a story.

Creative process invites me to find a balance between my intuitive mind, which encounters the unlimited and unknown, and rational mind, whose structuring perception helps a story be both cohesive and accessible. People often hurl themselves at creative process “head first” with the rational mind, trying to force or control things. My experience is that in creative process, intuitive mind is waiting for me to meet it, so that it can help me know and understand in new and wider ways.

Gertrude Stein expressed this beautifully: “You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery.” She gets straight to the heart of what allows writing process to be a revelatory power, and a bestower, rather than a distraction or plaything. The difference is a willing surrender into seeking and unknowing, rather than a presumed knowledge of any kind.

I know I’m immersed in that when things begin to strike with notes my inner ear can hear, when my crown and scalp suddenly tingle. But first, I must surrender to a great blankness that can seem as though it will never yield, no matter how I push or try to break through it. And that is because I’m the one who’s meant to do the yielding, so that intuitive mind can impart its secrets to me.

This was reinforced for me one afternoon while I swam with a friend, and recognized that in order to swim, I must meet the water on its terms. I must yield to and merge with the way it envelops and supports me.

On the pathway that the portrait of Eva Braun opened before me, every aspect of the story in The Munich Girl, every theme, revelation, and scene, came to meet me in a similar way when I was ready to receive it, after I had immersed myself in its atmosphere and waited, listening, watching. Trusting.

Believing that I “know” anything about a story before it has fully shown itself is the only “writer’s block” I’ve ever created for myself. When I yield to and receive what intuitive mind wants to offer in the creative process, I am met by what I’m able to receive and integrate on the deepest levels.

I’ve come to believe that the rational mind serves best when it’s not trying to lead, or force, but to follow, when we’re seeking to discover what we don’t yet know. When we are willing to do that, the revelations that arrive via our intuitive mind will often surprise and delight us, both because they feel so inevitable, and also because they are beyond anything that rational mind, whose scope is confined only to previous experience, could imagine or predict.

The luscious magic in the process for writers is that when we open up to meeting the greater possibilities of what we don’t yet know, we’ll be repeatedly astonished that what comes to meet us is disarmingly precise, unfathomably generous, and remarkably right.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring AuthorPhyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New Hampshire and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied environmental and plant science, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her newest novel is The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies that Outlast War.

 

You can find Phyllis Edgerly Ring on her social media:

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Bringing Up Baby: That Story You Still Love

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Gwen. Thanks, Gwen!

I’ve been writing since I was four. Well, scribbling, but I swore they were stories. Seeing as even I can’t read them anymore, I can claim they were the best I’ve ever written.

When I was twelve, I read a dozen books by Raphael Sabatini and a dozen more by Tamora Pierce. By accident, I stumbled onto the idea that would obsess the next fifteen years of my writing life: seafaring men and women with magic and Shakespearean family drama.

It’s not difficult to see why I would want to spend hundreds of hours writing about swashbucklers and sea battles, cannons and fire-conjurers, hurricanes and kings. I dragged this story with me as I grew up, kept coming back to it over and over. I had a thousand edited pages of a trilogy when I turned eighteen and realized that I was both totally in love with the story, and too bored to continue.

As it turns out, it’s difficult to take a story with you through adolescence. I’ve been rewriting, rebuilding, and slowly working out how to do it:

  1. Don’t be afraid to get messy.

When I was twelve, I thought orphans felt free, not lost or abandoned. When I was twelve, I thought swordfights didn’t have to end bloody. When I was twelve, I thought thieves were romantic, and getting robbed never hurt anyone. I have a fair amount of nostalgia for the naïve whimsy in those stories, and it kept me afraid to shade in the darker sides of the picture for a long time.

I was equally afraid that if I started pulling pieces apart to make space for new things, that I wouldn’t have a story anymore, just a tangle of prose.

I was afraid I would ruin something. Instead, I gave myself a wider space to play.

And I saved all my old drafts because nostalgia is powerful.

  1. Change the names.

When I was in college, a friend asked me why I still had “mages” in my stories, when the term was forcing me to spend extra time explaining away an audience’s preconceived ideas of what they were. A few years later, a professor suggested that I change the names of all the characters I had been working with since I was twelve, to escape old thought patterns.

I renamed a lot of things: people, ships, islands, magicks. It felt like writing a new story, with all my favorite pieces of the old one. Some things went back to their old names after a few months, but it was a valuable freedom.

  1. Question gravity.

Very recently, I was talking a plot problem through with a friend. For years, I have been trying to decide how to destroy something very large during a fight between two people.

“I think you need an army to do that,” my friend said. She spent about thirty seconds explaining it to me, before I realized she was right, and that her idea served my story extremely well.

“I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before,” I said.

“Because fantasy stories usually follow the idea that one or maybe two people accomplish all the important things,” she said without hesitation.

And I realized I had internalized the Law of Singular Heroes. Like it was the Law of Gravity. Not for the first time, I’ve had to remind myself to question everything, because without meaning to, I’m still mimicking the stories I grew up on without reason.

  1. Keep writing.

I’m a writer who likes to plan her stories, scene by scene, but there’s only so much that can be accomplished without putting words on paper. It’s a particular kind of exploration, like actually walking on an unknown continent instead of flying over it. You learn quickly what works and what doesn’t with your feet on the ground.

  1. Fall in love HARDER.

Whether you started writing at six or sixty, you started because you were in love with something. I loved knights, swords, and dragons. Maybe you loved time machines and elves. I suspect we were both a little in love with words. Whatever it was, our enthusiasm was the most important part. Always, always fight to hold onto it.

Don’t make your changes because you think they make the story better. Make your changes because they excite you, because they enamor you, because they make you love your story better.

You can find Gwen on her blog.

World Building: Build A World You Love (Part Four)

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out my Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Nthato, about world building. This is the last part of a four-part series. In case you missed it, you can read Part OnePart Two, and Part Three here. Thanks, Nthato!

a new world
Via Karlwennergren from DeviantArt
It’s very easy to get lost in the details of the world or get bogged down by things you find irrelevant to your story, and that is the perfect time to really get to know both your story as well as your world.

Relevancy

Pick out things that are relevant to your story and help it move forward. We do not need to know every grandparent’s name, middle name and favourite football team, unless it is relevant to the story.

Detail

Know how much detail to put in your story from the world. It’s not necessary to describe every building your character walks past but perhaps there’s one that stands out, or one that really gives your readers an understanding of the area, people or world.

Keep it mysterious

The reader doesn’t have to know every nook and cranny of the world their reading about. Nothing like a quiet island off the on it’s own, referenced only as “the island” to pique the interest of the reader, instill wonder or curiosity.

Build a world you love

Your characters have life. Your story has life and so too does the world you are building. You want to enjoy writing about it as much as you do about the people living in it. You want your readers to fall in love with it as they move through the pages.

How you put all of this together is really up to you. Each person has a unique way of detailing their worlds, from drawn out maps listing each and every location, to flash cards for each area a character will visit to spider-diagrams tying in character to location to story.

At the end of the day you must love to tell stories of your world as you do about your story; the two are intertwined.

What techniques do you use to build your world?

South African born writer working as a freelance writer for Gamecca Magazine, hobbyist blogger and writer of short stories. An avid reader and aspiring digital artist hoping to finish a couple of novels from previous NaNoWriMo years, including a Steam Punk novel, a political thriller, and a South African Historic Fantasy.

If you would like to know more about Nthato, visit him on his social media:

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