Writing can be playful, spiritual, and thrilling. It can also be grueling, depressing, and impossible. When the writing flows like a clear stream it’s easy to think you’ll sail along forever. But when the writing hits a wall, like water stopped by a boulder, you believe you’ll never be a writer and there’s no point in trying. My advice is to ignore both of these thoughts.
When it feels easy, challenge yourself and see how you can improve your craft. When it feels like you’re banging your head against that rock, you also need to improve your craft. Both the smooth sailing and the rock are a signal that you can learn more.
So learn more about writing. Learn something every day, but remember the most important rule when writing:
If writing seems like that immovable rock, jump over the problem spot and keep going. If you can’t do that then back up to a previous point and go in a different direction, like a tributary on a river. If you put words on the page you’ll eventually erode that boulder. Your writing is water, it only moves forward when you add more and more.
I love October. It contains both my birthday and Halloween. It’s also a beautiful time of year when fall arrives, but you can still enjoy being outside and seeing nature’s splendor (unless you are dealing with tropical storms.) And did I mention it has by favorite holiday in it? (No, I don’t mean my birthday.) I love Halloween. It is a spooky holiday that anyone can celebrate because it can be as scary as you want it to be. I like my spooky on the light side, but filled with pumpkins, ghosts, and flying witches. Plus it has a fun history (but that’s another post.)
Since it is my birthday month I always feel the need to improve myself, so I have started a few challenges.
I am do a mini running streak. In 2012, I did a year-long running streak, meaning I ran everyday for 366 days. I like the idea of streaking, but I find I run more when the streak is shorter. I was afraid of hurting myself during my year-long streak so I only did a mile most days. I decided to earn the Run the Edge 50 mile buckle, so I am running at least 2 miles every day in October. I am eager to run each day because I know that I can stop on November 1. If Runner’s World does their winter streak challenge again from Thanksgiving to New Year’s I’ll probably do that, too. For now my challenge is at least two miles every day in October.
I like doing online challenges and Robert Lee Brewer, who writes for Writer’s Digest, is organizing a month-long Platform Challenge that I have joined. I have learned a lot and it is only day four. Day three’s challenge was to create a blog. I already have a blog, but I have not added any posts recently so this is my post for day three of the challenge. I did a Robert’s social media challenge several years ago and found it helped a lot, so I look forward to completing this challenge.
I have started a fun story project. I don’t want to say to much about it here since I am not releasing it into the world until December, but I am writing a lot and bringing it to one of my critique groups. However, I want to keep track of how much I write and when I write. I’d like to write every day but I don’t seem to do that, so I want to have a weekly goal. My goal would be five thousand words a week. So far I am on track.
My last challenge is a Halloween challenge. I made a list of thirty-one fun Halloween and autumn things to do. Some of them are short, like read a Halloween poem. Others are longer, like create a new costume. I tried to do something like this before because I like Halloween, but I forgot about my list. This time I added it to the charts I created to keep track of my challenges so I won’t forget.
So there are my challenges for October. As I said above, I have created a spreadsheet to record my daily progress. I think these challenges will make my favorite month that much more memorable. November is Nanowrimo, so I need to get all the fun I can get in October before I sink into a new writing project.
May Jack-o-lanterns burning bright
Of soft and golden hue
Pierce through the future’s veil and show
What fate now holds for you.
Last month the Short Fiction Writer’s Guild (SFWG) posted a review on their website of my story that won their 2014 flash fiction contest. You can find my winning entry on my website if you would like to read it. Today they posted the interview they did with me. I am honored to be asked about my writing viewpoints and I hope that my answers will help any writers needing encouragement with their own flash fiction.
I learned a lot about myself while answering these questions. I never once considered writing a horror story even though the theme was evil Christmas. It seems that many other writers took that route and that made me question why I don’t equate evil with horror. When I think of evil I think of Voldemort from Harry Potter, The Emperor from Star Wars, and Hydra from the Marvel universe. None of these books and movies are horror stories but yet they prove that evil lurks everywhere, from children’s books to comics.
The one thing I tried and failed to do was write about an evil Santa. And I really tried. No matter what story I started I could not make him evil and have him still be Santa. If he acted evil then he wasn’t acting like Santa so he wasn’t actually Santa. I only had a thousand words and could not really create a believable story about an imposter Santa. But it led me to a new question, do I stereotype my characters?
If I can’t make Santa evil can I make my detective a regular guy with a loving family? Can I make my bad guy so sympathetic that the reader forgives him of his crimes? Can I take any character and make them the opposite of what people expect? I don’t know. I like to think that my characters are original but that is probably not true. There are few truly original characters. All of our favorite fictional people are modeled after someone else, either consciously or unconsciously.
I am plotting out a multi-book series that takes the Avengers and sets them in a King Arthur-like world. They will each have roles fitting for that time but I am not going to hide the plagiarism. What I hope is that even if the similarities are there that the characters will be original for the story and the setting. So in the end it is okay if I can’t make Santa evil. What is important is that I make my characters believable and so intriguing that the reader will have no choice but to keep reading.
“Inside each of us, there is the seed of both good and evil. It’s a constant struggle as to which one will win. And one cannot exist without the other.” Eric Burdon
I love to subscribe to blogs. I may not stay subscribed for long but I am willing to give anyone’s blog a chance. Most of the blogs I read are about writing, fitness, or Disney. Lately I have been enjoying a blog by a writer who is also a full-time traveler. He lives a life that I would like to live if I had thought of it twenty years ago. He recently started a new blog that I would like to introduce to you to because it is my new favorite blog and I think it could be yours, too.
The blogger is Colin Wright. His blog is called Exile Lifestyle. He write a lot of books, travels a lot, and starts businesses with his friends. His newest website is Let’s Know Things. It is exactly what it says. In each email he provides links to four or five completely random topics. What is so cool is that every topic is fascinating.
Have you ever heard of a spite house? Neither had I until Let’s Know Things. Or how about a song about Van Gogh? Or Graham Island, an island in the Mediterranean that keeps disappearing? I have learned about these and dozens of other topics. If you like learning about anything and everything then I would suggest subscribing to Let’s Know Things. If nothing else you’ll be better at playing Jeopardy! Or you might find your next hobby or career. Anything is possible with knowledge.