An outline is an often daunting thing for writers. We’re scattered and disorganized, we take a strange amount of pride in our spontaneity and for some reason we treat art like some people view magic–if there is a method to it, if there are explainable things, it becomes science and when you understand it, it loses something.
Let me joyfully and eagerly tell you that this is absolute and utter lies.
Science IS magic, and even if I were to delve into my most hippie-dippie pagan green-witch self, I would still tell you there are methods to spells and prayers.
And that they are still beautiful and wonderful all the same.
Alys started with an outline. A rather detailed one. And I retooled it many times. Does knowing that make it any less enjoyable? I would hope not, that’d be rather silly.
“But Kiri, I’m not a real writer, I can’t do an outline–”
Shhh, little traveler. Shh. You are.
Let’s start right there. You. Are. A. Writer.
Do you write? Do you enjoy writing?
That’s all it takes. I know that’s bewildering and seems like a snake oil, but I promise you friend, it’s true.
So, again, let’s get back to outlines.
Outlines are going to be your map. But the thing to remember is this is a map of your making. And you may find you will have to add to it or correct it along the way. And just because you HAVE a map, does not mean you don’t have the license to wander. In fact, you’ll find you’re more inclined to explore because you HAVE that map. You know where you’ve been, where you’re going or where you’re likely to go.
[img by Cassandra Zwart]
Hello my beautiful Curios, it’s been some time!
Summer is FINALLY OVER (I know it’s not until September 21st, but let me have this)! We’re trekking into the glorious time on this planet Earth of autumn and leaves changing (if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where trees do that). Everything is starting to smell like cinnamon and apple and pumpkin pie. Warm colors blossom everywhere. You may even get to use a scarf!
But most importantly of all…
November is coming.
Yes, dear heart, we’ve barely stumbled into September and I’ve got NaNoWriMo in my sights. Why? Because this year, my love, even if you have never done so before, this year you’re going to win. And I’m going to be with you every step of the way.
And to start? You’re going to story-load. It’s like carbo-loading, but with stories. Download new audiobooks, try a new show–go see a movie (or three) that intrigues you. CONSUME. ALL. THE. THINGS. New things. Not the comfortable re-watches, new things where you don’t always know what’s coming. Why?
Because in order to create art, we have to feel, we have to experience, and I’m a firm believer that we can only write our own stories after we’ve filled our minds, hearts, and bellies with so many others.
So for our NaNo prep, we’re gonna be sponges! Absorb, digest, and ponder. What do you like about these stories? What do you not like? What would you do differently? Let’s talk!
As we continue forward we’re going to add what we see/read in the comments below and talk a little about each. Let’s get those creative thoughts going, warmed up and primed. Because come November, if you haven’t loaded up on stories and tales, you’re going to feel absolutely creatively STARVED.
Let’s do this, friends. Grab a chair and a plate. Let’s dig in.
Image by WTB Potions
It has come to my attention that I do a lot on an average week. I usually have a lot of things going on at once, many projects in the air, and have been asked a few times how I manage to do it all. I’ve jokingly responded “By systematically sacrificing my social life”, and while that’s true, it’s not entirely the whole story. So I’m going to attempt to talk about that and hope what I’ve learned may be of some use to you.
First, it’s important to realize I don’t get done everything I want to. I’m still learning. For instance, this week my Wordy Wednesday will be late. My Curiosity Cabinet was unable to go up on Sunday like I planned due to a tragedy that struck last week when many of us in the Geek community lost a dear friend unexpectedly. But this happens. Because there are many things we can’t control. And one of those things is time.
A dear friend recently reached out to me for advice that I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to give. They were feeling overwhelmed with the world, distraught, and finding it difficult to focus on art through their medical struggles and wanted some wisdom on how to push through it.
Every response I can think of honestly feels rather trite.
But perhaps that’s okay. Perhaps things are overused for a reason, but we overlook them because it seems so commonplace and useless. We’re all familiar with “tried and true” but perhaps there is value in the idea of “trite, but true.”
And that’s all I can really offer you during these times of artistic constipation. A small piece of trite but true advice.
Sit down and just do it. Just vomit it out, as if it were no different than doing a dish or tying your shoe. It doesn’t have to be clever or pretty, it doesn’t have to be anything worth anything–you just need to do it. Just put your fingers to the keys or pen to paper and write. It doesn’t have to be relevant, it can literally be just a string of words that aren’t even relevant to your current project–or even ones that don’t make sense!
It’s a bit like jumpstarting a car. When you’ve left it alone for a while, sometimes you need to give it a jolt simply to get it back on track.
And sometimes the best way to do this, I’ve found, is to bleed everything into ink. I had a bad day? I write about it. I have a moment of elation? I jot it down. Sometimes they’re useless little notes in my phone, recently I’ve taken to carrying around a Field Notes journal because it’s small and fits even in my useless girl pockets (truly, why is it the pockets in pants made for women can’t seem to hold anything? What is the point of a purely aesthetic pocket? Yes, the detailing helps keep the garment from looking too plain, but one does want for some utilitarian purpose.)
The point is, if you want to push past the fog, I’ve found the best way is to literally write about everything. The mundane things, the excruciating things, the “wow no one will ever believe me this happened” things, and once you’ve gotten back in that habit–and it is, I’m afraid, a habit–the rest will be much easier. Not easy, mind you, I’m fairly certain anyone who says writing is ‘easy’ is an absolute liar but… easier.
Because you’re training your brain. You’re starting an almost Pavlovian experiment. You have a thought, your impulse is to write it down. You hear a joke? You write it down, without thinking. You are struck with a heart-wrenching, absolute soul hollowing feeling?
You. Write. It. Down.
It may feel crass at first, you’re likely not going to feel very good at any of it, that’s for certain for quite some time. Hell, at this point I’ve been writing for years, have put up a live performance of my work, published works through self-determination and traditional press…
And I’m still not sure if I’m very good at it.
But it’s become a habit I can’t break. It’s become a compulsion that I feel uncomfortable if I don’t follow through with it.
Perhaps that’s all a bit trite and cliche. But it just so happens that I know it to be true.
“Are you sure?” is a far from innocent question.
“Are you sure” is a coward’s cocktail of two parts deterrent and one part accusation.
It contributes to our life-long indoctrination intoxication that we cannot trust our own senses and judgement. Our own perceptions denounced, speaking our experience makes us liars, and as we grow our night-lights become gaslights in so much that we get vertigo just by standing up for ourselves.
“Are you sure” enforces the caution that it is paramount we are not speaking before thinking–it assumes your feelings are baseless, it reinforces the mythology that you haven’t given this any thought at all. When in truth it is the only thing that has occupied your thoughts both waking and dreaming. It lingers on you, cropping up at the most innocuous moments, those sleepy and content breaths where you thought you were safe.
We have trouble breathing, choking on the specter of thought that has been haunting us since the inception of realization of our reality.
“Are you sure?”
As if you weren’t so bursting that there were room for doubt within you.
And when you try call them out, they defend “I’m just checking!”
As if that can even pass as some form of repentance. But they never dare to finish the sentence.
“I’m just checking…”
I’m just checking you’re not a liar.
I’m just checking you’re sincere.
I’m just checking you’ve thought this through, because some part of me that I won’t admit to does not believe you.
“Are you sure” is more suggestion than question.
And it speaks volumes about what they never say aloud.
“Are you sure you didn’t provoke him?”
“Are you sure your skirt wasn’t too short?”
“Are you sure this isn’t a phase you’ll grow out of?”
“Are you sure” is both intimidation and invalidation.
It makes you question your sanity and believe, if even for a second, that speaking up isn’t worth the consequence.
Of course, I’m sure.
Please believe me.