Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 6 – Imagination

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Imagination is the beginning of creation.

You imagine what you desire,

you will what you imagine and

at last you create what you will.”
–George Bernard Shaw

Imagination has been on my mind of late. I keep returning to this wonderful tool of the mind and wonder how I might use it to venture more outside my comfort zone. (Other mind tools include: logic, reason, will, memory, perception, and intuition. Yes, all of these work together.)

I’ve come to realize that, like any other tool, my imagination can be used against me. Did you ever notice that when fears surround or creep up on you that your imagination might be used to make the fears take root? Maybe I’m experiencing confusion or indecision because I’m doing something unfamiliar. The nasty fear voice might be saying to me: Don’t go there. Don’t do this. It’s too uncomfortable. Come back inside where it’s nice and comfortable. I relive related memories and my imagination might project what could happen if I don’t “listen” to this voice that I’m dealing with.

“Prison bars imagined are no less solid steel.”

–R. Crowell.

If I would only step back, take a look at what’s going on here, I might realize that the combination of some fear and my imagination are keeping me “safe” inside my comfort zone.

I have an option, already paid for, where I can market my writing ebooks. This has been available to me for weeks. So what’s keeping me from moving forward with this endeavor? Yes, you got it – a nasty fear-induced voice and my imagination that tends to run away on its own, back by fears. The fear was saying: This will just turn into another failure. You’ve never done this before. And my imagination was supporting this by showing me a future of failure.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

–A. Einstein

When I realized how these two things (fear and imagination) were working together, I stood back and re-evaluated. I shifted my being. How can I fail or succeed if I do nothing? (Which the nasty voice and imagination worked together to want me to do.) So doing nothing, I told that nasty fear and my imagination, isn’t the answer.

So what if I’ve never done this before! I’ve done plenty of things in the past that I had never done and they turned out great – like learning to ride a bike and years later to drive a car. What would have happened if I had said “no” to those and other learning experiences? I made a list of ten things I had done in the past (new things) and why those changed my life for the better.

My choice is to take control and use my imagination to my advantage and benefit. What happens if I imagine success? What would that look and feel like? Next I made a list of ten things that I might do or learn that will help me with my present goals and how that will help bring into my life the things I’m seeking. I imagined myself on the other side of the “learning” or “doing” and what it might be like in a positive way.

That’s the place I want and need to me. So I’m moving ahead with my ebook project. I’m setting up the website that might work to launch this endeavor.

The choice is mine (and yours!). I can be trapped or choose to be free. I have a right to claim this. My imagination can work FOR and WITH me.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom

and our power to chose our response.

In our response (In those choices) lies our growth and our happiness.”

–Unknown

(often attributed to Viktor E. Frankl)

Challenge for today: Can you spot times when your imagination worked against you? How might you or did you turn that around? (Think: SHIFT!)

Best Wishes,

June

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A Writer’s Process, Part 7 – Re-vision and Self-editing

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We’ve previously looked into reading the draft, and today, what some call revising your draft. I like breaking this down to “re-visioning” your work. Re-visioning is more than swapping out words, deleting a passage here, adding a new one there. At this point of the process, you should be rethinking and re-visioning your story, looking at it deeper than what appears on the surface.

To recap:

Catching the idea

Evaluating the idea

Growing the idea

First draft

Space

Reading the draft

Re-vision and self-editing

Critique group feedback

Rewriting or recreating

More revision

<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>

Final manuscript

What’s the difference? Re-visioning is “seeing again” with new eyes. This is your chance to make your writing more powerful. Revising is one part of the re-visioning process. Another is checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

You might do these pieces of the re-visioning step all in one pass through the manuscript or in multiple passes. That’s up to you and what works best.

Keep things as simple as possible for yourself.

Don’t be afraid – of anything.

Brainstorm ways to reach each plot and subplot climax and resolution.

Don’t let revision impede your writing.

Question everything.

Keep yourself open to “seeing again.”

ASK YOURSELF – A two level process:

Craft questions:

Are you doing more showing than telling?

Does each character have a purpose in the story?

Is your chosen POV consistent?

Is the dialog and use of tags done clearly and correctly?

Can you find places where information is repeated?

Did you weave description and setting into the characters or other story elements?

Are there any plot discrepancies?

To make certain your sentences are active:

Have you used the strongest verbs possible?

Are you using the same words or phrases in close proximity? (Are your characters forever smiling? Vary body language, gestures, and character actions.)

Do you vary sentence structure?

Did you use the most precise word to mean what you want?

When sentences begin with “There are/is/was” or “It is/was” try to rephrase to make this more engaging.

Avoid overusing adverbs and adjectives.

Deeper questions:

Does your story opening force your protagonist or other main character to act? Is this challenge obvious? Does the reader understand the character’s goal and challenge?

Are there emotion, tension, and/or suspense in each scene?

Is there anything that is too obvious? Is some challenge too easy for the protagonist? How might you make it more difficult?

What might you do to make each scene more powerful?

Can you name the motivation (goal/need) for each event?

How are you preventing the protagonist from achieving his or her goal? (This must be put off until the climax.)

What will the reader hope for or wonder about for the protagonist as the story is read?

Is each character essential to the story? Does each have a defined purpose? (If you can’t answer these questions, eliminate this character.)

Have you chosen the right POV character(s) to tell the story?

Revise and edit each scene from the beginning to the end from page one all the way through to the end of your manuscript. Once done, I would suggestion revisiting the beginning and reading it to make sure it’s in alignment with the ending.

Once you finish this re-visioning step, you’re ready to move on. Keep a list of questions to ask members of your critique group as you re-vision your story. This will help with the next step and gives your critique group a framework in which to work. This also makes sure you get what you’re looking for in terms of feedback.

NOTE: Some people reverse this step (revision) and the next one (feedback). Do what works for you, but it’s helpful to have a more polished story to give you your critique group.

Question for today: What is your re-visioning process? If you don’t have one, how do you imagine it to work?

Best Wishes,

June

Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 5 – Flight or Fight

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From one of my journal entries, based on childhood memories…

Paint, brushes,

pens and paper

Mother creating art

as we play at creations.

 

Wish I could draw

superheroes to save the world,

animals stalking in jungles,

or futuristic vehicles flying over cities.

 

Wish I could make people

look like people

Or paint the landscape

behind our home.

 

Wish I could be an artist

…like Mom

…like Sis

…like my brothers.

 

But I give up

Sneak off to

create a dark moody scene

as my fingers travel over

the keys of my favorite

canvas: an old piano.

A gift from my parents

so I, too, can create.

 

A note added later: I can! Through two sets of keyboards.

One uses music, the other words.

*~*

Yes, the flight or fight response is a biological reaction to a set of circumstances or to a single event.

But I have a choice. I can stop. Pick. Choose my reaction to a situation.

I ask questions: What is this? Why is this? How is this? And evaluate the impact and importance to me. For if I do not, it will be like death. To my creative self. To me.

This is my shift point. I choose my response.

I choose to move forward. To not let fears take me into flight.

I will allow my creativity to flow, as it must do, to sweep me out of my comfort zone.

When the voice speaks the question: Am I really a writer? I choose the answer. Not fear. Not doubt. Me.

I choose: Yes, I AM a writer, and you – fear and doubt – cannot keep my creativity locked in the dark.

I choose the river; no, the ocean’s flow of creativity. To let it rush over and through me.

I AM A WRITER, I shout into the air, and it becomes my reality. I choose this.

As I continue to work toward my goal of working from home and the completion of a novel, the old fear of my novel “not being good enough” came to haunt me. Doubt said, “You ebooks are trite. Who would possibly want to buy them. Your novel is trash. No one will ever read it.”

I stop. Shift, I tell myself. I choose. I AM A WRITER and I have something to say.

Challenge for today: What have you battled with over the past week or two? Share here, if you wish, or journal about your challenge.

Best Wishes,

June

A Writer’s Process, Part 6 – Reading the Draft

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We’ve previously explored taking space between completing the draft and before the revision starts. Today’s topic – reading the draft – is about beginning the revision process by reading your complete draft and what to do during the step of the process.

To recap:

Catching the idea

Evaluating the idea

Growing the idea

First draft

Space

Reading the draft

Revision and self editing

Critique group feedback

Rewriting or recreating

More revision

<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>

Final manuscript

Either print out the draft or read it on your computer. Most might prefer to read from a printed copy.

Plan on reading the draft in three to five sittings. This will give you a good “feel” of the story. You can jot down the following, but remember – NO REVISIONS YET!

Are there passages that are too slow? Too fast?

Are there sentences or passages that are awkward or unclear?

Places where you need to add material?

Places you need to cut?

What is your overall impression of the book?

Consider coming up with symbols that you can use to makes a passage or sentence. This will help to keep you reading without getting lost in writing about what needs to be fixed. (Except for the last question, which you can respond to after you’ve finished reading the draft.)

SECOND LOOK AT THE DRAFT.

Decide what you want to achieve in this read through and how you want to accomplish your goal.

Will you use a checklist?

Do you want to try and capture all potential updates in one pass through the draft?

Do you want to go through the draft twice, once for revisions about craft elements and a second for grammar, punctuation, etc.?

NOTE: Some writers combine the first and second readings of the draft in one pass. This is entirely up to you in how you want to approach this.

Once you have this completed, you might want to give your draft (WITHOUT your notes or symbols) or specific passages to a few writing friends with specific questions that came up for you during your reading of the draft. THIS IS NOT A CRITIQUE OF YOUR DRAFT, but seeking answers to specific questions ONLY.

Questions you might ask:

What do you like about the protagonist? Dislike?

What about the antagonist – likes and dislikes?

Did you find passages that bored you? Passages that were too slow? Too hurried?

What did you feel about the overall story? (If he or she is reading the entire draft.)

What suggestions would you make for a stronger story?

What did you like about the story?

After looking over your notes about what needs to be revised and the feedback from a few friends, you’re ready for the next step in the writing process: Revision and self-editing.

Question for today: How do you approach the reading of the completed draft?

Best Wishes,

June