Friday, August 24, 2012

Nail, Meet Hammer

Once again, I spaced the days of the week and tried to forget my post. Ergo, I'm sitting in a doctor's waiting room, attempting to post from my cell phone. Let me say it now. My itty bitty Windows phone is NOT anywhere near my favorite writing resources. No matter how insanely cool it is that I can even whine about using a phone to post a blog. Yes. From this statement, you may surmise the I'm a dinosaur.

This has been a week that's been deadly both to my wallet and to my to be read pile. I had exactly one of the books mentioned earlier in the week - If You Want to Write. This surprises me because I have quite a stack of books about writing. I'm a bit of a 'how does everyone else do it' junky. See, there's a saying. When all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. Writing books give me a chance to try out new to me tools. I swing 'em around and try them out for fit. Some don't work for me and I put them down. Others fit so well, I sob in joy as I clutch them to my admittedly little bosom.

One such resource came from a two day workshop given by Mary Buckham. It's Break Into Fiction. I got a big binder from the workshop. (I'd totally link you to the Break Into Fiction website, but that option doesn't seem to be available to me on the phone...) Anyway. The binder has pages falling out, tea stains, and pages wrinkled up from an unfortunate event involving hosing out the cockpit while the porthole to my cabin wasn't sealed. Oops. What's in the binder that I can't live without? Templates filled with questions. It's that simple and that deceptively complex. The first question is "When your story starts, where is your character? Why?" You can say "Jane is at work because it's Monday", but the point is really to say "Jane is working at a job she hates because she's desperate for the money to pay a lawyer to find the baby she gave up for adoption a year ago." Breaking Into Fiction is about getting to the 'whys' behind the characters. Useless to plot driven writers. Pure gold to this actor's heart.

After that, the book I return to for inspiration and an occasional stern talking to is Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Yeah, sometimes I need to be reminded that whining that I can't write unless conditions x, y and z are met is just me indulging in acting like a diva. Not all of the tools in the book work for me - Morning Pages where you free write three pages? Not a chance. Evening Pages, yes. But in the mornings? There's not a thought in my head to put on paper. Some of the other information has been invaluable. From Julia, I learned how to limit my exposure to people she calls 'crazy-makers.' The book was a great way into realizing I could write for more than my own entertainment. It led me a step at a time into working out my own creative requirements. I don't refer to it much these days. In fact, it's packed away in a box in storage. But my Break Into Fiction work book? Never start a novel without it.


  1. who are the "crazy makers"? would that be kids, cause I got that problem, what does the book say to do about them?

    1. Noooo. The Crazy-Makers are the people who can't live unless their lives are a soap opera with you as a supporting cast member. These people's problems are ALWAYS more important than your issues (much less your work). Now, it's possible to have a child who is a Crazy-Maker, but until that child is 18 years old, you're stuck. Cause the advice is disconnect. Don't answer this person's phone calls, texts, emails, etc. Turn off the phone while you work if you have to. Turn off the internet. Limit this person's access to you to the hours you aren't working. Clearly, you cannot legally do this with a minor. You can threaten to staple them to the wall by their shirt collars like my mom did us...but you can't actually do any of that. :D

  2. I am so impressed you typed that on a phone! And, I so hope that your week is looking up, Marcella. I've heard good things about Break Into Fiction. Must give it a whirl.

  3. I'm impressed, too. And totally in favor of disconnecting from the Crazy-Makers. Sure you can do it with minors - ship those naughty children off to hard labor. Easy!