Your Setting

Surround yourself with things that make you want to write.

This is a lesson I’m learning more and more.  As you learn more about the world, you begin to find a million things that lead you in all directions.  Watching a foreign film makes you want to learn French.  Reading about adventure makes you want to travel the world.  Meeting a champion juggler makes you never want to juggle ever, and that’s that.  All these are great.  If you’re like me, you know that most things are within reach, and with a little work you can achieve them.  Learning French, traveling the world, never juggling— all worthwhile goals.

But do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to write?

If you’re a different kind of artist, or your career lies elsewhere, substitute your dream whenever I say the word “write”.  This applies to anything.

As a kid, I read a lot of Brian Jacques books, and I’ve posted before about how much they mean to me.  Through reading and imagining, I began to dream about writing my own stories.  For the past four years, that’s what I’ve been doing, and I love it.  I love daydreaming about it and pushing toward that goal.

The path has its ups and downs, though, like anything.  You start off shot from a cannon, propelled by your amazing inspiration and genuine love for what you’re doing.  Then, of course, comes the letdown when you actually realize you’ve got a long way ahead of you.  But you pick yourself up and keep moving, and you enjoy the work for a while.  Then you poke your head up and look around, and start comparing yourself to other people, and you wonder what you’re actually doing. Continue reading “Your Setting”

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Puffins, Pebbles, and Prattling On

Today I delivered a lecture on the steps to becoming a certified evil genius.  Of course, I know nothing of this.  After half an hour of thinking up obvious tests, I was out of ideas.  Donning a professor-style jacket, I found a suitable audience and lectured them.  Laser pointer in hand, I explained to my stuffed puffin all the ins and outs of becoming an evil genius, hoping it would spark the creative inferno I needed to char-broil the short story simmering within me.

It didn’t.  But I gained an appreciation for talking.  And puffins.

Though I say a lot on this blog, I don’t tell you everything.  Myriad ideas pop into my head every day, and in paroxysms of paranoia, I usually refrain from telling them to you.  If I can’t write enough about a subject, I don’t post it, so most of my sentence-long ideas don’t get published.  Unfortunately, to become real, those ideas need the opposite.  Repetition fleshes out ideas.  Sometimes you must slow yourself down and clear your mind.  You must become one with the harmony of the universe and all that stuff.

Not really.  But it is important to slow yourself down and think about your words.

For the Teens Can Write, Too blog chain eight months ago, the prompt was “Why do you write?”  The last paragraph of that novel-length post says this:

[Writing] is a way to clear thoughts.  It has the same capacity to aid you as talking to yourself does.  Both things help get your thoughts into orderly fashion, and thus will help you think about them better.  I’ve had ideas floating around in my head for days and weeks at a time, during which period I don’t progress at all in their development.  Then I write them down and new ideas flood in.  I suppose I could also just go around talking to myself all day, but my friends think I’m crazy enough already.

I have only two things to add: What friends?  And who says you have to talk to yourself in public?  My puffin is an excellent audience.  My whiteboard is an excellent whiteboard.  My laser pointer is an excellent laser pointer.  What more do I need?

Some people have living dogs, cats, or mutant hippopotamuses.  Some people have friends that stand their ground when you explain time travel.  (Personally, I can’t imagine running away from any time travel conversation.)  But in the end, it doesn’t matter who you speak to– the act of speaking clarifies your thoughts, whether you have a live audience or a pebble.  Speak naturally, though– introduce yourself to your audience, explain things in depth as if your pebble actually has the brains of a pebble, and make jokes at your audience’s expense.  If you feel like you’re talking to a pebble, your imagination is pathetic.

Try it sometime.  Get an audience and explain to it the most complicated concept in your thoughts at the moment.  If you do it in a different accent, I shall salute you.