Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Encouraging Unblocking Exercise

Unblocking means that you let everything out: you write as though there were no tomorrow (and no editors in sight), you disregard logic and sense, and you simply let your brain loose (and your emotions looser, if there is such a “loose” gradient).

In fact, unblocking can be a good ego massage. You can tell yourself how good you are. You can even convince yourself: My writing is good.

So why is your writing good? Has it improved over the years? Have people read your work and complimented you on it? Using that as your theme, start your unblocking and start writing. When you are done, give yourself a pat on the back by treating yourself to something nice, whether it's a walk in the woods, an ice cream sundae, a movie, or simple an afternoon nap.

Happy unblocking!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Strangeness of Numbers

It's time for you to actually get everything from the world, and you are going to search all the elements of your story out. You will get the setting, place, characters, and theme. All you need to do is to follow the steps below:

  1. Look at the time right now. This will be your year setting. For instance, if it is 8:45 in the morning, you will set your work in the year 845. However, if it is 8:45 in the evening, then according to military time, it is 2045 – your work will therefore be set in the year 2045.

  2. What day is it today? Monday? Wednesday? Friday? Whatever the day is, let it be the name of your main character.

  3. Look up the meaning of your first name. Whatever it is, let it be your character's main characteristic.

  4. Look up the meaning of the first name of the person whom you love the most right now. Let that be your character's end goal, whatever the meaning of the name is.

  5. What are you wearing right now? Let that be your character's costume.

Ready? You need to write a story of about 8000 words or less. You also have to use all the elements that you found in the search. When you are done, provide a link to your story, or post it in the Comments section.

Good luck, happy searching, and happy writing!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Make Time to Write

I don’t have time to write.

So goes the excuse uttered by nearly everyone on the planet. Not everyone wants to be a writer because they think that they need to spend hours sitting on their bottoms, looking at a blank sheet. They think that writing is going to take up an entire day that could better be devoted to other pursuits (such as cooking, taking care of children, running errands, and keeping up with the rest of everyday life).

If you do ask writers, however, if they have any time to write, chances are, they will tell you, “No.” There is no time to write, as there isn’t time to cook, raise a family, or keep house. But because you have priorities each day, you need to set aside time for all your tasks. You need to make time to write.

Change your mindset today: writing is not about spending the rest of your life locked away in your tower, attic, dungeon, or basement. You only need to set aside some time each day to type away, and to put your ideas together. You only need to have some time to improve your craft. If you truly love writing, then you will not wait for the rest of life to clear the path for you. You have to do the clearing away yourself.

Make time to write. It’s the only way that you can write in this storm of everyday life.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goo on Some Events!

Here are four possible locations:

circus city farm village

Now, here are four possible events:

rebellion party dance elections

Let's play goo!

You need to write descriptive essays that detail strange, quirky happenings as these events take place. In fact, you need to write 16 essays, matching each location with an event. For instance, what happened when there was a rebellion at the circus? What about the party at the circus? The dance at the circus? The same goes for all the events: talk about them and be descriptive!

Your essays must be no more than 150 words each. You need to be concise and yet descriptive at the same time. When you are done, pick your best essay and post it in the Comments section.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beta, Part 2: Finding Readers and Reviewers

It’s hard enough to write your work, even harder to edit it, and so much harder to see a lot of your work chipped at and cut apart if only to make way for better things. It might also be hard for you to find people who are willing to read your work, and who are willing to critique it. As mentioned in Part 1, you need to find a fellow writer who understands how difficult it is to produce well-written work. But what about an ordinary reader who will exemplify your run-of-the-mill reader, your person-on-the-street who really isn’t a writer, too?

You will have a hard time finding people to read your work, especially since modern life entails so much more work for the little time that we all have. Here are a few places where you can find readers.

1.Do you have a local book club? Ask them to have a meeting devoted to discussing your manuscript. You can ask for suggestions and for insight on how people understand your book.
2.Post a call for readers at your local library. If this isn’t possible, look for a bulletin board on a college or university campus close by. Remember, you may need to pay your readers, so their critique could be biased.
3.Join writers’ forums and ask for novel swaps. You could read and critique someone else’s novel while having someone read through yours. Better yet, go to a book lovers’ forum and ask for volunteers. Chances are, you’ll find someone who is willing to give your book a look. All you need is a high concentration of devoted readers.
4.Join mailing lists for writers and/or readers. Post a call for volunteers and ask for help. You can easily get more than one person to help you out.
5.Put up a blog, and provide an excerpt from your novel. Call for volunteers to read and critique the rest of your work.

These are only a few ways that you can get readers and reviewers. If you can get a small audience to read your work, you will have a better chance of understanding how good (or not-so-good) your work is. You don’t have to follow all the advice given to you, however: examine the suggestions and then use your best judgment to check which you will use. You are still the master of your novel, and you have to balance this mastery with openness to new things.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Not-So-Encouraging Unblocking Exercise

In our last unblocking session, we told ourselves how good our writing was. We passed through the logic and made it into Let's-Ignore-the-Editors territory. We didn't care about sense. We didn't even need to post our work!

In this session, we still don't need editors or sense or a posting obligation. What we do need, however, is to turn the theme around. This time, we need to examine ourselves critically, and to critique our previous work with a discerning, unforgiving, and, as much as possible, objective eye. So pull out your piece of paper and your pen; or start up a new file on your computer. You are going to do more unblocking, and your theme is:

My writing is not that good.

Don't be afraid to pick out your faults, but at the same time, don't flagellate yourself for imaginary ones. Just write and keep on writing until you clear out the cobwebs. When you are done, give yourself another treat, this time as a reward for acknowledging your own faults. Eat at a local restaurant, get yourself some new clothes, or simply go to bed late after lounging in front of the TV for hours. The choice is yours.

Happy unblocking!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beta, Part 1: Finding Writing Buddies

You’ve heard of online beta testing, where software developers give free copies of their newest software to test it for bugs prior to an official release. This gives people the chance to try the software out and help designers and developers improve their work; it also allows people to see what they may get if they choose to buy the software in the future.

You can also beta test your novel – but mind you, beta testing a novel is different from beta testing software. For one thing, you will be asking your beta testers to take time out of their busy schedules to read your work. Software testing is something that you can actually do on the job and not get scolded for.

One way to get a pool of beta testers is to find writing buddies. These aren’t just your run-of-the-mill friends who will encourage you to do your job well. You need someone to do the following:

1. Encourage and inspire you to write. This person has to be able to not only make you happy to sit down and write, but happy to produce something. That person might want to read your work, too! You may need to talk with this person constantly about your work (without irritating the person beyond belief, of course) so that this person is updated on the things that you are doing and why you are doing them.

2. Scold you. Now this doesn’t mean just scolding you for not writing; it also means scolding you for not writing well, or for producing work that is way below par. Have someone on hand who is critical of your work without being overly critical of you. That is, this person has to know how to judge your work without targeting you directly. Of course, you can always thicken your skin and resist criticism, so part of this requirement is really about how well you deal with corrections and criticism.

3. Read your work. It’s one thing to criticize your work; it’s another thing to read and enjoy your work. Pick someone who doesn’t pick your work apart. Get a writing buddy who can read your work and enjoy it and still come up with great ideas for you at the end of the day. If all you have is a nitpicker, then you may end up disappointed and frustrated with yourself.

4. Write along with you. A writing buddy is exactly that: someone who shares your love of writing and who you can take along for the ride. Only a fellow writer can understand the hardships that you go through as you try to cough up a masterpiece

5. Allow you to criticize them. Not all writers will take criticism, although these same people will not hesitate to tear a work apart. Get someone who can handle criticism without bursting into tears.

6. Be your friend. Life happens while you write, and you certainly need a friend to help you through, writing or otherwise.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Of Movies and Stars

What will your next story be about? What will happen at the beginning, in the middle, and when the end comes? You need a theme, and you need to look for it using the following search instructions:

1.Go to
2.In the search window, type out your first name, followed by the name of the street where you are now. If you don't know your street, then type where you are (e.g., cafe, cabin, beach, etc)
3.Lucky you if you actually get an exact match. Click on it.
4.If you don't get an exact match, IMDB will offer you alternatives. Click on the first link that you find.
5.You may get a match for a person, movie, character, plots, or even biographies. Do not be alarmed. The entire exercise will still apply to you.

Use your match as the theme for your story. You might have a movie star whose story you can write. What happened during one day in that star's life? Or you might have a movie whose plot you can write your own story about. There are many things that you can get out of this search, and all you need to do is to get a theme and use it on about 2,000 words or less.

When you are done, post the story in the Comments section, or provide a link to your story. Good luck, and happy writing!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

You Just Have to Write

A lot of people think that NaNoWriMo is only for those who can write a lot of words and still make sense at the end of the day. I believe a lot of writers shy away from it because they think that they need to sit down and edit something endlessly, write a few words, edit them, and end up with about a paragraph or two at the end of a writing week.

There is nothing wrong with endless edits, and there isn’t anything wrong with being careful about your work and what you say on paper. However, if you already have a novel banging its way out of your head, why stop it? NaNoWriMo is all about writing your thoughts out, writing your novel, and getting a story onto paper. When you’re done with telling that story, you can start editing it. But before all the chopping and hacking away to get to your story, you need to have a story, and that’s what NaNoWriMo does.

I always like to think of NaNoWriMo as one big Unblocker exercise. For information on unblockers, you can check out the unblocker entries on this blog. Unblockers just clear out the cobwebs and allow you to write. NaNoWriMo gives you that freedom to write without anyone judging you.

Although some people regard 50,000 words (or more) in a month as pressure, try to think of it as a challenge, and as a fun challenge, at that. Not everyone can write a lot of words, and not everyone can write a novel. If you get past the word limit mark in November, and have a novel to show for it, you’ll have accomplished something that only few people can ever dream of doing!

It’s the merry month of May, and for those of you hoping to join NaNoWriMo, you have half a year to plan it. In six months, you’ll be writing; in seven months, you could be enjoying the fruits of your labor. You just have to write.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Do You Deal with Frustration?

Your emotions and your ways of dealing with them can help you be a better writer. How? By understanding your emotions and your coping mechanisms, you can probably write your characters better and give them life. After all, life is about handling things, and balance. If you recognize who you are, then you can give life to characters that would otherwise be cardboard cutouts without the ability to feel or know what to do with themselves.

So, how do you deal with emotions? Can you creatively fill in some blanks when asked about your emotions? Let's take frustration for this exercise: fill in the blanks below by either copying and pasting the statements into a word processor, or printing the statements out.

1. __________ never fails to disappoint me; I wish I had more _________ to deal with ___________.

2. I wish I had more patience, because when I see ___________, I always think that I should __________, but instead, I _________________.

3. When I am angry, I __________, because I __________; but I never __________, because that would be ___________.

4. when I am frustrated, I ___________, because I __________; but I never _________, because that would be ___________.

5. If the dinosaurs would live again, I would feed _________, ____________, and ___________ to them, and I would feel ____________.

6. Most of the time, when __________ isn't ___________ enough, I want to ___________.

7. I wish ___________ would stop being such a __________.

8. ___________ used to be so __________, and now, things have changed drastically, so that I feel ___________.

9. If there was a way to make ___________ understand why I am so ____________, I wouldn't hesitate to ____________!

10. _________ is a big _____________.