So I am taking Pooh’s advice one more time and I am rededicating time and effort in my writing. I am taking time to seriously focus on writing, something I haven’t done since college and lots of free time. Or the time I did NaNo and Camp NaNo several years ago.
Once I figure out the order of my day, I should be able to write for two to three hours. Plus building time in for research and learning the craft. The dogs will make sure to keep me in touch with walks and exercise. Pretty sure they will let me know when it is time for lunch breaks.
This week starts my new chapter in life. Here is hoping I am up to the challenge. Cheers, james
This page is from the collected notebooks of Mark Twain. My focus is the part of Mr. Bixby advising young Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain to get and keep a notebook. Notebooks are my theme this week and perhaps for next week. We shall see.
It’s misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magic knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and scratch that itch every chance they have. Writers get their ideas down on paper using particular strategies that seem to work for them. These strategies are available to anyone who wants to be a writer.
-Ralph Fletcher, How Writers Work
While this particular passage comes from his children’s book How Writers Work, this advice is solid for any age group. He has a whole series of books for children writers and he wrote Breathing In, Breathing Out, as an adult writing book. I stumbled across him on a fb group post. And I am so glad I took the chance.
The image above leads me to a story. There is a point I promise. So let us wander into the fog of yesterday’s memories.
We see a man in a round ring with a little girl about 8 or 9 outside the fence watching intently. Sweat darkens the horse’s sorral (red) coat almost black. The steady sound of hooves thump the ground. The easy manner of the man holding the rope tied to the horse’s halter. He watches both horse and child.
“Come here.” He beckons the child. He stands her in front of him and gives her the rope. He guides her fingers into a loose but firm grip. Silently he steps back watching them work together. She is focused on the horse and keeping her grip on the rope. She doesn’t realize he has backed up and she alone is controling an animal easily 5 times her size.
“Alright turn her and go counter clockwise.” She turns to him and looses focus. The horse sensing the lack stops and turns towards the fence. “Now what are you going to do?”
She looks at him and the horse. The rope is limp and long in her tiny hands. She tries to pull the horse’s head to her. The mare fights the rope. She closes the distance between her and the horse. A knowing eye stays focused on the back feet and the ears.
Both are relaxed, although the horse is resting on three feet. The other back foot is tipped up, the girl knows that would be the kicking foot. She mumbles to the mare. Finally at the horse’s head, she tries to pull the mare away from the fence.
“Come on Miley. Just a lil longer. Please” she whispers to the horse.
A great brown eye studies her young handler. She noses the girl and allows herself to be led back the middle of the ring. She patiently awaits the comands the rope and man will give her. A blade of grass catches her fancy and she leans down for a snack.
Okay so now what have we learned? Other than I was an avivd horse lover back in the day. And lunging was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn.
According to my dad, lunging is how to get the junk out of the horse. His definition of junk was getting the horse past the “I don’t wanna work” mentality to the “It’s work time” mentality. And if you know anything about horses is they are all about the “don’t wanna” rather than the “let’s do this”.
As writers, we need a lunging/getting the junk out period. It focuses our inner brain and gets us ready to work. For the last several months I was bogged down trying to write. But I couldn’t focus beyond a few words. Fed up I opened up a new document and titled it “Junk Writing” and I spent an hour or so writing. Getting out the worries, fears, agravations of life, writing and doing stupid people tricks for my dogs. After that hour, I felt so light, and focused.
I started working an outline for a story. In fact that outline is posted to this blog under the Broken Writer post. I still haven’t figured out what is wrong with it yet. Maybe one day. Anyway once I got my brain settled into the work time mentality the words came easy. Or as easy as they ever do.
So next time you find yourself staring off into space try a mental luunging period and see if it helps. We don’t have to be great to get started. We just have to get started to be great. Thank you Mr. Les Brown for my writing motto.
So I signed up for a contest on a website called The Complete Creative. It is the website and brainchild of Russell Nohelty, author such works as Katrina Hates the Dead, Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter and Pixie Dust. If you have read his works congrats, I had to google him.
Anyway long story short I didn’t win a Masterclass with Neil Gaiman. What I did get was the opportunty to try out Mr. Nohelty’s Masterclass, Write a Great Novel. He is offering this course for about $50.
He brakes down his writing process step by step, and I actually created an outline based on his method. I have never managed to create an outline. Not even when I was writing in school and outlines were required. My English teachers would be so proud of me.
I am pretty impressed with his class, I just finished it. He uses power point presentations and uses examples from his own writing journey. I also like that I received emails from him detailing his successes and failures to become an established writer. He didn’t go out and hit it out of the park on the first go round. It has taken time, dedication and trial and error to get to where he is now. I appreciate that honesty and candidness. At the end of his class he gives access to the templates he uses and showes through out.
If you are like me and unfamiliar with Russell Nohelty and his books, I urge you to look him up. He has put together books, anthologies, comics and graphic novels. And is well worth checking out both course and books. He also offers several other classes about networking, publishing, and developing a fan base.