Inspiration For Writers

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The Importance of Preserving Your Ideas

Tori here.

Creative individuals are bound to have thousands of ideas a day. You might not realize it yourself, but I’m sure if you fancy yourself a writer you likely have an active imagination. I’m not just talking about the random ideas for stories you might come up with, but also the number of times you regard people around you and wonder what their story is, or when you look at a bit of graffiti and imagine how it ended up there, or what the repercussions are of making a car wait just a little longer for you to cross the street.

These are thoughts and ideas that we as creative individuals are generally aware of in others. If not, just ask, as I’m sure you’d find it’s common with a lot of people from our cloth. It’s no tragedy that these spontaneous ideas go unsung in our life, because there are millions of others out there having the same thoughts of wonder. What’s tragic are the ones we write down, and end up discarding for no reason other than that we were bored of it. Those ideas and stories that came to some fruition, but never see the light of day just because they are incomplete – that don’t see anything because we’ve shredded them or burned them or deleted them. There’s nothing tragic than there being no proof that something existed.

I write this after reading about an article in “The Scotsman” about an unfinished manuscript written by Robert Louis Stevenson that has recently seen the light of day. Apparently, the full text is an incomplete novel that Stevenson had been in the process of writing in his younger days before abandoning for, well, let’s face it, he went on to write Treasure Island, Jekyll and Hyde, Kidnapped, etc. So there’s no reason to cry over his decision, but there’s no reason to cry here at all. Sure, the manuscript is unfinished and we’ll certainly never see it complete, but over a hundred years later we now have access to read something that RLS had been writing before he was a renowned author. How often does such an opportunity come along, right?

It’s things like this that makes me want more of these little things. If I could read some rough material written by Keats, that’d be something else.

The point I’m trying to make in all this is that your writing. YOUR writing, even if you think it’s not good enough, or you grow tired of it, it’s never worth exiling it into nothingness. What if one day years from now you were to wake up, find yourself talking to some fellow writers and you start telling them about “this great idea you once had”. What do you do when they get interested and want to check it out and you have nothing to show for? Trying to resurrect something isn’t so simple, and even if you do it isn’t ever going to be that “great idea” it was back then, because you’ve changed since then.

Any form of writing is worth preserving. I’ve made mistakes or had situations where I’ve lost old stories, poems, scripts, etc. because I didn’t bother backing up the old files. I’ve since rectified that by ALWAYS backing up my work. It’s a tried and true fact and I say it to you now – back up all of your work, because you never know, someday maybe there’ll be someone that cares enough for your smaller ideas, even if you don’t agree with them.

Neil Gaiman on Writing ~ Nerdist Podcast

Over the last few years, Neil Gaiman has authored some of the most unique and original stories of our time. He is actively involved in all kinds of projects from novels, to graphic novels, comics, blogging, filmmaking, podcasts and even journalism.   I stumbled upon this video today and I found his advice on “reading outside your genre” to be particularly helpful. To get outside your comfort zone and educate yourself on new ideas is a fantastic way to add a certain je ne sai quoi to your craft. His words are inspiring and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Happy Writing

Life and Art; One and the Same.

Tori here.

I’ve been offline since late-May. Offline in that I haven’t posted here, nor have I done any writing – save for most recently.

I’ve often iterated that in order to be great at writing you also have to be great at living; that it’s necessary to take time off here and there to break from writing and find your inspiration.

In May I took up a job working at a poultry plant, and through the summer was swamped with full-time work and the fatigue that accompanied it. I wanted to write through all this, but in the end I had zero motivation coming home at the end of a long work day, and when the weekend came along I wanted to take advantage of the time by having a social life. Time was of the essence and writing wasn’t, I’m shamed to say, but that might’ve been on account that I knew it wasn’t going to be like that forever.

I’m back in classes now, and only work one day out of the week. Back in the environment of academics, I have more time for reading and, of course, writing.

Needless to say, my writing these past couple weeks has been nothing short of phenomenal. Not only because I’ve had such an enormous break from the routine, but also because I’ve taken a different direction with my writing. Instead of writing fiction/fantasy, I’m writing (more or less) non-fiction – a memoir. (I say more or less, because it could very well change before the end). What I find so captivating about writing in this style is how real it all is, and it confirms something I realized way back at the start of work: “I have some serious material here.”

The characters (people) I write about, the experiences I share – they’re filled with so much depth and passion, and I find it to be one of the most fun things I’ve ever written. Recounting moments in my life both recent and old and sticking them together with a literary flare is both rewarding with regards to my craft, but also to my optimism on life. There’s nothing more satisfying than realizing you’ve been living a story like the ones you read about (and now write about).

So my lesson for you today is this:

Don’t feel bummed if you’ve lost interest in writing, or don’t have much time for it. Allow yourself to be free of it. Go about and live your life however it may be, and when you find time for writing again and finally sit down to do it, you’ll be loaded with so much ammo that you’ll riddle a blank paperback with bullet holes.

Stigmata Script Prompt: Write Your Back Story

gandalf

This is a helpful exercise that I learned in university from one of my old professors. Our assignment was to choose our favourite movie and write out a 3 page summary of the story before the film. What did those characters do before the opening credits? What kind of past did they have?

Perhaps you could try writing some character biographies (if you haven’t already). I find this helps me flesh out the kind of people my characters are and allows me to get inside their head a bit more. Writing out their past dictates some actions and choices they might make that I wouldn’t have previously thought of.

Really make a point of fleshing out the world of your story before you begin writing it. This is just good practice for any writer’s craft. Another great idea is one my friend Dan had, which is, to create a online database page for your story. Using WIKIA he designed a world history for his web series. Whenever a new idea comes to his mind he adds it to the page, giving depth and substance to his fictional universe. Basically this is your chance to play God, so why not take advantage of it?

.:: TASK ::.

In 3 to 5 pages, write out a brief summery of the events that took place before your story begins.

AND

If you haven’t done it already, you should also write out biographies for each of the lead characters in your narrative.

Writing for Social Change | Trouble in Ferguson

The day I realized I wanted to be a writer, was the day I learned that literature can have a large impact on society for a greater good. It started by studying Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin during my career in university. What struck me about this important play, was it’s impact on the nation in raising awareness about the horrors of slavery, in effect, playing a small role in Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Obviously there was lot more was involved in the freedom of slaves, however, one cannot argue that Stowe’s work was trending at a time when civil rights were at their peek (or so we thought).

Uncle_Tom_Poster

What does that have to do with Ferguson, Missouri?

Troubled by the recent events in Ferguson, I thought this might be a good opportunity to share with you one of my mantras as an aspiring writer; writing for social change. When reports of the media being arrested for their ongoing coverage on the riots and police militarization, it’s hard to argue the parallel’s with the civil rights movements in the sixties. What disgusts me about this, is the desire to silence the truth about what black families are dealing with in Missouri (or anywhere else in the USA for that matter). I’m instantly reminded of the movie V for Vendetta. A curfew is being implemented, a corrupt government rules over it’s citizens with an iron fist and we are left to stand idle as the police brutalize their citizens, silencing freedom of speech.

Journalism, true journalism is about speaking truth to power. You’re obligated as a reporter to find the truth and present it to the public in an objective fashion. Do I believe this happens today? Very rarely. However, given the circumstances in Ferguson, it’s hard to argue that commentaries on the USA’s current police militarization haven’t found their way into the literature of our day. If you don’t believe me just watch Marvel’s Captain America: Winter Soldier.

ferguson

What is social change about really?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that once I knew how Uncle Tom’s Cabin questioned white supremacy, I realized that there was an entire underbelly to literature that questions unethical or immoral world views. In a way, all literature is a form of expressing the challenges our society deals with, but my favourites are the ones that empower people to do something about it. The list really goes on and on. From V for Vendetta, to George Orwell’s 1984, to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, even that crappy movie Lady in the Water by M. Night Shyamalan (I say crappy, but I love it.) Writing for social change is about showcasing through literature areas of improvement we can make as a culture.

Where am I going with this?

I don’t want to be silenced like the media in Ferguson. I want to have a voice. I want to inspire people. I want help people feel hope where there is none. I want people to see how certain world views are causing us all grief. I want to influence people for the greater good. I want to call to question corruption, injustice, and immoral behaviour. Whether it be speaking up through social media, writing a news report, or finishing up a distopian novel, I want to showcase the demons of man, helping us to (hopefully) understand a path to a better tomorrow. That is why I want to write. I want to give a voice to people who have none.

V-FX-0009

If I can give hope, inspire, help, or improve the life of just ONE person through my writing, I’ll have done my job. If I forget or struggle with what I’m doing, I look back and remember this promise I’ve made to myself.


What makes you want to be a writer?
Why do you want to write?
Do you have a mantra that inspires your own work?


3 Online Resources That Writers Need To Check Out


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Lately, I’ve been hard at work trying to tackle a new script and I’ve found that I needed a little extra push this time around. To get myself back on the horse, I’ve been using these resources every week. I hope they prove as useful to you as they have been to me. If you use these things already, then bravo! You’re awesome like I am! ;P

3. The Self Control App

selfcontrol

Assuming that you’re an aspiring writer reading this blogpost, I’m also going to go ahead and assume you’re a pretentious Mac user (like myself). I think using apple products is just par for the course for most creative people. If so, you should download this app, NOW. If you aren’t a mac user, here is a link to other useful time management applications: View List

I only just discovered this application two days ago and already it’s changing my life. There are lots of useful blocking apps out there, but I’ve found that a number of them involve shutting off, or blocking your internet router entirely. Sometimes I need to use the internet to get some research done, but as someone who is easily distracted from his work, research leads to endless hours wasted on youtube or pinterest. This app let’s you choose which websites you wish to temporarily block. (IE: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Etc) any website that distracts you. You choose the duration of the block yourself and not even shutting off/restarting your computer can stop it! … and best of all? IT’S FREE!

2. Reddit.com

redditwriting

If you aren’t already familiar with Reddit, I’m warning you, it’s an extremely addictive and distracting website. It can however, be a great resource for your craft. It’s an open-source website with forum style discussions and threads. Users can upvote and downvote posts that are posted. The upvoted posts make their way to the front page, often including AMAs (Ask Me Anything) with celebrities or people of interest. Particularly, I’ve found that the “/r/writing” and “/r/screenwriting” subreddits are jam-packed with resources. From infographics, to charts, to links to great websites, this is one website that’s hard to pass up. You can even post a writing question and online users will answer you in real time. Occasionally you get a real douchebag-troll who will give you a bad answer, but this is the internet we’re talking about. There’s trolls everywhere. I’ve found that everyone who posts in these subreddits are always willing to help and understand the frustrations of this business being aspiring writers themselves.

1. Podcasts

podcasts

They’re amazing,
there’s lots to choose from,
and most importantly… they’re free!
(most of them, anyway)

The one I listen to most often is Scriptnotes hosted by screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin. Most podcasts feature very talented artists, interviewing authors on their craft and habits. They offer the kind of tangible advice you can’t get from a book or workshop. Here, you’re tapping directly from the source. There’s a wide variety of podcasts that span a wide variety of topics. Other notable writing podcasts I frequent are the Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, The Nerdist Writers Panel, and Writing Excuses with Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal and Howard Tayler. Even if writing isn’t your thing, podcasts are a great way to educate and entertain yourself. I usually listen to them while doing my chores or when I’m travelling. I don’t like wasting any time, and I’ve found that this is my favourite way to cram some inspiration in when I’m not at my blank page.

There you have it.
Happy writing, folks!

~ The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People ~

Podio released an interesting info-graphic, outlining the routines of some really impressive creative people. From Picasso to Freud, to Dickens and Mozart, this chart provides some really nifty insight into the habits of these great thinkers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Although, I don’t think I’ll ever be a morning person like some of these writers!

habitsoffamousthinkers

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