It’s almost a cliche at this point. The writer staring a blinking cursor in a blank Word document or at an untouched sheet of paper, unable to go on. And while many claim to have writer’s block, it’s sort of like claiming you’re haunted by the ghost of an 18th-century apple scrumper. There’s nothing to prove you aren’t possessed by a barefoot French urchin boy in a neighboring fruit orchard, but nothing to prove you are either. In other words – it’s all in your head.
Continue reading “What To Do When You Get Stuck”
One of the best things about writing in the fantasy fiction genre is that anything goes. I’m not saying there aren’t rules – there are – Harry Potter wasn’t able to bring his parents back from the dead, the One Ring gave Frodo powers, but not without consequence. If done correctly, magic or superpowers shouldn’t be a panacea to all life’s problems or there would be nothing at stake, nothing for our hero to overcome or run up against. There are limits to magic and rules that govern fantasy worlds. But – the good news is, as a writer – you make the rules! You can create a fictional world of fish people, so long as you can convincingly explain to the reader how they’re able to breath under water, what kind of teeth they have for eating prey and how they’re able to navigate the darkest depths of the ocean. Fantasy – no matter how far-fetched – must have a basis in reality or you risk the reader suspending their disbelief.
Which is why a lot of fantasy worlds draw from science, historical events, real people or historical periods. Doing this provides the reader with a recognizable framework through which to view the world. Going forward, let’s call that framework belief glasses. As long as the writer provides the reader with a pair of belief glasses, the reader should be able to comfortably navigate the writer’s world and not get taken out of it. So when you’re creating those glasses, why create ones that only see white people? Why create glasses that can see dragons but not women in positions of power? Why not make full-spectrum glasses? Continue reading “Diversity in Fantasy: We Can Do Better.”
Writing and creating art are most often solitary experiences – hours spent staring at blank computer screens or pieces of paper or canvas – time spent trying to find the right words or colors. Time, largely spent, in our own minds. But we don’t have to – and shouldn’t – create within a bubble! Most art is made within a community, with support from family and friends, with sage advice from mentors, with the occasional self-help book. If you’re having trouble getting started or finishing a project, here are some books that will help.
Continue reading “1o Books Every Creative Should be Reading.”
It’s easy to feel like you aren’t a real writer when no one can see the fruits of your effort. If you’ve started to cringe when you tell someone, “I’m writing a novel” or you hesitate to call yourself a writer to your friends (because you don’t have any searchable content out in the world), blogging could be for you. Writers write. And if you don’t exist as a writer on the Internet, you don’t exist. Don’t wait until you have a book to build your brand. Now is the time! Continue reading “How to Write a Blog.”
We’ve all been there before – when facing a looming deadline for a research paper or work presentation – we somehow find ourselves binge-watching episodes of Stranger Things on Netflix or re-alphabetizing our book shelves. We have every intention of doing the thing…eventually. We even set arbitrary deadlines for ourselves: I’ll do it at 11 o’clock. And when 11 o’clock comes and goes and we still haven’t done the thing, we move the finish line. I’ll start tomorrow. I’ll start Monday. I’ll start the first of May. I’ll start in the New Year. In the meantime, we stew in anxiety, guilt and self-hatred. Why can’t I do the thing? What’s wrong with me? Will I ever do the thing? Can I even do the thing? Continue reading “Why We Procrastinate. (Pt 1)”
As someone who travels frequently, I find that a change of scenery can inspire and inform your writing, but often doesn’t make for the best work habits. Whether you’re trying to take in museums on holiday or traveling on business, the following tips will help you to get your work done anywhere in the world.
Continue reading “How to Write Anywhere in the World.”
In a world where it’s all about the next, young innovative person to come along, it’s easy to feel like we have passed our expiration date as writers or artists. But does creativity have an expiration date? Is there such a thing as “too late” when it comes to creating?
Continue reading “It’s Never Too Late: 10 Writers & Artists That Were Late Bloomers”
We’ve been taught to think that perfectionism is a good trait. No one ever goes into a job interview promising to do less-than-perfect work. In fact, potential job candidates are often coached to answer interview questions about their greatest weakness as, “I’m a perfectionist in everything I do.” But is perfect attainable? Or even desirable? Or is perfect holding us back? Is our mental image of that “perfect” thing keeping us from doing anything at all?
Continue reading “5 Ways Perfectionism is Keeping you from Living your Creative Life.”
Five years ago, I was working in a beige cubicle with no windows in downtown Chicago. There was nothing wrong with my job on paper – the pay was good, I had fabulous coworkers, a healthy working environment and a relatively stress-free commute. Every morning, I arrived early to enjoy my Venti Starbucks coffee before my coworkers began to trickle in and I thought, well, it’s not happiness, exactly, but I’m content enough…I think? I didn’t technically have anything to complain about. I had job security and health insurance. I didn’t bring my work home. So, I gained a few pounds from being largely sedentary and snacking on the pastries that inevitably filled the break-room at lunch. So, there were lulls of boredom or stress when working up to deadlines. So, it wasn’t my life’s passion…
My cubicle in Chicago (with bonus cupcakes – thanks Dad!)
Continue reading “If Not Now, When?”