Thursday, June 19, 2014
A tremendous source of inspiration in our writing comes from our feelings. Especially those that are highly charged, both positive and negative.
I just returned from the SCBWI Orlando 2014 Conference and feel so pumped up after seeing my friends and learning so many new techniques as well as being inspired by the synergy that happens when so many creative and talented people come together.
Some great questions I came away with to improve my writing are:
Can I cut it?
Should I move this?
If you are asking, the answer is yes!
Marjetta Geerling, instructor of the Saturday Novel Workshop and author of FANCY WHITE TRASH, said that if you have a question about your writing, then you are already aware it is a problem and can usually answer with, Yes.
Wendy Loggia (Delacorte Press), read first pages and also shared some confidential first pages of her forthcoming books and instructed us in pacing and how to start a story with a great hook.
Tired old beginnings include:
Starting with a dream. (Snore)
Starting with a move.
Starting on an airplane.
Starting your story on the first day of school.
Wendy challenged us to come up with a fresh new place to start. One exception: Waking up dead at the mall. this was done in such a fresh new way, it conquered the rules and is a forthcoming book from Delacorte Press, I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL/SHEEHAN. It sounds charming, with the exception of the dead part, but definitely a good hook and makes me want to read more to find out what happened to her.
So now I'm off to make my novel tighter and fresher. Revisions are my favorite! It's much more fun to squeeze clay than to throw ingredients into a bowl.
The delete key is more effective than adding words. How tight can you make it?
Sunday, May 4, 2014
I'd also like to invite you to add a comment letting me know if you've ever faced The Block and what helps you move past it.
Your responses are very helpful! I'd love to hear from you!
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
With so many 'ists,' do you know who is who?
I hope the following will give you more clarity when you are creating scenes with mental health professionals in your manuscripts.
Clinical Psychologist: A professional specializing in diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain, emotional disturbances, and behavior problems. Psychologists use talk therapy and can administer psychological tests. Psychologists have doctoral degrees such as Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology). They may have additional training in specific specializations as well.
Psychiatrist: A medical doctor with an MD (Doctor of Medicine). They completed a specialization in Psychiatry on top of their medical school training. They are qualified to prescribe medication.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC): A professional specializing in talk therapy with the focus on diagnosing and treating emotional and behavioral problems. They have a minimum of a MS or MA (Master of Science or Master of Arts) and have completed a two-year training program/practicum and internship, before passing their state board exam for licensure. Their focus in on the individual in counseling.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): A professional specializing in talk therapy with the focus on diagnosing and treating emotional and behavioral problems as it pertains to the family. They have a minimum of a MS or MA (Master of Science or Master of Arts) and have completed a two year training program/practicum and internship, before passing their state board exam for licensure. Their focus in on the family structure, including marriage counseling and family therapy.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): A professional specializing in talk therapy with the focus on diagnosing and treating emotional and behavioral problems. Their training focuses on how the community impacts the individual and are aware of social support resources. They have a minimum of a MS or MA (Master of Science or Master of Arts) and have completed a two year training program/practicum and internship, before passing their state board exam for licensure.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC): Depending on the state of licensure, some states use this title to include all of the above Master Level Professionals.
Psychotherapist: Any professional who engages in talk therapy and holds a state approved license may use this title. It is the catch-all/umbrella title so to speak.
Organizational/Industrial Psychologist: A professional who consults with corporations to improve the functioning of the organization. Has a PhD or PsyD.
School Psychologist: In most cases, they do not provide counseling. Their education is sufficient at a Master level. Their main focus is to administer testing and develop academic plans/IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) and referrals based on the results of their testing for children needing exceptional education.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Is it the sense of wanting to be in the future when you can only be in the present? Wanting to fast-forward to some ‘knowing time’ where you’ll have the answer or situation you desire? But how do we really know that that future place will be any better than where we are right now?
So embrace the present and be fully alive, engaged in all that you do. Turn your back on the wanting for more or the unknown. The unknown doesn’t matter. Today is perfect, even with its flaws. Problems teach us and grow us and provide us with opportunities to dig our roots in deeper.
THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle
A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE by Eckhart Tolle
THE ART OF HAPPINESS: A HANDBOOK FOR LIVING by The Dalai Lama
THE JOY OF LIVING: UNLOCKING THE SECRET AND SCIENCE OF HAPPINESS by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Sunday, March 23, 2014
If your character has panic disorder, they are afraid that they will have a panic attack. The worry over this lasts at least one month.
Agoraphobia can develop in panic disordered people, which is the avoidance of places/situations in which the person feels they would not be able to escape and/or would suffer embarrassment should a panic attack happen in that location.
*DSM-V Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychological Association)
*The Pill Book (Fifteenth Edition)
Thursday, March 13, 2014
If you think you are going to sit down at the computer and tap out a perfect novel from start to finish, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Don't let the idea of perfectionism keep you from writing what's on your heart—that is what the delete key is for.
Take advantage of being able to save many different documents under many different folders. Don’t be afraid to write in chunks of little bits of ideas, or move something that isn’t working in a piece to a ‘Bits and Pieces’ folder so you don’t have to let it go entirely, just store it in a ‘closet’ to pull out later when you find a more suitable place.
What you write today is not what is going to be published immediately. In fact, the reason traditional publishing takes so long is that it goes through countless levels of revisions: Your own gazillion revisions, revisions that come from your weekly critique group’s suggestions, Beta readers, an editing service, the agent who falls in love with your work, and finally the publisher, who will direct edits of your work for the bazillionth time (that’s what comes after gazillion, right?).
But don’t let this information overwhelm you, it is meant to encourage you. Why? Because you have tons of chances to get it right.
And if that doesn’t convince you, look at all the people in history who have messed up, but still hold a place in society: Martha Stewart, Bill Clinton, OJ Simson. Okay, the last two were chosen on purpose, to show hard-core examples where people tend to be forgiving and accepting of flaws. As far as I know, no angry pitch-fork wielding mob has come after any of them and stabbed them to death.
Those of us recovering perfectionists (such as yours truly) need to have these gruesome examples to remind us that we are nowhere near that level of scrutiny (except in our own minds) and we are so much better than we give ourselves credit for if we can just put aside our own critical voice and free ourselves to what possibilities can emerge from our fingertips if only we give ourselves permission to be human. This includes letting mistakes, and good and bad ideas flow onto the page without the worry of who will see it, if it will be deemed worthy, and if it will be accepted by others.
Don’t worry about any of that. Free your mind, free your fingers and let those thoughts fly. How many wonderfully imperfect sentences can you write? Let if flow, revise later, keep the nuggets of gold, and as for the rest? That is what the delete key is for.
Could you imagine if the De Beers dug up a rock of a diamond and secured it into a setting? Who would make a fuss over a dirty, uncut, unpolished diamond? But give the jeweler some time to do the work, to make all the necessary adjustments, and that diamond becomes a gorgeous work of art that people drool over.
Your novel is no different. I’ve never gone on a diamond excavating trip, but I imagine it must be exciting to pluck such a precious gem out of the earth. You might hold it up and admire it.
The same thing happens when a concept for a story flashes through your mind. It is exciting. You’ve gone and done it—come up with an original idea! You rush to the computer or your notepad and jot it down as it pours out of you, inspired. You jump up! It’s done!
Not so fast, you have plucked a dirty gemstone from the earth, that’s awesome—it’s a diamond! However, don’t set that cloudy thing into a ring just yet. Now that you have your raw clay (yes, your first draft should be thought of as raw clay), think about what you want it to become. Think about all the new scenes you could add to up the stakes, add texture, tie up character threads, can we add in some surprises?
Examine your character arc, does your main character change in the most satisfying way? Have you left any story unfinished among the supporting cast—they are people, too. So many considerations. Plus, there’s fixing and catching grammatical errors, spelling, format problems, and structure.
What a freeing feeling to know that there is no rush to get it right the first time. Enjoy the revision process and ask yourself, How good can I make it?