As writers we are used to juggling many writing projects at the same time or the complete opposite – nothing! (Although, I have to say my mind is crowded with ideas most of the time in MUSE central!)
These opposing states come with their own problems, each unique and as frustrating as each other. Firstly, ‘feast’ has us worrying which project to do first. Which one is the most strident in it’s demand to be written? Is it the right one to pursue? Will another story ‘vanish’ if we ignore it?
Secondly, ‘famine’ when ideas may be circling in our minds, but none of them ‘stick’ or have the ‘legs’ to form a longer narrative. Or there is a void. This is a frustrating feeling, leaving us grasping for elusive or fragments of ideas, or something to write!
So what can we do to organize the jumble or utilize a fragment?
Let’s look at the multiple ideas first. Write down as much as you can for each idea – lay them out on separate pieces of paper or word documents. Organize each idea into genre or categories and then plot, character or scene and any other components of each particular story you do have. Separating the stories in this way allows us to focus on them, if not objectively, as least with a clearer vision. Once you have them in an orderly list you will see which idea has the most content. Now, comes the difficult decision – which one do you pursue? It might not be the one with the most detail, but another that attracts you to it for whatever reason. Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If one starts to ‘grow’ within your minds eye, or the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then that is typically your direction.
Now comes the void. How do we spark our Muse? There are many reasons for this dearth of ideas, illness, relationship problems, work commitments etc. As a writer we know that the act of writing is not only satisfying, but a real need. Our creativity requires it. This is the time to look at those filed away short stories, or fragments of ideas. We always have inspirational quotes, sentences, even whole paragraphs, that have languished somewhere in journals, notebooks or electronic folders. Take time to read through these, after all we kept them for a reason. Utilize writing prompts – writing anything helps us get back on track. Fifteen minute bursts of writing from a word or picture prompt can refresh our minds, spark our creativity and set us on a new course. Your prompt response might only be short – a poem, a paragraph, even a word association list, or it can develop into something. I recently used an image of a dragon’s egg to spark my Muse. It was going to be a short story but grew and grew into a three thousand word story! You never know where an idea can lead, and that is the beauty of story writing.
How do you handle the sparse and dense periods of your writing life?
What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you?
How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?
Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?
“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” Dee Hock
1)Where do you find inspiration? Does place or observation, or both influence your writing?
Ideas come to me from everywhere, both from external and internal sources. It’s a ceaseless flood of ideas really that I experience, evoked by a wide range of random stimuli such as: images that I come across by chance on the internet; things I see on TV; things that I read in books; even snatches of conversations overheard when passing people in a street.
Dreams are also an important source of inspiration for me and many of my stories have had their origins in dreams. Dreams give me the initial idea for or the outline of a story and I then work further to turn those ideas into complete stories.
Most of all, ideas come to me through the process of spontaneous generation, i.e. they arise out of nothing in my mind.
Given this unceasing deluge of new ideas, it is very rare for me to have to struggle to think up of something to write. In fact, the very act of sitting down at the desk, picking up a pen and opening a notebook transports me to a zone in which a conduit is established to a world populated by eternal truths and infinite beauty, and ideas flow effortlessly as long as I am in that zone.
2) You write short stories and poetry – what are your processes for each discipline?
The first step of the process involves getting the initial idea. I jot down these ideas in small notebooks that I use for noting down ideas that have the potential to be expanded further or that require further work on them. At this stage, the idea usually consists of a sentence or a paragraph.
At the next stage of the process, I explore the initial ideas in detail and or turn them into drafts for stories and poems. This is done in a larger sizednotebook. Because of the flood of ideas discussed in the previous answer, the length of time between having the initial idea and getting around to exploring it in detail could be as long as a decade. As a result I have a backlog of about ten years of ideas that I haven’t had the chance to work on as yet and to expand into finished stories and poems.
The final stage of the process involves transferring the drafts from my notebooks into a computer. I then work further on those drafts, editing and re-editing them, until I am happy with the final result.
So, getting the initial idea comes more from intuition and inspiration, and the later editing and re-editing of drafts requires more method and logic, while the intermediate steps of the writing process are a combination of both intuition and logic.
3)How does your creative brain balance with your critical one? In particular, your mathematical proofs.
The balancing of the creative and critical brains is not really a conscious decision that I have to make, for it is something that just happens naturally. ie If I am working on my writings, then I employ the creative side of the brain. And when I am working on scientific and mathematical topics, my brain just switches automatically into another mode. In fact, sometimes it may happen that while I am working on my writings, I might have a mathematical idea and so I instantaneously turn to working on that idea and then go back to working on my writings, and it really doesn’t take any effort at all to switch between the two modes of thinking.
4)Is creative writing your only creativity?
Firstly, please let me clarify that stories and poems are not the only things that I write.
I also write (among other things) non-fiction, philosophy, psychology, spiritual pieces, vignettes, micro-fiction (including 6 word stories), humorous articles, surrealism, aphorisms, parables, fables, travel writing, ekphrastic writings and song parodies.
Having said that, I must add that science had always been my first love and I have been creative in the mathematics and physics fields since my teenage years. Until relatively recently, mathematics/physics/science fields were my first interest and it is to them that I devoted most of my time and creative energy, and writing was a distant second interest.
5) Have your degrees influenced your creative work in any way?
Firstly, just to explain, I have an Arts degree in Philosophy/Linguistics and a Science degree in Mathematics/Physics.
I think that the influence of philosophy on my writings is clearly evident to anyone who takes a look at them, as a lot of my writings concern themselves with philosophical issues.
The influence of linguistics is a bit more subtle and probably manifests itself in the games that I like play with words and their meanings in my stories and poems.
I think this influence of science shows itself in a number of ways in my work. On a more overt level, the subject matter and the themes of my stories and poems often have allusions to mathematics and physics. On a more subtle level, I think that my scientific background does influence my thinking process and the way that I go about creating the plot and development of a story. In fact, some readers have remarked that my stories have a mathematical structure and that they flow almost like a logical argument.
6)Can you enlighten us about your involvement in the spiritual community?
I was involved with a spiritual community in Melbourne on and off for about 5 years. At the time, it helped me with finding my path in life.
The guru of this community gave me my first big break with my writing career when he started reading out my non-fictional spiritual and philosophical pieces, as well as some of my fictional pieces in the public programs in front of hundreds of people.
His reading of my work and the responses that my writings received from the audience gave me the confidence to start sharing my writings with others, as until then my writings have always been a secret part of my private world and I never shared them with anyone. In fact, I used to think that I would never share my writings and that they would always remain a secret part of my private world. But things have turned out to be rather different!
7) What did you learn from your script writing venture?
I contributed some of the dialogue to a short film titled “Six Steps to Eternal Death”. I attended several days of filming to see for myself how it all works and was pretty intrigued by how written words are turned into the visual medium. It was also interesting to see how a script is developed over time, and how much is altered and deleted until the final form is reached.
Yes, I am working on a book titled “Anti-Labyrinths” which will be a collection of my stories, poems, fables, flash fiction, aphorisms etc.
“Anti-Labyrinths” is a word and a concept that I came up with. As labyrinths are places where you get lost, anti-labyrinths are places where you find yourself. A labyrinth has only one entry, and its secret can only be discovered at one point – its center. An anti-labyrinth, on the other hand, can be entered and exited at any point and at every point of an anti-labyrinth, secrets and mysteries are revealed.
My book “Anti-Labyrinths” will itself function as a kind of an anti-labyrinth, revealing truths and secrets at every point of the book, and helping the reader to find themselves. And, just like an anti-labyrinth, “Anti-Labyrinths” can be entered or exited at any point; you don’t have to start reading it at the beginning or finish reading it at the end.
BORIS GLIKMAN is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs. He says: “Writing for me is a spiritual activity of the highest degree. Writing gives me the conduit to a world that is unreachable by any other means, a world that is populated by Eternal Truths, Ineffable Questions and Infinite Beauty. It is my hope that these stories of mine will allow the reader to also catch a glimpse of this universe.”
I hosted a virtual workshop last Saturday for the Words in the Park event. It was fun to utilize Zoom so that participants from far and wide could join me. As the workshop was free, I thought I would share the bare bones of the workshop. Hopefully, it will give you some helpful information in creating a blog of your own.
There are numerous blogging sites but these tips cover the basics for you to start.
The number of blogs available on the internet is mind boggling – every topic you can imagine is covered. Whether factual, diarized, crafting, a myriad of interests or informational, you can find several postings about things you are interested in or want to know about.
So why should you blog? Or indeed why not!
The first and most important question is – why do you want to blog in the first place.
There is a huge range of reasons to blog but maybe the best idea is to ask yourself if any of the following relate to you.
1. To create something you are proud of
2. Challenge yourself
3. Strengthen your knowledge on a particular subject
4. Meet others with similar interests
5. Help other people in a specific field or topic
6. Gain confidence
7. To improve your writing ability
8. To learn new skills
Once you decide on starting a blog there are several key elements you need to decide on.
Name Your Blog
This may seem easy – however, you need to search what names are already in existence, will the name reflect the topic OR theme you will be writing about. Is it a personal blog, a business blog, or a specific interest blog? Does the blog name read OK when it’s in a domain URL format?
Later you may want to purchase your own domain name so consider how it will look.
Define Your Target Audience
For an author, this will be readers in your genre, for business people, it is who wants/needs your services. Will you mentor? Cover aspects of health, travel, personal training, or something else?
Tone Of Your Blog
What tone or voice will the writing reflect? Strictly business or more personal/friendly?
Reason For Your Blog
Will you be building your brand around your blog name or the other way around? Is the blog part of a website or standalone? What do you want to achieve with your blog? Choose one area you have the most expertise or interest in. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself straight out of the gate. Your passion about the subject will bring about the following benefits:
You’re more likely to put the time and effort into your blog to make it shine.
You’re less likely to abandon your blog in the future.
You’re less likely to run out of ideas.
It shows through in your writing, and your readers can feel that. This, in turn, will lead to a larger following.
Tips for Writing A Blog
Understand your audience
Write for yourself first
Love your existing readers/followers/clients
Focus on building an amazing call-to-action
Give away your knowledge
Be true to your voice
Give it time
Write catchy headlines
Keep it short
Positives to blogging:
1. You’ll gain confidence.
2. It’s a form of diary.
3. Blogging is great writing experience.
4. There is potential financial gain if that is your future goal.
5. The blogging community is great.
6. It allows potential for self growth.
7. It allows development of technological skills.
8. It gives people a creative outlet.
9. Blogging is the current way to market a business or product.
10. And it creates opportunities. Whether in the form of friendships, financial gain or self-growth.
Key Elements for a Blog Post
Make sure to include images in every post. A block of text is seldom read. (Attention spans are very short). Rule of thumb is to use one every 300 words or so.
Format your blog post – longer text should be divided with headers and sub-headers
Use bulleted and numbered lists
Bold and italicize key points
Use short paragraphs – 3-5 lines to prevent ‘skimming’ by your reader
Stick to a theme
Don’t wing your content. Make a plan and schedule your posts.
I either write several blog posts at a time and then schedule them or create a draft when an idea pops into my head.
It took some time to decide whether I would participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I have participated ten times in all and each time have created novel or novella length manuscripts. Most have been revised and edited over the following year or so to become published books. Some quicker than others it must be said. My very first NaNo in 2009 resulted in a work not published until last September! Yep 9 years. This was due to it being my first full length manuscript, my novice writing and self doubt that it was worthy of publishing. I revised and edited almost every year until I took the plunge, finally satisfied it was finalized.
However, in regard to this year’s NaNo, my first stumbling block was the two draft novels I have pending, which are previous year’s NaNoWriMo manuscripts. Again I know they need revisions and editing prior to submission to a publisher. My struggle was should I work on these manuscripts rather than create another one?
Secondly, I have several events to attend during November, which will take me away from the vital writing time needed for NaNo. As we all know every minute counts during November. Will I have enough time to succeed?
Thirdly, although I browsed the multitude of saved short stories in my laptop folders, I was not convinced any of them were novel length material. Or maybe it was my Muse not being excited enough about them – who knows? So I pondered what ‘new’ story I could write. Nothing I thought of seemed the elusive ‘it’ until just as I was drifting off to sleep an idea burst into my mind. It gave me a rough timeline, one character and the inkling of a plot. Knowing that relying on memory is a writer’s mistake when ideas pop up, I got up and wrote it all down. Subsequently, I have managed to decide on my two main characters, their location, some backstory and a timeline.
So I am as ready as I can be for 1st November. If you would like to connect on the NaNoWriMo site I’m MandyB.
So it seems it’s been a week of delays! Here is the question of the week.
Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
My answer: My current WIP is a steampunk novel and the initial scene in it is of a dream I had. It was so dramatic I knew I needed to use it somewhere.
Last week’s question: When creating your stories, do you tend to write your protagonist as the same gender as yourself – or do you use the genre dynamic as a device?
My answer: I do not have a particular gender I write about but in my novel, Life in Slake Patch I purposely used a young male protagonist due to the basic theme of the book – a matriarchal society and a young man’s life within it.