Friday, 17 February 2017

Writing - stuck for ideas?

Sometimes you want to write, to really write, but the ideas just aren't coming. You hop from one WiP to another, you draft out part of an outline, write down a concept, scratch together some character profiles, make notes, scribble on name it, you do it. Sometimes though, the idea you're searching for just doesn't come, and nothing else seems to stick. So what do you do about it?

Straight off the bat I'd say that sometimes a book just isn't ready to come out yet. Yes, I do like the maxim "write every day", and I believe that can hold true once you start writing your book. However, you can't force an idea to come out. You need to let your ideas percolate without thinking about them too hard. And I don't mean think of an idea and forget about it. I mean forget about thinking about an idea. Give your brain time to breathe. Sometimes, I believe, if we pressure ourselves too much then we end up writing things we don't enjoy, pushing out words that have no passion, using half-hearted concepts, and not enjoying what we do.

Certainly, there are deadlines to meet (especially those under contract, but any good writer should have set their own deadlines, in my opinion). However, it's easier to edit a book that is written with compelling passion and with a clear goal. Otherwise, you can end up with a book that doesn't say anything in particular. If you don't care about your plot and characters enough, why should your reader?

So my one piece of advice is to sit back, close your mind off from writing, and live for a while. Personally, I take a week or two off from reading, as other books can cloud my head, too, as I'm always thinking about craft when I read. It also really helps to get offline when you can. Stop bombarding your brain and just let it be. You might be surprised what your subconscious comes up with.

I hope this idea helps you, and if not, then, as usual, just take it out of your writing toolbox and replace it with something else instead. Writing is such a fluid, personal, mutating art that there's no one way - there's just advice from one person's point of view to another, and everything's worth a try at least once.

Happy writing, and I hope those ideas keep flowing!

Friday, 3 February 2017

A privileged writer - how your fiction can help fight the good fight

We all know these are turbulent times. Whether it's in the States or elsewhere, things are in disarray. Those of us who write know that now is the time to rise up and fight for what we believe in. We all have different areas we want to fight for - equality for women's rights, minority equality, LGBTQIA rights...the list goes on, and so it should.

I, for one, support and will continue to fight for every area. Some may be selective. That selectiveness raises conflict. However, in the grand scheme, we need to realize (or at least in my opinion), that any effort to fight for equality in any area is a person moving in the right direction on something. Yes, we all want to have them fight for all equality, but we need to take every little bit we can get.

Anyway, that all said (and I welcome every opinion, as long as it's respectfully said), I wanted to talk about what privileged writers can do with their writing to help the cause. Granted, we can't take up the mantle of #ownvoices as our own voice, but what we can do is support it in our fiction. Be inclusive of all the wonderful races, religions, sexual orientations, lifestyles, and beliefs in our beautiful world. I would recommend highly getting a sensitivity reader to make sure you have this done with the most considerate hands.

But what if I don't have a multi-cultural/diverse book? I wrote it and it just wasn't there. No problem. There're are more things you can do. Go out and buy books from minority authors. Right reviews on their work. Share it. Heck, if you're published, buddy up with an #ownvoices author and go to a book launch and promote their work as much as you do your own. Consider donating part of your royalties or advance to a chosen charity to help raise funds to fight the good fight. Like one of my amazing friends did. Keely Hutton wrote an amazing book (SOLDIER BOY, available on pre-order), hand-in-hand with a man (Ricky), who lived as a child solider through the LRA in Uganda. She took on his story for him, and donated part of her advance to those suppressed and forgotten child soldiers who Ricky helps rehabilitate. She is helping their cause. Fighting for their equality and human rights.

Anything else you can do? Write about empowered characters. Write about empowering themes. Show the best can come from fighting through the worst. Show that oppression can be overcome - whether in contemporary, fantasy, thriller, or any other genre. Just do what you can.

You could even write a blog post.