Tag Archives: Insecure Writers Support Group

IWSG: Letting Others Be In Control

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(If you would like to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, take a look at it HERE.)

Hello, folks! I’ve been a terrible blogger for the entirety of my summer break. I think I’ve posted twice since finishing college. But my life has been a whirlwind of paperwork and packing. For those of you who don’t know, I accepted a job with the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be starting a new life in the quaint little town of Mikawa where I’ll be teaching elementary and junior high students. You can read more about what I’ll be doing and how I’ve been hindered HERE. That’s probably all the shameless advertising I’ll do for my GoFundMe now. Within the next few days, I hope to start blogging about Japan and travel and adulting yet again. But for now, I’m going to chat about a few things that are close to my heart.

I’ve been writing since I discovered you didn’t need a permit to be creative. It’s one of the greatest outlets for venting feelings and exploring your imagination. Let’s face it; sometimes our thoughts run a little too rampant, and it’s healthy to organize our dragons, giant robots, and werecat vampires in our little journals or laptops or restaurant napkins. Unfortunately, writing tends to be a solitary occupation. I’ve hosted some writing clubs before and most of the time, those meetings are 80% discussion and snacking and maybe only 20% writing. It’s hard to be productive without the right group.

And unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to be productive by yourself. The world is full of distractions: Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, the fire works currently blowing up outside my window…(Guys…it’s day time. You can’t even SEE the fireworks.) I might find my quiet place one day, write 3,000 words, and be perfectly content, but I might also open up a Word document and spend the next three hours of my life researching how to hide a body. Why? Because I’m weak. Okay? Happy? The Internet is often stronger than I am. But it’s more than that. My muse can be flimsy and unmotivated. I’ll start a project excited about a new world of possibilities and later find myself buried in plot bunnies and doubt.

I started roleplaying in junior high, and I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t know why I started. I think I just stumbled upon a forum one day and decided, “I don’t want to be creative by myself anymore. I want to be creative with others.” And I don’t regret that moment at all. I’ve watched myself grow as a writer and a collaborator. Roleplaying forces you to work on a plot with someone else or many people. You have to build a world through your interactions and weave a plot around both of your wants and desires. Sometimes world building is easy because you borrow from a video game or TV, but other times you start from nothing more than an idea and watch it blossom as two writers negotiate the terms of the plot.

Roleplaying isn’t without its vices however. I’ve noticed that over the years I’ve gotten lazy. I roleplay simply to advance the plot, and I lose sight of important things like characterization and style. Sometimes I over-complicate things with horribly elaborate ideas and find myself buried in plot bunnies and doubt even with someone (or many people) to hold me accountable. It’s still possible to give up even when two people are working on a project. On top of it all, even if you have a lot of creative control, you only control your part of the world. Attempting to control a character that isn’t yours is considered: god-modding. Limited control is part of what makes roleplaying exciting, but as a writer, it’s also a pain. Don’t we want to control everything?

With a few close friends however, I’ve started playing around with an interesting idea that isn’t quite roleplaying, but it also isn’t a traditional collaboration. I can’t take credit for it at all, but they’ve given me permission to share it here. They’ve deemed it “Word Count RPing.” Its very essence is simplicity and collaboration. At the start of a WC RP, it has little to no planning. You start with an idea (usually vague), and you go from there. Each RPer is permitted around 200 to 300 words each time he/she posts. It’s still RPing because it’s back and forth between two (maybe more) writers. You share ideas, but both of you control the world. There is no “mine and yours.” It’s always ours. Without the leader and follower dynamic there’s a lot more creative freedom involved, and it’s still surprising because there is no definite plot for both of you to follow. If I want to surprise my partner, I can. If my partner wants to surprise me, he/she most certainly can!

I think writers often get too absorbed in their own little world. I’ve seen a lot of creative people who can only think about “MY” stuff. Collaboration is difficult because you’re thinking about how things have to work out to feed “MY” desires. You find yourself buried underneath…..plot bunnies and selfishness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a selfish writer. Explore your ideas. Be proud of what you create, but don’t exclude other people and ideas especially if you’re working on a creative project whether that’s roleplaying or collaboration. Maybe if you let people control your characters, you’ll get to see how the world views them. Maybe you’ll find things you can improve, or maybe you’ll even learn something new about that little figment of your imagination. (NOTE: I do not recommend participating in a WC RP with writers you do not know very well. While it has its benefits, you may also become frustrated with a partner that isn’t familiar with your style and flow.)

Perhaps this is a bit of a radical change to suggest that god-modding can be healthy. Sharing a creative thought with another person or a group of people is kind of scary, isn’t it? But I love it. I work better with people urging me to create. Is it really so scary to work together with others?

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Writing Insecurities: Highs and Lows

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(Wanna join? You can too! Just take a look at stuff HERE.)

Well, I did it. I’m going to graduate soon. I have about two months before I start a real, big girl job. I have to find a part time job until then, but I’m hoping having a diploma in my hand will make it a little easier. I have my fingers crossed, but my hopes aren’t too high. But I suppose if you’re checking my blog out, you don’t really care much about my minimum wage problems, eh?

I actually didn’t know what to write about for today. My mind hasn’t been on my blog. I was thinking about finals and finals and finals, but now that’s over. I’m going to an end of year party tonight. My parents arrive tomorrow. There’s a service for the seniors on Friday, and we graduate on Saturday. What am I supposed to do with all this free time? Write, hopefully. And…I should probably pack up too. But I despise packing.

It has been a long time since I’ve had time to write. School usually consumes my life. I spend hours upon hours reading and writing for my classes. Sometimes I’ll sketch out ideas for short stories or poems or novels in the margins of my notes, but it never really feels like it’s enough to say “I wrote something today.”

I’m extremely proud of myself for making it through the A to Z challenge without much trouble. But now that I’m done with school, I want to make a few resolutions. If I can’t find a part time job until my real job starts up, I’ll have all the time in the world. So here’s a lovely little list:

  • Find a comfortable writing community. I’ve been looking for online writing circles, and I’ve had my eye on a few; I haven’t worked up the courage to join however. I just know that I need more people to look at my work, so I can get more opinions. I’d also like to make friends and connect with other young writers. Giving critiques is something I absolutely love. I’ve tried to start a few different writing circles on forums, but they always fall flat because people want critiques for themselves, but they don’t want to give them to others. I’ll keep lurking for a while longer, but if anyone has recommendations, I’ll gladly take them.
  • Read and write every day. I have a good long reading list of authors to look at. I have a ton of unread books on my Kindle. I want to work reading and writing into my daily routine. I tend to be incredibly lazy during the summer. I’ve considered being super hipster and hanging out a coffee shop to get my work done.
  • Reread my old stories. I had some really good ideas, and now that I’m on a confidence high, maybe I can salvage some material. I don’t want to bury gold just because my self-esteem took a hit.

And that’s all. It’s not a crazy big list, but it’s a good start. I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I will say that I have a lot of good ideas. I might even start searching for places to get some of my poetry published simply because I think the work I did in my class was pretty good. But we’ll have to see. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

A Personal Writing Update

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March was a pretty good month for writing. That isn’t really saying much considering the fact that I spend very little time writing for pleasure. I wanted to take the time to actually brag about myself for once in my life. I rarely do that, and I always feel a little bit better after I look at my successes instead of my failures.

I started a creative writing group on my campus. We’ve had three meetings so far, and I know that means very little to me since I’m a senior, and this is my last semester, but I’m hoping this lasts for a little while. At least right now, it means that I have an hour out of my week where I can write. That’s an hour more than before! Who knows? Maybe one of the people at my meetings will decide to continue it?

I’ve consistently received good grades on my poetry in my class. Right now, I think what I need is different feedback. Instead of hearing from only my professor, I think I’d benefit from hearing from a number of different opinions rather than just one. When we do group discussion, my peers often have vastly different opinions and hearing a variety critiques is great. I may look into finding more readers…quite possibly starting with my mom. (Lame. I know. But my mom is actually a GREAT resource. So I’m going to use her.)

I’ve kept up with my blog. Now that doesn’t mean much, but I took up the A to Z challenge, and so far I’ve kept up with it. I tend to fall behind, but so far I’ve kept up everything. I’m going to give myself a pat on the back.

Now…in addition to my bragging, I’ve been digging through some older stuff (from…quite possibly elementary school to junior high–I never throw anything away). It was humbling to see all my older work, but it was also horrifying. I suppose as a little bit of a silly post, I wanted to post some of my original work from when I was…eight or so. Maybe how dreadful some of it is might encourage a few of my #IWSG readers? Nevertheless, I’ve been enjoying every bit of it. Typos and all. It makes me happy to know that I’ve always loved to write.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “The Return of Arther” – Intotra (2003)
Once upon a time in the land of Excalaber lived a brother and sister. They were both about 11 years old. They looked so alike that they could be twins except for the birth mark on the girls neck that was in the shape of a heart. The girls name was Cara and the boys name was Mark. One day they were sleeping in their house when they woke up with a start for they had heard a loud scream from a dragon. Dragons were usually peaceful unless you messed with them. 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “Revolution” (2008)
“Master Vaughn!” muttered Derek after he finally managed to gather the nerves to speak. He bowed quickly and stood at attention. “I apologize, sir. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I’ve been here for quite some time now.” The Master arose from his chair and set his glass down on the table. “You seem quite enammered with my niece.” 

Derek couldn’t reply. He swallowed hard. Beads of sweat began to form on his forehead and his hands began to shake.

His master strode slowly up to the fireplace and took the picture off of the mantle. His smile softened as he gazed at the young girl sitting on a bench in a garden surrounded by blossoming flowers. “It really is a lovely picture, don’t you agree, Mr. Splendor?”

Derek nodded. “Y-yes, Sir.”

His master ventured a question further. “You wish to court her, do you not?”

The young man didn’t reply. His eyes widened and his breath quickened. Once again, the rebellious strands of hair fell over his right eye.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “Rain and Fire: A Romantic Tragedy Part 1: Lovesick Villain Fugue” (2008)
Claves: He sounded cute. Could I meet him some time?
Ocarina: No you cannot!
Claves: Why not?
Ocarina: He’s kind of…well…(looks down)
Falsetto: Spit it out!
Ocarina: He’s our mortal enemy
Falsetto: (angrily) You’re in love with the enemy
Jazz: You didn’t know?
Falsetto: And you did?
Jazz: Yes. Where do you think Ocarina’s been getting her information.
Claves: So there’s no romance.
Ocarina: Actually………..(looks down again)

 

Poetry: The Philosophical Brooding of a Wannabe Poet

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I joined this group after hearing about it from a few different sources. Finally, I decided it was a great way to find support and other struggling bloggers/writers. If you’re interested in joining, take a look at it HERE.

I don’t write about writing a lot. In fact, the first time someone I knew personally read a creative work of mine (to critique) was just last year. I hate it when people read my things. I’ve still never worked up the courage to show my parents something I’ve written. I actually wrote a memoir piece about my sister, something very personal. It got published in my school’s literary magazine for strangers to read. I’ve never shown it to my sister however.

But once a month now, I’m going to try to write about writing. So…here goes nothing.

I’ve always enjoyed the act. I remember sitting down at restaurants with my family and scrawling down little ideas for grand high fantasy novels on dirty napkins at the age of 12. Now, a senior in college, I’m taking my first creative writing class. A poetry class. After three weeks of class, I’ve learned one thing: POETRY. IS. HARD. (…and that I shouldn’t be taking this class because I’m AWFUL at poetry.)

For some reason, I thought I thought it would be an easy A. But I hate reading poetry, and I hate writing it even more. I finally managed to get an A on a poetry assignment, and I stayed up until 3:00 am to finish a sixth draft of an 11 stanza strict ballad. But writing it wasn’t the worst part. I had to READ it in class…in front of 18 other poets. I almost threw up.

After seeing that I got an A on that assignment (which was a HUGE step up from my angsty sonnet I had written before the ballad), I decided to branch out. I’ve been reading more poetry to get an idea of “how to poetry.” I’ve been taking what I know about writing prose and trying to make my poems my own. I’ve been learning about the different types of meter and how meter changes the mood of a poem. A poem isn’t a short story…but it is. Poetry is music, and I can relate to that. I’ve discovered that I actually like Emily Dickinson and John Keats and Robert Frost. We’re reading poems by a contemporary poet named John Brehm now. I’m actually enjoying his humor. Who know poetry could be funny instead of torturous?

Perhaps I don’t actually hate poetry, but it frustrates me. I can tell a story in 1,200 or 50,000 words quite easily, but a poet can tell a story in 14 lines or even fewer. That is the ultimate skill: to make a reader know everything with a few words. I’ve learned a lot about word choice and meter in just a few weeks. But I have a long way to go before I can even begin to consider myself a poet.

“And miles to go before I sleep.

And miles to go before I sleep.”

Does anyone have experience writing poetry? I’d love some advice or even recommendations for reading material.