Updated: 12/19/2011: for Third Sunday Blog Carnival

How do I write? What inspires me? Why do I tackle so many different genres?

I was asked this by Alejandro Guzman, of the blog Raising Amelie, . He’s not the only one who has asked this. I’ve shrugged my shoulders most times when asked this. How and why I write: I never have given it any real deep thought. Honest. I’m not narcissistic enough to believe anyone would really want to know my process. But, I heard him REALLY ask, really want to know, and when I included the others, and comments, I felt I had to take a shot at this. Thank you, one and all. Really, I’m  a newbie, to not only blogging but in writing AS a writer: as of this writing, 5/30/2011, I am unpublished, and have only been blogging since January of 2011.

*AMENDED 12/19/2011:  I am now a published author!! You can find my work on my Amazon Authors Page:  My first short story was published in the Dawn of Indie Romance Charity anthology; a second one was published in After Dark (paranormal anthology); my own eStory, Flash Over (a psychological thriller); and coming soon (around the end of December/Beginning of January), my first eBook-The Path Away From Love.

Tale Spinning is my  outlet for writing fiction (beyond the odd Guest Blogs I’ve done, and will do, if someone asks me). I just started to enter fiction contests. Fans of Tale Spinning have been asking to continue writing beyond the shorts I have been doing.  I am in the process of doing that with three of the stories.

How Do I Write?

Stephen King, when asked this, gave the answer: “One word at a time.”

I find that I write best at my desk, in my bedroom, with the door closed. I turn off the phones, and make sure I have a large cold beverage at hand. For some reason, even at the coldest time of the year, I prefer cold drinks. Mainly Iced Tea, then Iced Coffee. I don’t drink alcohol of any type, and I don’t do drugs. What comes out of me is what’s in me, not altered in any way. That, in itself, can be a scary thought.

I give myself a two hour window of writing sometime during the day. My schedule is erratic. Sometimes I have all morning, sometimes just the night. It changes day to day. Two hours is my minimum time to write daily-yes, daily. I will go longer if the muse hits me. I started out wanting to write about 400-500 words a day. I now try for 1,500 to 2,000 a day in total. That’s fiction (1,500) and non-fiction (500), give or take. I can do it if I don’t let myself get distracted.

Research plays a big role in what I write. I’ll get an idea, but only know a smidgeon of what I want to express on that subject. When someone mentions how detailed I can be, a lot of times it’s the research giving me the tools to write what I need to. Yes, how I put the words together makes me, me, but…research is vital. I also make up a LOT of things. Ask my family and friends.

I enjoy language, and love playing around with it. Language, to me, is musical. It’s there for me to play with, redefine it sometimes, create new versions, and just have fun. I’m not comparing myself to Shakespeare or Lewis Carrol. It’s just fun to play around. Verbs can become nouns, and visa versa. I don’t believe in rules, overall.

That is another thing: I’m not the greatest when it comes to the mechanics of writing. Yes, I have my moments where I don’t care that I’m not following the accepted methods of published authors or genres. Why write what they’ve already done, and follow a path that is not making me happy? So, I’ll have some dangling parts here, an adverb there, break the ideal of what is accepted…and I don’t really care. Yes, I would love to be published. But, if you really knew me, you’d know my principals for myself can be stronger then following “what’s right.” That might change when money and a book publishing contract is dangled in front of me, but…I’d like to hope not.

Why Do I Write?

I find it creatively freeing. Since I started to just write for myself, I gave myself permission to do whatever I wanted. No demands, no one breathing down my neck, no one’s expectations of me (which I HATE). I’ve always written well, but I never felt I had the discipline to write daily. That changed when I took on TWO blog challenges, both in April 2011. What I thought was going to be arduous and overly demanding…wasn’t. It was fun, and I was getting some nice feedback with both blogs (more info on the other one at the end of all this meandering).

Tale Spinning came about when I was bored, which can happen often. I only had Born Storyteller, and was just adding pages when I felt like it. I wanted to write fiction, and posted a challenge on FaceBook: give me a theme and the first sentence of a story that has never been written before. I’d write a short piece on that. After a week or so, I did not get anymore, but before that happened, I spun the stories off into this blog. (btw: if you want to continue that challenge for me, the About page has the info. Thanks).

What changed all this for me was the A to Z Blog Challenge.  I had to write  26 blogs, one for each letter of the alphabet, with Sundays off. I started doing small bits, but on D Day, I stared an ongoing story that is now Novella length, my Work in Progress. Since then, I have tried to write every day, normally a different story idea every day. I might hop jump to a previous story to continue it, or I might feel I’ve said all I wanted to say.

What Inspires Me?

Things. Paintings. Photographs. Words of the Day (try Dictionary. com). Prompts of abstract ideas, sentences (like stated above). People’s comments. People. Love. Hate. History. Myth. The Origin of something. Abstract concepts. Music

Sometimes I’ll have an idea, but what solidifies it is finding that image, or music. It ground it all for me. That was how the Tango piece came about: concept, research, then the music. “Birdsongs” came because I had asked the illustrator to surprise me with an image. I had to let it sit for three days or so, and then the whole story rushed out in a series of notes at Starbucks. “Redhead Riding”, well…ahem…I was trying to impress a redheaded woman I knew by way of blog (another country, def another generation). That’s how it started out: I took info off her blog (her music playlist is what my character hears as she rides her bike), looked at the photos of her, and just went with it. It was a fun exercise that’s turned into something people want to read more of.

I also realize my love of prompts comes from my many years as an Improvisation performer. We have to create our scenes/stories from only a few ideas tossed out by our audiences. The rest is up to us. I learned to think fast and go with my first idea; that serves me well when writing a Flash Fiction, short story or poem.

I think what it is: when I get an idea, I write. If I’m “blocked”, it’s the material I’m writing, not me. If I struggle with it longer then a day, I put it aside. If I come back to it and still struggle, then something is wrong with the material, not me. It is just saying, “nope, you aren’t really engaged with this material. Bye.”  There is always something else to write about.

Why do I tackle so many different genres?

There is always something else to write about. Wait. I just said that.  Yes, there is. I believe I tackle the different genres, and if the comments by many are taken as reality, because I do it fairly well. 🙂

Well, also because of a number of things:

  • I read a LOT.
 
  • I read a number of genres and styles:
    • SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery, Thrillers, Classics, Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Myths, Fables, Legends, Bios, and assorted other works of literature.
    • Oh, plays, and non-fiction books that deal with theater, storytelling and now writing.
  • I  am an avid Pop Culture watcher/listener/junkee.
    • I watch TV, listen to all types of music, love Film, go to theater, concerts and ballet and modern dance.
    • You’ll notice things that are missing from my stories: I am not a fan of sports, so you’ll see very little of it. There are other things. You tell me.
  • I have a lot of things to reference from

More Things?

You’ll have to ask me if you feel you MUST know more about my exciting writing habits. I hope I’ve answered Alejandro’s, and others, queries. If you want me to go “behind the scenes” with particular stories, let me know. I don’t think it’s all that exciting to explain, but…who knows.

I’ll add some links here (after my BTW below) for other writers links. If you have a great link, share it with me and I’ll edit it in.

As to comments, let me throw this back to you: if you write FICTION, the questions above are posed to you. Write it up on your space and post the link in the comments section. I WILL read yours. Always great to hear the personal stories, while we weave fantastical fiction, and go Tale Spinning together.

BTW: For those who don’t know, I also write another blog: Born Storyteller .  Since October, I’ve been running The Creativity Series, with guest blogs on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then, well… I talk about the other things I am passionate about: Arts-In-Education; Storytelling; my role as a Teaching Artist; my performance art; and the philosophy and practice behind all that, through my lens of experience. I ask questions about your POV, so be forewarned. Question and comments always welcome. Thank you.

Links:

Third Sunday Blog Carnival      Every third Sunday, starting in January 2012: links to many great blog posts on writing

Krissy Brady                   Keeping the passion for writing alive

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55 responses »

  1. Pingback: Third Sunday Blog Carnival: Volume 1, No. 1 « Third Sunday Blog Carnival

  2. How Do I Write?

    1. I type.

    Long-hands are for the lack of PComputer convenience, for I grew up with technology & the Internet and typing on a keyboard oftentimes catches up nicely with the speed of my thoughts.

    2. I think, but not deliberate: I believe in going with the flow of one’s Intuition and Emotions, when it comes to full, Creative Self-Expressions.

    =============

    Why Do I Write?

    1. Because I have to.

    As Stephen King once put it [too, as to why he wrote what/all he did],
    “what makes you think I have a choice?”

    ===============

    What Inspires Me?

    People. Things. Rainbows. Happy Endings. Perverse Endings. Sad longings. Desires. Feelings. Art. Aesthetics. Minimalism. Short-cuts. Connections. Heartrendering pillowtalking mindblowing gutspeaking human[e] nature. Rule-braekng. Grammatical [in]correctness. Politics of Life. Trans person al. Meta physic s.

    Neverending et cetera-s.

    =================================

    Why do I tackle so many different genres?

    What genre? Life is Life is Life is Life.

    Though, I should say, I’ve been…Observed…that my forte in storytelling inclines towards human[e] relationships.

    I love any Word that can be Spoken [and not].

    ===========

    More Things?

    I’ve an email address: blackorient@gmail.com

    and an active blog (provided upon email).

    Like

  3. I came across your blog by chance, wending my way from a rather opaque, emailed LinkedIn update. I’m glad I did, because the Vonnegut video you included was a wonderful continuation of my recent explorations into writing technique.

    I’ve always felt the desire and the need to write stories, and I’m full of ideas, so I’ve ached mainly for “schooling” of sorts to help my skills match my imagination. (So I don’t breach Vonnegut’s admonition not to waste my reader’s time. 🙂 ) Lack of funds has sent me searching for lessons on my own, through my blog, and Vonnegut’s list adds a lot to the conversation. I wish I could add to yours, but I don’t have helpful answers to the questions posed. I only have a few tentative answers to some of the mechanical questions of fiction writing — tentative, because I too, believe many “rules” can be successfully broken.

    I wish I could join the writing challenge you just announced, but my brain already hurts from carrying around a few unwritten stories and a revision I haven’t begun yet. Best of luck to you with that and with your other endeavors.

    Like

    • I’m not sure about schooling, as I get tired of some of the “grammar and spelling” police strutting their “stuff” around. I wonder what they would have done to Burgess when he wrote “Clockwork Orange” or Joyce with “Ulysses.” Rules can and should be broken, or we’re only going to get the same drivel just pushed into slightly different forms.

      I also have so many ideas in my head, and just can’t get myself organized enough to get them all out.

      If you can, take one of those unwritten stories into the challenge. It’ll set a goal for you, and a chance to win a nifty prize. I’d love to read your stuff, so I’ll follow you. This makes me interested. A fellow all over the place person.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Writing To Me Is… (and a blog award)…and updated « bornstoryteller

  5. Stuart, this was a perfect introduction post to PBAU! I am thoroughly inspired by how you’ve made a commitment to writing for yourself every day. Since I started freelance writing, I’ve only ever written for others and I can only imagine the freeing feeling of releasing creativity for me and only me. I hope to join a blog challenge this coming July (not that PBAU isn’t already a type of blog challenge in and of itself, in a really good way!) — and maybe these combined challenges will force me to find time for myself.

    I really respect how you spend a lot of time researching too. I have a research background and didn’t realize how valuable my skills would be to writing both fiction and non-fiction. I’m sure that I’ll continually learn tons from you! =)

    I also noticed the reply you left for Adriene and it sounds really exciting to merge your blogs! Can’t wait for the changes. =) Super glad we’re in touch!

    Like

    • Hi Samantha: if you join the Ultimate Blog Challenge, that is one of the two that got me going. It’s worth it, and I MIGHT enter Bornstoryteller there again. Not sure about Tale Spinning, as they are more content driven and not readers of fiction (so much).
      As to the merge, I met with my web designers last night. Looks like I’ll be moving this and bornstoryteller blogs onto my own domain, and in conjunction with my website, which is a whole other thing to rework.

      Yes, I am glad as well. we’re in touch. Looking forward to learning more about you and the others.

      Like

      • Great tip, Stu! I’ve heard tons about the Ultimate Blog Challenge lately and can’t wait to start with the next round! =) Love that you’re a success story too! =)

        And can’t wait for the merge!! =)

        Like

  6. Great post Stuart! Love knowing what motivates others. For me, music is always a motivator. I like to bring music into my experiences because it’s such a huge part of my life. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  7. It’s wonderful how prolific you are. It really is a testament to your discipline. I’ve probably answered these questions on my blog in various posts. I think any true writer with a calling has figured out his or her purpose–or if not, they should!

    Like

    • Adriene, I really appreciate this. Tonight I was out to dinner with friends, and a lot of the discussion was on my website (they were my web designers) and how to merge the two blogs and my website into a whole purpose, so to say. Thank you.

      Like

  8. Thanks for telling us about your writing. Being a writer myself (both fiction and non-fiction), I love hearing/reading about other writers and their experiences. It sounds as if you’re at the stage where you’ve opened up, turned on the creative faucet so to speak, and now you’re going full steam and are unstoppable. That’s a wonderful place/state of mind to be in when creativity and ideas just ooze out of you and beg to be transformed into words. My problem is that I love to write books – long books, and I get so addicted that nothing else matters. Not eating, living, working. Nothing. OK when I had the wherewithal but since I have had to support myself, my writing had slowed down almost to a halt – until I started blogging.

    Hope you keep your creativity flowing, enter all the competitions you can, reading a lot, and most of all, treasure every moment you can spend writing.

    Like

    • Peneolpe, thank you very much. At this moment, I’m not investing the time for long work. I will, soon. I have two ideas for novels/novellas, and I just need to get past some of the things that stop me.

      Like

  9. Thanks Stuart! You did point out a very important element and that is, having the ability to break the rules. I think, though, that to be able to successfully do this, one needs to seriously know the rules first, and then decide how to creatively break them. That’s the fun part for me! Thanks for all the tips!

    Like

    • Hi Joy, yeah, rules. Ugh. I kind of know them but I’m not a slave to them. The funny thing is: I JUST got a story accepted for publication in an eBook, and the person who helped critique it felt it wouldn’t win a spot since I did not follow the RWA rules. So..: 😛 to the rules!

      Like

  10. Well Stuart, we might have started to write at the same time but you are clearly ahead of me! I admire you for being so dedicated to your writing…I am only doing it when I can. It looks like I have a long way to go…

    Like

  11. Hi Stuart. what a great article. I enjoyed reading it as I am not a writer. I blog for fun and to remember what happened yesterday. I think it is great that you write what you want and don’t necessarily follow the rules. Some of the best creatives works come from rule breakers.

    Like

  12. Wow – what an answer Stuart! There could be about 6 blog posts there. I find it incredibly fascinating to hear how other people write. I admire you for writing 2 hrs a day!
    I like you only started in Dec/Jan of this year, though always loved writing and like you manipulating words.
    I see many similarities in our stories. I could so relate when you said, “Research plays a big role in what I write. I’ll get an idea, but only know a smidgeon of what I want to express on that subject…”
    Someone asked me how I write – it was similar to you and like you I thought are people really interested in that stuff – yes we are.
    Thanks I feel I know you a little better now 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Maureen: thank you. Yeah, I could have broken this down, but when I was really asked by Alejandro, I felt it would be best to make this a page, not a daily post. Anyone can find this if they are interested at any time.
      I’ve been off my sched a bit. I’ll be back on once I take care of some obligations. Such an ugly word, obligations. 🙂

      Than

      Like

  13. Hello Stuart,

    I am not a writer at all so blogging is a challenge. I like to write in general but would never consider myself a writer 🙂 It was great to get insights from a writer as to how you write. I admit that I also work best in chunks of time. I need at least 90 minutes if I am working on a blog post. I just need the time and space to think it through. Being rushed just stops the creative flow!

    Many thanks,
    Diana

    Like

    • Thank you Alexandra. Yeah..I’ve found, when blocked, it’s the story or some part of it that rings false. That happened when writing my play. I had the beginning, I had the ending, but the middle…I made things up and that stopped me dead. The second I realized that was the problem, the play finished itself.

      Like

  14. Hello Stuart!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your insights. You seem pretty prolific so I was surprised that you’ve only just started blogging!

    Like you, I’m always looking for forms of inspiration. It’s good to hear that there are others who seek similar story sources!

    Kudos to you for making the effort to write every day! I find that I am all too often distracted by day to day activities to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys as the case may be!). The biggest issue I face is that I have more stories & poems forming in my head than I have time to actually compose them. I decided to try the Dragon Naturally Speaking software to help my composition. It takes some getting used to but I think it may help. I sometimes tell the stories to my dog so that I have a fully accepting audience!

    Keep up the good work and keep writing! You are my inspiration now!

    Like

    • Hi Tom..glad to see you here. I wonder if I could start charging for inspiration!! Hmmm….; )
      I’ve been writing for a long time, but with NO discipline. The blog challenges were the thing that got me on this track. I fight it sometimes, but I see the benefit for myself when I don’t.

      Dogs are good audiences for stories, as long as you throw in that tummy rub.

      Thanks.

      Like

  15. Amazing post Stuart. I cannot believe you only started writing in January 2011. Wow. I love how you have described your process, the ‘mechanics’, your inspiration. It’s intriguing how different and personal it is for everyone. I know for me it is when the mood strikes, when I get the urge, when I need to get the words out through my fingers faster then they can type and my brain can process. I need to get it out then and there…I don’t have a routine as such – yet – although I do thirst for one. Unfortunately my day job gets in the way. You definitely inspire me and I thank you for finding me, as I think that’s how we first came into touch. You are meant for great things.

    Like

    • Hi Janine: I might have to reword the post. I started BLOGGING in January/February, and really wasn’t taking it seriously until the April Challenges. I have been writing since I could write as a kid. Had a lot of school and camp articles and stories published over the year. Wrote poetry for a HS collection; did the odd song lyrics; wrote stories that went no where.

      The thing is, I KNEW I had to write, just never felt I had it in me to devote time to it. I do get easily distracted still, and I need to overcome that.

      Thank you for the kind words. Me, inspire someone else? Nice thought/feeling. I have enjoyed getting to know you as well.

      Like

  16. Kurt Vonnegut for President! I know, I know, he’s no longer with us in the physical realm, but he still speaks through his writing. Have read most of his work because he’s my hero. Do you remember Harrison Bergeron? This protagonist being a prototype of the individual who refuses to bow the knee to a system of absolute equality? Where genius and innovative thinking are not allowed? The year is 2081. Is this where our society is heading?
    This post is a keeper Stuart. Thanks friend!

    Like

  17. I LOVE this post Stuart. I really do. It has so many tips that I can use as well. Thanks for sharing this glimpse in your mind ^_^

    I have been writing on and off for the past few years and I even participated in a writers group, until this one suddenly vanished from the web. That was fun, because I wrote more consistently as we got prompts and people commented on your stories. The world of a writer can be a tad lonely (also the world of an illustrator) so to share it with others was fun. However, I needed time to set up my illustration business, but I almost have the basics done for this and I really need to pick up my writing again. All I really need to have a good schedule and a deadline. And no distractions! I’m working on this now, because I need to write and finish my stories. They won’t be silent until I do haha.

    I listen to a lot of soundtracks when I either write or draw. Not so sure what I need when it comes to drinks or food. That part varies a lot.

    Thanks again for this awesome article and I wish you all the luck with your projects!

    Like

  18. Hi Stuart –

    What happened to your LIKE and VOTE buttons?

    Writing because it’s fun and undemanding is the best, huh. When a writer feels there are no expectations about what he/she writes, how can that not be fun. I’m sure the longer you write and become more noticed, expectations about your work will be expected. In fact, I bet expectations are there in place now by your readers. You just don’t know it or see them yet. Happy Tuesday to you. 🙂

    Like

    • Hmm..I thought the like and vote buttons automatically went on. I’ll see about that in a few.
      And Charlie, yes, I do feel the “expectations” thing a bit already: the POLL. But, it’s not bad when people want more, right now. That was also why I put in Choose Three. It still gives me leeway to play. Thank you.

      Like

    • Thank you Marie. I think the ONLY reason people don’t stretch, sometimes: just not enough info in their lives. The wider the referencing, the more you know. Think about all the things we DO know, but don’t utilize.

      Like

  19. I enjoyed your article, “How I Write.” I do write fiction, but it’s currently all in Word doc. Haven’t done online fiction yet… but I have completed a novel, Broken Angels; and a collection of short stories.
    Word of the Day, I used dictionary.com as well… just love learning the origins of words, their many-faceted meanings, their usage in sentences… the whole gamut. Etymology nut here.
    Fun article Stuart, and well worth the read!

    Like

  20. dear Stuart . thank you, if i was to answer the question as you have i think i would refer people to your post here, as you have told my story better then i could. i am servilely dyslectic. i started a blog as a hopeful way to supplement my social security. but found i like to write. i was told by teachers that i could never write anything so i never learn to write. but i do and i don’t follow the rule as i don’t known them. i have started a couple of novels one is at http://radurham.blogspot.com/ the other is on my blog. and i write poems just don’t know where they come from. they just happen. i have sent you an invite to join the chain story the daisy lemmas riff, it fun to read and write. i see many thing that we have in common. i hope to read more of your work and join in the debate on education as i have been a teacher and know there is a better ways to teach then the way teacher have been force to do. thank you for your thoughts and god bless

    Like

    • Roy, thank YOU. Yes, I got the invite, and I’m going to work it into what I’m doing. I find that when you just write, and don’t over analyze where it came from or where it’s going, that’s a real blessing to have.

      I’m glad you didn’t allow your dyslexia to become your life.

      Like

  21. I struggle with myself and spend more time criticizing my writing than I do writing. It’s gotten to the point where I have become afraid of putting my thoughts down. Thanks for giving me permission to write for me.

    Like

    • Hi Tom: well, it goes back to the post I wrote in Born Storyteller: if we even extend an idea of Critique as opposed to criticizing ourselves, if we stop making the judgment calls and make what I call the judgment face, we then have things we can work on. No matter what that nitpicker said, I still say that criticizing tears things down. I’m glad you feel that permission.

      Like

  22. This was a great post, you covered the how, the why and the what and then some. It’s not just about your habits but it also leaves some great tips for others.

    It is so easy to become disheartened and find that you’ve nothing left to write but when there’s a passion and so many influences for what you can write about to look at it as I just wasn’t enthused or engaged so move onto the next thing is so true. I wonder how many other people try to carry on without realising that this is the reason they have no muse at this time?

    Like

  23. That was a story in and of itself 🙂 Since you say you’re new to this (one wouldn’t really believe it if you hadn’t said so), i think it’s great that you’re tackling all sorts of genres. I’ve been trying to do the same, and although some forms make me uncomfortable (like haiku!), it forces me to think and move in new directions. I also like your comment about letting some ideas go – if it doesn’t flow, then it doesn’t. However (and it’s not like I’m an expert as you very well know!) I would caution you not to throw anything away. I’ve found that when I go back and look at ‘garbage’ I wrote years ago, once in a while I can salvage an idea or theme, or even just a phrase, and re-work it into something fresh. I think your talent and passion shows in your work, and it’s just a matter of time till you’re published. Best, Lisa

    Like

    • Thanks Lisa. You know it means a lot to me, coming from you. I have written over the years, but it’s never been consistent like this, nor as pleasing for me. It took me TEN years to write my play (most of that was the material..it’s another blog on writing). So…yeah. Newbie is how I consider myself in actually THINKING like a writer. Whatever that means.

      I usually do keep things I’ve written, but I also know, after a bit: when it’s not working, it’s not working. Some things I’ve lost over the years due to computer break downs. THAT I’m sorry I lost. More poetry and song lyrics, but…
      Anyways..thank you, thank you and thank you.

      Like

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