Obstacle #12: Rigidity

Happy Friday, fellow writers!

I apologize in advance if this post is discombobulated, but apparently I managed to catch an end-of-winter-yay-spring cold, relapsed a fever and trying hard not to hack out a lung…

Today’s topic is lack of flexibility, aka rigidity.

There are as many types of writers as there are books and writing styles, but we do have a few points in common. Flexibility is kind of an all-encompassing term, really, but what I mean by it is the ability to bounce around. Or stretch. Or whatever analogy floats your boat.

Writing itself requires flexibility, right? Whether you start from the beginning, the end, point C or H, you’ll prooobably end up changing course at some point, either to rewind or skip forward. Your plot? It’ll evolve (or sometimes degenerate?). Characters? They’ll start writing themselves, watch out for any punches they throw your way. The world you’re building? … Well, that one could be just as you imagined it in the first place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it picked itself up and walked out on me. And of course, constructive criticism. (“Kill your darlings,” anyone?)

All that (and more) requires some pretty heavy flexibility, and if you can’t handle any combination– I’m impressed, but a little worried. If you’re unwilling to bend or alter things, I imagine something will snap at some point. Yikes.

But like everything in writing and in life, you set up limits. How much are you willing to change, and what parts will stay rigid? Do you set limits for your writing? How much are you willing to take constructive criticism and un-rigidify your plot/characters/world/style?

I guess it’s pretty rigid of me insisting to post this today instead of tomorrow (don’t wanna be late!), but we all have our– faults? Sorry if this isn’t up to par. I might attempt to fix it later, or I just lost myself at sea and hope to make it back in time for next week’s post.

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Obstacle #11: Titles

I like having a series, because I only have to name it once, and then find topics. Thus today’s topic, titles!

I don’t know about you, but picking titles is probably my least favorite part of writing – unless I have a “that‘s what I’ll call it!” inspiration-filled moment, but those are almost as common as unicorns. When it comes to titling things, I’ll probably put it off until I really must have a title and then I’ll ponder and debate and be content until I’m not and start over.

I know some people wait until something’s complete before even thinking of a title, while others have a title from which a chapter or book is born. Other people probably have a title at some point but end up changing it later anyway. Regardless of how people do it, I’m slightly jealous. For some reason, I don’t feel like my titles are ever really good?

But then again, I guess I lack confidence in naming things in general, a character, a new technology or whatever, so whenever I have the chance, I’ll go ahead and doubt myself.

So for everyone reading this, let me just ask… What’s your secret!?

New Library Page – Devilish Spawns

Happy Friday y’all! Or is it just me, hm. I’m up way past my bed time.

Anyway, for no reason at all (aka I should be sleeping), I had a random urge to post a bit more writing on here, and so– I went and fished in my writing pfiles* (new words, love ’em!) and it’s now ready for viewing!

It’s called Devilish Spawns.

I could really use some feedback, so go and have a quick look, it’s a 10 minute read, tops. I do hope you’ll at least snicker/snort/laugh once. Enjoy!

(Back to your normal programming of the Obstacle series once I get up, it’s all ready and thankfully just waiting for me to click ‘publish.’)

* piles + files = pfiles? Like I said, I should be sleeping. Also it sounds too German to be a made-up word… I don’t know.

Initial cipher completed!

How exciting, my first of many ‘work in progress’ updates!  (At least, I hope.)

I haven’t said much about what kind of book I’m writing, but… I’m still trying to a) figure that out completely, and b) fit it in one sentence. I suppose I should keep it a surprise for when I have a lot more of it to condense?

But I’ve had an idea for one part (maybe several once I actually write it), where the protagonist finds strange symbols around the city, which she’ll realize is cipher and will somehow crack it.

Well, I don’t know about you, but coming up with a cipher is kind of hard work. I spent a few days brainstorming right after having the idea, then I let it sit for a few weeks until today where– behold, something went right. I now have a cipher!

Granted, it’s only a draft and will most likely evolve, but I’m still super excited nonetheless! It’s like having a paragraph to work on rather than a blank page. ^-^

Of course after I wrote it, I found myself thinking “but how will I ever input that in my document?” A question to tackle down the road, and maybe by then, I’ll know someone with a tablet and– things might happen.

Until then! I’ll continue thinking, writing a bit, editing and writing. Cheers!

Obstacle #10: Aimlessness

Happy birthday, Obstacles! It’s 10 weeks old today, boy do they do grow up fast…

Not going to lie, this week’s topic was  inspired by another friend, who (un?)knowingly herded me down this road. A brief recap of our conversation:

Me: “I should write… but I forgot the idea I had for this week’s topic…”
Him: “Free write?”
Me: “But without an obstacle, it won’t fit in the series…”
Him: “The lack of obstacle IS an obstacle!”

Somehow, that put all my feelings into one word for today’s topic: aimlessness.

A very accurate Japanese expression comes to mind: うろうろする (urouro suru). It literally means “loiteringly, aimless wandering,” although apparently ‘loiteringly’ isn’t a word (tell that to my dictionary!). Basically, it was me before having a topic. “I want to write, but I dunno what…” It can also be translated as “whine whine whine, excuses excuses excuses,” although the former sounds much better. (Before you get offended, realize I’m addressing myself first and foremost.)

This takes place in all aspects of writing: before you have a story, especially when you have a story and trying very hard not to write it for numerous reasons (read Obstacles #1-9), and probably even after you wrote a story. I haven’t really finished enough stories to feel the latter, but I can see how it exists.

Aimlessness is kind of an overwhelming yet so underwhelming feeling. It’s basically like shuffling your feet in front of the fridge, mumbling to yourself “what should I eat, what do I feel like eating,” and closing the door then opening it again without ever really making up your mind. “I want to write this, I don’t know how, but then I could do this, but I need more time to think but I really want to write but-but-but…”

Sometimes it sort of feels like “writer’s depression,” at least for part of it. *

What to do to overcome it?

I seem to whine to my friends a lot, and they shove me back on the road I’m (subconsciously or not) trying to avoid. I don’t really have good advice, mostly because most of my writing phases lately have been spent in this stage, except for the few “omg what a great idea!” moments.

I unfortunately don’t know of a miracle pill! For the sole reason miracle pills don’t exist, but– if you have some remedy, pleasepleaseplease tell me/us! 🙂

P.S: Ok, I might‘ve found a remedy… Ready? Hear this: be sick. I wish I was kidding – or maybe I’m just really weird – but don’t you think things outside your control are great inspiration? Perhaps in the strangest way. For me at least, when I feel crappy – like last night when I had a fever – my mind just jumps to being able to describe what I’m going through and it’ll probably show up in my writing at some point… But I’m not saying you should make yourself sick, because– ew, being sick sucks! Maybe I should pay more attention to things when I’m also not sick and see where that ends up? 😉

* Disclaimer: I don’t mean to discuss this at length, but know I don’t mean to offend anyone.

Obstacle #9: World building

It’s been a long 4-day week… My really long weekend was obviously too short and I guess more tiring than I thought. I’m still recuperating and yawning all day, every day.

Thus, I had to ask someone for today’s topic. I give you my attempt at tackling world building. (Or, how-to-explain-that-awesome-place-inside-your-head-to-non-mind-readers.)

I might have dipped my toes in this topic in another post, but here goes diving, watch out for the belly flop.

You might think this only applies to a specific genre (like fantasy or science fiction), but I’ll go out on a hunch here and say nope. Certainly, those worlds require a lot of effort, probably more than just describing a real town and changing its name. But even if your story takes place in the “real world,” you still have to build parts of it. Basically, you can’t get away from world building, but you have the choice of dealing with it with your fingertips or diving head first.

What’s a good plot and kick ass characters in a mediocre world? At best, a good story. But you could make it a-mah-zing by fleshing out that world! Isn’t making up that world one of the best things in a story? Sure it’s challenging and requires hard work and a lot of revising, but it’ll be worth it when you’re done.

But don’t take my word for it, I’m no expert, and to be honest I’m struggling with this very concept for my short story right now. I have the basics down, I think, but I have to keep asking myself “what kind of world is it?” and imagine scenarios to see how everything unfolds. Usually, I’m not fond of planning anything a lot. Apart from what pops up as the idea and the random bursts of awesome thoughts, I might write a blurb about the main story line and keep it at that. The rest? It just happens, go figure.

But I digress. I’m sure there are writers out there who spend hours and hours planning and fleshing out their worlds, and that’s great, keep it up! I’m more the type to have the main idea and start writing, I’ll deal with the rest later. I’ll let you know how it works out for a longer-than-I’m-used-to story though, it might not work out so well…

Then there’s the “how much is too much” question. Obviously, we get free reign to decide just how in length to describe that world and take the readers for a ride, but too much description and people will start flipping pages, or simply not being able to read your story. ): I could slather you with examples, but we probably all read something like that in high school. But the opposite won’t help either, if you build a new world, don’t undersell it!

You don’t have to explain your world to me, just show me. You don’t need 5 pages describing the complexities and workings of your world, society, etc. Give me the basics, and fill in the rest throughout the story in little tidbits. Sometimes the tidbits are the most telling.

Anyway, that’s my take on world building, now I need to work on mine…

Obstacle #8: Procrastination

“Procrastination is the Thief of Time.” – Joseph Heller

Today’s topic: procrastination. Need I say more? …

No really, do I? Because, this is what procrastination looks like, for any aspect of your life:

Monday: Oh man, I have [this thing] to do by Friday! … I’ll think about it tomorrow.
Tuesday: Hmm… what should I do for [that thing]? … Oh well, I still got three ish more days. Look, cats!
Wednesday: I guess today’s the day! I can get [it] out of the way and– oh look at the time, nope, guess I’ll do it tomorrow after all. Hi tumblr!
Thursday: Alright, [it]’s gotta be done by tomorrow, so it’s today or never! … But ehh… Oh look, bunnies!
Friday: Shit, I gotta whip something up. WhatshouldIdo, whatshouldIdoooo–!
Less than an hour later: Huh, that wasn’t so bad, why didn’t I do it on Monday like I said I would?? Anyway, gotta catch up on [Game of Thrones] this weekend!

So yeah. Procrastination, it’s such a love-hate-love relationship with you! I have really good days, productive days even! Just– not for what I wanted to get done.

Exhibit A: I’m gonna get home, do the dishes, put laundry away, do another laundry, make dinner and sit down and write! (Writing being what I really want to accomplish, the rest are just chores I have to really should get done beforehand.)

Reality: And– nope. I get home, I’m tired, I do the damn dishes, maybe stuff the laundry in a pile somewhere, make dinner or go to my “I don’t feel like cooking” savior soba and then… I’m tired, I can’t think, even less write (in a way that’s satisfying).

Rinse, wash and repeat.

Oh hey, my “I-don’t-know-what-else-to-write-but-everyone-deals-with-procrastination-right?” post is much much longer than I thought it would be! Hooray for me. *self five*

Well, procrastinators, what are we waiting for? Let’s band together and kick our procrastinating butts into shape! Unite!
… Ok, well, maybe tomorrow– then? …

P.S: Despite my really late dinner after a rather tiring day, how did I manage to write this on Wednesday? Another *self five* for that. (No but really I have 5 days off so I needed to write it before hand in case I forget… Let’s hear it for scheduled publishing button!) Have a great Friday and an even better weekend! 🙂