Writers, we need to stop saying this

Usually I limit myself to one writing-related post per month. But something has been irritating the living hell out of me for years, and the more time that passes, the angrier I get. So, lest I morph into some female version of The Incredible Hulk, I’ll expel that rage here, as a semi-productive rant. Because if …

Source: Writers, we need to stop saying this

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Affirmation 411

To end the week, I decided to go back to my roots, to the form of the written word that started me on my journey. Poetry.

Have a good weekend and be courageous.

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My actions during the day don’t affect those at night

I am a sound sleeper

Gossip, egos, holier-than-thou attitudes don’t get in my way or in my ear

I am a sound sleeper

The hurdles, obstacles and disappointments that may give the ordinary person pause; bolster my conviction, and strengthen my resolve

For I am a sound sleeper

My decision to act accordingly, pay it forward and let go of what I can’t control, all feel right to me

I am a sound sleeper

Your disapproval of me or the way I conduct business, treat my friends or live my life doesn’t bother me and I won’t let it.

I am a sound sleeper

© Nett Robbens, 2014.

Learn it, breathe it, live it: The Writer’s Creed …

This week has been a good one filled with interesting posts and comments. For those of you following, commenting, “liking” or just plain stopping by, I really appreciate it. I’m humbled that you took time out of your hectic schedules to take a look. We all have gifts and I believe a blog is one social medium that helps us share them.

Thanks for allowing me into your world. 🙂

The other day I blogged about creating obstacles for our characters that will result in a satisfying ending, and I wanted to share this post then. However, it would have been outrageously long.

So I’m ending the week (TGIF!) with author Clint Johnson’s  Writer’s Creed,  which states (more or less) that we, as writers, are obligated to give our characters hell, so they might emerge happier and healthier people. Kind of like life!


Here’s Clint Johnson’s hysterical take on the writer’s oath, law and slogan. I have it hanging in my office as a reminder, for inspiration and most definitely a good laugh. Visit Clint’s site for his complete take on why he wrote this version of the writer’s creed and how it is vital in achieving our goal as writers.

Have a great weekend.  See you Monday.

The Writer’s Creed

The Writer’s Oath

On my honor, I will do my best to create havoc on every page and to leave neither peace nor happiness in my wake; To cause problems at every opportunity;  To abuse characters I love, always aspire to the worst, and sleep unburdened at night.

The Writer’s Law

A writer is…

– Duplicitious (Never Trustworthy!): A writer never lets her characters know everything that is going on. The more you can mislead and confuse your characters, the more enjoyment you give your reader.

– Traitorous (Never Loyal!): A writer is always looking for ways to undermine characters and foster betrayal in her stories.

– Hindersome (Never Helpful!): A writer makes trouble; she does not solve problems.

– Curmudgeonly (Never Friendly!): A writer begrudges every moment of happiness and prosperity in her story. Contentment is offensive to her–discontent, ultimately pleasing.

– Rude (Never Courteous!): A writer has no regard for her characters’ egos or positions within society. She finds humiliation ever-desirable.

– Vindictive (Never Kind!): A writer causes trouble because she can, not because it is deserved. Every success of a character is worthy of retribution.

– Mutinous (Never Obedient!): A writer upturns all her characters value and depend upon. She fashions those in her story with the specific intention of capitalizing on their weaknesses.

– Profligate (Never Thrifty!): A writer never holds anything back. She seeks to expend every resource and emotional reserve of her characters, and only constrains the extravagance of her imagination by the furthest reaches of plausibility.

– Licentious (Never Clean!): A writer collects all her characters’ dirty little secrets and yells them out to anyone willing to listen.

– Profane (Never Reverent!): To a writer, none of her characters’ beliefs are sacred; their faith exists to be challenged, and wrong must sometimes be portrayed as right.

Despite common perception, yes, there are admirable characteristics of writers as well (though we make mighty poor Boy Scouts). We must be…

– Brave: Obeying the Writers’ Law can be difficult, uncomfortable, and wearying. Have the courage to be sadistic enough to write good stories.

– Cheerful: Engaging in antisocial, uncivilized behavior–at least in imagination–is the primary obligation of a good storyteller. You can’t avoid it. So don’t feel guilty. Write great stories, don’t apologize or get ulcers, and live cheerfully and well.

The Writer’s Slogan

Cause trouble on every page.

Is life too easy for your characters? Bring on the obstacles …

When writing fiction, particularly romance, we have been taught that readers want a heroine or hero who experience tragedy and then rise back from the depths of hell to claim (or reclaim) their true love. My words, but you get the gist.

Short and sweet, a character must overcome obstacles (and many) if your story is to have a satisfying ending, or for romance writers, the must have happily ever after.

If you’re having trouble doing that, an article, “Throw Obstacles at Your Characters” from Writing World may help you get started. This is one of the best writer’s reference sites around. I keep a binder filled with a plethora of articles on the craft and business of writing that always come in handy.

Case in point.

I’m working on my second book, and for some reasons I didn’t think my heroine, a pediatric nurse and single mother, who is afraid of getting involved with another man after a mentally abusive relationship with the father of her child, didn’t have enough obstacles. So I went back to my trusty binder and reread, “Throw Obstacles at Your Characters.”

So far, the list of obstacles in my wonderful heroine’s life goes like this. While camping with the new love of her life, she falls off a ravine, sprains her ankle and gets bitten by a snake. At some point in the story, when she finally finds true love, she loses it. She chooses not to believe the hero when he tells her that her ex-lover, who has slithered back into her life, isn’t sincere and has ulterior motives for coming back. And if a separation isn’t enough, the ex-lover kidnaps her son (and his) to force her hand into marriage. Nice guy, huh?

Oh, and did I mention that professionally, my heroine comes under suspicion for aiding and abetting a criminal in an illegal prescription drug ring?

Hmmm … I think I need more obstacles.

When in doubt …consult your crystal ball or (critiquing partner!)

As you may recall from a previous post, there are a few ways that I try to get over “writer’s block.”

Another way to get over the “non-writing hurdle” is to talk to your critiquing partner. If you don’t have one, I strongly recommend getting one. My critiquing partner suggested going back to a story that I wrote a few years ago, and see if it will work as a novella or short story.

Brilliant idea!

Sometimes, when we’re writing a full-length novel, and particularly the sequel of another book, it’s hard to get the thoughts to flow properly. It probably doesn’t help if you’re still trying to publish the first one. (I know it is with me as of late.)

We’re usually so close to our projects, we tend to miss what someone from the outside, looking in, might see. Your critiquing partner is the best person to offer advice, because they may be going through the exact same problem.

However, working on an unrelated project, can get your creative juices flowing and you may actually be able to finish with a minimal amount of angst.

I will go back to my second book, a sequel. But for now, my novella, which takes place in Puerto Rico …yum!) will keep me moving forward and keep writing top of mind.

Today is August 17 and the premiere of “The Expendables 2.” I’m psyched because I as mentioned, I will be taking mental notes of all the bad ass characters. Hey, you never know what might work in a WIP!

Have a good weekend. See you Monday.

Why Olympian medalists and writers could be BFFs …

While enjoying the 2012 Olympic games, and all the wonderful achievements, I became a little nostalgic and in serious need of inspiration.

So, I decided to do some digging to find out what type of history was made on August 8.  Immediately, I was reminded of two events: the 1984 Olympics Games in Los Angeles, which I watched with intensity, and the achievements of one Olympian in particular, Carl Lewis.

On August 8, 1984, Lewis won his 3rd (200m) of 4 gold medals in the Summer Olympics.  I remember being glued to my television, watching history unfold as my two daughters (then, ages 4 and 2) sat nearby, playing. 

I didn’t answer the phone or the door because at that moment, nothing was more spectacular than watching Carl cross that finish line. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I wanted to celebrate his victory because I know what it’s like to want something so bad, you can see it in front of you.

Some of his other achievements during that Olympic year include:

  • August 11, 1984 – Carl Lewis duplicates Jesse Owens’ 1936 feat, wins 4 Olympic track gold metals
  • August 6, 1984 – Carl Lewis wins 2nd (long jump) of 4 gold medals in Summer Olympics
  • August 4, 1984 – Carl Lewis wins gold medal in 100-meter dash at LA Summer Olympics

Wow.  He was fierce. Dedicated.  And probably, at times felt very much alone.  Sound familiar?

Every four years, I look forward to watching the Olympics.  It’s a sort of “kindred spirit” period for me. Through the games I learn about people who know firsthand, what it means to sacrifice a life considered “normal” to pursue their destiny and their dreams. Many of these fantastic athletes negate friends, family, relationships, movies, books and yes, dessert, to stay the course that may lead them to Olympic gold, silver or bronze.

If not for the Olympics, we may have never heard of the obstacles and challenges experienced by Olga Korbut, Nadia Comăneci, Mary Lou Retton, (also a 1984 winner), Katarina Witt, Shaun White, Usain Bolt,  Michael Phelps,  Rafael Nadal, Gabby Douglas, Sally Pearson and Florence Griffith Joyner (affectionately remembered as Flo Jo).

While the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was filled with controversy and boycotts, it was still an inspiring and memorable event. And the issues surrounding the games, didn’t take away from the achievements of those who competed. In the end, it was still a testament to those athletes who—day in, and day out—pour their souls into their craft—their calling.

Just like writers.

To Carl Lewis and Olympians past and present, I salute you. Maybe one day we can shoot the breeze, talk shop.

To writers enduring rejection letters, submitting your work, revising your manuscripts, and waiting to review your first or fiftieth galley, I applaud you. We’ll get there.