Tag Archives: writing inspiration

#WW Being A Writer Isn’t Everything

2 Mar

The other night, I was wallowing on the couch. I do this a lot. I can admit it shamelessly. But that’s probably because it’s a fake wallow. I enjoy the dramatics of it…and I do it all alone…with my three cats watching me. (Call it a guilty pleasure.) There’s something about hearing myself pointlessly complain that kicks my ass into “Oh, get over yourself and get back to work” gear.

Still, sometimes it takes something else to get me out of a slump, and two weeks ago, this TED talk was it.

 

Now, I’m going to write the rest of the article like my link is broken, but I highly suggest watching it, even if you’re not a writer. From the title, you might think it’s just a reenactment of Yes Man, but I promise you, this speech is about a writer’s passion overtaking everything—to the point of workaholic destruction—and that same writer both overcoming it and coming to terms that being a workaholic writer is who she is.

Despite not having any children, I can relate to her speech a lot.

She discusses the “hum”—that place where you disappear while you write—and how without the hum, you can feel nonexistent.

“I love that hum. I need that hum. I am that hum. Am I nothing but that hum?”

I am passionate. I have been here before. “Writer” is only one part of my identity, but sometimes it feels like my only identity. In those moments, writing was all I did, all I thought about it, all I planned to do, and everything I wanted. I still struggle with this every now and then. (Hence the wallowing sessions on my couch.) Sometimes, it even takes someone close to me to remind me to step away from my computer. Writing will be there tomorrow. Writing will be there a month from now. Writing will always be there. It’s okay if you have to take care of you first. It’s okay to just be you. For me, this means going out for a coffee…without my laptop. For me, this means sitting outside…without a notebook. For me, this means going to bed at night…without trying to dream up the next novel. For me, this means having a conversation with a loved one…minus books, publishing news, and movie adaptations.

Don’t get me wrong. I still go to coffee shops and write, and I still go to bed with future books on the brain, but I consciously need to remind myself to keep living outside my pen and paper. Living life inspires writing anyway, right? Well, yes, but again, it’s important to live life without pre-planning to use it in one of your books.

It’s okay to step away. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by your dream job. It’s okay to just be you.

This was my reminder.

~SAT

#AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 9 starts on Thursday at 7 pm (CDT) via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT! What is Author in a Coffee Shop? Exactly how it sounds! I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while hanging out with you.

Have you checked out this amazing gift basket Clean Teen Publishing is giving away this month? It has over $130 worth of goodies including a Kindle Fire, several print novels, sweets, swag, and more! Enter to win hereThen, read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, on your Kindle Fire for FREE: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads 

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#MondayBlogs Cartoons Make You a Better Writer

21 Sep

Intro:

I love cartoons, and I love comic books and manga, and I’m very open about my love for these things. That being said, cartoons and comic books and manga are often depicted as things for children…something I obviously disagree with. J There are many reasons to love cartoons, and today, author Grant Goodman gives us yet another reason to love them. It helps with your writing.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Cartoons Make You a Better Writer by Grant Goodman

When I sat down to write the first Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve novel, what really drove me was my love of cartoons. I wanted to create—in written form—the cartoon series I always wanted to see.

I grew up with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was glued to the sofa when they stormed the Technodrome to fight Shredder or when they teamed up with Casey Jones. Each episode had cool fight scenes, a sci-fi invention, and at least one funny line from Michelangelo. The turtles were my first obsession and they propelled me to join a martial arts school when I was in elementary school.

grant

My elementary school mornings and weekends were filled with Tom and Jerry Kids, Inspector Gadget, X-Men, Spiderman, and Batman: The Animated Series. While most of them were in short story format, the X-Men, Spiderman, and Batman series began to introduce me to the idea that 30 minute cartoons could build a larger story. Spiderman had “The Alien Costume” arc, which gave Venom’s origin story over the course of three episodes. But that wasn’t quite enough. I wanted a longer storyline.

The first episode of Dragonball Z aired when I was in 6th grade and when I saw it, my head nearly exploded. A series in which nearly every episode built off of the last. A cast of characters who did martial arts AND threw fireballs. An entire universe of heroes and villains, legends and lore.

DBZ led me into the wide, wild catalog of Japanese animation that revealed an entire cultural art form that offered a great deal of respect to storytelling in animated form. I watched Vash the Stampede try everything he could do to avoid taking lives in Trigun, I saw Miyazaki’s phenomenal Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and I was completely swept away by Fullmetal Alchemist.

All of it—every episode of every series I ever watched—has somehow contributed to my abilities as a writer, and it will for you, too. You learn how to plot an action scene that matters, because you see plenty of them that don’t. You learn how to keep two characters pining for each other in order to build tension between them. You learn the importance of a cliffhanger to keep your audience hooked.

Most importantly, however, watching cartoons will teach you how to keep your imagination active, because without a strong imagination, you’re going to write something boring.

If you’re aspiring to write a MG or YA sci-fi/fantasy action series, my best advice to you is to watch cartoons. Lots of them. Go watch the first season of The Legend of Korra for a masterclass in serious-but-not-pitch-black YA storytelling. Seek out Samurai Jack for how to do fight scenes that flow.

This may be the only time anyone in your life tells you this: stop reading for a bit and start watching!

Grant GoodmanBio:

Grant Goodman is the author of the Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve novels, a series for readers anywhere between 9 and 900 years old. His YA lit blog, November Notebook, is for teens, adults, ghosts, robots, unicorns, dragons, and aliens. He teaches middle school English in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in November, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: Turning Dreams into Stories

4 Apr

#SATurday: Turning Dreams into Stories

I hate alarm clocks. I don’t hate many things, but an alarm clock is one of them. Most of the time, I wake up without one – I have my entire life – and I truly believe it’s because my brain is wired to dislike the act of waking up to sudden (and normally blaring) music. It doesn’t matter if it’s my favorite song. I will end up hating the song if it wakes me up every morning. I wish I could like it – I do. The practical use of an alarm isn’t even debatable. Even though I wake up most mornings, I still have those instances where alarm clocks have come through for me and saved me from accidentally sleeping through my day. (Although…accidentally sleeping through my day sounds pretty nice right now…as long as I didn’t have any responsibilities…which I do…so that accident would be pretty awful, but the sleeping part sounds nice.)

Garfield

Garfield

Who doesn’t love sleep? It’s a magical thing. I used to hate that, though, too. If you’ve read any of my interviews, then you probably already know that I had night terrors as a child. And, occasionally, I still do. I also have vivid dreams and nightmares, but I’m finding more often than not that many writers do. Perhaps it’s our overactive imaginations. Perhaps the dreams caused our overactive imaginations. What comes first, the imagination or the dreams?

For me, I believe my dreams came first. Despite the fact that my parents rarely allowed me to watch TV (and had very strict rules about what I was allowed to watch), I had violent dreams. Terrifying dreams. Dreams that hologrammed themselves into the real world, even after I woke up. The first one I recall involved a cheetah. It chased me through a neighborhood (not a jungle), and right before it caught me, I woke up. But instead of my dream ending, I would still see it – lying in wait, sitting at the edge of my bed, half-hanging off the end. I remember its beady eyes blinking, reflecting light in my dark room.

Much to my dismay (and probably my parents’ as well), it kept repeating, and I was losing all hope until art class one day. I can’t say what grade I was in. I can’t recall the teacher’s name. I can’t even – positively – say it was art class. I only remember the art supplies surrounding us, so that’s why I assume my location, but the teacher was telling us about nightmares. And, again, I can’t remember why, but I do remember focusing, listening to her every word.

Her nephew had a reoccurring dream. Every night, a lion chased him through the jungle. I was envious his dreams took him to exotic places – unlike mine – but his lion did something my cheetah didn’t. It ate him.

Now – it didn’t eat him the first time. Our teacher explained that the nephew kept having the dreams until he consciously decided he would stop running in his dreams, turn around, and face the lion. He did. And the lion ate him…And the lion never came again.

I went home, thinking I had finally found the solution to my own nightmare. I was truly excited, ready to be eaten, and I went to bed that night with new hope. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out. I stopped, the cheetah killed me (I assume), and I woke up only for the next morning to have it happened again. My dream repeated itself for a few weeks. (Or maybe it was only few days – time is longer the younger you are). But it repeated, nevertheless, and I never defeated it like my art teacher’s nephew did. Instead, my cheetah slowly faded away, replaced by a T-Rex, then replaced by a murderer.

I don’t believe my dreams have ever stopped. It’s every other night that I dream of something violent, and on rare occasions, I can turn one of my dreams into a story. I can meet a character or see a situation or visit a new world – although I have yet to visit a jungle – and I can take readers there by sharing words on paper.

Those dreams aren’t so scary anymore. In fact, overtime, I think I learned to embrace them and learn from them and explore them and create with them – like my dreams were the real art class all along. And who wants an alarm clock to go off in the middle of class?

~SAT

P.S. If you missed it, here is my live interview with Jonas Lee. We spoke about knives, coffee, Clue, and writing tips.

And just to REALLY switch your Saturday up, I have finally returned to my YouTube Channel – Coffee and Cats – so feel free to ask any question on the video and I’ll be answering them during my next video.

Writing Tips: Mother’s Day & Childhood Inspiration

12 May

Now, I have to admit that I’m unsure if this qualifies as “writing tips” or not, but I can’t seem to think of another way to explain it other than to explain recent events in my life and how I got to this decision to post about this.

On Friday night, I was driving home when I was hit by a drunk driver. Everyone was physically fine, but these moments often make you take a step back and wonder “what if?” or simply reflect on life. It’s also Mother’s Day, and, as many of you know, my mother passed away in 2003, so there’s been a lot of personal reflection happening for me over the past few days, and I wanted to share my thoughts on how reflecting can help your passionate spark if you feel as if it’s about to die.

Happy Mother's Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

Happy Mother’s Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

But, first, If you want something short and sweet, I posted this on my Twitter, and many followers found it comforting. “Do you sometimes feel like chasing your artistic dream is hard? This will cheer you up: click here.” 

Now–the bigger reflection: I’ve had more experiences in this sort of stuff than I’d like to admit to myself, but they always cause me to look back, and my childhood is often where I end up. I cannot say why this is other than it’s caused by a “flashback” sort of a thing. I begin thinking about what I’m grateful for, who I love, what I love, and everything that moves me from one day to another. But I’m going to concentrate on writing, because I want to stay in the “writing tips” as much as I possibly can.

So what in my childhood moved me forward into writing? (And many of you already know about my mother’s death being the biggest moment when I was pushed forward into taking it seriously, so, again, I’m going to talk about something else, although that is essential.)

Favorite Books:

I think this can be very important to remember, but, even more so, to return to every piece once in a while and read. Include first books, middle school reads, and beyond. On days where you’re feeling down, especially about writing, returning to these texts can spark your passion again, easily and without any strenuous effort. All you have to do is read, and you might be amazed at how quickly you’ll return to your timeless love for language, even if the original texts are simple and/or wouldn’t spark interest today if you hadn’t read it before.

Mine, as an example, includes childhood novels about Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo, young-adult series by Meg Cabot or Lynne Ewing (specifically Daughters of the Moon), and adult novels, generally memoirs like Mop Men, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, or A Long Way Gone. I can even return to literature I loved in school, my favorite being The Stranger.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

Favorite Writing Experiences: 

These moments can bring back the original moments that brought you the utmost happiness before other moments brought you down. You can return yourself, especially to childhood, when you first started writing and you didn’t have the stresses of publication or critiques. These memories, although little, are very powerful.

My personal example? In second grade, my short story about my two dogs, Milo and Max, won the class writing competition, and I got to read it to the class. I still have it, and the drawings and wording often makes me giggle, but it also lightens my writing soul. I go right back to that podium, when I was fearless, and I feel it transition to today’s time.

Others who inspired:

Think beyond the top five people who inspire you today. Try to recall the first few who you may not remember on a regular basis but know that they linger somewhere in your artistic past (meaning they’re also in your artistic self today.) Most of the time, you might remember one, but then you’ll remember more and more, and you’ll soon have a list of small instances that led to your wonderful path you’re on today.

My personal example here is my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Metcalf. She was the first teacher to pull me aside and encourage my writing. When I was first writing back then, I was started my stories off with “Hi. I’m Henry, and this is my story…” and she taught me to start in the middle of action. I wrote her a story for Thanksgiving Break, and it started with a turkey running wild through a grocery store. Looking back on it, it was cheesy and poorly written, but she returned, having read the entire twenty pages, and encouraged me more and more, teaching me what else I could do in order to enhance my words. I was nine at the time, yet her teaching lingers today, and I’m grateful to have had such a wonderful teacher in my life at such a young age.

My hope is that you may take a moment today (or any day) to reflect on the moments that have brought you here today and remember never to give up on your dreams! It may seem cheesy, but it is, ultimately, very true, and I’m sure many of you know this, but many also have fleeting moments of doubt, and we can prevent these by reminding ourselves of what matters: life, love, and passionate dreams.

I always tell myself to write with passion; succeed with self-discipline. 

This is my personal philosophy, but I’d love to hear yours as well. Share below and spread the dream to others who may be struggling at this very moment in time (whether they read this today or two years from now.) Words are timeless. Let’s use that to embrace the love of art.

Have a great and meaningful day 😀

~SAT

P.S. Goodreads Quote of the day:

I leaned against the desk, ran my hand over my father’s paperwork, and picked up a pen. Turning around, I shoved it into my father’s hand.
“What’s this?” he asked, raising a brow.
“You’ll need it to sign my death certificate,” I said, pain vibrating my veins against my muscles and bones. “Are we done now?”

Eric, Minutes Before Sunset

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