Expression or Impression: Writing’s Role in the Rigmarole

Are you stuck in a loop of writing, editing, and submitting with no end in sight? Maybe you have an agent, but he hasn’t been able to sell your stuff. Maybe you’ve published a short story in your local paper. Whatever the case, you are a writer. Obsession isn’t always the right word to describe the passion you put into your pieces, but you put pen to paper and create while somehow juggling life in the foreground.

Most of us are background writers, and that’s more than okay: that’s reality. Now we’re approaching summer, and I always find myself a little more energetic. Why, just these last two weekends I pruned my honey locusts, planted some lilacs, and finished a frame for a three-by-four-foot painting. Now I need to write. Continue reading

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Use a writer’s cheat sheet to grow your craft!

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Photo by: shannon palmer

Originally posted at: http://www.timothyafenner.com

What’s an author’s cheat sheet?

In my humble opinion, an author’s cheat sheet is a short document, one that can be read in five minutes, which covers topics germane to improving the author’s writing.

Now, I’m not talking about something generic to the craft of writing (for example: http://orig08.deviantart.net/ff65/f/2013/249/8/3/fiction_writer_s_cheat_sheet_by_ripleynox-d5rbhow.jpg)

No, I mean something specific to who you want to be as a writer, what angles or topics you need to focus on in order to improve – both in the short and long term.

 

What should you have in your cheat sheet?

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Getting Published = Getting Serious

16559284088_e3bf1b5415_kPhoto by: Wassim LOUMI

Originally posted at: www.timothyafenner.com

So you want to be a published author, to be bathed in the glory and riches (there are riches, right?) that comes with seeing your name printed alongside the perfection of your story. However, you may have heard that getting published is not necessarily an easy task, that it takes something called “hard work” and “persistence” and that you have to be prepared to {gasp}… wait.

And you wonder: Are there any secrets to help speed this all along?

I believe there are!

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We are Where we Write

What’s your favorite book? Yes, of all time. No, you have to pick one. That’s a terrible book. The characters are flat, the plot is unbelievable, and I care more about Aunt Jemima’s struggles as a slave to Mrs. Butterworth.

So, did that change your opinion? Odds are there’s something more to your favorite book. Something you can’t put into words that just feels right. It’s the book that inspires you, redirects you, and lets you know you’re not alone in what you do and who you are. And that’s just the thing with art. Not everyone who sees Picasso’s Guernica is going to react…even I have trouble believing that, but it’s probably true. Continue reading

A Writing Addiction is more than an Addiction to Writing

I just finished editing a book for a man who knows a lot about the direct and indirect effects of addiction. Looking at myself and those I know, we tend to get addicted to things that aren’t always what we want in the long term. I mean, sure, we have moments where we want it, but we look back on a sugar binge or an alcohol induced night of mischief and say, “Really? That’s how I want to spend my nights?” I don’t know the answer, but through this post, I hope to find out how to get addicted to the right things. How to get addicted to writing.   Continue reading

Critique groups: They are “evil”… or are they?

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— Photo by Kennedy Library

Originally posted at: http://www.timothyafenner.com/

Search the Interwebs for “critique group” or “writers group” and you will undoubtedly find an assortment of content on the subject, from the benefits of writer collaboration, to what groups are available, and even how to find the right group for you. You will also find, however, strongly voiced opinions on how “evil” critique groups are and the dangers of joining them.

So are critique groups good or evil?

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Artists, and nothing less

When I look at what I do as a writer and the emotions I go through creating my pieces, I find great comparisons to be made to my singer/song writer uncle and my graphic design teacher/painter friend. Too many writers write while ignoring the notion that they might be an artist, as though it doesn’t matter. They suffice to call it a craft. I am given a lot of crap for a slogan I bear without shame or guilt that holds true to this conversation, a slogan that demands our will to make realities manifest. “Do It Intentionally.”

If you write with the same intention that a woodworker has when making a chair for function, your writing will only be seen as an afterthought. In all its glory, it may challenge the heights of a coffee table book or a stack of magazines to give a mind “something to do.” But a woodworker can also make a throne. They can make a place for thinkers, great scientists and philosophers, to ponder stagnation, progression, regression, essentially perception of mankind’s wandering steps through reality.

Writing holds that same majesty, the difference between a jingle on the radio and a life-changing song that demands attention, action, and, mainly, thoughtfulness from the listener.

The difference is intention.

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Embrace the Static

Every author creates a character they one day look at and say, “Who the hell are you?” It’s such an annoying thing to become aware of, but it’s often not as bad as the writer may think. Too many people become obsessed with following some perceived construction of new rules they must abide by if they wish to get published or become famous. The numbers, of course, show a different truth, but that’s for another time…and another writer.

We’re talking about static characters here, characters who do not develop throughout the story, so let’s start out with the concerns that I will pull randomly from no place in particular:

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You can’t finish if you don’t start…

5713922088_a4725883a8_bPhoto by: DonkeyHotey

Originally posted here: http://www.timothyafenner.com/blog

Every writer has a story.  (Shocking bit of insight, no?)

This undeniable fact does not, however, mean every story will find itself written–fully or otherwise. Some stories demand to be told and leap out when given the chance. Others need to be coaxed out, often over decades, only finding completion after the author has shriveled into a dry, shallow husk.

Regardless of how they get written, the key is the stories GET WRITTEN.

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