Monday, April 19, 2010

A Little Help Here .... My Favorite Go To Things

 (Kaiser - Flickr)


Whew! Sorry for the delay.  I've been putting in long hours incorporating final edits on my novel and working on television spec scripts, not to mention the day-to-day grind.   

I'm happy to say, I don't have writer's block, but time spent on a writing plateau can also send you babbling and screaming for help.  You've got to have a plan.  I've got five of them.

When I get stuck on that Writing and Editing Cliff and Can't Get Off ... I pray, read, watch, sip and move. 

1. I Pray and Read the Holy Bible 
A mainstay in all areas of my life, it frees me when I'm stuck on a plateau or creatively blocked.  I reach this plateau when my creative juices have spun a great story, but doesn't move in a balance of peaks and valleys needed to produce a riveting final product.  

Here are some of my favorite "shake the plateau" scriptures:

"Now glory be to God who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of--infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes."  Ephesians 3:20.

"Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers.  If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human man can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."  Phillipians 4:6-7

2.  I Read "Self Editing for Fiction Writing" By Rennie Brown and Dave King, Harper Perennial.   When a story slows down, repetition and proportion are usually a few of the culprits.  This book reminds me that repetition is not a fiction and scriptwriter's friend.

Of course, there's  an exception to this rule called advertising copywriting.  Repetition in direct mail letters and ads help induce consumers to buy.

But since we're talking about fiction writing, I reach for my go-to book "Self Editing for Fiction Writers," when these culprits push me up that cliff.

Here's what it says:

"Often writers are too close to what they accomplished in their writing to see that they have accomplished it twice or more.   ... Don't underestimate your reader's intelligence or your ability as a writer."

"It's the influence of movies and television--readers are used to quick jump-cuts from scene to scene rather than long transitional shots.  Fiction writers are much more free to use ellipses, to leave more of the mundane, bridging action up to their readers' imaginations."

That sounds good to me.  

I also step out of my fiction for a while and lose myself in a favorite movie or the latest book from a favorite author.  I  love romantic comedies, family sagas  and thrillers.

(Confessions of a Shopaholic - Style Bakery)

3.  I Watch a Movie
I'll watch fave movies like:  "Confessions of a Shopaholic"  "Because I Said So," "Why Did I Get Married?" "Flash Forward," and the list goes on.  

There's nothing better than to see how a story flows and feel the effect it has on you on the silver screen.  Then it's back to the laptop I go.

No ... not just yet.  I need to do some real life drama watching I call a visit to Starbucks or any urban chic cafe chain will do.

 4.  I Sip a large Strawberries & 
Creme Frappuccino at Starbucks.
I take my Starbucks gift card that a wonderful angel recently gave me and start my people watching.  Just watching and listening to patrons jump start ideas on making characters more three-dimensional and dialogue richer.

 (Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino - Starbucks)

At this point, I'm feeling pretty good.  I've got the rope and I'm climbing down, enjoying the scenery along the way.  I step on a small landing carved into the mountain where I meet ... uh-oh ...  Procrastination Patty.  She encourages me to sit with her and enjoy the view from up high. But I can't stay there, al though it's comfy.

I need to see passionate artists working under extreme pressure and time constraints to make their dream happen. I need to watch a Food Network Challenge show.

 (Food Network Challenge - Last Cake Standing - Elisa Strauss)

(Mr. Krabs - Winner of Food Challenge's Sponge Bob Birthday Cakes- Fancy Cakes By Lauren.)

5. I Watch a Food Network Challenge Show.
Yes, you read it right.  My favorites are the cake challenges.  I love to see how talented cake designers and pastry chefs get off their sugar mountains when they run into trouble.  

What's amazing, they're not creating these sweet masterpieces in the privacy of their homes, they're watched by a panel of scary judges, a compassionate studio audience (you know they're chatting away) and millions of viewers.  That's enough to make you bawl for your mommy.

At times, a cake piece falls off just when a team plunks it on the judge's table.  They've got  fifteen minutes to fix it. No, they don't go backstage.  They have to do it in front of the cameras and staring eyes.  I guess for $10,000, I'd do it on skates wearing a super hero costume with my mother-in-law as the judge.

Our food challenge contestants show fearless creativity, courage, strength and the ability to think fast on their feet.  These are the  qualities that also sustain a writer with a little help from a go-to friend or two.

And last but not least,

(Dancing with the Stars)

5. I Dance it Out on the Rebounder.
Dancing With the Stars has nothing on me when I get going on my mini trampoline.  When I'm done, I'm ready for my laptop.

And this time, I make it to the ground, waving goodbye to Procrastination Patty and Plateau Paulette. 


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