• Memoirs

    How Do I Write My Memoirs?

      Are you stuck trying to write your life story? By the time we become seniors, most of us have come to the realization that we’ve left it too late. We think we’d like to write our memoirs, but we never got around to asking our parents the important questions: How did they meet? Who was their first love? How did they become the people they ended up being?   How Did I Get Here? Then there are the questions about our own history: What was I like as a toddler? Who was my best friend in kindergarten? Where did my first pet come from? What was my first word,…

  • Point of View and Character Development,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    Karma and Character Development

    Karma’s a bitch!” We hear that all the time. Somebody does something good, they get good karma. Something bad happens to someone, it’s because they have bad karma. It’s justice, retribution and balancing the scales of right and wrong.   Right?   Wrong!   Karma is commonly understood to mean our actions, words or deeds and their outcomes. But I believe that this interpretation is specious. Karma’s more profound than that.   Believers in spirituality come a little closer. For them, karma refers to the spiritual circle of cause and effect, often called the “Principle of Karma”, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that…

  • Productivity,  Structure and Plotting

    What Were You Thinking???

    More often than not, when writers start writing about a subject, we have no clue what it is we plan to say.    “I write to find out what I think.” ― Stephen King   “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” — Joan Didion Sure, we can put together an outline that gives us a rough roadmap, but until we actually sit down and start the ideation process, we can’t possibly know what our thoughts are until we have them on the page or screen in front of us. Only…

  • Productivity

    Breaking the Procrastination Habit

    First, let’s see if we can figure out what procrastination is and why we do it. Where does it come from? What purpose does it serve?   Procrastination has been described as “a voluntary delay of an intended act despite the nagging awareness that we’ll pay for it later”.    Even though we know avoidance is a self-defeating coping mechanism, it feels better in the moment to turn our backs on what we know to be the right choice in favour of something that’s less emotionally challenging.   Procrastination and avoidance act as short-term mood improvements. They’re immediately gratifying. They allow us to escape the proposed task and its associated…

  • Uncategorized

    It’s the Little Things

    The Little Things — those happy little accidents that make our day, those niggling little worries that won’t leave us alone, those small accents that finish off an outfit to perfection.    Little things: mosquitoes, engagement rings, snowflakes, blisters.   But how important are they?   It’s the little things that give us such satisfaction when we’re coming to the end of a big project. All the big stuff is done and we can simply have fun with it. Editing to find exactly the right words, the perfect turn of phrase, or getting the final catchlight in the eye of a painted portrait just the right size, colour and shape.   And…

  • Uncategorized

    Writing Memoirs as Therapy

    One major difficulty we run into when we start writing our memoirs is an inability to face or process troubling emotions. When we write things down, naturally, we have to think about them, and most of us would prefer that they just go away. We try to avoid thinking about the painful, traumatic events in our lives, burying them deep down so that we won’t have to look at them.   But there’s a problem with this particular coping mechanism. These hidden traumas can come back on us in all kinds of unexpected ways. Inhibition or suppression of emotions, traumatic events, or aspects of our identity can result in long-term, low-level…

  • Humour,  Memoirs,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    Showing Off

    Entrepreneurs (and if we want to be published, we writers are all entrepreneurs aren’t we?) are often told, “Face your fear, get over yourself, just do it.”   But it sometimes helps to look at the fear and figure out exactly what it is that we’re afraid of.   Recently, I was challenged to post some of my own memoir pieces, short stories, here on my blog — in particular, a story about my short-lived career as a shoplifter at age 6.   Immediately, I felt reluctant. I didn’t want to, not because I thought it wasn’t any good, but because I didn’t want to show off.   Which is a…

  • Productivity,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions,  Writers and Writing

    Perfectionism and Writer’s Block — It’s All About the Baby Steps, Baby!

    This week, I’ve been trying to come up with a riveting blog post idea and I’ve spent nearly two hours dithering, avoiding the problem. Rather than picking one of the hundreds of topics I’ve collected for times like this, I logged onto Joseph Michaels’  UnChained Writers, my favourite online chat group for writers, where I knew I would find others who’d understand and commiserate when I whined and complained about how stuck I was feeling.   “Why do we do that to ourselves?” I said, and gave myself a little pep talk…“Okay, goofball! Just pick one and run with it. Something will come out of it, even if it’s not…

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Emotional Significance

    or — How to Manipulate Your Reader’s Feelings Over many decades of reading, I’ve come to realize that one of the most powerful things a writer can do to keep a reader glued to the page is to create a deep yearning to be in the story and experience the emotions that the story’s characters feel.    Running like an underground river beneath the needs and desires of the characters we create is the reader’s need for something only the character’s experience can provide. We read in order to become a part of the story world, to escape the everyday and immerse ourselves in an environment that satisfies something we…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Coincidence

    Deus Ex Machina Last week’s post pointed out that little coincidental changes can alter the entire trajectory of a story. But at what point does coincidence become “deus ex machina” — defined by the Oxford dictionary as, “an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel”?   The key here is the word “contrived”. Last week, I said, “Our lives hinge on these coincidences.”   But herein lies a problem for writers. We can’t use them. We can’t dump a convenient coincidence into our story whenever we need something to change. We can’t simply insert a character or…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Change It Up!

    This article comes out of a conversation I had with a writer who couldn’t decide what should go into two related scenes:   Dor: I’ve got two scenes fighting with each other. So not nice! Bev: What’s the key point in each scene? How can you differentiate the scenes to accentuate the point? Dor: It’s a sequence of two scenes as a big storm is about to hit. So I’m mostly combing for timeline consistency. Two characters, one makes a suggestion and the other resists. Then in the second scene (a few beats later in the time line) the other character takes the bait and goes overboard with the suggestion.…