Writing: Characters (Poll results & Archetypes)

 

 

A few weeks ago (technically, more than 4 weeks), I put up a Poll to see what kind of characters you preferred to write (female, male, or other).  Here are the results:

Female: 64%

Other: 27%

Male: 9%

 

The down-size of this poll is that it didn’t capture whether the writers were male or female so I can’t make any further correlations.   It seems that overwhelmingly we prefer females as our characters.

I wonder– why?

Do you find it easier to write from a female’s point of view?  Or, perhaps you feel there need to be more female main characters in books?

Another interesting result I found was how high the stat for “other” was.  Again, this poll didn’t capture (or further elaborate) what “other” entails.

Imagination runs rampant.

Today, we’ll continue the “character” series with another poll.  This time about Character Archetypes.

 

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Creativity and Mental Illness

I read an article recently that got me thinking about creativity and its role in mental illness (or vice versa): Creativity and mental illness share genetic markers on Genetic Literacy Project.

“Scientists in Iceland report that genetic factors that raise the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are found more often in people in creative professions.”

Hmm, this statement wasn’t anything I did NOT know; however…

“Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, a genetics company based in Reykjavik, said the findings, described in the journal Nature Neuroscience, point to a common biology for some mental disorders and creativity. ‘To be creative, you have to think differently,’ he told the Guardian. ‘And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labelled strange, crazy and even insane.’”

Wait, there’s more…

“Stefansson believes that scores of genes increase the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These may alter the ways in which many people think, but in most people do nothing very harmful. But for 1% of the population, genetic factors, life experiences and other influences can culminate in problems, and a diagnosis of mental illness.”

Not only do we, as creatives, think differently I believe we also feel differently.  And we just don’t look (or feel) at the surface, we dig deep.

Very deep.

We dare to.

We must.

It’s okay if we’re viewed as being different.

Odd.

We’re used to being alone, standing in a room full of strangers (even family members tend to be viewed as strangers at times).

But do all of these make us mentally ill?

We tend to delve so deeply into our minds that we start to see things (and people) that may or may not be there.

We talk to our characters that no one else can hear.

Our minds…our imagination are our greatest weapons.

And our downfall.

All because “normal” people do not understand us.

But does that make us mentally ill?

Usher Awareness: Own the Equinox

ushequx

 

 

In honor of Usher Syndrome Awareness Day on September 17th, I’m walking at least one mile a day for 25 days. I’ll then join my USH family around the world for the final 1.2 miles in this mile-a-thon.

If you can’t make a donation at this point, help me reach my goal by sharing this page on Facebook and Twitter!

Or, even better, send an e-mail to friends you think might be interested in contributing and include a link to my page!

Thanks so much for your generosity!

Help me own the Equinox. Together, we can make Usher syndrome history. #USHEQX
If you wish to follow my journey, please visit my page for updates.

A Writer’s Ultimate Dream (Poll)

 

 

*Coming this Monday, August 22nd!  A special guest post by C Hope Clark, Author of The Carolina Slade Mysteries and Editor for FundsforWriters!  Be sure to stop by!


			

Writing Through Your Fears

fear and resistance

 

 

 

 

Ever had a passion project in mind that kept nudging at you all hours of the day; but, when you sat down to actually begin working on it only to find that your mind had gone completely blank?

 

What did you do?

 

If you’re like many writers, you blamed it on “writer’s block.”

 

In Gabriela Pereira’s upcoming book, DIY MFA, she states that there is no such thing as “writer’s block;” rather it’s resistance.  The more meaningful the project is, the more one has to lose so the greater the resistance.  She went on to say that instead of looking at this resistance as an enemy, look at it as a compass.    Use it to guide as you work through this resistance.

 

So, instead of running from it…

 

Face it.

 

In doing so, you may surprise yourself at what you’d uncover.  Many writers have discovered valuable breakthroughs by working through their fears.

 

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
–Henry Ford

 

I have battled with the fear of inferiority.  That anything I do will not be good enough. So, instead of working through this and continue producing as a writer, I’d stop writing altogether.

 

Sounds familiar?

 

Over time, I have (somewhat) overcome this by writing and finishing short works of fiction, and poetry; however, I’ve yet to complete a long work of fiction (a novel; heck,  even a novella would be nice).   I’d get about a quarter of a way through, and then stop.

 

No one’s gonna want to read this.

 

It’s never going to be published so why bother?

 

On and on it goes.

 

I know where this resistance is coming from.  It’s stemming from various painful experiences in my past.  Instead of working through this, I’m allowing it to stop me from doing what I love.  And it’s making me miserable.

 

I’m going to take Gabriela’s advice and begin viewing this resistance as my compass, and allow it to guide me down the path I’m destined for.

 

Will you do the same?

 

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creativity Myths

diy mfa book

 

In Gabriela Pereira’s upcoming book, DIY MFA, she debunks the following 5 creativity myths:

  1. Creativity is an exclusive club, and you can’t be part of it.
  2. Creativity is innate–you either have it or you don’t.
  3. Creativity is driven by chaos, so there’s no way to control it.
  4. Creativity is all about getting that one “Big Idea.”
  5. Creativity is focusing on an idea until it’s perfect.

#5 resonates most with me.  I’m a perfectionist in pretty much all things.  You’d think this would make me a “master” of anything I attempt.

Nope.

Instead, I rarely follow through or finish anything because I am a perfectionist.

If I can’t get it right in my first attempt, it gets discarded or set aside permanently.  I kept comparing myself to the successful writers (JK Rowling, Stephen King and Madeleine L’Engle for examples) which made things even worse for me.  I found that not only I couldn’t finish what I started, I couldn’t even get started on anything!

For a long time, I thought that perhaps I wasn’t meant to be a writer because I had no skills or talent for it.

Then, I began to study the history of these writers more closely.

It took JK Rowling about five years to write the first book of Harry Potter.  This manuscript was rejected twelve times before being accepted.

Stephen King threw his first manuscript, Carrie, in the trash because he wasn’t happy with its progress.  It wasn’t good enough.   Tabitha, his wife, retrieved it and encouraged him to not give up on it.  To finish it.  God bless that woman.

Madeleine L’Engle was very shy and introverted as a girl; so much so, many deemed her as “stupid.”  So, she reverted to imaginary friends and worlds.   Writing grew out of this.  With very few publications under her belt, she faced rejection time and time again.  Eventually, at the age of 40, she decided to give up on writing altogether.  However, the inner voice wouldn’t let her do it.  She would write A Wrinkle in Time which would ultimately be rejected more than thirty times before being published.

Wow…these writers weren’t perfect.   They didn’t happen upon success over night.

No, success came slow and hard for each of them.

Anne Lamott summed it up best for me:

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

Oh, this rang true and clear for me!   Other than the fact that I am a bit on the crazy side, I don’t relish the thought of being miserable for the rest of my life.  I’d rather write than NOT.  I also began to realize that just about every successful writer out there had to work hard in their craft to get where they are.

Which means that there is no such thing as being “perfect.”  Just lots and lots of practice.

 

Do any of the creativity myths listed above resonate with you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, You Discovered Your Writing Superpower-What’s Your Kryptonite?

weakness turns to strength

 

In an earlier post (Every Writer Has a Superpower!), there’s a quiz you could take to find what your storytelling superpower is.  However, there is a dark side to this.  Each writer has something, a weakness, that tends to drain his or her superpower or make it useless (if we let it).

Not a very pleasant thought, huh?

What’s the key to overcoming this?

Acknowledging that yes, there is something that’s holding you back from achieving that next level as a writer.

Now, you must take action.

Find out what this Kryptonite is, and then work through it.  Instead of just accepting it, find ways to improve this area of weakness in your writing.

“Our strength grows out of our weakness.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Adversity tends to make a person stronger- if faced head-on.

A lot of times, one’s Kryptonite is related closely to one’s superpower.

For instance, my storytelling superpower is Survivor:

“You’ve got a penchant for characters who will do whatever it takes to survive….regardless of their situation, you’re drawn to creating characters your readers will admire for their pluck, determination, and sheer creative willpower.”

This is spot on for me.  My characters will do whatever necessary to survive; however, in doing so, they tend to be so focused on survival, they forget the human-side of things like feeling emotions.   They’re so busy reacting, moving from one crisis to the next like some kind of a robot, they don’t try to stop for a split moment to deal with the emotional trauma they’re experiencing.

I’m great at creating suspense in my stories; but they lack the human-element: emotions.  The one thing that grabs a reader, and hook him or her throughout the entire story.  The one thing that breathes life into characters.  The one and same that gives any given story that special uniqueness.  Otherwise, it falls short of greatness, always missing its true potential.

The same is true in my own life.  I’ve gone through several periods where I endured losses and painful changes that in order to get through them, I’d completely shut off my emotions.

My main focus was to survive.  Adding my feelings to the mix was too much for me to deal with.  I figured that I’d deal with them later.

Only I never did.

Now, I’m faced with worsening anxiety issues and becoming more of a recluse.

My family is starting to suffer because of this Kryptonite.  And so is my writing.

I’m just now acknowledging that this is my Kryptonite.

Next, I must take action.  To find ways of injecting emotions back in to my characters, my stories.

But first-I need to allow those emotions to flow through me.  To re-open the door of my heart, and allow it to breathe.

I need to live again.

Only then will my stories come to life.

What about you?  Have you identified your Kryptonite yet?  What kinds of action will you take to address it?

*Do you have that desire to get to the next level as a writer?  Here’s a book that may help you!

3 Ways Blogging Helps Keep Your Dream Alive

  1. Blogging allows you to share your hopes and dreams with readers.  By sharing them with others, in essence, you are keeping your dreams alive.  It can also allow your readers to reciprocate by sharing theirs with you.  This brings me to the next point…
  2. Blogging helps build a support system.  When you connect with other like-minded individuals who are also struggling to realize their dreams, you form a support system to help encourage one another in hope of achieving them.  Isn’t it nice knowing that you’re not alone?  
  3. Blogging can help keep you accountable.  When you announce a particular goal to your readers,  don’t be surprised if they hold you accountable to fulfilling it!

 

Blogging and dreams

 

What about you?  Can you think of other ways blogging can help keep dreams alive?

 

Reality Versus Writing

Ever had a time during your life when writing (or whatever your artistic passion is) has become incompatible with reality?

It sucked, didn’t it?

I hope that like anything else, this only lasted for a season and that you were able to go back to it.

I went through my “incompatible” period not too long ago.

Two years ago actually.

Hubby was unemployed but in college working towards a formal science degree.  I was the only one working full-time (in the banking industry).  My vision was deteriorating, but I somehow managed to put in over 40 hours each week while suffering from terrible eye strains and painful migraines.  I had a young son, and a house to also take care of.  Whenever I tried to sit down to write, hubby or son always needed me for something.  Or, if I spent “too much time” writing, hubby would complain that my priorities were to my family and job since I wasn’t making any money with writing.

Then, my father became ill with an aggressive lung disease.  I would allot whatever free time I had to spend time with him.

It was during this period of my life when I had to choose between “reality” and writing.

Writing had to be put away.  I felt like I’d lost a piece of myself for doing so; but, still the choice had to be made.

My Dad passed away a short time afterwards.  Hubby graduated from college with honors, and is now working full-time as a federal employee.  And I’m “retired” from the workforce, and am home full-time.

With these now behind me, I have ample time to write again.

 

tough times never last

If you’re going through an “incompatible” period, just remember this quote…

 

 

 

My Struggles to Achieving My Creative Dreams (Special Guest Post by Lidy Wilks PLUS a Cover Reveal of Her Chapbook AND Giveaways!)

can you catch my flow blog tour

*I have a special treat for you all today!  It is my honor to introduce to you Lidy Wilks who will be talking about her passion as a writer and poet, and how she came through her struggles to achieve her dreams.  The cover reveal above is for her poetry chapbook, Can You Catch My Flow?  Be sure to check out the special giveaways at the end of this post Lidy is promoting! 

 

 

I’ve taken a few detours on this creative journey. I’ve stumbled and detoured away from it.  Funny, when I think about it.  As I’d always known, from the moment I read Little Women and Moby Dick, that I wanted a future involved with books.  I didn’t know then what kind of job it’d be.  But I never doubted for a minute, that whatever that job entailed, I would find where I belong.

Yet, I’ve had my highs and lows in trying to achieve my creative dreams.  My first fan was my friend and classmate.  Her excited response supported my interest to become a writer and write more stories.  I held those aspirations all the way through high school; until a teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I got older.  Naturally I said “I want to be an author.”

Well, imagine my utter shock when I was told that writing was just a hobby.  Making money from writing wasn’t a high priority.  I wanted to write and have readers enjoy my stories.  To my teacher, becoming a published author was unrealistic.  Writing could not feed you, clothe you or pay the bills. That was the reality of things.

Despite her quick and crushing, pessimistic assessment, I couldn’t let go of my dreams.  But it still affected me so much that I changed my intended major on my college applications.  I’d decided to major in Mass Communications instead of my favorite subject English.  At least with a Mass Comm degree I can get a job in print media/publishing that’ll pay well.  Fortunately, this little detour didn’t last long.

What happened? I was reminded of what I really wanted after my first semester.  I only majored in communications because I was afraid of a future that hadn’t even happened yet.  I let that fear guide me on a different path.  A dream of becoming a magazine editor/writer as a way to hold onto my creative dream; but that fell apart because of an elective creative writing class, and the professor who encouraged me.

So I spent the next four years writing to my heart’s content.  Studied and read British and American poetry, and Shakespeare’s plays in Old English.  Taking non-fiction creative writing, and poetry workshops.  All the while minoring in Mass Comm because I might as well finish what I started.  Plus, it could come in handy (and it did a bit now that I’m a blogger). Point is, I was never happier.  And then I graduated.

True to form and I don’t want to admit it even now, I did not find a job with my English degree.  I started temping and found a job at a non-profit.  I got married, had kids and before I knew it, writing-wise I had nothing to show for it.  Life had taken me on another detour until a company move to a new city gave me the kick-in-the-butt I needed.  Dust off the story ideas I’ve filed away throughout the years, and exercise my writing muscles.  And not just write again; but, write more poetry and submit them to literary journals, magazines, etc.

Looking back, all these detours served as lessons.  To never again let my doubts, lack of confidence, or the opinions of others take me away from what I love doing.  And believe me, I almost completely turned my back from it especially after receiving a nasty rejection letter from a poetry editor.  But as much the support I’ve received helped validate my writing dreams, I should believe in myself more especially against those whose opinions would deter me from it.

After all, I will always question myself and whether I have the talent and determination to continue on this journey.  Questions like what is this poem about? Who is the poem for?  How could I ever had written this?  Or, being filled with writing envy and asking why didn’t I write that?  But these are questions I deal with whenever I pick up a pen to write, or read a poem.  And that’s not something that will ever go away.  It’s one of the things that’s part of a writer’s life. And it’s a writer’s life for me.

arrival of monarch

exultation

 

 

 

 

 

 

giveaway lidy wilks

Click on above image to enter for the giveaway!

 

 

lidy wilksAbout the Author:

Ever since she was young, Lidy Wilks was often found completely submerged in the worlds of Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. She later went on to earn a Bachelor degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Franklin Pierce University where she spent four years knee-deep in fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction workshops.

Lidy is the author of Can You Catch My Flow? a poetry chapbook, and is a member of Write by the Rails.  She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two children; and an anime, book and manga library which she’s looking to expand, one day by adding an Asian drama DVD collection.  Lidy continues her pursuit in writing more poetry collections and fantasy novels all the while eating milk chocolate and sipping a glass of Cabernet, or Riesling wine.

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