Tuesday, July 26, 2016

3: Giving Yourself Permission to Write

Giving Yourself Permission to Write.

Welcome to HuntingTheMuse.com's Creative Writing Podcast.

(Show notes: huntingthemuse.com/podcast/3)

This week's show is all about giving yourself permission to write. 

Weekly creative writing prompts are provided at the end of the show.

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In this week's episode, I provided a quick personal update on my week so far and shared my impression of Scrivener's new iOS release.

I also talked about Chris Fox's book, Write to market, which I cover in more detail below. It was a good read, and it caused me to rethink my current strategy for my novelette, Chlorophyllium 9. I've since decided to take it down from the wide online market while I make some changes that should better align it to be a fully functional Act 1 for Final Hope. I also learned about cover art and what expectations certain images can telegraph to potential readers. It was really interesting stuff!

Podcast news: 

I created the Hunting the Muse Creative Writing Podcast group on Facebook, where we can share more creative writing discussions. You can also post your questions and request topics to be covered in future episodes. Feel free to post links to your writing that you based off the podcast's creative writing prompts.

This is arguably the hardest phase of podcasting and I could really use your help! It's so difficult finding your target audience and receiving feedback. Drop me a line and let me know where I can improve and if you think my efforts are worthwhile.

Now on to this week's topic! 

Giving Yourself Permission to Write.

Why aren't you writing as much as you'd like? Are there any reasons that stand out in your mind? Perhaps there's not enough time in the day or you don't feel like it's worth the time? Do you constantly weigh the amount of effort it takes versus your ability or the possible outcomes? At some point, did you convince yourself that writing isn't a valid pursuit?

What are your preconceptions about writing and where do they come from?

What's more important, the idea of writing or the act?
For some of us, writing is all we seem to think about. We're dreamers. "One day I'll write that novel." But actually sitting down to do it can be tough. We have trouble carving out time and negotiating other obligations. We have a fear of failure.

What if I do this and it turns out to be no good?
I can't fail if I don't try.
(Which is actually, as it turns out, the ultimate failure: the failure to try.)

Permission has to come from you!
You are the only one who can give you the permission you need to write. No one else is going to make you a writer. No one else can make sure that you're present in the task when you show up to write.

Support is nice, but it isn't required to produce art.
Learn to count on yourself. Hunting the Muse is about taking control of your writing process. I'll admit, this wasn't always the case. Take a look in the archives and it's easy to see that there were times when I lost my way. What I learned is that it's important to have personal accountability and to pursue your dreams on your own terms.

Make time to write, because it's important...

As mentioned in this episode, Chris Fox's book, Write to Market: Deliver a Book that Sells, provides a good look into a thought process that major publishers have used for centuries. But instead of blindly submitting a manuscript and hoping the themes and tropes match what's on the publishing What's Hot list, Indie authors can do a little research and figure out what themes give their book the best chance on the market.

Of course, these themes change over time and I would never recommend giving up the soul of your writing, but it can be helpful to understand what a potential reader might expect when they pick up your book. Understanding these expectations can help you formulate ways to both satisfy and surprise your readers.

What you'll find below is a series of creative writing prompts to help get you through your week. There are no rules as to how you should use them, but I recommend taking your muse's hand; wherever she may lead you.

Whether you find yourself writing a descriptive scene or dialogue, a poem or prose, or anything else (even if it seems entirely unrelated to the prompt), you have won. Happy writing, and may you find success in hunting your muse this week. 

1. The Fig Tree

In a post-apocalyptic world, a world devoid of most everyday conveniences, food is scarce. While picking through the scavenged remains of what used to be a thriving suburban neighborhood, you come across a rare bounty, a fruit-laden fig tree. Your fingers tremble as you pluck the tender figs. For the first time in days, you’ll finally have something to bring back to your small, weary group.

2. Tainted Water Supply

Whether your story emerges in a modern urban setting, a future dystopia, or on a compound at the desert’s edge, you’ve just discovered that the water supply has been tainted. Is it a rotting carcass in the well, a terrorist attack on the populace, or a would-be-resourceful neighbor who rerouted their secondary, irrigation water through the water main to avoid service shut off? What happens next? How do you cope?

3. Welcome to Skagway!

The year is 1898 and you’ve just arrived at the entry point to the legendary White Pass, a rapidly growing tent town known as Skagway. But unlike the rest of the saucer-eyed travelers enticed by the call of the Klondike gold rush, you aren’t here to pan for flakes and nuggets or stand hunched over a sluice box for hours on end. Your story should slowly reveal your true purpose and demonstrate what sets you apart from the others.

4. The Yellow Dog

You woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. Your heart is racing, but all you can seem to remember of the vision is a shaggy, yellow dog. What does this omen mean and how does it come into play in the days ahead?

5. Travel Interrupted

You were finally on your way, making that trip you always said you would go on. Then life stepped in. Now you’re stuck half-way through your journey and must wait, in limbo, while circumstances catch up and you can either resume your adventure or start the trip back towards home. What is your greatest emotional resistance to where you are now? What ultimately pushes you into either embracing the change or running from it?

6.  Someone Magical This Way Comes

Through the course of a normal day, you happen to encounter someone who possesses a bit of magic. From the fantastical all the way down to the mundane charm of a twinkling eye and a knowing smile, there’s just something different about this person that sets them apart from the rest. Is it really magic? Is it charisma? What is it?

7. Time to Let Go

You have in your possession a priceless memento, a reminder of a lost love or a best friend, a parent, or mentor. Today you stand at the brink, afraid that you’ve lost it all. But in a moment of sudden clarity, you know what you must do. You reach out your closed fist and let go. You give up that reminder of what the world used to be and resolve to start your journey anew. Letting go of that reminder of the past allows you to refocus on the present and you vow to cherish the ones in your life that you still have. As a special challenge, let your writing take us through that process. 

I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode and creative writing prompts.

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