If you’re a writer, you’ll know all about the struggle of dealing with characters that simply won’t do what you want them to do. I have dealt with this so many times in my own writing, where, for some reason, the characters just don’t want to play ball.
Sometimes they won’t say what we want them to. Sometimes they turn around and tell us that really, they wouldn’t do what we’re about to write them doing. And it is so frustrating. I find myself staring at the screen, thinking ‘I created you, and now you’re telling me that you know better’
The only thing I can say is that there is a fine line here. Sometimes I have forged on ahead and ignored that character’s voice telling me that this “simply wouldn’t happen”, and more often than not, I have been proved wrong.
On the very rare occasion that I have been right to put those words in the character’s mouth, or that situation into the character’s life, I often realise afterwards that the opposition wasn’t that strong and that the character merely wanted a small tweak to the plot.
The thing is, I’m not saying that my characters are actually alive, but inside my head, they are. They have to be, because if they aren’t then I’m just writing empty words on a page.
Your characters must come alive because if they don’t then, you really know that you have a problem with your story. I have done this so many times, and the stories that have run into the most problems have always been those where the characters aren’t fully fleshed out and where they are all just a little wooden.
So, I guess, the best advice I can give is to simply trust your character’s gut when it comes down to it. Listen to them and argue with them (yes, I know I sound crazy, but sometimes I get more sense out of them than I do out of most people).
Have any of you had arguments with your characters? How did you deal with it?
I started a new project this last week. I took inspiration from a photo I found online, and have adapted it to make it original. The image is of a tiny mouse, in amongst a lot of corn.
This image is closely cropped, and the tiny size of the mouse is amplified by how big the corn looks. I’ve not done much on it yet. Mainly, I’ve done the basic sketch, and then I started on the mouse’s face, because, where else would I start?!
I find this is a thing with me. If I am drawing a figure, be it human or animal, then I always make a point of working on the face first. The idea of having that blank face staring up at me for goodness knows how long, seriously freaks me out.
I’m using Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils for this piece. I love using coloured pencils and the rich depth of colour that can be achieved with them.
I am, however, working on quite a small scale, because it does take a lot of time to work on the layers of colour, and to be honest, I fully expect for it to take me a good ten to twenty hours.
It’s really nice to be back at class again, and it’s really nice that this time, I’m working on something that is purely because I want to do it, rather than something that is for a commission. Not that I mind getting commissions. I love having plenty to work on, but I also feel that it’s important to work on your inner artist, and I feel that this is what this piece will do for me.
*Note — This post was written on the 6th of January
When, we turned the calendar over to a new month, and a new year, this adventure began. As I had planned, I began the “Bible In One Year” reading plan with Nicky Gumbel, from the YouVersion Bible App. I’m thirteen days in, and already I can feel myself engaging with God on a deeper level.
The devotionals in this plan give real life examples, and then back up what is said with scripture, which is an incredibly ‘immediate’ way to make these verses, written so many years ago relevant to modern day life.
So far, I have looked at The Fall, Noah, and Cain and Abel. I have also read into the sermon on the mount, and have read the beatitudes, and I feel like I’ve actually seen them in a new way.
As well as this plan, I have chosen two 365 day devotionals to read. The first is “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. This is a book written as if Jesus is speaking directly to the reader, on a given theme. In the introduction to this book, the author says that she simply sat, with pen in hand and wrote what came to her. She then adds two or three quotes from scripture.
When I read the reviews of this book, they were very mixed, although a lot of the negative reviews seemed to focus more on the fact that the author was using the first person, and “putting words in God’s mouth”, rather than the actual content. So far, I can honestly say that I haven’t read anything that seems out of touch with what I believe God would say, and I have found that it adds another layer to my morning quiet time with God.
The second book I have chosen is “Trusting God Day by Day” by Joyce Meyer. I have to say that I chose this primarily because I like Meyer’s style of writing. This book also gives about a page or two a day, and begins with a passage of scripture to read, before Meyer goes into explaining and discussing it. This book has been more challenging that “Jesus Calling”, but when I say challenging, I mean it in a good way. I feel that I am learning more, and more deeply, about God, and His will for my life.
It is also interesting to me, and more than a coincidence, that at Church this morning, the Pastor gave us our “Church verse for the year”, which is from Proverbs 5:4–5, and is focused on trust.
Trust is something that I know I have an issue with, for many reasons, which I won’t go into here. It is something that I find myself continually working on, and I hope that through this study, I will be able to learn to trust God even more deeply.
For this week, I would like to try and add some journaling into my quiet time. I am going to try and wait on God and speak to Him in the way that I find the most effective (for me, this always has, and always will be, through writing). I am also planning to do some reading on prayer, to see if I can improve there too.
How to carry on with life when you feel like it’s over
My sister passed away 15 months ago. I thought that by now, the pain would have lessened, but it hasn’t really. I miss her so much every day. I miss her laugh and her wicked sense of humour, and I miss her hugs.
She had a lot of issues, and that’s the one thing that has made losing her a little more bearable, is the thought that she is now at peace. Those issues are no longer hers to carry, and I am so thankful for that, because it was horrible seeing her suffering.
The thing is that grief works in a strange way. For some of us, the person we’ve lost was suffering; for some of us, it was completely unexpected, and there was no warning at all.
The only thing that we know for sure about grief is that it does not discriminate. It will come for us all at one time or another, and when it does, we will need to just walk through it in whichever way is right for us.
For me, this has meant surrounding myself with good friends; people who have been there for me when I’ve been crying (ugly crying) down the phone, and when I’ve needed someone to just give me a hug. It has meant throwing myself into my creative pursuits, and really focusing on them. It has meant escaping into the made up world of my stories, and the stories of others.
That’s the thing though… this is what works for me. It may not work for you, and that’s okay. What is important to remember is that we must do whatever it is that works for us.
To some extent, we must adopt an attitude of “Whatever gets you through the day.” If we do this as many times as required, we will eventually find that we have a day when we can forget this attitude, and hopefully, as time passes, those days will become more, and the “whatever gets you through the day” days will become less, and really, that’s the only way to truly tread this path of grief if we are to ever cross that chasm and make it to the other side.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard this phrase once, at the very least. New year’s resolutions. A new beginning. A fresh start. These are all things that we associate with the new year. These are all things that we think of as being good things to do.
To some extent, I can understand, and I can honestly say that I don’t know of one person who hasn’t set at least one goal this year. I know I have. I refuse to call mine resolutions, though. I’ve found that in the past, if I call something a resolution, then it is the quickest way for me to give up when I come up against the first hurdle.
Instead, I prefer to set goals, which I will work on for the next year. I know it’s effectively pretty much the same thing, but for some reason, goals work better for me than resolutions. I think maybe it’s the fact that a resolution is so synonymous with New Year’s. I sort of feel that if I’m not working at that resolution every day from the first of January, then I may as well not bother, whereas if I’m working at a goal, then it is about crossing the finish line by the end of the year, rather than the starting point itself.
The thing is, we as humans are always seeking to better ourselves, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing. I can almost see you shaking your heads, wondering what I mean by it being a bad thing… what I mean is that some of us will set goals (or resolutions, or whatever you choose to call them) that are both unrealistic and unreachable, and that isn’t a good thing, because we set ourselves up, right at the start, for failure.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I understand the need to set goals, and agree wholeheartedly with trying to better myself, but this year, unlike those that have been, I am striving to not set goals that are unattainable, because the quickest way to fail is when you set yourself up to do so.
So, by all means, set goals, and make resolutions, but please, make them attainable, because to do otherwise will only serve to make you beat yourself up when you cannot reach that unreachable goal.
This year, I have introduced a new project to my routine. Some days are good days for me, and some days are not so good- that’s the thing with depression. Moods can change so easily.
It got me thinking… we all have those days where we feel like we haven’t actually managed to accomplish anything, but what if we did?
This is where my idea of a crocheted mood blanket came to me. Crochet is something that I have always found therapeutic. I read a book by Kathryn Vemillo called “Crochet Saved My Life”. In it, she talks of crippling depression and how the repetitive physical movement of crochet helped to give her something to focus on.
I guess this is where the spark came from. Imagine a crochet project made up of twelve “squares”; one for each month of the year. Every day, I plan to crochet a row in a colour that signifies the mood of the day. That way, even on my worst days, I will be able to say that I created something, and it will make me feel as if I have turned something potentially bad, into a part of something beautiful.
These are the colours I have chosen.
1. Rainbow — Hopeful
2. Yellow — Happy
3. Blue — Tired
4. Aqua — Peaceful
5. Red — Triggered
6. Black — Down
7. Pink — Creative
8. Green — Ill
9. Grey/Black — Sad
I’m hoping to post an update on this project once a month, so keep your eyes open for updates and photos. 🙂
As a writer, you quickly become aware that there are generally two different schools of thought regarding the process of beginning a novel. I’m talking about that annoying little segment in between getting your brilliant idea, and actually writing said idea.
The thing is, there are some people. A friend of mine calls them ‘the blessed’. These people don’t plan. They just sit down and write, and the story flows. These people find it easy to skip the step of actually planning.
And then, there’s the rest of us. The planners. The people that need some kind of road map to their novel before they commit to putting those words down.
I have found, through the years, that I am a bit of a mixture of both. I can just sit down and write, and at first, that’s fine. However, I then find that I must go back and try to organise the thoughts about the story that are flying around in my head.
I used to see that as some kind of failure on my part, but what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to plan. It’s okay to break the mould, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not a good enough writer just because you like to have a plan; a map; a backup. It doesn’t mean that the story you have to tell is any less worthwhile. It simply means that this is your writer’s process, and that is perfectly okay.
That horrible doubt that creeps up on us, can cripple us. Making us feel that we aren’t good enough. The thing is that what we have to do is tell that doubt to shut up. We can end up thinking that we aren’t good enough to tell that story, but in reality, you are the only one who can tell your story. It is yours, and no one else can tell it like you can.
So, what’s your process? Drop a note in the comments, and let’s get a discussion going!
Well, here we are, five days into January already… Has it hit you yet? What am I talking about, I hear you ask…
I’m talking about the January blues; that post-Christmas slump that seems to happen at the beginning of January, when all of the excitement and preparation for Christmas is over, and the lights, and sparkly decorations have been taken down and stowed away in the loft for another year.
I don’t know about you, but while, on one hand, I like to see the fresh clean house, once all the decorations have come down, I also feel sad to see the lights go, and the nights begin to look so much darker once more.
All too soon, life moves on and we get back to normal, and Christmas seems like nothing more than a distant memory, as work and other things of ordinary life take over.
The thing is that we all know that it will happen, eventually. At some point this January, we will all face a case of the January blues (unless you’re some kind of super human, and if you are, you probably wouldn’t be reading this, because you’d have far more important things to deal with). What we need, is to make sure that we have techniques and plans in place for when this happens.
My first technique sounds very simple: Make sure that you have a routine in place. Simple, right?! The thing is, it’s easy to put a routine in place, but finding the motivation to do it and stick to it, is the thing that can be a stumbling block. The key I’ve found, is to simply tell myself that I’ll just do ten minutes. If I do ten minutes on the tasks included on my routine, I can chalk it up as a success, and even this, as small as it sounds, can help to lift my mood.
Secondly, I make sure that I exercise (for at least ten minutes) a day. I usually do more, because once I get started, it’s easier to carry on, but giving myself permission to only do ten minutes, makes it far easier for me to get started in the first place. I also walk my dogs, which gets me out in the fresh air, which is also a big mood boost.
Thirdly, I try to practice self care. I make sure that I am eating well, and healthily. I make sure I take the time to look after myself physically. Sometimes, something as small as a longer than usual shower can help put those blues on the back foot. The thing is, we need to teach ourselves that it’s okay to look after ourselves, so go get your hair done, or get a massage, or a manicure. Whatever makes you feel good.
Fourthly, do things that you enjoy. Maybe it’s a new hobby, maybe it’s as simple as watching that tv show, or listening to that album that you love. Tell yourself that you can do this, and that it’s okay for you to have some fun! We’re not robots, and sometimes, we just need that little bit of enjoyment, especially when the blues are upon us.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have different ways of beating the blues… but it is important that we actually employ these ways, instead of letting them fall by the wayside in the face of those dreaded blues.
What are some of your ways that you’ve found to beat the blues?