Writing

Write from your Heart

6:00 AM

I don't plan my blog posts.

I know this might seem weird to some of you (especially my fellow bloggers) but it's just how I work. The moment I plan a blog post is the moment the excitement and drive to write it fizzles right out of me into a puddle on my keyboard. It's just like when someone tells me what to do. Even if I was planning on doing it anyway, any desire and drive to do it suddenly leaves and I search for every reason not to do it. It's just the way I am.

If I say, "I'm going to write about [insert random topic] next week," then when next week rolls around ... I find my motivation to write about that topic has drained away (usually. There are sometimes exceptions).

Do you find this happening to you?

Some call it "writers block".

I call it not writing from your heart.




(I'm actually not sorry for all the heart themed posts lately. It's been on my heart. Hehe. He. Ehem.)

Anyway. What happens when your heart is in something?

When you put your heart into something, it comes to life.

Suddenly, they aren't just words on a page. They are words that have been uttered through clenched teeth by the character you created. You can almost hear them being spoken as you read. You can see the setting and you can feel the hurt and anger your characters feel in the sting of a betrayal, or the rush of joy they get when they see an old friend.

But how do you write from your heart? 

Writing just what you "feel" like writing is dangerous sometimes (kind of like how I wait for a feeling to write blog posts. It's not uncommon for Friday to arrive and BOOM I don't know what to write about OOPS).

You want to write from your heart, what you're passionate about ... but in order for it to come truly from your heart it has to mean something to you. It has to be more than just a feeling. It has to mean more than just "Oh, I like this idea! It looks shiny and fun! Let's ditch everything and write this now!"

Those are distractions. They're fun little ideas, but often those need to be given a bit of attention (just enough to lull the bunny to sleep, if you will) so you can focus on your current project.

The one that you're five drafts into.

How? How are you five drafts into this? Heck, how are you half way through a second draft? Because second drafts are hard, guys. Second drafts are ugly. They're messy, and so far they're not really much fun.

So why do we keep writing?

With my WIP, The Thief's Conspiracy (TC), I am slugging through the second draft, which I had to start over again last week. It is hard. It is taking forever. I've been working on this draft for months. Seven months, to be exact. (granted I took almost two months off, but still.)

When I look at it like that, I get really discouraged. I think, "This is taking forever. I just want to write something easy that has no problems."

But I know I never will. Because a) all books have problems, but b) I will never abandon TC. It simply means too much to me.

Because I wrote it straight from my heart. Writing that book was the equivalent of cutting my chest open and bleeding onto the keyboard. My soul went into this project. I cried as I wrote parts of it. I sympathize with all the characters on a deep level.

Because it all came from my heart. It came like all ideas do: new, exciting, intriguing. It captured my attention and I bounded after it. I wrote a few pages of notes for it, then tucked it away for a while. When I decided it was time to move on from my old series and start a whole new project, there it waited.

I'm not sure what drove me to choose that idea from the other files in the idea folder on my computer. But that was the one I picked, and from there, my creativity exploded.

Because I decided to do it. I decided I was going to write it.

And from that moment on, I truly loved my story. That story became a part of my heart, because I chose to make it so.

Do you see what I'm saying here? It's the same concept as love. Love is not a feeling. You love your parents, right? But do you always like them? Do you always want to hug them and gush about how amazing they are?

The same principle applies to your stories. You won't always like them. You'll want to ditch them for something that doesn't give you as much trouble. You'll want to run after pretty new plot bunnies. But you don't. Not if you've made that decision to love your story.

So here are a few tips on how to capture it while you still have that "feeling." Cause, don't get me wrong: the feeling really helps. Wanting to write your book sure makes it a lot easier. Wanting to edit (is that a thing???), wanting to solve the plot issues, having that desire makes everything a lot easier.

So ...

Write it when it comes to you.

When I first get an idea, it is so exciting. I'm sure it's the same way for all of you. It's new, it's fresh, and there are so many possibilities waiting to be explored. Write down the heart of that idea, the beginnings of it. Write it down, before there are any plot holes or character issues or anything. Just write it down.

Then take your time with it. 

If you're a planner, take your time planning! Keep your journal (or document) open at your side, and let the idea of the project fill your mind. Explore it, ask lots of questions, and have fun.

If you're not a planner, take your time with the first draft! If you don't enjoy writing first drafts, then maybe don't take your time with it, but if you love first-drafting, try not writing so fast. Try taking your time, mulling things over, and enjoying the freedom.


Capture the desire while you feel it. 

This kind of goes back to my post on capturing the heart of your story. Capture that initial love for it. The reason you started. The reason you chose this idea. The reason you chose to love it.

You'll feel the benefits.

I make sure I write every blog post from my heart. If I'm not feeling a topic I've chosen, I don't write it. I write something else. I remember one Friday night, at nine or ten o'clock, I had planned a blog post and written half of it earlier that week but I just wasn't feeling it. And so I opened a new doc and poured out a totally new post that I had not planned to write at all. Guess what? It's my most popular post on this blog. 

And you want to know a scandalous little secret? *leans close and whispers* I don't edit my blog posts. *winces as every reader gasps and stares* I KNOW I KNOW IT'S PROBABLY REALLY NAUGHTY THAT I DON'T. I do a liiiiitle bit. (I edited this one a bit, actually.) I will read it once I'm done writing it, and then tweak a few things sometimes. But when I write a post, it's usually something that has been on my mind/heart for a while or at least stewing in the back of my mind. I haven't planned when I'll write it, and I wait for the feeling that I should. And then I do.

I hope some of this helped you, and it wasn't too all over the place XP Hehe now that I say I don't plan blog posts, I'm going to announce that I've actually planned blog posts for all of October! (Well, right now I haven't, but I have vague idea for what I'll do.) Let's just say, it's going to be NanoThemed *mysterious grin* and YOU WILL STILL HOPEFULLY ENJOY IT EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT DOING NANO. but duuuuudes you totes shoullllld.

Do you struggle to write from your heart? What are your tips on doing so? ARE YOU DOING NANO??? (i know i already asked this but I'm not even sorry so get over it.)


<3

Life

Who Has the Time?

6:00 AM

School. Friends. Church.

Who has the time?

Planning. Writing. Editing.

Who has the time?

Blogging. Talking. Smiling.

...who has the time?

Run, run, or you'll be late.

For what?

Everything. Everything is happening right. now. And you better hurry up and move or you'll miss it all.


I've heard a lot of sermons on 'being still'. Our world is a crazy place, after all. It makes sense that preachers would want to address the issue. You've seen the way people drive. Everyone, everywhere, is in a hurry.

Why? Why are we constantly rushing through life? Why do we feel this deep urgency to get up and move and get stuff done? Why is it so against our nature to just stop, close our eyes ... and breathe?


This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. I don't want to do certain things anymore. Things I used to really enjoy. Sometimes I can't do it. I'm too busy. Sometimes I just don't want to do it. It no longer interests me in light of what else I could be doing. Sometimes I do it, but I just feel guilty while I'm doing it, and as soon as it's done I rush to do the other more "important" things.

What's the answer to this? How do we teach ourselves to enjoy and cherish every second of life that we have, and to make the most of it ... but at the same time allow ourselves not to be doing something "important" every once in a while.

I am a writer. I have thousands of writer-ly things I could be doing. I could wake up and write all day. Who needs food, anyway? I could wake up and write and edit and blog and read and tweak and critique and plan and create all stinkin' day every stinkin' day for my entire life. There is just so much to be done in that area. Sometimes I feel so frantic because I'm not getting enough done. There's so much more I could be doing.

And I'm not doing it.

I've written for nearly six years and I still have never sent anything out to betas. I don't have a single project ready for human eyes. I don't have anything to share for all the time I've spent.

Does that mean I'm not doing enough? Does that mean, as a writer, I've somehow ... failed?

My breathing gets tight when I start to think like this. You need to hurry, a voice whispers in my ear. You need to get a move on. Stop being so lazy. How can you call yourself a writer if you don't write all the time? 

I've struggled silently with this for so long. But now, I'm whispering back.

How can I call myself a person, a Christian, if I don't live?

When we write, we're not living. We're telling a story. And that's amazing, don't get me wrong. I love to write. I love to read. I love to plan novels and worlds. I love to create someone else's life and live (far more excitingly) through them.

But I need to live too.

I have a family. 

They deserve my time.

I don't need to be holed up in my room writing 24/7. I need to emerge from the depths of my writer cave to come play a game with my little sister and brothers. I need to jump on the trampoline with them and laugh and sing and tickle. I need to love them. And I can't love them if I'm not giving them time. I need to do things with them.

I even need to not do things with them. Sometimes the most you can do is simply be there. Giving your time to them, even if you're not really doing much. They deserve it.

What is life without family?

I have friends.

I don't like to have my nose in my phone, but lately that's been my only way of communicating with my friends, seeing how most of them are online, or have moved. Most of the friends I did have here where I live just graduated high school and left back in August. They deserve my responses to their texts. They deserve my time.

What is life without friends?


I have a body.

Yes, you knew this was coming. I have a body, and that body needs exercise. Sometimes as in never I really don't want to exercise. But that deserves my time. How many books will I get to write if I don't take care of myself and die before I even begin to know what I'm doing?

How can I live life well if I'm sick?


Sometimes, we lose sight of how important these things are. There are many other important things (obviously) but this post is already getting long so I'm going to wrap up with this.

We may feel like we should be doing something else. We may feel like that card game, or that long message being typed out, or that 5k walk/run is a waste of time. But it's not.

That card game you play with your little siblings? They're going to remember that. And they're going to treasure it.

That message to your friend? They're going to treasure that. You could brighten their day without even realizing it.

That walk/run with your mom? Sure, you may not be burning up the road, but that time you spend means something. To your mom, and to you. You may not realize it, but it makes a difference. All this makes a difference.

When I tell people I'm a writer, a common response I get (and one that really irritates me) is something along the lines of, "Oh, I've always wanted to write a book but I never have the time."

As if I have 30 hours in a day, while you get 24? We all have 24 hours in a day. We all have lives. Some may be busier than others, granted, but time is not something that just falls into our laps.

Make time for the things that matter. But there needs to be a balance.

Yes, make time for your writing. But you can step away from that for a minute. Sometimes you need to step away from that for a minute.

Be still. Breathe. Pray. Talk to your mom, to your dad, to your family. Text your friend. Go for a walk. Smile. Laugh. Breathe.

Live.

Who has the time, you say?

You do. Right now.

You will always have your stories. But you won't always have your family and friends. You won't always have the power to stay healthy. Take advantage of what you have right now, and use the time God has given you.

Your stories will still be there. Your family and friends might not. So go live.


Do you struggle with balancing your time? What are your thoughts on it? 

<3

Guest Posts

In Which I Hijack Stan and Uncontrollably Reference Musicals (Don’t Tell Anyone), Then Congratulate You For Reading THIS ENTIRE POST (after breaking all the title rules ever)

6:00 AM

So, true to my nature, I’ve tricked you.

*distant noises of Hannah and Stan locked in a dusty closet, begging to be let out*

This post was not what you thought it would be. I told Hannah I was going to talk about having a place in the world. My exact words were: “I want to write about how everyone has a place in the world and you can use whatever you're doing to make a positive impact - not sure quite how to phrase that in a condensed form lol but yeah!”

I suspected I might do this to you. To myself.

Shush, don’t tell anyone.

I’m actually going to talk about secrets. (See above: the thing you’re supposed to be doing with my shenanigans). But first, lemme introduce myself.

I’m Caroline Meek, artist of many forms. I write speculative fiction and various kinds of poetry, and have recently taken to Spoken Word. My place of permanent residence is over yonder at Of Stars and Ink-stained Things. I also have a huge heart for musical theatre (the world will NEVER be wide enough for my love…), instruments (piano, guitar, ukulele), and singiiiiinnnggggg - I sing *nonstop*, basically. This year, I’m a senior at a public high school - though I was homeschooled for ten years of my life and still consider myself as such. I TURNED 18 ON THURSDAY!

Anyway, enough about me. Wasn’t this supposed to be about keeping secrets?

Right. Shush.

(here marks the part of the post where I stop joking around and wax poetic)

((and if you read till the end of the post, seriously, I love you))


Sometimes, you gotta keep a secret. They say that secrets don’t make friends, buuuut… I mean, who needs friends anyway? Just kidding. Sometimes, the greatest friend you need is yourself.

As artists - whether it be of word or sight - we WAY TOO OFTEN get caught up in creating things to be shown to the world. Shown, appreciated, commented on, paid for, hung up in a gallery, framed, praised….you get the idea.

Think of the last thing you created just for...yourself. Think of the last time you made something without wondering what your audience would think about it.

Some would argue, what’s the value of art if no one sees it?

Well that, my friends, isn’t a valid argument, because YOU see it.

And God, of course. I say keep secrets from EVERYONE, but of course you can’t keep secrets from God, so technically it’s you and God in on the party.




Your creations can go rotten from over-exposure.

Or rather, that piece of your heart dedicated to creating. If you constantly create things for other people, you stop being true to yourself. You stop creating from your heart, and start instead creating from the constant input you crave and receive.

Lol, I’m not saying to go become a solitary hermit in Southeast Madagascar and bury all your work in the sand……

But sometimes you need to keep a secret. Not everyone needs to be in the room where the magic happens. (omg these references are too much for me)

Everyone should have secrets.

Things you don’t tell others, or show others. An ordinary thing you do in secret and let have extraordinary significance. Because that way, you don’t have the pressure of succeeding in front of others. If you mess up, no one will know. You can let the art ripen (but not quite like that gorgeous banana up there), and bloom inside your chest and let it inspire you. You don’t always have to project for others.

I’m not saying to always do this. And maybe, you’ll do something in secret and at the end, show someone. Or show the world. But do let yourself slip into the trap of production for the sake of recognition.

My dear, God recognizes you. And yes, that’s enough. Don’t just say it is. Really believe it. It’s not enough to say it, then proceed with posting ten pictures of it on twitter for people to see and approve of. Our Father’s opinion really does matter and sometimes we need to stop and really believe it. After all, He created us, He should know.

So stop comparing. (Because that’s what comes from so much creating for an audience. There’s always someone who does it better. And so it becomes a game, not an art.)

So stop performing for the world. (Unless you’re in theatre. But you know what I mean.)

Here’s my challenge for you (not gonna keep this one a secret, sorry, you need to know):

Start a secret for yourself.


Doesn’t have to be today, tomorrow, but sometime, please...give yourself a secret or two to hold on to. Don’t even tell anyone you have a secret.

Thanks for listening, guys.



Come visit me at Of Stars and Ink-stained Things! <3 I blog about similar stuff...well no, not really. I honestly just blog about any random thing that commandeers my noggin. Oops. But I promise, it’s usually related to writing or art or God or books or life or---yeah. You know.

Aaaaand now - - -

CONGRATS FOR READING THE WHOLE THING!

…..I just finished writing this, and reread Hannah’s last post, and realized that this is the first guest post ever. Oh my, no pressure. NO PRESSURE, RIGHT? Cause I’m not performing for this world, just myself and a few lovely writerly penguins on the Internet with me, right? <3

Aaaaand I also just realized that this was my first guest post ever. How fitting. Wow. Go me. That wasn’t at all awkward like I thought it might be.


PS - if you are a fan of a certain musical referenced maybe a few hundred times in this post, PLEASE shout at me. Sorry if I got out of hand.


And…

One last time, thanks for reading. ;)

~Caroline



*casually lets Hannah and Stan out of their little prison*

~~~

*brushes dust off clothes* Hannah here! *coughs* 

Well. That was lovely! Thank you again, Caroline, for writing this for Stan! We really appreciate it! And I hope some of my lovely stalkers were as blessed reading this as I have been! Go write something for yourselves, lovelies! <3 

(PS. I have a secret. It's kind of a secret. Sort of. But I've been pondering sharing part of it with you and I just might ... *sly grin*)

Caroline will be around for a bit today to chat with you guys, so leave her all the comment love! <3


Do you need to keep some secrets? (Shushhh, don’t tell me what they are.) Do you have any hermit relatives in Madagascar whom I could move in with? (Oh wait, they probably wouldn’t answer your request…) What have you been learning about your creative process lately?

Capture the Heart of your Story

6:00 AM

WHO’S DOING NANOWRIMO?

I AM I AM I AM.

I AM VERY EXCITED.

LIKE.

INSANELY EXCITED.

Ehem. *tries to regain some semblance of composure*

I am totally going to plan a fun, interactive inspiration post thing to get all your lovely creative brains working on the stories that you’re planning and pumped for nano. Send alllllll da plot bunnies hopping because I am just totally amazing like that.

But today, I’m going to talk about capturing your story’s heart so you don’t lose hope and love for it. So I need to calm down. Get serious. Right. Ehem. Let’s give this a go.


(look at me, being all artsy and taking my own photo)

Right now, I am taking a break from editing (I took off all of August and will start back the second week in September). I have plenty to do while I’m not writing, but I have been planning The King’s Vow, the sequel to my WIP which I plan to write for NaNoWriMo (*screams quietly*).

I don’t know about you guys, but planning is one of my favorite parts. I bet you can guess why.

Butterflies.

When you’re planning your book, there are already a few potential problems but nothing’s set in stone (or paper - heh. heh.) yet. The problems that you’re fairly certain will arise haven’t done so yet, and you have this blissful freedom of not worrying about it.

A big Thing that can help you after you start writing/have written that project that was so beautiful in your head, is by recalling what the butterfly looked like. What it made you feel. Before, you know. You brutally slaughtered it.

I haven’t had a nice, good list post in a while. So here’s a list for you.




1) Remember the essence of your story.


Capture the essence of your idea before you try to wrangle the whole thing. Capture those beautiful, intriguing words/phrases that make your story what it is.

This is similar to the idea I mentioned in my love your book again post a while back. You can make a list or you can even write a journal entry of what this story means to you and what you want it to become. Write that down before you lose it in the technicality and messiness of the writing/editing process. It’s never too late to find it again, but it’s a lot easier if you do it before you even start.



2) Remember the potential you saw in it.

What first sparked the idea? Write it down. What made you start writing it when you did? Write it down. What pieces brought together the heart of your main character? Write it down. Write it all down.

Another reason writing all this down is so important, is that when you’re deep in the thick of the second draft (*cough cough* I feel yah pain, by the way. *dies*) and your characters/plot/ideas/etc., are giving you issues, it is so helpful to look back and see what it was at the beginning. Even if you can’t keep any of it, you’ll be able to see just how far you and this story have come, and that is so rewarding.



3) Remember why you started writing it

These points are all fairly similar, I know. But I want to stress each of these.

The essence of your story. The beginnings of your plot, main characters, themes, etc.

What made you choose them? What made you go that way? There are soooo many ways you can take a story. So many paths you can follow. So many different butterflies to try to catch. What drew your eye to these particular ones?

If you can put it into words, write it down. And if you can’t be coherent, that’s okay. Write down what little you can. Trust me: when you’re struggling to remember why you are writing this story in the first place, looking back and seeing what your mindset was before the craziness of writing and edits happened will help you restore your perspective. You can look at it again almost as you did before, when it was still a floating, fluttering, beautiful little butterfly in the garden of your beautiful mind.



These are hard questions, I know. But they are so worth asking. When writing, we want our hearts to be in it. The right mindset is the key to putting your heart into your story again.

And don’t stress! If you’ve already written your story and are reading this thinking, IT’S TOO LATE FOR ME WAHHHHHHHH, then you shut your trap right now.

It is never too late.

It is never too late to capture the heart of your story. Just think back and do your best to remember.

Why? Why are you writing this? What story is demanding to be told?

Find it. Find it so you can remember to love your story, and remember why.

And then write.




Next week I have a very special surprise for you. The first ever guest post on Stan!!! (You'll never guess who it is.) I don't know her topic yet, but I'm sure it will be inspiring and enlightening and you will love it and her.

Meanwhile, pray for me that I don't DIE because I'm going to be competing in the Bible Bowl, a massive event that still scares me. 

Are you doing nanowrimo this November? Do you know what you're going to write for it? Have you started planning it? What are some of your favorite things about the story your planning, or your WIP? 

<3 

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