Tag Archives: Writing Exercises

Mood Swings


by Lillian Csernica on May 9, 2013

Over the years I’ve discovered that I write the best when I’m in either a really high mood, or the absolute abyss.  Am I bi-polar?  No.  Does my mood vary like this on a daily basis?  The short answer to that one is no.  Most of the time I’m chugging right along in that combination of happy about some things/worried about other things/gonna kick somebody’s ass about that one thing.  This means I’m thinking about too many different things at once, which makes it hard to get my energy together in that mental space called the “creative trance.”

Am I advocating jacking up your mood or getting really depressed?  Of course not.  For centuries writers have tried doing that by artificial means, and while some of them produced some lasting pieces of really memorable writing, many of them destroyed their talent, their minds, and their lives.

(Yes, there’s a fine line between creativity and mental imbalance.  Sometimes they go hand in hand.  We’ll talk about that another time.)

There are some things you can do to get yourself in the mood for writing that are not dangerous to your physical or mental well-being.  Music is the first example that springs to mind.  When I was writing my very first novel, a fantasy novel where I alternated chapters between the two main characters, during the writing of the one character’s chapters I blasted “The Best of Berlin” over and over again.  When I was writing a section of SHIP OF DREAMS where Alexandre contemplates all the losses in his back story that made him turn pirate, I kept playing U2’s “With or Without You.”  And for those days when I’m feeling sluggish and don’t want to apply myself, I crank up Pat Benatar and in minutes I’m so wired I can’t type fast enough.

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned chocolate.  Oh yeah.  Please see What Fuels My Writing for my thoughts on chocolate as the writer’s friend.

What does it for you?  What puts you in the mood to write the sad standing-by-the-casket scenes?  What gets you all happy and jazzed so you can write that intense chase scene?  What helps you shut out all the tedious little daily distractions so you can be fully present in your writing mind?  Think about it.  Keep a mood journal.  There’s nothing like tracking habitual data in an empirical format that will show you patterns you didn’t know existed.  This could help you pinpoint your best times of day, noise levels, quality of light, all these details.  Figure out the environmental factors that support your creativity and productivity so you can recreate them at will!

Wannabes think, “Oh, I have to be in the mood to create.”  Serious writers and artists figure out how to put themselves in that mood and make the most of it.

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Filed under Depression, fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Writing

R is for Roughdraft


by Lillian Csernica on April 19, 2013

So you wanna write a novel. Fifty thousand to one hundred thousand words. Two hundred to four hundred pages. That’s a serious mental marathon. How do you train for it? How do you build up the stamina, the will power, the sheer endurance to live through every single day it’s going to take you to get to that final draft? That final, polished, perfect manuscript?

Don’t worry about it. Don’t even waste energy asking the questions.

The roughdraft is exactly that. The rough, messy, incomplete, scribbled-on first version of your story. This is where you let yourself go wild. Push it as hard and as far as you can. Throw in anything and everything that sounds good at the moment you’re writing. You’re riding that wild stallion called Creativity. Keep a light hand on the reins and just go where it takes you.

You’ve got the idea. You’ve got the plot, or at least part of it. You’ve got characters. Most of all, you’ve got the excitement. That’s where you start. Writing isn’t a linear process, not for most of the writers I know. You don’t just go from Page One straight through to The End.  Start where the passion is, where you see and feel and hear the story coming alive.

I once had a little note stuck to the side of my keyboard. On it I’d copied a quotation: “You have to write SOMETHING before you can write something GOOD.” Give yourself permission to be that kindergartener discovering fingerpaints. Feel free to color outside the lines. You’re creating something new!  That’s an organic process. Just like all the messes we made when we were little kids, we can go back and clean it up later, right?

Enjoy the ride. 

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Filed under Blog challenges, fantasy, Fiction, Writing