Mindful Writing

I found this interesting article on mindful writing that might interest my readers.

Writing (24 of 30)

Mindfulness is a technique that focuses on the “now” of your life – paying attention to what is going on around and within you at the moment, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

Here are the steps to the mindful writing exercise:

  • Set a timer for 30 minutes – the first few times you try this, you’ll be releasing a lot of what the writer calls “superfluous thoughts” – stuff like “This is stupid” or “I’m just wasting time” – stick with it and keep going for the full half hour
  • Try keeping your eyes closed – if you can’t touch-type, then leave them open – but do the exercise with pen and paper instead
  • At the end of each sentence, stop for one deep inhale and exhale – don’t try to think “positive thoughts,” but focus on a feeling of warmth and friendliness – the writer suggests aiming for that feeling you get when you look at a cute baby animal – if you fall asleep, don’t worry, you must have really needed the rest!

For this exercise, don’t begin with any concrete outcome in mind. Just sit down and start writing and breathing. You might try starting a gratitude journal or mindfulness essay.

As you become adept at this mindfulness exercise, your mind will stop feeding you useless thoughts like “I should be working on the novel” and start producing some real creativity for you.

Creating Characters

I’ve been invited to create a new character for the Western Fictioneers – something for the shared world of Wolf Creek. This is an 1872 town on the Kansas prairie, with characters created by a variety of authors. We’ve just published Book 16 and my new character will make his appearance in the next anthology.

LuckOfTheDraw_Cover

I thought I’d share a few tips on creating a new character, as I go through the process:

  • Start with┬áthe basics – first, you need to decide what gender, race and age your character is going to be. This may change later, but start with the basic information in mind so you have that general image.
  • Add details – decide how your character looks (at least the bare minimum of hair & eye color, approximate size, and anything unusual) and how they dress. Imagine the outer package for your character.
  • Pick a setting – where does your character come from? Where do they live and work? What do they do and how well do they do it? See your character in their natural habitat before you begin your story.
  • Fill out a chart (or two) – find one (or more) of those character charts … and you can’t go wrong with mine – just use┬áthe drop-down menu above, under Writer’s Toolkit! Fill out the chart(s) to learn about your character’s personality so you’ll know how they will act in your story.
  • Christen your child – once you can see the character clearly in your mind, it’s time to pick a name. By this time, you’ll know the sort of name that fits the character best, whether it’s a traditional name to match their ethnicity, a nickname, or something that describes their personality. My character chart also has a few links at the bottom to help you name characters.

And that’s how I came up with my new character, who’s going to be a sort of Junior Chance – young teens, mixed race, very intelligent, and a budding criminal mastermind. He’s going to serve as a connection between the different parts of Wolf Creek, running messages and selling information, performing tasks that may not be quite legal, and generally being a go-between when a citizen doesn’t want to (or can’t afford to) be seen in a certain part of town.

Use the Right Word

I’ve been skimming through some books lately, just browsing the genre. Most of what I’m looking at is obviously self-published because there are glaring errors that a professional editor would have caught and corrected. This is something that you can work on so that your books don’t come across as unprofessional.

Writing (24 of 30)

I found this helpful site from the Oxford dictionary, listing commonly confused words.

Another area where writers err is in commonly-heard sayings. One writer had me gritting my teeth every time she had her characters tell someone they “had another thing coming.” The correct phrase, of course, is “another think coming,” as in “If you think that, you’ve got another think coming.”

Here are some more commonly mis-heard phrases:

  • I could care less” – this means that you do care, and have more caring you could do. If you want to show your total lack of caring, it’s “I couldn’t care less.”
  • Nip it in the butt” – this would mean something’s backside is getting bitten. If you want to cut something out before it starts, you’d be “nipping it in the bud,” just the way you’d nip or pinch off a plant’s bud before the branch or flower forms.
  • For all intensive purposes” – this means your purposes are intense, which probably isn’t what you mean. “For all intents and purposes,” on the other hand, means in every practical sense.
  • “One in the same” – this would mean that something was inside another thing that was the same. If you want to say two things are no different, you say “one and the same.”
  • “Giving you leadway” – there’s no such word, though it sounds like the correct term. Leeway means room on the lee – or sheltered – side of something; in other words, enough room to pass or do what you need to do.