Stress relief products for writers—cheap and effective!

drawing of a man in a field - stress relief products

Doodle number one. Using the graphic tablet. Hargh!

Writing can be incredibly rewarding. Especially when we have just finished, really finished a work, and congratulating ourselves for the feat.

Alas, writing can also be a grueling experience. I mean, there are days, at times even weeks, we seem utterly unable to find even the most basic word to convey the ideas floating about in our mind.

From this perspective it’s no wonder Kurt Vonnegut said when he wrote he felt like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.

It’s also no wonder that quotes like, There’s nothing to writing. You just open a vein and bleed abound. They are so full of drama and pathos we can hardly resist their charm.

Luckily, writers are an ingenious lot. I mean, otherwise how on earth could they come up with the gazillion ideas they then ferry onto a page? As a result, they can come up with many different ways to keep stress at bay. Really they don’t need to buy any stress relief products. Continue reading

Where do you get your ideas from? It’s quite a common question… but what about the answer?

Where do you get your ideas from? is probably one of those questions that writers are asked most often.

Unfortunately it’s also a loaded question. In fact, it uncritically assumes that ideas are sort of objects completely formed and ready to be used—maybe like objects sitting neatly on a shelf somewhere in a magic shop, all happily waiting for a writer to come by and choose one.

In reality ideas are made of the fuzziest substance in the universe: jumbles of often erratic human thoughts.

So much so that even if you ever managed to find a magic shop with a shelf full of ideas on sale, they would look like those things your mind sometimes dreams up. Continue reading

Character tags – how to make your characters more memorable

I must admit it from the very start. Unless the physical description has some bearing on the story, I don’t particularly care about such things like the color of a character’s eyes, her complexion, her height or whatever else.

I don’t care if the heroine has a shock of curly black hair or her head is instead as hairless as the ass of a two year infant.

As a result, also when I write I tend to keep descriptions as short and functional as possible to the story I’m telling.

I’m not alone in this. Les Edgerton, the author of Hooked, says he doesn’t particularly love physical descriptions in novels. Judging from their works, Elmore Leonard and Hemingway aren’t fond of detailed physical descriptions either. As for readers, many among them appreciate a somewhat restrained and parsimonious approach to physical descriptions. Continue reading

Addicted to books – my personal list of the best novels to read

addicted to booksOver the last three weeks, after moving, I’ve been busy doing small jobs around the house. Now that most of the tasks I had appointed myself with are ticked off, I’m pretty satisfied. Yet I’m also quite stressed out.

The number one reason for this situation is simple. During this period I read next to nothing. And now, given I’m addicted to books, like a junkie who desperately needs to score, I’m experiencing the usual withdrawal symptoms.

For example, I dream of books. Continuously. At night they appear in my dreams. No more pinups and bombshells for me. No more flying over the clouds–that’s for losers.

No, only books matter to me now. Fat books bursting with pages. Showing me their spines, still untouched, unwrinkled. Books full of stories to read and enjoy. Books alluringly flicking their pages to me, like peacocks. Books that leave me salivating like a Pavlovian dog.

Another symptom of my addiction to books is pretty apparent. These days I read everything I can put my eyes on. Automatically.

Truth be told I’m affected by this sort of illness since I was six. I mean, I read the notice in the lift over and over every time I use it and I’m alone in the car, or with some of those people who like it best when they keep their distance.

I also read every notice whenever I have to use a public bathroom. Those notices telling you how the water is perfectly sanitized and everything squeaky clean. Even if it looks like from the bowl of the toilet could emerge the monster from the lagoon any moment. Continue reading

A truly indissoluble bound: writers and coffee–and what it means for literature

coffee and writers

There’s nothing like a cup of coffee to start your day. That cup looks suspiciously like a teacup tough…

The link between writers and coffee has a long standing tradition. As detailed in Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, many among the most famous and accomplished writers in the world drink coffee, or used to, to fuel their creativity.

Søren Kierkegaard, Voltaire, L. Frank Baum, Margaret Atwood, Honoré de Balzac. This is just a handful of names. The list could go on practically forever.

Legend has it that Honoré De Balzac drank as much as 50 cups of coffee a day. Instead, Søren Kierkegaard used to pour into his coffee a staggering amount of sugar. This wasn’t exactly the most healthy of the eating habits. But, apparently, that sugar rush sharpened the philosopher’s mind beyond belief.

However, when we stop a second and consider how writers have always been particularly susceptible to addictions of one kind or another, this reliance of theirs on coffee looks far from unexpected.

After all caffeine offers a series of interesting perks, and only few minor drawbacks. For sure nothing as severe as any other kind of drug addiction, or alcoholism. Continue reading

A writer’s inspiration – Italian postcards

photographer with camera - writer's inspiration

Picture by PublicDomainPictures

We have all a mountain to climb. Sometimes we get to choose which mountain to challenge. Some other times we aren’t offered such a choice. But of one thing we can be sure. We have all to work our way up, no matter how high or how far the mountain top seems.

This is true when we start writing a new novel. This is true when we start a new story with someone we’ve just met. It’s true of happy periods and sad ones. We can only proceed one word after the other. One tentative step at a time. Really, often even the brightest people among us move like blinds groping in a dark room.

This is why it’s so important to keep in mind that the destination is only a small part of the journey, and that at every step along the way we can capture interesting snapshots. Continue reading

Sculpt your novel into existence the way you like it, but make sure you put a piece of your heart inside it

flowers- heart touching stories

Heart touching stories can change your life for good

Some heart touching stories are so well written that, as readers, we can’t but to feel grateful for having the opportunity to read them.

Indeed, there has been times when I’ve finished reading a book and remained there, staring into the distance at nothing in particular, just savoring that particular mix of joy, sadness, and wonder that for me is the natural hallmark of a great read.

One day, when I was in my teens, I let a friend of mine read a story I had written, and by the end of it she was crying. For me that episode was a revelation. For the first time I realized that using mere words I too could make other people feel what I felt.

But back then when I wrote I relied solely on instinct. I never planned my stories. As a result they were all a matter of hit or miss. Sometimes they worked nicely. Some others they showed a lot of promise and then petered out into yawning nothingness, like wet firecrackers. Yet some others sucked beyond belief.

It took me a while to grow tired of that erratic approach. But I ultimately set out to find a way to transform my natural style of writing into a more considerate one. The following is what I discovered. Especially about how to handle deeply emotional scenes. Continue reading