Friday, August 9, 2013

ADD and Writing Craft Weird: Writing without My Pants On AKA Winging It Wrong

I learned something new today.  If you have ADD, you do not want to be a panster--that is, a writer who wings it without an outline, a writer who writes by the seat of her pants.

Or at least, this ADD writer can't pants a story.

Because to my ADD brain, pantsing is the equivalent of a bird migrating without an internal compass, or writing without any pants on.  Left to its own devices, my brain fails to keep plot and characterization well-focused, self-explanatory, and consistent.  My thoughts are just not organized enough for that. Worse, once I type up and edit up too much of a story, the story becomes set in concrete.  And there are few things I hate more than cracking it, grinding it down to powder, and pouring it into a new mold.

That means I need to learn to do it right the first time.  And I need to learn from my mistakes (like I am doing here, thank God).

That being said, however, there is one area in which I can still pants.  And that is the idea stage, when I'm trying to figure out what story to tell.  A few paragraphs, a snippet, a vignette--all of these can give me material to work with, a concept I can now whip into the proper shape with some hard planning.

And you know what?  It's still fun.  You just spread your fun out.  There is a lot of pleasure to be found in discovering what comes next, in being surprised by your characters or story or the world you are creating. Pantsers derive most of that pleasure as they write.  But as an outliner, the pleasure comes in big doses during the planning stage and small doses during the writing stage.  After all, even with the strictest outline, I still have had character or story or world surprise me in some small way.

So in a nutshell, my advice to writers with ADD and even to those without?  Know your strengths and weaknesses, and then make sure you work from a position of strength, not the easy way or the way peer pressure guides you.  Work your way, and you will make your own success the first time around.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Writing Craft Weird: A Mainstay for Writers (X-Posted from Shades of Writing)

Bread was considered the staff of life at one time; nowadays, it is considered bad for people.  So I began to wonder what is the equivalent staple for writers and writing--what is one thing a writer cannot do without--and if people's opinions about this staple had changed over time.  So I hopped on Google in hopes of finding some writing techniques to blog about or elements of writing.  I was ready to type in those keywords.

Instead I typed in "puzzles help your brain."

Why?  Because my brain got ahead me, skipping back to an ad I had seen last week and what had happened as a result of the ad. 

This ad involved using brain exercises as part of the treatment of ADD and other cognitive disorders.  When I saw it last week, I thought why not give it a try, the cheap way?  So I bought a variety puzzle book that week.

Back to today.  My search turned up an interesting article by Marcel Danesi, "Brain Workout."  It had this quote worth pulling out:

The psychologists Sternberg and Davidson argued, as far back as 1982 (Psychology Today, Volume 16, pp. 37-44), that solving puzzles entails the ability to compare hidden information in a puzzle with information already in memory, and, more importantly, the ability to combine the information to form novel information and ideas. The thinking involved in solving puzzles can thus be characterized as a blend of imaginative association and memory. It is this blend, I would claim, that leads us to literally see the pattern or twist that a puzzle conceals. It is a kind of "clairvoyance" that typically provokes an Aha! effect.
That sounds a lot like creativity benefits to me.  So even if I don't see ADD benefits from my variety puzzles, I might see some other benefits instead.

And that wraps me back around to the point of this post.  The writer's mainstay probably isn't a technique or an element of writing, something that changes over time as literature and culture changes.  Rather, it is in the brain.  It is in its creativity.  So it is important to treat the brain right, feed it right, and I'm going to try to do that through brain exercises.

(X-Posted from Shades of Writing)

Musing on Blogs

I go through phases where I like a lot of compartmentalization.  Then, I go through phases where compartmentalization just becomes an excuse to not look at whatever I blocked out.  To cut this musing to the quick, I'm considering collapsing my blog Shades of Writing into this one.  I wouldn't disappear that blog, but leave it up.  And eventually, I might return to it.  The thing is if I do this, that means the writing articles I will post on here will be different than the ones I would have posted on their.  That is, they would have to be more weird here.  Which is not a bad thing.

I think I'll go with it, and x-post my latest SoWr onto this blog.  Heck, if I don't like it, I can always go back, can't I?


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nature Weird: A Gathering of Walnut Caterpillars

One of my shades of weird is butterflies and moths and caterpillars.  In fact, I am working on a fantasy novel that centers around them (mostly around the black swallowtail).  And guess what we found today?  Caterpillars.  Gregarious.  Very gregarious.  In our tree.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Stone: Cover Artist Interview

 "Happy Stone," my latest short story, is now up on Smashwords and B&N.  Amazon and other vendors are coming soon.  Cheryl Casey Ramirez designed this great cover for me, and here is the interview we had.

1. You designed the cover for “Happy Stone,” turning a concept and a simple stone into a creepy, weird cover perfect for my story.  Can you give us a little information on the process?

I had looked at your website and noticed that your writing leans a little toward the diabolical, so I, even before you answered whether the stone needed a happy smile or a wicked smile, I was expecting wicked.
I browsed the internet for jack-o-lantern faces, because if you can make a pumpkin look wicked, you can make a rock look wicked.

I found a couple that I kept on my desktop for inspiration and then used the natural lines of the stone you sent to find the “eyebrows” and “eye sockets.” After that it was mostly a matter of using the painbrush tool on my software (I use GIMP rather than PhotoShop) with a sort of spackled setting to highlight and darken in all the right places.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I don't know what is more annoying--that I forgot to include cover copyright information when I uploaded LoDW to Smashwords and the 'Zon or that I didn't realize it until now.  Doh.  I'll work on a revised version tonight and hopefully it will trickle through by next week.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Squee: My First Blog Review! Lady of Deep Waters

I have to admit I'm a facebook n00b, so when I was looking at my Smashwords page for "Lady of Deep Waters," I saw that it had a couple likes.  I was trying to figure out who "liked" it so I could thank them, but I accidentally clicked it to "Like."  LOL.  Fortunately, I undid that.  After that I fled, trying to Google the information down.  Instead, I found a delightful surprise: my first blog review!

Here is the link:

I'm so happy.  I never expected such success from a little story that was going through a difficult "teenage" rebellion phase (in terms of writing time and stages).  I'm just glad I had such a great cover designer and critique group; they really helped me than I can tell.  So did Nicolette Andrews, who gave me my first review on Wattpad. That encouragement was a real boost, too.

Thanks everyone!