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.