Friday, April 29, 2011

Provocative Phrase Friday (Writing Prompts)

Here are just a few random phrases to get you writing. Enjoy!
  • It's nobody's fault...
  • When you get in your car...
  • Who is the mysterious man?
  • How crazy are you?
  • I was upset at first...
  • After 18 years in the lab...
  • You can find it...
  • Why can't we stop?
  • Back at the office...
  • What have you come up with?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday -- Reliving Childhood / Envisioning the Future

The last few days I have been taking advantage of my instant streaming library of Netflix and re-watching a few episodes of my favorite TV series as a child. Because of the profound Star Wars influence, I would watch anything with spaceships or laser guns (talking indestructible cars were pretty cool as well) and all of those shows were the greatest ever to my elementary school eyes: Battlestar Galactica, Galactica 1980 and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  But I'm noticing a pattern to these shows: 
Star field at my fingertips
  1. The writing and story lines were unbelievably horrible in most cases.
  2. These shows used a LOT of the same stock footage each and every week. 
  3. Also had very elaborate set and costume design using a LOT of extras in many of the episodes
  4. The future consists of lots of form fitting, colorful spandex (for both men and women), weird-shaped glass containers, and smart-ass computers / robots.
So today's Writing Topic Tuesday gives you some interesting topics to remember the past and look forward to the future:
  • What did you like to watch on television as a child? How did it influence you?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?  Are you that person now? If so why not?
  • What year seemed to  be the "far-off future" to you? How does that compare to the actual time now?
  • What was your vision of that future? Did it have: Robots? Flying cars? Cloaking devices? Transporters? Tourism in outer space? What did you expect to see by that date?
  • What do you think the year 2111 will look like?

Think about these and WRITE!

Friday, April 22, 2011

(The Return of) Provocative Phrase Friday - 10 Writing Prompts

I discovered that one of the search terms for this blog is number one on Google: Provacative (yes, indeed, it is spelled wrong) so somehow I've managed to make not one but SEVERAL posts in the distant past with a misspelling in the title.  Yay me!

Anyway, I've decided to relaunch the Provocative Phrase Friday to provide my readers with thought provoking phrases or ideas to fire the imagination or attack a stubborn writing block.  This weeks phrases are those that I've cut out of various old magazines that I've picked up at library giveaways or I've subscribed to over the years.

So, here are the provocations for Friday, April 22nd:
  1. Now, a word about...
  2. You can't believe everything you hear.
  3. ... doesn't make much sense either...
  4. How you'll feel without...
  5. On the other side of the hallway...
  6. An expert at outrage...
  7. ... has a new look...
  8. I'm sorry for your loss.
  9. Dollar for dollar, it turned out to be a bargain.
  10. How I did it...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Muse Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield

This book is one of the best books I have EVER read on the nature of struggle in the creative process. In short, this book will provide me material to write numerous blog entries both here and in my other blog, The 15-Minute Writer for the next several weeks, if not months.

First of all, I love, love, LOVE the title.  The clever play on words caught my attention… I mean come on The Art of WarThe War of Art? Great stuff.  The book is arranged into three sections: Resistance, Battling Resistance and Beyond Resistance. Within these sections are brief one to three-page essays about the aspects of the Resistance that dwells within every writer and most of the rest of the world. Short, direct writing illustrates each point.
This book does something that has never been done before… at least in my mind it hasn’t, which is that it defines the true essence of the Inner Critic.  If you are not familiar with this name you've experienced it: That nagging voice in the crevices of your mind who whispers doubts in your ear when you sit down to confront the blank page. It says things such as:  “This is stupid. Why are you wasting your time? Who do you think you are? Why would anyone want to read this sh!@.” And on and on. Natalie Goldberg calls this “Monkey Mind.” Others call it writer’s block. Still others call it “untapped potential.”  Regardless of what name you give it, it is the essence of Resistance.

Pressfield pulls no punches when writing about Resistance.  It is the enemy.  And you are at WAR. (Hence the substance behind the clever title for the book.)
“Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing… Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to out soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” p12
I've highlighted quotes on almost every page of this book.  All excellent insights and all worthy of exploration. This book is required reading for anyone who wants to write, paint, start a business, lose weight, or commit yourself to a life of service to others. Anyone who has:
"experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work that you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be."
I think that this covers everyone on the planet. The message of this book is universal: Resistance is a cunning and ruthless enemy who does not give up ground easily.

Case and point:  I read this book for the first time almost a YEAR ago. I loved it so much that I felt that I needed to read it again, so I started rereading it on Monday.  I even had a first draft of this post written on 4/27/2010, but failed to finish it up until now. Relaunching the blog was in my mind for the last 2 years, but again and again I discovered new excuses why I couldn't begin: Kristen's grad school work load is busy and I need to help out more with the laundry and cooking; I need to read up on blog design since I can't format the text correctly; Overtime spent on urgent projects at work eat into my free time; There is so much in this book I don't even know where to begin (so it is easier not to start at all).

Resistance is real, and it kills the creative spirit or any urge to reach for something that makes you better. The War of Art helps you "know thy enemy" and how you must fight it.  Don't allow Resistance prevent you from reading this book. Get a copy today. 

Stay tuned for future Musings on this book. There is a lot to explore and discuss here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Writing Exercises from Foolsgold

Here are a few of the excellent writing exercise ideas from Foolsgold: Making Something Out of Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process:
  • What can I learn from... (page 27)
  • Ask life expanding questions everyday... begin with the words: "I wonder" (page 48)
  • What do you collect now? As a child? Why do/did you collect these things? (page 58)
  • "What in your life, your body, your job, your business, your world, is dammed up that needs freeing? What beliefs or ideas or judgments have you been holding that might need to be released? It may well be ideas you feel sure about. A position you're proud to hold. You might want to write, 'I believe [list five things] because…'" (page 89)
  • "Where in your life do you feel boxed or fenced in?" (page 155)
  • "What's breaking your heart?" (page 197)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Muse Review: Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process

I was really looking forward to reading Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process, since one of her other books, poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, is one of my all time favorites. I wanted to see what Wooldridge's take on creativity would be and if it could help me with the book I am working on.

It disappointed me and didn't deliver. The sub-title, Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process is somewhat deceiving.  It spends plenty of time discussing her creative ideas, but not very much about her creative process. I also think this would have been stronger if she explored how other creative individuals approached the process.  What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for a different person.

It does have nice, lyrical writing throughout the book and does produce a few good writing exercise ideas (to be covered in another post later in the week).
Rating ** (Borrow It from the Library)

About Ratings: ***** -- Well Worth it at Full Retail Price; **** — Buy on Sale/Discounted; *** — Buy Used; ** — Borrow It from the Library; * — Waste of a Good Tree