Being with a writer

Being married to a writer is not easy. For supplemental evidence look-up the words divorce and author in google. There is one thing that might help though. Understanding.
1. Not everything is about you, not everything is about your writing spouse/significant other. More times than not the writer is stuck in What if mode, observing a peculiar person or group of people, or even looking at a building sideways to see it in a different way.

2. When an idea strikes, it is like trying to ignore hot coals on your feet. More than once I have had to drop otherwise important grownup things to write something down.

3. You will never be the only other person in the room. Writers are often people who over analyze everything. Situations that would normally be peaceful conversations turn into long pauses between sentences, breaks from eye contact, and the widening of the eye’s related to your writer being somewhere else entirely. “What would this character do in this situation?”

4. You are the reason we are able to express ourselves this way. Writing when you are totally alone is torment. There really is nothing better than hearing about that troublesome customer for the fourth time when the world is consumed with drama, violence, or stress.

5. We fall into our stories. It is your job to help us know when to pull back. My wife put up with me falling into a story for 29 hours straight. I literally only got out of my chair long enough to use the restroom. Falling into our stories isn’t so bad though. The best things I have written were from a long trip into the characters world.

6. We keep weird hours. More than once, I have woke up and grabbed my notebook and began writing as something was clarified when my mind stripped away the school field trips, laundry, dishes, and other household chores.

7. We love you more than you will ever know. It is funny that someone who makes their living from words, suffers from the inability to express them verbally.

8. We have little time for the suck tube. If we had time to find out why one of those fake celebrities is getting divorced again, we wouldn’t have time to write. The TV really is one of the most horrible things in the USA for writers. You can change the channel five times and find the same plot with different characters on very different genre’s of TV show. We are more interested in a new idea from a book, quotes and ideas from our brothers and sisters making the music that fuels the mood of the story, and time spent people watching. I am sad to say to our beloved’s, but you too are people. We notice how upset you get when a known ego-centric jack monkey does exactly what you would expect them too.

9. There is a fine line between the unwritten writer and madness. The feeling that this story must come out isn’t some sort of platitude. It really must come out.

10. We can, and often will, lose a great story due to not being able to write it down. People may look at us funny as we take a notebook and pen on a date, stop in the middle of the mall to scribble down something important we just realized that may flesh out our character more, or write and walk at the same time. (to everyone I have bumped into this way, I am truly sorry)

In the end, if you take nothing away from this. Hot coals. It really is that imperative for us to express our ideas.

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Retaining Your Mental Faculties

My Mental Breaks
Sylvester the Party Cat

Sometimes, things run like ice on a hotplate. What do you do when they aren’t?

I have been writing at least five days a week for a year straight. I wasn’t aware this was something unusual. A friend who is starting NaNoWriMo for the first time asked how I managed to not fall off pace. I thought about it for a while before answering her. I hadn’t really thought about falling off pace. I just saw what I wanted to do and did it.

I realized after some reflection that I had built in breaks and helpful mental habits that kept me sane through this process. I play with the cat every day, and as you can see he is a real party animal. I play with the kids when they aren’t being teenagers full of the indignation of youth. I meditate every day to clear my head because it is good for my blood pressure. Most importantly, I actually talk to my wife. Not just about how her day was, but how she is feeling, what funny thing did she see at work, What made her day good/bad, etc.

Does this mean I am perfect? Not by a long shot. I get distracted by oh shiny internets all the time. I have just programmed myself to shut all of my devices off at the same time every night to write. If during my writing I have to look something up, I have a tab on my desktop that only opens duckduckgo.com so I am not blasted with messages from the social media I love so much.

All of these things started as something different. The single tab was originally just a bookmark I threw on my desktop for no particular reason. The cat has been my sparring partner ever since we rescued him. The meditation was to lower my blood pressure without so many medicines. Somehow all of the things fell together into a lucky, perfect storm for writing. So basically I am sharing my good fortune.

During NaNoWriMo I will not actively be participating this year, but I am going to take several of my friends struggling to find the time to write between house chores, kids, spouses, work, and every other thing that tends to demand their attention. I will be helping them with whatever works for them and sharing these same things with them. Write when you can, play when you need a break, just don’t let the breaks become your days. I wish everyone participating in this great month of writing a high word count, many met goals, and really fun characters to play with.

At the end of the day, it should be about if you are pleased with your outcome. If not make small changes. Large changes fall away, small ones are easier to stick with.

Finding time to think

Charles Colp
Finding Time

Every writer has their own method of getting past whatever roadblocks lay ahead. I love to meditate and do yoga. My oldest child who also is a writer, watches videos until an idea hits him. My youngest who has yet to start writing but can tell the most amazing stories, has decided to emulate me. I found it so funny I had to get a picture. he looked so serious about it I am sure he will pop a blood vessel if he tries any harder. I wanted to write this to remind everyone of a lesson I learned from my eight year-old. Don’t be so serious, don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t try so hard and just let it happen. If nothing else comes from this post you get a great picture of my little superman trying to meditate just being cute. Hope you all find time to think and plot and plan. 

No Worries,

Charles Colp

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Characters

When I write rough drafts, I continually ask what this character would really do in this situation. Today when writing, a character I had plans for was killed. It was not part of my overall plan. It was, however, a natural progression. I realized there was something I overlooked earlier and the remaining plot fell into my lap. Is anyone else ever shocked by what their characters do? Do you give them free reign?

Writing A Mentally Ill Character

Image

I have just begun a new serial involving a mentally ill antagonist. I had seven false starts, and weeks of research into her particular form of illness. I also chose to leave the door open to her not actually being delusional but still ill. It is the possibility of misdiagnosis that I feel will give more drama to the situation. The protagonist will have a lot to reconcile for himself, as well as suffer the consequences of his own fallacies. In my research I found so much variation in the disorder, that it has made much of my time fruitless. Of the twelve case studies I found, it appeared more like a catchall disorder for twelve very different people. What references do you prefer for medical insight for characters? I ended with a bit of an amalgamation of all twelve, as well as a childhood friend who was later diagnosed after a major break.  

Inspire me

I see this button with each post I publish. I get stuck and wish there was that button in my brain, then I found it. I started writing down random thoughts. Nothing as detailed as a character or plot device. Now when I get stuck I go back to my notebook. it is full of silly things I will never write. Sometimes though, I find a gem. I woke up one night with the thought in my head about a game I had played years ago. A phrase, that was never used in the game, popped into my head and made it into my notebook. “You’re only as insane as they are ignorant.” It has triggered an entire new story line for me and hopefully one that will sell. I love the characters and direction the story has taken, and hope others do as well. What inspires you? What jangles the writer in you, to get back on the keyboard, when you need to be up early? 

Planning ahead

I am the first to admit I am terrible at this. I will entertain the thought of getting ahead in my writing, then squirrel. We recently moved, as in there are still boxes piled around me as I type this. I had a four day long migraine, yadda, yadda, yadda.. I am sure I can come up with a hundred excuses. It doesn’t make them less valid. It also does not excuse my lack of planning ahead, writing ahead, thinking ahead. What besides self-imposed deadlines keeps you ahead in your work writing? Deadlines are my main mechanism, but I would love to hear other writer’s thoughts on this.

Moving day

Oh I wish it were just a day. It has been two weeks in the making. We still have so much more to do. I got ahead on my writing so I could get this done and focus on it. That would be my only writing advice on this post. Get ahead when you have to. It takes a lot off of you when you don’t add the deadline pressures on top of all the insanity of moving. The new place is much nicer, and I have my own office now. Yay. Pictures will appear in a future post after we get things settled. Until then, No worries. 

Charles Colp

A Simple Thank you

Charles Colp
Meditation

There are days that the emotions we put into our stories take their toll. A writer I am happy to have found, reminded me of the pitfalls that we hear of too often. By definition writers can be tortured souls, enlightened beings, and sacks of meat in the same window of time. We find the joys of life and find the words that fail others, we see the evil people and can describe the depths their souls are willing to plummet, and we can acknowledge the man who sat aside and did nothing because every decision was too painful. We can find an empathy in these conditions even when we don’t have them ourselves. Someone who has never entertained murder, cannot imagine what havoc this could play on the human psyche, except an artist. A writer is the artist of words and emotions.

I have met people who can write the darkest of passages and continue with their lives as if it truly doesn’t matter but these are rare. One of my favorite authors of a positive, selfless view of the human condition, took his own life in depression. Words have power, far beyond their meanings. They have the chance to shape a better world, to titillate us with stories of monsters we couldn’t imagine and the heroes that oppose them. Some are forever damaged by the ranges they allow themselves to feel. Others turn to drink and drugs to soothe the noise inside. These are the ones we all know and can recite by heart. True geniuses of the written word who sank into a bottle or learned to loathe their own being. It is the curse of creativity.

There is another way, though it takes discipline. It takes resolve. I was reminded yesterday by the aforementioned writer whose brilliant, simple answer reminded me of a path I have neglected too long. I forgot until tonight, how well simply being, meditating with no other thought in my head, can clear the excesses of the process and strip it down to what I needed. Insight is not free, it costs dearly, but you can pay it back with time, oneness, and peace.

I know many will take this as a bubbly cheer-leading post and resume that shot of whiskey. I write this more for myself than anyone else. Everyone here has something that works for them. Yesterday I was reminded of what dulled the edges of a sharp, sometimes barbed tongue for myself. It would be selfish of me not to share. That is one thing I have never been accused of and never will.

Tonight I meditate, thanks to another struggling author through her selfless words and quicker jokes. We all have lessons in life to learn. I am glad to find mine when I need them most. Thank you.

 

Charles R. Colp