Category: Writing

Procrastination – Enemy of the Writer

 

One of the biggest distractions for any writer, is the triple headed beast, social media. It is evil incarnate, sucking authors into a dark abyss, a stench filled place that takes every ounce of determination to fight and climb back to the surface and towards the proverbial ‘light’.

Well, maybe it is not that bad, but let us face the truth and the facts, none of us are immune to social media. Why? Because the un-necessry stuff we learn about other people is interesting and gives us something to giggle about and write about. 

Facebook:

Gossip Central

The battery in my car died, look I have  a paper cut. 

Instagram:

Vanity Shots

Look coffee, look food, look alcohol.

Twitter:

Word Challenge

This word limit sucks. 

Pintrest:

Pin Boards Galore

Oh I can collect bolts.

There is so much more, but you really do get the gist of it, and why it can swallow a chunk of your precious writing time.

Steven Pressfield, in War of Art says,

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I with our big brains and our tiny hearts who doubt and overthinking and hesitate.”

Pressfield believes that it is hesitation in the form of ‘resistance’ that causes the writer to stop from moving forward. This resistance is a villain made up of “fear, self-doubt, self-sabotage,” and can manifest itself like an ever changing chameleon in a multitude of wicked forms. The sole purpose of this chameleon, is to stop you form achieving your goal – writing. Thrown right in there with this ‘resistance’ is none other than, overthinking.

Did you know that around 20% of people avoid tasks which they believe are difficult, thus taking monumental steps to do anything but the one thing that needs completion. Why? Because they overthink, and by doing so they move deeper into procrastination. 

So how does one move out of the procrastination faze?

With two things that counter balance motivation. 

COMMITMENT and DISCIPLINE.

Yes we have all seen a bazillion blogs and books about motivation, but motivation is only part of the process. To fulfil the idea we need commitment and discipline.

  • MOTIVATION is something that gives us the impetus to act.
  • COMMITMENT is the promise of engaging oneself in the act.
  • DISCIPLINE is the rule that sets controlled behaviour in order to develop, improve and finish the act that was inspired by the motivation in conjunction with the promise made to oneself.

Discipline is embedded in commitment. Commitment is the time allotted to one’s work on a daily basis. Discipline is the act of completing what one has committed to.

In my crazy brain all of this makes sense. I do hope it has hit a cord with some of you. Honestly, we could all do with less social media (a.k.a procrastination) and do better with more time committing and being disciplined in writing our stories. 

 

 

 

Note: All images paid for and downloaded from Shutterstock. 

About Nothing - McGuffin

I have been writing and scrapping posts all day and then it hit me, mid sentence, write about the McGuffn, the nothing that moves a story or movie along. Best example of a McGuffin is Seinfeld – a whole show dedicated to nothingness.

So what is the McGuffin?

…powerful piece of nothingness or hook that drives the story forward and keeps the viewer engrossed and pinning for the outcome…

The McGuffin is a powerful piece of nothingness or hook that drives the story forward and keeps the viewer engrossed and pinning for the outcome, only to be diverged and thrown on another path. In other words it is a plot device that leads nowhere. In my book Phantasma, I use a seedy character named Tom as the McGuffin. He is the nothing I created to lead the heroine to the ‘call to action.’ Everything about him is left un-answered, intentionally. 

As I mentioned above, Seinfeld was nothing but a BIG McGuffin. I think the creators of this show were very clever indeed and knew exactly what they were doing and how to hook an audience. Artistically, they introduced the McGuffin that drove the show forward and then veered in another direction, by dropping the McGuffin without the audience even realising.

 

…the question of what is buried in the garden – the McGuffin that keeps the audience pinned…

Hitchcock coined the term McGuffin and was a master in using it. He enticed viewers and drew them in, a good example is ‘Rear Window,’ and the question of what is buried in the garden? We never find out because it’s the McGuffin that keeps the audience pinned until it’s dropped. At some point in all suspense, thrillers, and comedies the McGuffin becomes the insignificant factor and is all but forgotten, allowing the first and second acts to build to the climatic crescendo of the third act.

Hitchcock was also talented in drawing out the McGuffin, in order for the third and final act to carry more impact. I like this idea because the audience leaves the movie with the final climax still in mind, and with it, all the makings of a successful, suspenseful and memorable film.

I hope you all enjoyed this little bit of nothingness.

Greek Gods and the Olympics: From Myth to Reality

When we explore the birth of the Olympic games we come across several foundational legends that are embedded in myth, naturally Zeus sits in the epicenter of it all, but on the outer rims we are introduced to the heroes that contributed to the Olympic spirit and formation. Having said all this we cannot however, form one general assumption on the mythological beginning and history of the games, because evidence stems from more than one stratum. It is wise to commence with the early myths and work our way forward in order to establish how the Gods might have contributed to the very fundamentals that constituted the onset of the Olympic games. Bear in mind that the Greek myths were a shifting paradigm, one that moved fluidly with the ideologies of the Ancient Greeks.  

GREECE – CIRCA 1960: A stamp printed in Greece from the “Olympic Games, Rome” issue shows sprinting, circa 1960. (Image purchased from Shutterstock)

In the 13th Century BCE on the hill of Kronus, the early immigrants made sacrifices at the altar of Gaia and preformed rituals in honour of the goddess. Festivals were held in honor of the fertility goddess because the people believed that land its self was connected to the gods and goddesses and everything around them arose directly from the gods.

In the 12th Century BCE, the Achaeans arrived from the north and laid claim to the area then the worship of the goddesses disappeared and in their place the great Olympian father, Zeus was instituted. One myth tells the story of how Zeus cast a thunderbolt and it landed at Olympia, and there where the bolt scorched the earth, a temple was erected to honor him.

The Ancient authors that have gifted us with their literary works wrote their accounts many centuries after the commencement of the Olympic games.  One of the Western Canonical poets Pindar, attributes the foundation of the games to the legend of Hercules. The myth goes a little something like this; one of Heracles labors was to clean the stables of Augeas which where never cleaned and several feet deep in animal dung.  So Hercules bargained with Augeas that if he should clean the stables in a day he would receive a tenth of Augeas cattle. Augeas agreed, believing that it would be unmanageable. Hercules accomplished his task by diverting a near by river through the stables. Augeas refused to pay Hercules, so he killed Augeas and his sons and took all the spoils to Pisa. There he carved a sacred precedent in honour of his father Zeus. The best items from the picking were offered as dedications to Zeus and hence the birth of the Olympic games commenced. Whilst this is not the only version of a foundational myth, it does claim more popularity than some of the more gruesome myths. 

Athletics were an integral part of Greek society and all that it encompassed because it was an act of worship, by participating the athletes were honoring the gods. Religion was the focus of the games and the most important part was the sacrifice, which took place on day three of the festival.  A procession would walk through Olympia and to the temple of Zeus where a multitude of oxen would be sacrificed. In the evening they would burn the oxen as offerings to the god Zeus, this was followed by a banquet for all the attendees. The games ran for five days and included; boxing, wrestling, discuss and running.  These games were a competition of greatness. There was no second or third status, only the position of one victor. To succeed meant that brutality was a given in the process but not without structure and rules. Winning was everything because the victor received more than the olive wreath upon his head. The winner would be seen as a demi-god. The victor’s home city would bestow on the winner honours fit for a king, a life time pension, olive oil supplies, seats at the theater and many other privileges including that of a priesthood if the victor desired it.

The olive wreath also known as kotinos was the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games. (Image purchased from Shutterstock)

To illuminate how the Ancient Greeks saw and participated in the Olympic games we must understand that they were an extremely competitive society, who were driven by excellence and there was no room for second best. The Olympic games were one of the oldest Greek festivals, people travelled from every corner of the Ancient world to participate in a five-day event that showcased sporting brilliance.

The modern day Olympics also brings together Athletes and people from all over the globe. For the duration of the games people cheer each other on in good spirit and support. The Ancient and modern athlete share one thing in common; they are both worshiped as something divine, with the distinction being the ancient athlete was given a wreath and material provisions and the modern is awarded with a gold medal and sponsorship. There is an un-doubtable echo that the victors today are also seen as sporting demi-gods.

The Writer's Journey - My Story - Part 2

There are a multitude of thoughts that run through an author’s head during the plotting, writing, editing, polishing, re-writing, and repeat over stage. Light the barbecue was and endless reel that ran in intricate and complex stream over and over in my mind. It consumed me in that, I became sick of my own story and it is terribly dangerous when you fall in that pit. Climbing out of this bottomless pit is harder than running a marathon. 

 I had fallen out of love with my story

After my ‘rejection’ moment.  I went back to the proverbial drawing board. A dear friend offered to work with me. I learnt a great deal from her but I had fallen out of love with my story. At the time I did not understand why I felt that way. My conscious mind was screaming that my muse had left the building and she wouldn’t be back anytime soon. I persevered and made changes and then made the decision to pitch my book at conference for the second time. I got two requests and followed through. Remember that was 2012. I have given up on waiting for a rejection. 

all the little lights in my brain went bling, bling, bling. Times square’s lights had nothing on what was going on inside my brain.  

In 2013 I decided that I would pitch at the US conference. Again two requests one from an Agent and from a Publisher. Waiting – nah – I am a veteran in ‘non response.’ The best thing that happened at the 2013 conference, that shone the stadium lights on everything, was a twenty five page critique with an awesome and amazing author, who read my drivel and gave me solid feedback. When she explained, all the little lights in my brain went bling, bling, bling. Times square’s lights had nothing on what was going on inside my brain.  

On the flight home from Atlanta to Australia I tore the manuscript to pieces. It was a love hate relationship.

From: http://i.giphy.com/rIIsuUflbjvX2.gif

In 2014 I asked another dear friend if she would edit me. “Yes,” she said. But that same year I decided that I needed to feed the academic beast that had reared its head and would not subside. So that process was thrown on the back burner as I struggled with pressure of full-time study. My book would have to wait for a little longer.  No harm in that right?

WRONG!

The guilt I felt for not progressing cut deeply into my muse and opened a gigantic fissure of doubt that I feared I would not ever return from. I bleed for a long time. I was annoyed mostly with myself for not giving it my 110%. Out of my anger I turned to the inner self for answers and that is when I remembered. I wrote this in 2010 about the writerly-self,

Writerly – Self-evaluation –  the reflection process and learning that happens whilst writing. 

Self-confidence –  belief that allows the writer to master challenges and obstacles in order to accomplish and execute what they ventured out to do.

Self-awareness – recognition of strengths and weaknesses within the writing.

Self-fulfilment – reaching and attaining the goal of a finished novel/work which brings happiness and satisfaction to the writer.

Self-enlightenment – the knowledge of the divine connection of the writing to the self.

Believably, these are all sides of self that a writer will consider and which will evoke a deeper thought in methodologies and approach in the expedition of writing. This depth fuses the understanding of the developing writerly-self.

Soul searching is a way of tapping into our inner strengths.  By understanding ourselves completely we begin to understand how we can bring our inner understanding to our writing thus be able to project our strength onto the blank page that can be the ever daunting stumbling block or thorn in our side.”

I understood why I was struggling at every twist and turn – I had been trying to sever myself completely from the writing. To detach my psyche from my body. To disjoin that which was me from the text. I had spent too much time listening to what and how I should be doing things rather than taking the path that was specifically tuned to me and to me only. This was my baby and it needed nurturing from me and me alone. 

Next week the final piece of this condensed journey –

What a fresh pair of eyes from an editor can do.   

Till then big smiles everyone, Efthalia

 

The Writer's Journey - My Story - Part 1

When I started out to write my first Paranormal/Fantasy/Romance novel, I was fresh out of having finished my Master of Arts in Writing degree. I thought that I could virtually rule the world. Put a sword in my hand and I could slay dragons, the likes that we read in medieval literature. In modern terms Ironman had nothing on me. How utterly bombastic and delusional I was. The universal truth slapped me upside the head sideways and in Greek style.

How utterly bombastic and delusional I was.

I knew nothing about the publishing industry, something that continues to baffle me and amaze me at the same time. But that new knowledge of knowing how little I knew, as Socrates would have said if he were around today, drove me to learn, to immerse myself in the art and craft of creative fiction. Something that non writers often think is an easy task. My evil side wishes I had a cricket bat for every time I am told that anyone can do it. 

That same year I got my first rejection

Back to me, so sword swinging I took the leap and went to my first Romance Writer’s Conference, the best thing I ever did, in 2011. The workshops were an eye opener and the speakers motivational and inspiring. Under the influence of my new found friends which I met in the cyber sphere of RWA’s chat room, I pitched my book. I got a request for the full manuscript. I came back from conference and sent my book. That same year I got my first rejection. I didn’t grovel or cry. I felt elated. Why? Because I got feedback and feedback is the most nurturing nourishment that a newbie author needs. To this day I am grateful for that feedback. It pointed out my strengths and weaknesses and I required that as much as I need chocolate and baklava. 

The lesson for me that year was that I had something to work with. Truth is you can not re-write, edit or fix something that isn’t written.  

next week – fixing your MS vs BBQ fuel. .

Warmest, Efthalia