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Posts tagged ‘Neil Gaiman’

How to write from an animal’s point of view

To kick off National Poetry Month, I’m sharing a poem from my poetry book, “The Dragon & The Dragonfly.”

The idea for the poem came from a prompt to write from an animal’s point of view. I’d just read an article about my favorite author Neil Gaiman’s time in Tasmania helping with a documentary on the Tasmanian Cave Spider, so that’s the creature I chose.

How did the poem come together? Read more

Writing advice from a Tasmanian cave spider, or how to get your creative juices flowing

Ok, I lied. This post isn’t really about writing advice from a Tasmanian cave spider—more like life advice.

Hang with me for a moment. You’ll see what I mean.

After taking nearly a year off from writing poetry, I had an idea to kick start 2015 with the goal of writing two to three new poems a week for the month of January. But I wasn’t feeling very inspired. Some pretty heavy stuff was going on in my life, and I felt drained.

Then, a gift arrived in the mail.

My blogging partner Carly sent me The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, by Diane Lockward (I hadn’t even mentioned my goal to her…scary how we think alike, isn’t it?)

Now, I’m normally NOT a “prompt” person but being the good friend that I am, I felt I should at least flip through the book so I could extend my sincere gratitude to her. (Wink. Wink). Late one night, I dragged the book to bed with me and the strangest thing happened—the pages reached out and grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Hands down, best poetry craft and prompt book. Ever. Nine of the ten poems I’ve written so far this month were inspired by the book.

But what does this have to do with a Tasmanian cave spider? Read more

How to stay creative in an age of distraction

I love owning my own home-based business. I sleep until I’m done (mostly) and schedule my day any way I want. Can I take a day off to go shopping in my favorite little artist-colony town? You bet. Can I spend the middle of my day visiting with a friend? No problem.

What I find most difficult, believe it or not, is scheduling time to write. In my business, I get e-mails and phone calls on a daily basis that I need to respond to. Often, when I’m writing, I may hear the phone ring or see an e-mail has landed, and I’ll be tempted to answer it because it will “just take a minute.” Or, I may think it’s better to answer it now then have to return the call or email later.

This is a pitfall that I’m learning to avoid. It’s my big danger zone. Another danger zone is the whole social media distraction. You know: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. One second spent to check Facebook and twenty minutes later…you know the drill.

In Adam Popescu’s post “How Neil Gaiman Stays Creative in an Age of Constant Distraction,” Gaiman reveals that he sometimes uses social media like Twitter for a short break from writing. Read more

Does your protagonist have a life theme or motto?

At the beginning of each year, my writing partner Carly chooses a short phrase or sentence that she uses to remind herself of what she wants to focus on for the coming year.

She says she likes to keep the sentence short so it’s easy to remember and can easily be turned into a daily mantra. For the last several years, she’s developed a personal writing theme.

To read more about her idea, please read her posts, “My 2014 personal writing theme revealed,” and “Short story writing method reveals New Year’s theme.

I noticed while re-reading Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” that the main character Shadow has a motto that he lives by. In the first chapter, Shadow is in prison and we learn his survival motto is, “Keep your head down. Do your own time. Speak when you’re spoken to.” In other words, you do your own time in prison. You don’t do anyone else’s time for them. You don’t get mixed up in their dramas. You keep your mouth shut.

Later, after Shadow is let out of prison and he begins working for Mr. Wednesday and is kidnapped by men in black, he repeats his old prison motto to himself:

“He pretended he was back in prison. Do your own time, thought Shadow. Don’t tell them anything they don’t already know. Don’t ask questions.”

By the end of the story—well, I won’t put in any spoilers—but basically his motto gets turned on its head. And this is part of his growth as a character.

Does your character have a motto they live by or a life theme like Carly and Shadow that they can sum up in one or two sentences? Is there a belief that drives them from day to day? Having this theme firmly in mind while writing your scenes will help ground you in your character’s reality.

Exercise: Set a timer for six minutes and free write about what your protagonist’s life theme might be. Do the same for your antagonist and then every major character.

If you’d like, please share your character’s theme in the comments below.



Name your muse to increase creativity

“Art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where you dream.” – Robert Olen Butler in From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction.

The other morning, I had a dream about writing. I was definitely in my happy place when I woke because the dream starred one of my favorite authors–Neil Gaiman–who was giving me writing advice.

In the dream, my hubby and I were having a picnic on a grassy knoll in England. (I’ve never been to England so I’m not even sure what it looks like or if there really are grassy knolls). Mr. Gaiman was walking by and stopped to entertain us with the details of his next writing project.

I told him I was a writer but that I was having problems finishing my current novel. He said, “You’re getting caught up in all that other stuff that doesn’t mean anything.” Wagging his finger at me, like my mother used to do when I was young and naughty, he continued, “Just tell a story. Forget about everything else for now.”

I woke up smiling. I mean, who wouldn’t with Mr. Gaiman wagging his finger at you?  Read more

Neil Gaiman reads Coraline aloud with famous authors

Neil Gaiman’s N.Y. Times bestselling novel Coralineis celebrating its 10th anniversary. To read an overview of the novel and learn about all its successes, check out this post by Anne Margaret Daniel in the Huffington Post.

To celebrate the book’s birthday, Gaiman reads aloud the entire novel with a few of his famous friends including, Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket; Cassandra Clare; and R. L. Stein.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

To learn about the benefits of reading your own work aloud, please read my previous post “Editing Techniques to Make Your Prose Sing.”

Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman discuss imagination and creativity

Have I died and gone to writer heaven? I must have, because I just discovered that two of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman, have a podcast togethe. In this conversation, between the two prolific authors, they discuss everything from The Wind in the Willows to what they remember reading as children to mysticism and science.

Near the end of the piece, Gaiman reads from his newest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

One of my favorite moments is when Gaiman says, “Imagining things is the point of it all…it is not a waste of time.”

Listen to this interview and see what imaginings you can conjure along the way.