Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Magic of Heartbreak

words

Illustration from risarodil.tumblr.com.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I read the finale to a trilogy last week, and it left my poor little heart in pieces. How could this happen, I wondered. I mean, how could the author do this to me?

That’s when I realized that only a brilliant author can shatter my heart, and I’m okay with it.

I like to think becoming an author is a high calling, but more than that, making your audience feel something is an even higher calling. Think of your favorite stories, whether in print or film. They made you laugh. Cry. Smile. They motivated and inspired.

They made you feel.

That’s the point of stories, though, isn’t it? We wish to travel to a new existence and feel what it’s like to live as someone else. To handle their trials as they handle them. To feel the effects of life and death and sadness and joy. The repercussions of their mistakes and the celebrations of their victories. We want to live another way, if only for a few hours, a few weeks.

Stories are their own magic. You might have heard that before. But creating such magic is not for weak-hearted word wizards. Making people feel what you do when you write a story takes time, research and discipline as you grow your talent. But when you get there, when you make a reader cry because their favorite – and your favorite – character is in a situation he or she can’t get out of, the very fact that your story has so much magic will validate every word you typed, erased, threw away, rewrote, and obsessed over.

Don’t give up on the craft.
Don’t give up on the magic.

– Dani Nicole

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When You Know It’s Bad


Ira Glass from “This American Life” describes one of the biggest struggles any creative professional has to deal with. We know what makes an awesome work of art, but our beginning attempts can’t seem to reach the standards we hold ourselves to. We try and try, and we know it’s not good enough. So what do we do?

As a writer, it’s important to persevere, no matter how hard it seems. The strategies listed below are more like vital parts of a balanced writing life. When one area falls, the equilibrium of creativity falters and crumbles.

Write 

The most important thing to do as a writer is to write. That seems obvious, but many writers get lost in the editing loop, in which they limit their production by continuously editing what they have already written. Every novel you write requires time to create freely and brainstorm through prose without limitation. You might realize halfway along that you’re going to rewrite most of what you’re typing, but that’s the point. Every draft involves a rewrite in some way, big or small. Too many writers think every draft has to be a cohesive story, with everything covered from beginning to end.

Let me tell you now – that’s impossible on the first try.

Talented writing involves stacking layers of drafts and weaving threads together. The more you write, the more skill you acquire. Ira says to increase your volume of work, and I wholeheartedly agree. When I was younger, my dad told me to “practice, practice, practice.” While I always rolled my eyes, I knew he was right. Writing more, and writing often, will keep you in good shape. 

Read

Ira also talks about having taste. Most writers have a taste in prose because they have been reading for a long time. It’s essential to keep reading, to keep exploring new ideas and concepts to keep up with changing trends and standards. While increasing the volume of what you write, also increase the volume of what you read. A delicate balance between the two will keep your creative soul well fed.

Relax 

It’s important to read and write, but creating stories is mentally taxing. Take time to breathe and enjoy life. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that while you’re relaxing, ideas start flowing in. Sometimes just letting go is all you need to work through a plot hole, character crisis or query letter. 

Create

Being creative in other ways, whether it’s painting, dancing, singing or Jazzercising, can help keep your mind in shape. Writers need to express themselves in some way, and break the barrier between thought and expression. Freeing yourself, and opening yourself up to ideas, makes it much easier to work through a draft. 

Socialize

Most people think writing is a solitary profession, but it really isn’t. After all, writers do what they do so they can connect with readers. Writers work for their audience. Writing groups and conferences are essential to professional growth and craft knowledge. As terrifying as it is to expose your craptastic first drafts to someone, conversing, critiquing and empathizing can greatly help you in your journey.

I hope you are as encouraged by Ira’s video as I was. It’s a hard journey, but it’s a worthy one. And remember, no one can write your story better than you.

– Dani Nicole