Category Archives: Voice

Finding your voice in fiction, non-fiction, creative essays, fillers, everything!

5 Things Writers can Learn from Teenagers

The need to be understood. Yep, isn’t this why we pick up the pen in the first place? We want to share our thoughts on life and emotions and feel the connection with the world. We want others to say  “yeah, I get you, I totally feel that way, too.”

The pursuit of being original. But, really, it’s scary. Which is why you can’t tell some teen girls or guys apart. The straight hair chalked in pink and blue, skinny jeans, obsession with piercings, nail art and all things skulls. We writers try to mimic what’s safe. What we know is the trend right now. But, that doesn’t work. If you’re the same as the masses, you’ll disappear.

Keep your posse close: We can all learn from the tight pack of teenagers. Despite the drama, teens band together to feed off of each other’s energy and humor and feeling of connection. Writers need their pack of other creatives, too. To encourage and push us on, to cheer our successes and keep us real when the blocks form and the rejection slips come back.

Be rebellious. OK, I would not encourage my own teenager to do this, but of course he will. Afterall, he’s my kid. And he has strong opinions on things. He makes them known. Writers need to make their opinions known, too. This is called our VOICE. Our style. Be honest in your writing. It doesn’t mean writing about the snotty Room Mother not using your craft idea for the classroom party, but going deeper and writing about the neglect she feels at home from her Very.Important.Big.Shot husband.

Be selfish. Again, not something I’d encourage in my son, but as writers, especially if we have kids, day jobs or spouses, our writing tends to drop off our radar. We become crabby, bratty, temperamental (like a teen?) So instead, be a little selfish and SCHEDULE  time for writing, even if it means missing one Sunday dinner a month at your in-laws. (you can thank me later!)

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Voice, writers, writing inspiration, Young Adults

great expectations – the gap between what we want to write and what we actually produce

Does the end result of your story stop you from even beginning? That seems to be my current problem…

“I dream of an Eagle, I give birth to a Hummingbird.” ~ Edith Wharton

There is a gap many writers experience. Between the expectation and the final product. In my head it’s a beautifully weaved quilt of literary genius. On paper (or screen) it’s a mess of my random connections between characters, inner intentions and very vague symbolism. An example is one scene I wrote in the Finding your Writer’s Voice Workshop… (can’t believe I’m sharing this; don’t stone me!)

Tiffany saw the way the Earth looked at dusk, but never from yards above the rooftops. She didn’t expect it to be so cold and wobbly. Though Gretchen did say there would be flashes of lightning.

“All the better to see you with, my dear,” she had said in her wicked witch voice. Complete with a cackle.

Tiffany couldn’t get used to that voice on Gretchen. But she really couldn’t get used to the energy that surged under her skin and lifted her feet from the ground.

“The umbrella is for effect?” She asked Gretchen.

“No, Mary Poppins, the umbrella is for control. The wind will carry your five foot frame wherever he wants, but at least you can guide the journey.”

 Journey. Exactly what Tiffany had wished for at the beginning of the summer. This is not what she had envisioned.

When Dad came home alone from the hospital last month, Tiffany just thought the baby needed more time to grow, develop, heal. And mom, too. But Dad’s face…

The image that prompted this rambling start of a YA story is pictured below (the girl holding the flying umbrella.)

top row, third from the left

Yes, this scene is very disconnected, riddled with grammatical errors and paced awkwardly. Given, it was written in Three Minutes. So, I need to forgive the drafting phase and remember…

“Value the process, not the product.” ~ Jane Yolen

How are you valuing your process? Do you have rituals? Ways to work through the doubt, through the Big Expectation?

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Filed under Advice, Believe, characters, Fiction, Inspiration, procrastination, Voice, writers, writing inspiration, Writing prompts, Year of Nurturing

Finding your Writer’s Voice

My NaNoWriMo group met at the library a few weeks ago to practice an exercise our liason learned in a workshop.

This is Intense. It WILL resurrect your creativity.

  1. You should have at least one partner, but a group of 3 or 4 works best.
  2. each writer brings 3 pictures to the workshop (cut from magazines, printed from online, taken from your own camera) images should be interesting because these will be used to prompt ideas
  3. everyone lays their pics onto one table and each writer selects 2-3 images that really pique their interest or speak to them
  4. back at your notebook or laptop, one person sets the timer for THREE MINUTES
  5. as a group, pile your pics together and choose one picture to start with, study it, let your mind churn out characters, settings, story lines or dialogue and get ready …
  6. Timer goes – Start writing! Write as fast as you can, no thinking, no plotting, No EDITING
  7. Time’s UP! Stop writing even if in the middle of a sentence.
  8. Flip to the next picture, look it over quickly – you should only have 60 seconds before starting the next round.
  9. Timer starts – Start Writing again! THREE MINUTES. This should be an independent scene or story idea from the first one you started, though if you’re an amazing prolific writer, you can connect the scenes….
  10. Repeat these writing sprints through your stack of images (should have 9 total).
  11. After the 9th scene is written, take turns READING aloud your story snippets to the group. You should read them straight through, pausing briefly between to give your partners time to jot down some thoughts on your work.
  12. After each writer has read aloud, offer your feedback. Feedback should remain positive  – think of it as writing a fan letter to your favorite author. These are all very rough drafts, remember.
  13. One more time, each writer reads aloud straight through all 9 snippets of their writing.
  14. This time, each writer will offer feedback based on:
  • How each scene made them feel
  • What genre they believe this scene would fall into
  • Ask what the author had in mind for the story plot and the ending
  • Which of the 9 was the strongest story

At the end of this fun, fast workshop, you will each have 9 story starts, a full tank of confidence and a better idea of your writer’s voice and the genre that you write the best.

Here are the pics my group used:

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Filed under Advice, Fiction, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, teaching, Voice, writers, Writing prompts

Dear Words: I love you! Forever yours, me

“Don’t forget to be grateful that you love words.” ~ Monica Wood

I LOVE words. I do. And I don’t care who hears me:

I LOVE WORDS!!!

Say it with me!

I LOVE WORDS!!!

Create words or unique ways of using them: “green” as a Verb?

The sun greens the Earth.

“Spoon” as a Verb?

She spoons the terrier pup, feeling his warmth and heartbeat.

How about “racket?”

Sammy is racketing across the yard, much to the dismay of the delicately balanced tea cups.

What other nouns or adjectives can you use as a fresh verb?

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Filed under books, Fiction, Voice, writers block, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

a poem a pic a day: day 17

Tween then and now

Today

my name is

silky purple giggle

Tomorrow

my name will be

shunned and bruised

top of the pyramid with dimples on both cheeks

cheerleader with her period

whispers and sleep overs, conjure spirits, talk of first kisses

I experiment with makeup, imagine my first kiss

think I’m in the clique, think I’m the shit

she still harasses me about not owning  a banana clip

I’m center in their ring of taunts

wearing a dingy pink puffy coat

Paiselys are cool, aren’t they?

 

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Filed under Poetry, Voice, Young Adults

bruise

copyright Mary Jo Campbell, 2012

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Filed under Inspiration, Voice, writing inspiration, Year of Nurturing

Don’t Think NOW…Reflect Later

SARK says, try more things without thinking so much about them. 

Here’s a list I came up with:

Writing

Calling an old friend

Asking a new friend to coffee

Randomly pull things from your fridge to make a soup

Start a blog

Start a diet

Share a journal

Volunteer!

Try a new restaurant

Write a poem

Compliment that stranger

Write about that thing

Steal a kiss

Hit SEND/Publish/Post/Call/Reply

Host a theme party

Sign up for something

Say YES!

Tell the truth

Register for Zumba

Watch a foreign movie

Speak up among friends

Speak up among co-workers

Invest in yourself

See & follow the signs

What am I doing w/o thinking? PUBLISH NOW!

(How about you??)

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Filed under Voice, writing inspiration, Year of Nurturing