Category Archives: Writing

Why Do You Write?

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Why Do You Write?

When I was a young wife in the mid-1970s, Woman’s Day and Family Circle magazines often published short stories. My friend Peggy and I read them and were consistently disappointed with them. “I could write better stories than these,” I said. “Me, too,” said Peggy. But I don’t think we ever submitted any.

In the 1990s I was a stay-at-home mom with five kids. I decided to become a freelance writer because that way I could earn money while raising my own children fulltime. I was published in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, A Closer Look, The Annals of St. Anne de Beaupre, The Arizona Republic, Women’s Touch, Media Investor, and Lutheran Digest. As for earning money, my biggest grossing year I earned $600, for two worship drama scripts I sold to Concordia Publishing. I started several novels and finished a couple, though they were never sold (although one did go to “committee”).

Why Do You Write?

 

In 2000 I started working a string of jobs outside the home, the last as an elementary general music teacher, which I resigned from in 2014. It was after that I got serious about writing.

I’d always said when I retired I’d go back to writing. I hadn’t meant to retire in 2014, but since I applied for jobs for a year and never got hired, I rejoined the critique group I’d attended during the 90s and early 2000s and resurrected my favorite novel. I contributed to a group blog and started ARHtistic License.

I write because my brain is swimming with ideas. I have a file cabinet of drafts that I want to rewrite someday, and notebooks full of ideas for future projects. I have a poetry chapbook on the contest circuit, three novels in different stages of progress, a bible study I’m rewriting and another I’m planning, and a book of children’s poems in the works that I want to illustrate myself. I’m also committed to posting on ARHtistic License every day.

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Okay, you writers out there—why do you write? Let’s face it, it’s not the easiest way to make a living. So what drives you to put the words on paper? You can share in the comments below, or if you prefer, email me through my contact page. I’d like to tabulate the responses and address them in a future post on ARHtistic License. Thank you for your input.

 

In the Meme Time: Your Personal Best is Good Enough

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Better Prolific than Perfect

In the Meme Time: Write Now

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Guest Post: Skill vs. Talent–Which do you have? by Ryan Lanz

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Guest Post: Skill vs. Talent–Which do you have? by Ryan Lanz

A big ARHtistic License thank you to Ryan Lanz for this article. Skill vs. Talent–Which do you have? first appeared on Lanz’s website, A Writer’s Path.

  • tal·ent [tal-uhnt] noun: a special natural ability or aptitude.
  • skill [skil] noun: the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well.

What if you don’t have natural talent? Does that mean you may as well give up?

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

It’s not quite the chicken or the egg debate, but it’s up there. I’ve heard people go in circles about which comes first and which is necessary. At what combination of both does one continue the grind and attempt at success? I’d be surprised if you haven’t asked yourself that question. It’s a part of being human.

What does each really mean?
This comes from the university of my opinion, but I would describe talent as the natural ability that needs little to no refinement, and skill is the unnatural ability that you have to develop. For those of us who’ve played sports (myself excluded), I’m sure you’ve all encountered someone who strides onto the field and makes it all look so darn effortless.

This person hardly shows up to practice, and you have a fairly good idea that it took hardly any effort to accomplish. Same with the person who aced every test in college with little preparation, leaving you in study hall time after time with a bucket of coffee. You must have missed at least three parties because you had to cram for the Calculus exam, right?

To continue reading this article, click here.

 

The ARHtistic License Creative Playlist

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The ARHtistic License Creative Playlist

I love music playing in the background while I work, but not just any music. It has to be music I love, but not music that distracts. I could say it has to be instrumental, but that’s not true—I write and draw to songs just as well. The music doesn’t have to invoke any special mood, though I prefer mysterious melodies.

I used to input all my CDs into my iTunes, and just play music from my computer, but years ago when I switched computers, I lost all my non-Apple purchases, and I just couldn’t face downloading them again. I’ve made Genius playlists which work for me for a while, but eventually, I get tired of them.

I have a CD player in my study, and for years I put in a CD when I sat down to write. But there are problems with that strategy. There are always a few cuts I’m tired of, or which never appealed to me, or which disrupt my attention, and I have to stop working to click past them. Or the CD stops and I don’t notice because I’m so absorbed with my work. Often I listened to the same CD over and over because I didn’t want to take the time to put in a different CD.

woman typing writing programming

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

I don’t subscribe to a music streaming site, which would probably be the ideal solution for people who want unlimited beautiful music to create to. I do have Amazon Prime, so I often listen to music I like there, or to their pre-compiled playlists. Their playlists have the disadvantage of including pieces I don’t care for. You can make your own playlist on Amazon Prime, which I haven’t done yet, but plan to do.

Instead, I made my own playlist on YouTube, which has its own advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, I can share it. If you’d like to listen to it, it’s located here. (You can also subscribe to my channel. I plan to add creativity-related content eventually.) The main disadvantage is unless you pay a monthly fee (which I don’t), you have to deal with ads every video or two. You can skip most of them after five seconds, but that means you have to stop what you’re doing, go to your YouTube window, and click the little rectangle. The ads also disrupt your concentration. One other feature, which could be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your point of view, is that you can add and delete videos from the playlist, which I intend to do as I tire of some and come across others.

YouTube Music also has a new player which I have not yet fully explored, but it looks like it could be a good thing.

Do you like to play music while you work? What sort of background music do you prefer? (I have eclectic taste in music, from classical to bluegrass to Balkan to pop.) Have you made your own playlists? Share in the comments below.

 

Ten Things Authors Do to their Characters (Roundup)

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Ten Things Authors Do to their Characters (Roundup)

Who doesn’t want to be a fiction author? You get to create your own worlds and the people who live there. Then you dream up plots that push them to their limits. It’s like being a benign (or maybe evil) despot.

It’s also one of the hardest jobs there is. Sometimes the words on the page fall short of the scene you envision. Sometimes you get stuck in the middle without any clue how to get your characters to the end of the story—even if you know how your story ends.

 

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Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Here are some ideas from some of the most creative writers on the internet. (Click on the links to see the articles.)

 

Guest Post: Overcoming Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription by Jason Kincaid

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Thank you to Jason Kincaid from Descript for the following article:

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If you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.

If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.

Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.

Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.

But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.

I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).

Part I: Extraction

Here’s how my process works. Borrow what works for you and forget the rest — and let me know how it goes!

  • Pick a voice recorder. Start talking. Try it with a topic you’ve been chewing on for weeks — or when an idea flits your head. Don’t overthink it. Just start blabbing.
  • The goal is to tug on as many threads as you come across, and to follow them as far as they go. These threads may lead to meandering tangents— and you may discover new ideas along the way.
  • A lot of those new ideas will probably be embarrassingly bad. That’s fine. You’re already talking about the next thing! And unlike with text, your bad ideas aren’t staring you in the face.
  • Consider leaving comments to yourself as you go — e.g. “Maybe that’d work for the intro”. These will come in handy later.
  • For me, these recordings run anywhere from 20–80 minutes. Sometimes they’re much shorter, in quick succession. Whatever works.

Part II: Transcription

Once I’ve finished recording, it’s time to harness ⚡️The Power of Technology⚡️

A little background: over the last couple of years there’s been an explosion of tools related to automatic speech recognition (ASR) thanks to huge steps forward in the underlying technologies.

Here’s how ASR works: you import your audio into the software, the software uses state-of-the-art machine learning to spit back a text transcript a few minutes later. That transcript won’t be perfect—the robots are currently in the ‘Write drunk’ phase of their careers. But for our purposes that’s fine: you just need it to be accurate enough that you can recognize your ideas.

Once you have your text transcript, your next step is up to you: maybe you’re exporting your transcript as a Word doc and revising from there. Maybe you’re firing up your voice recorder again to dictate a more polished take. Maybe only a few words in your audio journey are worth keeping — but that’s fine too. It probably didn’t cost you much (and good news: the price for this tech will continue to fall in the years ahead).

A few more tips:

  • Use a recorder/app that you trust. Losing a recording is painful — and the anxiety of losing another can derail your most exciting creative moments (“I hope this recorder is working. Good, it is… @#*! where was I?”)
  • Audio quality matters when it comes to automatic transcription. If your recording has a lot of background noise or you’re speaking far away from the mic, the accuracy is going to drop. Consider using earbuds (better yet: Airpods) so you can worry less about where you’re holding the recorder.
  • Find a comfortable space. Eventually you may get used to having people overhear your musings, but it’s a lot easier to let your mind “go for a walk” when you’re comfortable in your environment.
  • Speaking of walking: why not go for a stroll? The pains of writing can have just as much to do with being stationary and hunched over. Walking gets your blood flowing — and your ideas too.
  • I have a lot of ideas, good and bad, while I’m thinking out loud and playing music at the same time (in my case, guitar — but I suspect it applies more broadly). There’s something about playing the same four-chord song on auto pilot for the thousandth time that keeps my hands busy and leaves my mind free to wander.

The old ways of doing things — whether it’s with a keyboard or pen — still have their advantages. Putting words to a page can force a sort of linear thinking that is otherwise difficult to maintain. And when it comes to editing, it’s no contest: QWERTY or bust.

But for getting those first crucial paragraphs down (and maybe a few keystone ideas to build towards)? Consider talking to yourself. Even if you wind up with a transcript full of nothing but profanity — well, have you ever seen a transcript full of profanity? You could do a lot worse.

This article is originally published by Descript.