Writing Prompts: Write a Movie Scene

movie-theatre

When I’m on a roll, writing is like watching a movie in my mind’s eye and all I have to do is jot down the details. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I have to try and make it last as long as I can. It’s easy because it’s all right there in front of me: the setting, characters, dialogue, imagery.

This writing prompt takes this amazing writing sensation literally. Instead of writing from your imagination you’ll be writing from something that’s already been created. This exercise plays with the idea of interpretation and representation, getting you to approach writing in a new way.

Write from a movie

Think of one of your favourite movies and pick a scene that you love. It can be a moment that’s very quiet but loaded with emotion, something that’s action packed – anything that takes your fancy. You don’t have to watch the scene again, but you can if you want to.Now write the scene as if it were a piece of prose. Don’t worry about the fact that the scene and characters you’re writing aren’t ‘yours’ – this is just exploration and fun for yourself, not for overt plagiarism or publication. Here are some things to take into account:

  • Creative descriptions of the visual surroundings and characters.
  • Translating dialogue from the aural to the written word.
  • Characters internal thoughts (this is where you can get imaginative).

When you’re done turning your movie scene into a prose piece, try turning it into a poem. Take the narrative and the descriptions and cut them down to their barest forms (yes, this means killing your darlings) and play with line breaks and structure. Even if you’re ‘not a poet’, have a go anyway; broadening your writing horizons is great for keeping your creativity fresh.

This writing prompt is a bit of fun to get you thinking about texts in new ways, considering how to manipulate them into different forms and seeing how you can accurately write what you see (whether you’re seeing it in real life, in a play or film, or in your mind).

Happy writing!

Procrastination: Why Writers Do It

Procrastinate

“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” – Alan Dean Foster

For us writers procrastinating can easily become an occupational hazard. It’s very common for us to go out of our way to avoid writing; with procrastination being an enemy of productivity.

When blogger and journalist Megan McArdle researched the topic one of her colleagues told her:

“Well, first, I put it off for two or three weeks. Then I sit down to write. That’s when I get up and go clean the garage. After that, I go upstairs, and then I come back downstairs and complain to my wife for a couple of hours. Finally, but only after a couple more days have passed and I’m really freaking out about missing my deadline, I ultimately sit down and write.”

Sound familiar? Steven Pressfield the author of War of Art believes it’s a form of resistance. In his book he identifies the enemy all of us must face. There is a naysayer within all of us that prevents us from achieving our goals. Whether it be writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece. Pressfield then continues to outline a battle plan to conquer our internal foes.

For many of us this foe can be procrastination. Truthfully there are a million reasons we lack the motivation or inspiration to fill our blank pages and we’re all different, but here are a couple of common ones:

Because we’re afraid

Fear is one of the biggest reasons we procrastinate. Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist studying motivation at Stanford University believes that writers are often paralysed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t very good. However, the fear of turning in nothing by a deadline usually outweighs the fear of handing in something terrible. Dr. Dweck believes this is because we regard our failures as growth because when we’re failing, we’re learning. It’s also believed that the “fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you ‘really’ are is so common it actually has a clinical name: Imposter Syndrome“. We spend so much time worrying our writing won’t be good enough, but we need to remember that at the end of the day we’re always our own worst critics and our fears are usually unwarranted. You can find out more on her thoughts in Why writers are the worst procrastinators.

Because we lack inspiration

When we don’t know what to write or we lack inspiration, our motivation can be severely impaired inhibiting our potential to create the art we we’re destined to produce. As mentioned above, sometimes this lack of inspiration stems from our desire to be perfect, but all you need is an idea. Once you have an idea you have the potential to create something amazing.

To overcome a lack of inspiration you need to actively engage with what you’re doing. If you’re writing a book about a prison go interview some inmates or correctional officers, or go visit a prison so you can get the feel for what you’re writing about by submerging yourself in the world of your writing. Sometimes you need a change of scenery, or just a short break. There’s a million different ways to get inspired but we all do this differently, Psychology Today have some good examples in their article ‘Lacking Motivation and Inspiration? 5 Secrets to Get Unstuck’ with everything from finding a muse, to shattering your self doubts, these ideas can help you find some much needed inspiration.

Identifying methods of procrastination

According to author Joanna Penn, procrastinating takes many forms. It isn’t  just playing a dozen games of angry birds, it often looks more like this:

  • Reading blogs about writing
  • Buying more books about writing
  • Tidying your desk so that you’ll be ready to write… really soon…!
  • Hanging out with other writers (offline or online) and talking about writing.

We spend a lot of time thinking about writing without actually writing, this is a key sign of procrastination and we need to use this knowledge to our advantage.

How to fight it

Being well versed in the art of procrastination is understandable given the culture of constant distraction we live in, but procrastination can be an important part of the writing process.

“It’s folly, what we do, if you think about it – to make something out of nothing, to spin a story or an argument, to ask a reader to give up his or her time and share with us a fantasy, a dream, a conversation, to seize the moment (for a moment) and try to hold it before it slips away”- David Ulin on procrastination as a creative tool.

Procrastination is often used as a defence mechanism, an idea and a blank page is perfect, but once we begin putting that idea into words that perfection can dwindle leaving us raw and exposed. We use it as a strategy for mitigating fear and anxiety.

To overcome this fear we need to follow the advice Annie Dillard provides in her work The Writing Life and understand that we need to write in spite of problems we may encounter. The tension between what we wish for and what we achieve can only be overcome if we work to achieve something. After all Hemmingway himself claimed “The first draft of anything is shit” but as writers we work to overcome this by re-drafting and editing.

If you are stuck in the procrastination bubble, here is some further reading that might help you break free:

Via: http://writersedit.com/writers-procrastinate/

Why Are Book Descriptions So Difficult To Write?

Nothing kills a potential book sale faster than a poor book description, except perhaps for a terrible book cover. The combination of the two together is a death sentence.

Why is it so difficult for most authors to write book descriptions that grab potential book buyers?

Via http://www.justpublishingadvice.com/why-are-book-descriptions-so-difficult-to-write/