Yesterday, Brigid Ashwood interviewed me for her weekly Art Share podcast. On Art Share, Brigid speaks with authors and other creative artists about all aspects of the creative arts—from processes to business matters.
She broadcasts live as a Google+ Hangouts On Air, which is then posted as a YouTube video so viewers can also catch up later. It was a cool process that I’d look into closer if I had the time and a plan. (If you’ve used a G+ Hangouts On Air, I’d love to hear more about your experiences so I know what’s possible.)
Brigid and I had a great time and chatted for almost for an hour about everything writing. I don’t own a webcam, so you won’t get to see me in all my talking-with-my-hands-so-much-that-I-almost-smack-the-computer-monitor glory, but I’d definitely enjoy doing something like this again. Someday, maybe I’ll even buy a webcam. *smile*
The Art Share Podcast
From Brigid’s introduction:
“This week on Art Share we talk to author Jami Gold. Jami writes an awesome blog with resources for writers. On this episode we talk about NaNoWriMo, the individuality of writing habits, popular writing advice and myths, and the incredibly popular book “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. Jami’s Blog offers Beat Sheets based on Blake Snyder’s book.”
So check out the podcast if you want to know my advice, or just want to hear my voice and goofy personality. *grin*
Summary of Topics from the Art Share Podcast
It’s a 52 minute long podcast, so it’s too long for me to provide a full transcript. However, here’s a breakdown of topics and direct links to those sections. (If I referred to a blog post in a section, I’ve linked to it below as well.)
Beat Sheets (at the 2:30 mark)
We started with the basics: What are beats? What is a beat sheet? Why and how would we use them? From there, our conversation roamed from exploring how beats are storytelling and not the cause of formulaic writing to how beat sheets relate to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.
I shared the Basic Beat Sheet for those intimidated by the more involved beat sheets. Then we talked about the meaning of the phrase “save the cat” (which is well known due to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat book) and the purpose of including that type of scene in our story.
Strengthening Our Writing (at the 10:18 mark)
From beat sheets, we expanded on how we can use various tools and techniques to strengthen our writing. For example, it’s obvious how those who plot their stories ahead of time might use beat sheets to outline their story, but what about those who write by the seat of their pants? I shared how I’ve discovered I am not a plotter but that pantsers can use beat sheets too.
We also talked about how we can use the Elements of a Good Scene worksheet—either during drafting or revisions—to ensure our scene is working hard enough. And we wrapped up with what it means to have “tension on every page.”
Evaluating Writing Advice (at the 16:28 mark)
We hear the advice to “write every day.” What does that mean? Is it really possible to do so, especially with a day job? I discussed my approach of making sure that I’m doing something writing related every day, but sometimes that means I’m in editing mode and not drafting mode.
We then talked about how it’s easy for new writers to feel like a failure if they take such guidelines as hard and fast “rules.” In reality, we each have to find the process that works for us. Sometimes that means we don’t avoid adverbs or cliches or any other of a hundred “don’t”s when we’re drafting. Instead, we follow our drafting muse, learn what our weaknesses are, and attack them in revisions.
The Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo (at the 23:45 mark)
We discussed the pros and cons of the NaNoWriMo style of drafting. I am signed up for NaNo again this year, but unlike last year, I’m not aiming for writing 50K words during November. Instead, I’m simply finishing the last 30K words for my current work in progress. While I’m bummed there’s no way for me to “win” this year, I figured it was better to write 30K words with my friends than alone.
If nothing else, NaNo teaches us what doesn’t work for us and our process. Even when we’re experienced writers, we can always learn something new about techniques that might work better and we won’t know unless we try. NaNo is a perfect time to try those new approaches. Failure itself is a learning experience and essential to the creative process.
Writer Struggles: Voice and “Show, Don’t Tell” (at the 30:43 mark)
When we first start writing, most writers struggle to find their voice. I compared voice to the sense of the reader being invited into the storytelling experience. We want to write how our characters would speak, and writing every day—like for NaNo—can get us in touch with their thoughts, especially if we “think out loud.” Reading aloud also helps with our editing process because we can listen for “speed bumps,” where we might trip over the words or the sentence a bit.
Another area writers struggle with is the advice to “show, don’t tell.” My guest post from Janice Hardy had great advice for using a deeper point of view to show, but it also brought up a lot of issues about when telling might work better. In essence, showing is subtext, so when we want to make goals, motivations, or consequences very clear to the reader, telling might be the way to go.
Common Questions about the Lives of Creatives (at the 38:23 mark)
The first common question Brigid asked was: How do you define success? I’ve talked before about how it’s hard for me to enjoy success, so this was a difficult question for me. As a result of my struggle, I don’t define success in just one way. I try (but don’t always succeed) to see success in the little things so I’ll have more opportunities to let myself enjoy positive results.
We then talked about the importance of a support system. I brought up how sharing our goals with our family and friends might help get their buy-in for the time, effort, and money we put toward our dream. At the very least, we can reach out to the writing community and enjoy their support.
Lastly, Brigid asked about about the best and worst advice I’d received and my best and worst writing habits. The worst advice had to do with present participle phrases—a grammar thing I knew nothing about when I first started writing—and the absolutist way the instructor worded the advice taught me bad habits that took days to fix in revision. So any “one right way” type of advice should always be considered a red flag. In contrast, the best advice I’ve heard would be the encouragement to find our own path and process—even if that means pantsing. *smile*
Have you used Google+ Hangouts On Air, and if so, how? Do you have any follow-up questions for me? How would you answer Brigid’s final common questions: How do you define success? How important is a support system to you? What’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve received? What are your best and worst writing habits?Pin It