As a mother I have watched each of my children learn to create. They play with play do and color amazing works of art and then comes the sad day when they start to notice art created by siblings, friends and parents and everything changes. They stop believing me when I tell them that what they have made is amazing. They get frustrated with themselves and crumple up their drawing after seeing something they assume to be better.
I have reflected many times to my own youth. As a child I loved to draw. My parents always encouraged me, they even signed me up for a drawing class. I loved that class and at its conclusion I had a finished drawing of a tiger in charcoal. My parents were very proud of that drawing. Then came the day in middle school when a girl sitting next to me showed me a drawing she was working on. I don’t remember anything about her picture but my thoughts I remember with clarity.
I can’t draw. My parents were just being nice, because I’m their daughter, but I have no real talent.
I’m sad to say that I gave up drawing after that. Now when I look back I see the folly in my thinking. But even worse I watch my own children come to similar conclusions. Nothing I say seems to convince them otherwise. One day I was holding my sons bearded dragons with my daughter. She commented on how beautiful they were and I agreed with her. Then a thought entered my mind and I knew I had an opportunity.
I explained to her that many people detest lizards and don’t see them as beautiful. I then explained that God is the best creator. Yet not everyone appreciates all that he has created. He knew that some people would see beauty in some things and not in others. We are all different and knowing this he created a very diverse world so that all could enjoy it and find beauty in his creations. I then explained to her that if someone doesn’t like her art don’t get discouraged. There will always be someone that appreciates it. She just needs to keep working and improving.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that I’m my own worst critic. I have learned to handle criticism from others but still struggle with outing the critic in myself. My own doubt cripples me. It is my own voice that tells me that what I’m doing doesn’t matter and that no one would appreciate it. It’s an ongoing battle. Time is precious in my busy lifestyle and I tell myself that writing takes too much of that time and I’m really not that good anyway. So I put it aside for what I deem to be more important tasks. Then something inside pulls me back. I love to write. It fulfills a certain part of me. The battle is constant, but I’m beating the critic within, because my unique ability is worth sharing, even if it doesn’t compare in context or quality to someone else’s. There are people out there that will appreciate my work for what it is. A unique work of art. And art is meant to be shared.
I had a conversation with my son today about how I develop my characters. It was an interesting discussion. Every writer does things a little different and it’s interesting to see different ways to do the same thing.
My characters always just appear in the story. As I start daydreaming or writing the story they’re just sort of formed. I know how they’ll act in any situation I put them in. I have occasionally had characters confront a situation in my story and find that it doesn’t feel right for this particular character. At that point I’ll backtrack and make it right.
I do have character cards to help me keep track of my characters. They’re really not so much cards, as they are a word document with the characters and their names. The facts I keep about each of the characters has much more to do with details of their past, their family and their description. Their is almost nothing written on their personality. This is because I intuitively know each character and what they’ll do.
I’m curious as to how you develop your characters? Please comment and let me know.
I had a conversation with my son this last year that was intriguing. He told me that he wasn’t motivated to do anything. He’s in scouting, sports and school but felt no real drive to excel at any of it. He wanted to know what he could do to be motivated to do something…anything.
It was a great question. One that I think a lot of people struggle with. I’ve struggled with a lack of drive for short periods of time in my own life. So what do we do when that happens? How do we get up off our butts and get going? I’m certain there are as many answers to that question as there are people. For me, however, it’s been my faith. So that is the answer I gave to my son.
I told him that if he had no desire to excel then he could start by praying for desire. We aren’t meant to flounder. Each person is an amazing miracle that is meant to explore their creativity and possibilities. Each of us has so much potential. We shouldn’t let the possibilities of what we can accomplish, create, lives that we can touch, things that we can learn and explore go to waste in this life.
…So pray for the desire to accomplish great things and then get up and do it.
I made a goal to write 50,000 words in one month. I struggle with making writing one of my priorities. I have seven children, six of which are still at home. I’m busy with church, volunteering and keeping my house and small farm running and in good order. I’ve felt for a long time that I need to write more but haven’t seen how I could possibly fit it into my busy schedule.
So I challenged myself to see if I could do it. By midnight on November 30th I ended with almost 48,000 words written. I wrote 18,000 of those words on the 30th.
This is what I discovered. I can easily carve out two hours, five days a week, without jeopardizing my other responsibilities. I no longer have the excuse to tell myself that I’m too busy to write.
I need to get to work and get my stories written. Funny how I need to prove to myself that I can do it. My progress is halted or pushed forward by my one fears and desires. This goal was just one more step toward my road to success.
I have a little over a week to write 25,000 words. The task seems very daunting, especially since it’s taken me twenty-three days to write the first 25,000. At first I was very excited. Even getting up at 4:30 in the morning just to make sure I had time in the day to get it done. My enthusiasm, however has dwindled considerably. I find that I really don’t like what I’ve written which makes it hard to continue. I want the quality to be better, but when you’re working on quantity it’s hard to achieve success in quality. I keep telling myself that I’m doing this to prove to myself that I can write more then I think I can. I’m a little stubborn that way. I will finish this just to prove that I can.
Okay, now that I’ve finished my little rant it’s back to writing I go…I just can’t forget to wake the kids up for school…
Spring is here and with it the battle between two hobbies. I love working outdoors. During the spring and summer I spend hours and hours working on my yard and garden. Usually that means that writing is put away on a shelf waiting for the day when the rain returns and the cold sets in. This year I don’t want to set my writing aside. I want to continue to imagine and write. I will try and balance both hobbies better this year and see if I have the strength to pull myself inside every now and again to let my mind venture into worlds and troubles unknown.
I have a weakness. When I see talents and gifts in others that are similar to my own I tend to value mine less. For example, when I was young my mother said I had a talent for drawing. She even signed me up for a drawing class. I loved it! Then one day in middle school I saw a girl drawing and immediatly recognized that her skills surpassed my own. I then concluded that I had been lied to and didn’t actually have a talent in drawing after all. The sad part to that story is I stopped drawing. Now 25 years later I truly have lost the talent.
Sadly I still struggle with this. The more people I meet that are writers the more I assume I’m not very good or think that I should quit because I wouldn’t be able to compete anyway.
Well I learned something this weekend. It doesn’t matter how many people share my talents or how many are better at it then me. What matters is I do my best to improve the talent given to me and share it with as many as are interested. Whether that is 0 or a thousand.
Most people in the world have legs and most people can walk. But I don’t value my legs less because so many people have the same ability. Rather I am grateful that I have that ability and strive to use them and keep them strong.
I plan on looking at things a little differently from here on out. I will celebrate the fact that so many are able to share their souls in writing. Go Writers!!