Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing Tip Tuesdays: Poke Your Head Up by Jeff Hargett

Welcome back for another edition of Writing Tip Tuesdays!

If you haven't already, take a quick moment to vote and help decide the cover art for my gladiatorial fantasy novel, Sol of the Coliseum


Please welcome writer, blogger, Trekkie, and one of the nicest guys on the web (seriously, I know I've said this before but he's just that nice), Mr. Jeff Hargett with his tip "Poke Your Head Up".

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I'm a Star Trek nut. Always have been. Always will be. One of my favorite episodes in the entire franchise was the Deep Space Nine episode The Visitor. Captain Benjamin Sisko is the father of a writer--an avid writer--named Jake. You know the type. The storyteller who can't drop the pen or push away the keyboard until they've pumped out one more story or polished that last paragraph to perfection.

This episode is not about space battles, light speed or technobabble. It's about love and loss and desperation. The episode is powerful and poignant, worthy to be seen even by folks who flee from Trek. In the opening act, the captain is trying to pry his son away from his writing just long enough to see an event that happens only twice a century. In doing so, Jake's father gave him some advice. He said:

"I'm no writer, but if I were, it seems to me I'd want to poke my head up every once in a while and take a look around. See what's going on. It's life, Jake! You could miss it if you don't open your eyes."

What a pearl of wisdom this is. It applies to everyone, but particularly to writers. We storytellers create places, people and events that we hope will somehow resonate with our readers. Achieving this is no small task. It requires more than talent and skill. It requires us to live a life in balance.

I've frequently written about that whimsical, imaginary muse of mine who pops in unannounced and refuses to memorize my schedule, but I've come to realize that we each have a real life muse inspiring us and feeding us tantalizing story bits. That muse is our life experiences. When we don't take the time to poke our heads up every once in a while and open our eyes--to actually live life--then our muse won't have much material with which to work.

It's often said that our stories come from within us. Experiencing life fills our creative tanks with fuel. It's the charge that starts the engine and powers the creative journey.

Maybe the real reason we experience writer's block is because we're not experiencing life. The only way to know for sure? Poke your head up every once in a while, take a look around and see. I guarantee it won't be time squandered.


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As with so many of Jeff's posts (which you should check out here), this really hit home for me. So much so that next week's WTT will feature my own take on Jeff's advice and how important it's been for me over the last six months.

I think you'll like it so stay tuned!

39 comments:

  1. Great guest post, Jeff! I agree, living life every so often can help with one's creativity a lot. Actually making the effort to do it, though, is easier said than done sometimes, at least for me, haha...

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    1. Everything of value always seems to come down to effort, doesn't it? The price we pay, I suppose. :)

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  2. Very true! How can we write about life experiences if we don't have any? We have to see things, go places, and be involved with people to make it real on the page.

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    1. After all, real is what we're after regardless of genre.

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  3. If we don't live life we don't have anything to write about. Writing depletes us. We put our souls and emotions on the page, we need to live to refill ourselves.

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    1. Writing definitely depletes us. There is so much--little things and big--around us just waiting to flavor a story, from subtle nuances to characters readers can relate to.

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  4. Love the Star Trek reference:) Jake and Sisko were a couple of my favorites for sure.

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    1. DS9 is in many ways the underrated powerhouse of the whole franchise. They did story arcs in stellar fashion.

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  5. Wise and wonderful advice. This reader applauds all writers, and hopes that your well of creativity never, ever runs dry.

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    1. What a nice thing to say. Thank you!

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    2. And this writer applauds all readers, and hopes their hunger for our tales is never sated. :)

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  6. Thanks for the invitation, Adam, and for the compliment. Can't wait to hold an autographed copy of Sol of the Coliseum in my hands.

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  7. "Experiencing life fills our creative tanks with fuel." Jeff, you couldn't have said it better. And when those tanks are full, can fully express our ideas and visions. We'll have no choice, as they will be pouring from us.

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    1. Even sponges can only hold so much water. Leaking creativity onto the page is the best way to go.

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    2. And if we don't get it down on paper, that leaked creativity is wasted!

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  8. Well said, Jeff! It does a writer well to step out of the cave every now and then to remember the world and the inspiration it can give. :)

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    1. It's amazing the inspiration that comes from living life with our eyes wide open.

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    2. It can be harder than it sounds. I'm not sure non-writers understand!

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  9. Adam, I am sooooooooo glad you're back!!!!! HUGS. And Jeff, wonderful. Jeff has so much heart, I automatically stop and pay attention to whatever he's saying. Loved this post. <3

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    1. And he's back with what promises to be an excellent series. Fortunate for us!

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  10. This is one of the best writing tips I've read in a long while. Thanks, Jeff, for the reminder to live a life in balance. :)

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    1. Finding balance in anything can be difficult, but once achieved, it's unbeatable.

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    2. I should get that on a t-shirt.

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  11. Nice to meet you Adam. Well, it's actually not the first time I see you but I'm glad you're back and started these writing tips with wise knights. By the way, if it still counts, my dragon vote goes for the artwork in this post.
    Jeff, hear the dwarves cheering loud! :)

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  12. Great advice Jeff! Nice to meet you Adam.

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  13. How can our characters experience life if we don't experience it ourselves? Great advice, Jeff!

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    1. Thanks, Ken. It does, at a minimum, enable us to give them a sense of realism in all respects.

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    2. We all need to get out of our writing caves once in a while, who knows what inspirations lies around the next corner! Great reminder, Jeff, and the DS9 reference made me smile.

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Love to get comments!!!