All posts by Patrice

About Patrice

I partnered up with internationally renowned, award winning author and communicator Dr. Jeffrey Lant to bring, www.writerssecrets.com an exquisite online writing course to the world. I first joined Dr. Lant on his monitor and writing team and became a part of the creation of his memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy” as this very unique memoir was written live on screen. With completion of his memoir, Dr. Lant was now ready to offer all the crucial features of his near 7 decades of a very successful writing career and www.writerssecrets.com was created. A place for people to come together to master the art of writing.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day, a day for unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action.
In celebration from the WritersSecrets.com archive I bring you –
 
10,000 (Wo)men of Harvard. Oprah Winfrey at Commencement, May 30, 2013 and I am proud to be there for “bye and bye” has come at last. – by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
 
Author’s program note. I knew I would go to Harvard Commencement this year after I read a disconcerting article in The Boston Globe some months ago. It cited the opposition of certain alumni to having Miss Oprah Winfrey as this year’s principal speaker and honorary degree recipient, Harvard’s chief honor. Their argument went something like this, some of it overt, some (the ugliest) not.
 
She wasn’t up to Harvard standards, she was not a woman of education, not a woman of merit, and most important, NOKD, “Not our kind, dear.” As these words, written and implied, rolled out, I knew in my bones that come hell or high water, I would be present, in full regalia, to honor the lady and what I knew would be her message of hope, inspiration and empowerment.
 
And so yesterday, on the unexpectedly hottest day of the year, I went back to Harvard, on the day of my own 43rd graduation anniversary… to show solidarity, support, good manners and discerning judgement. And no one cheered her more loudly and with greater sincerity than I did… for I recognized that this was not merely an event to honor a single woman, no matter how deserving of such honor. But far more important to honor the sisterhood and their gentle revolution, an epochal event that changed the world and liberated not just women but men, too, for the liberation of women has certainly meant the liberation of men, though not all such have recognized this yet.
 
Dramatis personae.
 
Before I go on I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to the principal players in yesterday’s production. First, there is Mr. Aime’ and Mrs. Mercedes Joseph, born in Haiti, two of the principal reasons why my life works so well and smoothly. I took them to Commencement to thank them, to show them an aspect of Americana they would not otherwise see, and, frankly, because it is easy to trip and fall amidst the undulations of such a huge crowd… and their support was very useful indeed.
 
Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University, Lincoln Professor of History.
 
Sandra Demson, ’58, distinguished attorney in Canada, veteran of the revolution.
 
Oprah.
 
Diane Neal Emmons, Ed.M., an old friend rediscovered, another soldier for the cause, her weapons of choice her wit, ebullience, and an optimism that will not waver, despite the provocations life throws at each of us, delighting to see what we will make of them.
 
Fate.
 
As a social scientist, student of the material world in all its manifestations, I should not believe in such matters as destiny, providence, or kismet. Should not. But when a day arranges itself as felicitously as yesterday’s did, the right things happening in just the right order, one is forced to consider the inconvenient notion that something other than random chance is present, “inconvenient” because unpredictable, though that doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Yesterday’s serendipities were anything but…
 
Security.
 
Since I arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1969, I have passed through the great Class of 1877 Gate thousands of times. But when I passed through it yesterday I was patted down by a female security officer. It is a sign of our times, a blip that tells us the world has changed, and not for the better. Once inside a recollection from “Gone With The Wind” came to mind. It was at the beginning of the film, where the newly engaged couple, Ashley and Melanie, stand on the balcony of Twelve Oaks and look out at their world of grace, luxury and privilege, a world they love, threatened with destruction whether the South wins or not.
 
I stood for a moment, just next to the president’s office in Massachusetts Hall and looked at the vibrant scene before me. It, too, is challenged, roiled by even positive change… I was determined to see, determined to remember what I saw this day and what was part of me: class marshals in top hat and cut-away; their female counterparts wearing bright red rosettes with bright smiles to match; academic gowns from every renowned and prestigious university on Earth; new graduates wearing the most desirable costume of all, their unflinching youth. They would shortly sing “Gaudeamus igitur, Juvenes dum sumus” (Let us rejoice while we are young.) They would not understand… but the alumni before them would… for the words, once just lyrics of a well-known song, gather their profound meaning with every passing year in an exercise we call wisdom and which we cannot approach unmoved.
 
Rubbing for luck.
 
Every alumnus becomes perforce a guide when escorting guests to Commencement, and so, hobbling, I lead the Josephs to the statue of John Harvard, the Founder. Only it isn’t. There are no extant images of the man whose gift of books, lavish as all gifts to Harvard should be, launched the greatest educational establishment on Earth (1636).
 
What to do? Improvise! And thus a suitably attractive young man of noble countenance from the class of 1884 was invited to pose for the famous statue by Daniel Chester French. It stands in the center of the Yard, the faceless Founder facing eternity in the body of flawless youth. Both have thereby been immortalized, and this is perhaps why one is advised to rub the shoe for luck… for seizing eternity is certainly worth the doing. This is something every Harvard student knows.
 
The President!
 
When you talk of The President in Cambridge, you mean the President of Harvard. It was my privilege to share a few minutes conversation with the current occupant yesterday, Drew Gilpin Faust, president since 2007. An historian herself, she is a person of history; the first woman to lead Harvard. Let me tell you this: she is well and truly on her way to becoming one of the most respected and beloved leaders of this historic institution and thus one of the great benefactors of the Great Republic and the wider world beyond, for Harvard is universal now and forever more.
 
When you think of President Faust think of what has happened to and in the world since her historic appointment. You will then understand she has presided over six turbulent years, years when even Fortress Harvard knew anxiety. If she never did another thing, she would find an honorable place in Harvard’s story. But at just 65, she is in her prime… ready to do battle for the light. What will she do? Here’s a clue to one of her projects…
 
In her remarks yesterday she drove home one essential point; that the impending massive cuts in federal research funding are short sighted, self destructive, ill advised in every way. Research is what gives us the improvements we desire; slicing any part of it gives us less. Does this make sense?
 
President Faust will ensure Harvard’s clout is used to avoid this folly. And she has my support in doing so. Just as she will always have my support in any and all endeavors to strengthen the liberal arts and humanities, always the great beating heart of Harvard.
 
“Is this seat taken?”
 
There were just three seats left in about the fourth row, and I knew we should grab them. But first I needed a positive response to the question asked through the ages: Is this seat taken? And so I came to meet a new friend, Sandra Demson, Class of ’58. She had come to participate in the 55th Reunion of the Harvard and Radcliffe Classes of 1958. I introduced myself and in just a minute or two we were chatting like a house afire, discovering one person after another we knew and had in common. Harvard meetings are like that.
 
However, the most important aspect of our conversation concerned my questions to Sandra about the differences she discerned in the situation of Radcliffe students in 1958 and the position of women undergraduates today. And here a pleasant afternoon’s smooth conversation became more than chat, an insight into history, something she wanted to tell… and I very much wanted to hear.
 
You see, Sandra Demson, smart, attractive, charming, was part of the generation which placed every aspect and feature at the foot of Man… and lived to regret it, like so many other women who not only discovered father didn’t know best; they discovered that father knew hardly anything at all… and this made for many problems, ructions, and difficulties, especially when Man continued to insist upon a superiority he clearly did not possess.
 
And so Sandra, like every “good woman” of her age and outlook learned to carry on, bite her tongue, and somehow keep the faith alive, that better days, and lasting love, too, would come to her. And, in due course, “this too shall pass” passed… And God granted her marital love, peace, and the easy, “woman of the world” manners which we have all erred in not insisting our young successors should have and which she graciously shared with me on this sweltering day.
 
Oprah!
 
It was Sandra Demson who looked at Oprah and said, “She’s nervous. She’s trembling”… No wonder. A poor black girl from the Deep South,had by dint of unceasing work, determination and an attitude of “must” not just “can” do had scaled the heights into the very citadel of American prestige. There she was, physically smaller than her outsized television presence, quivering just a bit but the crowed roared for her… and so the lady of embracements, hugs and love, was soon awash in the huzzas which must have been heard blocks away. In a very real sense, Oprah Winfrey had come home, and she was greeted accordingly.
 
The music.
 
When the tumult ebbed a bit, Oprah began. Soon, just in passing, she mentioned a tune she loved. I looked it up when I got home and immediately understood her better as well as why she’d referenced it, holding it close, a security blanket. It is “We’ll understand it better bye and bye”. Written by Charles Albert Tindley (1851- 1933), an ex-slave and “the Father of Gospel Music”, it is a rousing, barn stormer of a song, the lyrical equivalent of Oprah herself. Go now to any search engine and listen carefully…”We are tossed and driven/ on the restless sea of time… We will understand it better bye and bye.” I prefer the inimitable version by Mahalia Jackson. Listening to this mistress of godly soul, you can believe, deep in your heart, that better times will come as they came to Oprah Winfrey.
 
Then Oprah told us how they came to her, what she learned, what she had to do… and what she had to share with others. She spoke, like a female Polonius, of being true to thyself, of living your own life, not the life assigned to you or allowed by others. She spoke of the commitment one must make, the unceasing focus one must maintain. And she spoke of what must be done in the inevitable days when troubles come and one faces the reality of dread and defeat. This was not mere eloquence, though the lady excels at eloquence. It was not mere rhetoric, though the lady’s rhetoric is notable… no, indeed. Instead she was speaking from what the world knows as her great heart… so motivational, so inspirational, so uplifting that along with her massive crowd of the eminent, learned and well connected, I was on my feet, not just cheering, but shouting approbation and encouragement… yes, Oprah had come home…. and for the lady who loves there was ample love indeed.
 
Dee-On.
 
My day was, I thought, over and completely successful. Aime’ and Mercedes Joseph had given support. President Faust impressed and reassured. Sandra Demson gave charm and friendship. Oprah gave the formula not merely for success, but how to conquer failure. It was enough, more than enough, but there was more….
 
Leaving the Tercentenary Theatre, Oprah whisked away by the omnipresent security, I saw a face I knew so well… and it was Diane (always pronounced Dee-On), Diane Neal Emmons. And so serendipity continued, unpredictability its metier, for here was a long-lost friend, benefactor when I was a penurious graduate student, forty years ago, success in the future, but when? Diane and her legendary hospitality helped make waiting bearable. This time she invited me to her home for the 4th of July celebrations when the known world gathers in her front yard to extol the Great Republic. I may even go… for there is a story there… and I want to be the one who tells it, for only thus will we “understand it better bye and bye…”
Connect with Dr. Jeffrey Lant at www.DrJeffreyLant.com

NEW YEAR – NEW GOALS! How Being Grateful Can Help You Reach Your Goals

When we have a long-term goal we are working towards, it’s easy to be so focused on it that we start to believe we won’t be happy until we reach it. It’s important to have long-term goals, but not at the expense of your daily life. Staying in a place of gratitude for what you already have and what you’ve already achieved in your life can be a huge benefit in reaching your goals.

 

Gratitude Makes You Happier

Neurologists have learned that feelings of gratitude actually change the way your brain works. When you are consciously aware of all the wonderful things in your life, you are happier and more content. When you are happy and feeling good about your life, it’s easier to believe that more good things await you down the road.

 

Gratitude Lowers Stress

A life filled with the struggle to always be better will lead to a life of stress. Yes, you want to reach your goals. You want to unlock all the potential that’s inside you. But finding a way to balance this desire with gratitude for what you’ve already accomplished and what you have in your life today is also important. When constantly pushing yourself forward, it’s easy to believe you aren’t good enough today. Focusing on what you have to be grateful for today lowers your stress level and helps you enjoy the journey to your ultimate goal.

 

Gratitude Makes You More Optimistic

Believing the grass is always greener on the other side is a sure way to ensure your dissatisfaction with life. It makes you feel like you may never get the life you want. This pessimism just makes everything in life harder. You may even just give up on your dreams because you don’t believe you can attain them. Keeping a grateful mindset offers you a way to enjoy life now and look forward to the future, once your goals have been realized.

 

Obtaining a grateful spirit doesn’t take a lot of time and effort, but it makes a huge difference in your life. Start by keeping a small notebook with you or using an app on your phone to note the little things that happen throughout your day that you are grateful for. Some people prefer to keep a gratitude journal by their bed and add a short list of things that they are grateful for that day. Give it a try if you feel you’ve been too focused on a goal and it’s making you unappreciative for what you already have.

I’d love to hear of all you are grateful for and your goals too. Let me know in the comments below.

Writing Cheat # 10 The formula for writing faster than you ever have before.

Earlier, I talked about how important it is to create efficient systems in business. It’s best to have a streamlined process you follow for everything you do.

It’s time to create an efficient process for your writing life. This isn’t meant to crush your creativity, it’s to get the “what do I do next?” question out of the picture. You’ll have a process for what you’re doing next, leaving room for you to be more creative and better at what you do.

Here is an example narrative to help you figure out your process:

“First, I come up with story ideas. I generate story ideas by _______________________.

I write my story and book ideas as they come to me. Next, I choose the story I am going to work on next. When I can’t decide, I ______________________________.

Then, I research ideas to include in my book. I only look for relevant and specific research. I organize my notes as I go.

Next, I follow these cheats as I get ready to write my book:

____________, ____________, ____________, ____________, ____________

I am now prepared to write the book. I write during these times: ____________, ____________, ____________.

If I get writer’s block, I ____________ and ____________ to get back on track.

Then, I ____________________________________.

Finally, my first draft is complete.”

This example can become anything you want it to become. The important thing is that you create a personalized system for writing. You cover your bases and leave nothing to chance. You have steps and solutions for everything. Consider this both a contract and insurance policy for yourself– you’ll never have to get off track.

Putting These 10 Cheats to Use

Choose the cheats that are calling out to you. There was likely one that gave you an “ah ha!” moment.

Start by implementing that one.

Play around with the ideas, put them to use, and watch your productivity soar.

What’s more is that these tips should invigorate your writing. You’ll feel good about what you’re doing. You’ll be able to release more for Kindle than you could have dreamed before, and your readers will love it.

It’s all about being efficient, removing mind blocks, unleashing your potential, and letting your creativity shine through.

Don’t let these ideas sit here, unused.

Writing better and faster with less work? It’s a dream come true, and the gift is sitting here, waiting for you to use it

Get a FREE Copy of “How to Be a Writer Who Flies High, Makes Money and Dazzles the Folks Back Home” CLICK HERE

Writing Cheats #9 You’re a Character

Writers psyche themselves out constantly. Maybe you’re about to write your first book and don’t even think you can call yourself a writer yet. Or, maybe you envy another writer’s style and don’t think you can measure up. Or, maybe you’re feeling so stuck and uninspired lately that you can’t complete your projects.

Whatever it is, it’s time to get over it. It’s zapping your creativity, output, and…your wallet.

It’s time to go outside of yourself a little bit. It’s time to think of yourself as a character. That might sound strange, but it really can help. Just as you would create a character sketch for someone in your books, create a character sketch for yourself as a writer. There are three steps to this:

  1. Invent yourself– Brainstorm who you are as a writer. What you look like, think about, and talk about as a writer. Now brainstorm who you ideally are as a writer. What is your process? What do people say about your work? Where do you work?
  2. Picture yourself– Next, close your eyes and picture yourself writing. See yourself smiling with confidence as you type away. See yourself finishing the piece. See yourself publishing it on Kindle, happy all the while. See the praise rush in as people read the words. Get a very clear picture in mind– create a vision board to really cement the images.
  3. Interview yourself– Finally, interview yourself. Create a list of questions you’d ask any writer you were interested in. Then, answer the questions, honestly and completely. Your answers may surprise you. They will also give you deeper insight into who you are as a writer.

This process helps you come into your own as a writer. It gives you the confidence and assurance you need to produce outstanding work, more quickly.

Writing Cheats # 8 Zippy research is within reach.

Research.

What came to mind when you read that word? How did you feel? What was your body language?

If you’re like many people, you cringed. You made a face and felt a knot in your stomach. That’s because so many of us are taught (and experience) that research has to be this difficult, boring, time-consuming thing.

Okay, maybe it used to be those things, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. This is the best time in history to be a writer. Not only can you publish anything you want to (within reason) on Kindle, but you can access anything you need to make it happen.

You can use Google Earth to visit faraway lands. You can access untold numbers of public domain books. You can Google anything you want to know. You can ask people from all over the world whatever you’d like to ask them. You can find experts to interview on any topic, with a few clicks of the mouse.

Everything you need is out there and it’s easily accessible. You just have to know how to find it and organize it. Sometimes, having too much information can be just as scary as not having enough.

Here are three tips you need to know to take away most of your struggle with research before you write:

  1. Learn how to read only what you need to-This is the biggest trick to research there is. Be very specific with your research and read only what you need to. Use the ctrl+f function to drill down and find specific words and sections. Be very specific with Google and database searches. Don’t waste time taking notes or even reading things you don’t really need to know. You aren’t hoarding information– you’re reading and using only what you need.
  2. Organize your research as you go– Be very specific about what you need to know. Create notes files for specific topics. Organize yourself now and you won’t have to spend hours doing it later. Don’t just have a giant file for a topic-have many smaller, very specific files that you can access in a stress-free way while writing.
  3. Know exactly where to get the best information– Don’t waste time using sources that can’t back themselves up. Look for primary sources and scholarly sources. Use more than one source to verify information.

Scholar.google.com is a great starting place as is books.google.com. Use those databases to spark additional research in the right places. Go to the right spots the first time around and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.

“Create an EBook Today. Publish It On Amazon. Profit From It for the Rest of Your Life” Get a FREE Copy CLICK HERE

Writing Cheats #7 Reading is the answer.

It’s impossible to become a good writer if you aren’t an avid reader. There are so many amazing writers out there. Their books will change your life as you’re reading.

Some writers, however, get so caught up in getting their own work out there that they neglect to feed their mind with the words of others.

Right now, you’re studying a book about writing better and writing more efficiently so you can cash in more by writing amazing Kindle books. I’ve given you some great tips so far, but this is absolutely the most important one.

Read. Read. Read. READ.

It’s amazing what happens when you read. Ideas will come to you. You’ll be infinitely more creative. Words will flow easily, and in the perfect order. You’ll be inspired, alive, and changed.

Read fiction and nonfiction. Read spy novels, romance novels, and horror novels. Read historical fiction and nonfiction, biographies and self-help books. Read everything.

Figure out how to get Kindle books from your local library and fill your Kindle with everything you can get your hands on. That is the best writing course on the planet.

“Create an EBook Today. Publish It On Amazon. Profit From It For the Rest Of Your Life!” Get a FREE Copy CLICK HERE

Writing Cheat # 6 – Know exactly what you’re doing, and when.

Do you write haphazardly? I know some writers who “write” all day long. I know some business owners who “work” all day. They’ll claim to spend 16 hour days working or writing and are at their breaking point. They definitely give their blood, sweat, and tears to the craft.

If you’re that type of writer or worker, I want you to look hard at what you’re actually doing.

  • How often do you check your email?
  • How often do you visit news sites?
  • How much time do you spend on Facebook?
  • How often do you find yourself getting into debates on Internet forums?
  • Do you check celebrity gossip sites?
  • Do you find yourself getting up for a drink, to use the bathroom, to get a snack, to check on the cat dozens of times in your work day?
  • Do you find yourself at the end of a work day, wondering what in the world you did all day and why you don’t have more of your project done?

I’ll be the first to say that I work long days. But, my days are pretty tightly focused. I frequently check in on my forum members and my Facebook group members. You’ll rarely find me flittering my days away doing nothing. It takes dedication to get to this point and I won’t say it’s always easy– the Internet is an endlessly distracting place with any number of rabbit holes.

I want you to give yourself a maximum of 3 hours a day to work at your computer over the next three days. That’s it. You’re not allowed to be on your computer, for any reason, longer than three hours.

These 3 challenge hours will include the following activities:

  • Writing
  • Marketing your Kindle books
  • Checking email
  • Spending time checking news outlets, gossip, and funny cat pictures

Yes, you have big projects to complete. You have goals and deadlines.

You still have those goals and deadlines…but you now have much less time to work on them for three days.

Don’t worry– I’ll wager that you’ll get a lot more done than you usually do. There are two things at work here:

  • You naturally work better, faster, and more efficiently when you’re crunched for time. You don’t have 16 hours a day to work during this challenge, so your conscious and subconscious will find ways for you to work smarter.

You’ll neither have the time nor the inclination to check out time wasting sites. You only have 3 hours– those dancing cats aren’t that interesting. You also won’t feel the pull to do something fun while you work so hard because

  • you won’t feel like you’re missing out. You have 21 hours to do whatever else you’d like to do (assuming you don’t have an outside job– even then, your “free” hours truly become your own). Read a book, go for a walk, or watch tons of trashy TV if you want. The rest of the day belongs to you.

Do a self-evaluation after the experiment. Did you get more done than normal? You probably did– working a fraction of the time. Adjust your work day from there and think about what you have to do and what you really want to do. Those low-value time wasting websites are sucking away your productivity and time away from activities you really want to do.

“Create an EBook today. Publish It on Amazon. Profit From It for the Rest of Your Life!” Get a FREE Copy CLICK HERE

Writing Cheats #5 Change where you are.

Writers are creatures of habit. They do the same things the same way. Sometimes, this works well– maybe you have a lucky chair or desk you write in. Sometimes, though, this sameness causes things to go stale– and it shows up in your writing.

If you’re feeling stuck, bland, or uninspired, you need a change of scenery. Here are some ideas of things you can do to jumpstart you physically, mentally, and emotionally:

  • Do something you’ve never done before.
  • Go to the beach and brainstorm or write there.
  • Go to a busy Starbucks or local cafe and write there.
  • Go for a walk through the woods by yourself with no electronics.
  • Take an entire week off with no access to electronics.
  • People watch for an entire afternoon
  • Read something in a genre you’ve never read before
  • Re-read your favorite book from childhood
  • Call someone you haven’t called in a while
  • Apologize to someone you need to apologize to
  • Pay the toll for someone behind you
  • Spend the day on a farm
  • Visit the “poor” section of town
  • Volunteer in a homeless shelter for an afternoon
  • Visit the ritzy section of town
  • Dress up like someone you admire
  • Read about the life of a writer from two centuries ago

… you get the idea. It’s time to break out and do something completely unexpected. You may have heard this advice before, but you likely haven’t seen anything like this list before. One or more of those ideas stood out to you. Now, do them.

You’ll come back to your writing with a new perspective, a new jolt of creativity, and total freedom to write something awesome much more quickly than you would have had you just stared at the blinking cursor for hours on end.

“How To Be a Writer Who Flies High, Makes Money and Dazzles the Folks Back Home” Get Your FREE Copy Click Here

Writing Cheat # 4 Take away all questions before you start

Some writers try to write with only a vague notion of what they are going to write about. That can work for some writers, but you might not be one of them if you struggle with writer’s block, inconsistency, plot holes, and a number of other issues that will sink your Kindle book.

Many writers “interview” their characters before they sit down to write. They pretend to have their characters tell them about their lives, past, present, and future. This is a really great technique, but let’s take it a step further. You are going to ask your characters how they feel about everything that happens in the story.

At this point, you likely have your major plot points figured out. But, every writer has experienced the frustration that comes along when they just don’t know how to move the plot forward or how to solve a plot hole that doesn’t make sense. Stewing about these problems can put a giant kink in the works. It’s almost impossible to move forward if these questions are hovering over you, unanswered.

Here’s what you can do instead– answer these questions ahead of time. No, you can’t predict every question or issue you’ll have. But, you can be way ahead of the game and can be prepared to solve any issue that comes your way.

List the major plot points you have planned. Then, interview every character who will be affected or even present at the time of the event. “Ask” your characters what they saw, who they saw, what they felt, what happened (for them) before and after the major plot point. Remember to do this for each character in turn-even minor ones. This helps you see the plot from all angles so you can plug up any holes. This can be as quick or as detailed as you want to make it.

Now, when you run into questions or aren’t sure what to write next, you can just look at what your characters told you. You’ll never get stuck and your writing will be even more powerful and creative.

You can also do this with non-fiction, to some extent. It depends on your topic and your goal.

“Create and E Book Today. Publish It On Amazon. Profit From It For The Rest Of Your Life!”  Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

Writing Cheats #3 Write a movie instead of a book.

No, I’m not saying you should get out there and write a screenplay. I’m saying you should feel and know your characters as deeply as you would if you were directing them in a movie. You should know what they look like, what their background is, what their physical and emotional flaws are, and more.

Many writers struggle to get to know their characters. They get frustrated and experience writer’s block because they don’t have a clear enough picture of who their characters are. It’s one thing to “direct” people you can see and hear. It’s another to try to “direct” characters who don’t yet exist and haven’t come alive in your mind.

You need to make your characters live before you get started writing so they are easier to direct. If they are alive, it’s much easier to take them in unexpected and magical places because you don’t have to spend any energy wondering who they are.

How do you do this?

You create them.

Flip through a magazine and find people who represent each character. Find and cut out objects, travel destinations, homes, and other photos and graphics that represent who your character is and what they love, hate, do, and feel. Paste your character and the other images to a poster board so you can glance up and see your character whenever you need to. Do this for each major character and you’ll be surrounded by “people” who have actual lives instead of a few lines of flat, typed characteristics. Alternatively, create this “poster” on your computer using digital images for easy access.

It will be so much easier to write compelling scenes, dialogue, and descriptions once you do this. Make your characters live and you’ll write more quickly, write better, and write more productively. Have fun with this– it sincerely will banish writer’s block and anxiety in writing fiction.