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801 Posts tagged with the writing tag
1

Letting Go

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 8, 2014

A few books ago, I killed off a major character. I killed him in an awful, despicable, horrible way. He wasn't just a major player in a story line that spanned five books; he was a beloved character, by readers and by me. Shortly after I published the book, I got some angry e-mails from a few readers. They couldn't believe what I had done.

 

What they didn't know was that it was not an easy choice to make. I knew a full year in advance that the character would die. When the realization came to me, I literally had to sit down. I didn't want to do it. This character was an anchor for another character. He just made everything feel like it was going to be all right. Why did this particular character have to die? Because my protagonist needed to grow. He needed an obstacle that would fundamentally change him. Dealing with the loss was the most logical way to get him to that place of change.

 

I knew he was going to die before I started writing the book. It was on my mind night and day during the weeks that led up to the scene where the deed would be done. On the day I wrote the wretched act, I paced the floor in between writing stretches, and then when he was gone, I walked away from my computer in total mourning. I awoke the next day fully convinced I couldn't go through with it. I was mad for thinking I could. I sat down and read the scene. It crushed me, not because it was well-written, but because I knew I was going to keep the scene.

 

That feeling of loss and bitterness I felt was necessary. It was something I had to experience because my protagonist was experiencing it. It's not easy letting go of a major character, but if the story calls for it, it has to be done. You have to let go.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Write an Obituary for Your Characters

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

1,909 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, character_development
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Quick Tip: Conduct an Author Website Audit - All Indie Writers

Is your website working for or against you?  

                           

3 Ways to Pare Down Your Prose - Beyond Paper Editing

Some advice for nonfiction authors.      

 

Film

                                                        

6 Filmmaking Tips from John Cassavetes - Film School Rejects

The art of improvisational filmmaking.    

                                          

How to Generate a Sticky Story Your Audience Will Love - Filmmaking Stuff

Do you know the core of your story? 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Sing - The Definitive Guide - From the Front of the Choir

It all starts with opening your mouth.

 

Studio Headphones: Tips for Best Use - Judy Rodman

Don't forget the value of ambient sound during a recording session.  

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup- August 29, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- August 22, 2014

1,933 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, selling, filmmaking, editing, indie, help, writing, nonfiction, social_networking, social_media, audience, singing, author_website, music_industry, filmmaking_tips, headphones
0

As writers, we want to make an impact on readers. We love to make readers sit up and re-read a passage because it was so moving or unexpected or – dare I say it – brilliant. What we don't want to do is write something that removes the reader from the story. If you include an element in your book that has no value other than to get a rise out of readers, that's referred to as gratuitous material, and it can kill a story.

 

Normally we associate gratuitous material as being overtly violent or sexual in nature. But, in this context the word literally means "being without apparent reason, cause, or justification." It can be applied to any component of a story that interrupts the flow of the narrative. Readers can be so disenchanted by gratuitous material that it can damage your brand.

 

As the author, you may not always be sure if what you've written is gratuitous or not. I've struggled with identifying gratuitous material in my own writing more times than I can count. It's happened so often I've developed a quick questionnaire to help me determine if the material is of a gratuitous nature. It's so quick, there's only one question.

 

Does the material make the story better?

 

I don't care if it makes it more shocking. That's not better. By making it better, I mean, does it compel the story forward? If it does, then it belongs. The nature of the passage doesn't matter. If it's a step toward the natural conclusion of your story or an important revelation of character, then it is not gratuitous.

 

What about you? How do you decide if something you've written is gratuitous or not?

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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The Power of the Mindless Task

A Satisfactory Ending

2,398 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, book, content, readers, publishing, writing, story, craft, writing_tips, author_advice
1

A few years ago, I conducted a writing workshop at my local library. The actual workshop had very little to do with author branding, but the topic came up during the question and answer period. I shared my belief that branding in an online environment ruled by social media is essentially community building. You (the author), as the administrator of this community, use blogs, videos and social networking to engage readers and link them to both you and each other using your book(s) as the connective tissue. In other words, in order to build a successful brand today, authors need to market dynamically. In this age of the internet, there's very little downtime when it comes to author marketing and brand building.

 

After the workshop, a gentleman approached me. He had published a book via a small publisher, and he was frustrated that it wasn't selling and even more frustrated with his publisher because he didn't think they were doing enough to sell the book. I reiterated my points about author branding in today's Internet world, and he responded by declaring that he would never do the things I suggested. He just wasn't interested. I assured him that I understood that it wasn't for everybody and recommended he hire a publicist to try and help him. He had looked into it, and it wasn't financially feasible. He went to his publisher, and, as it turns out, they directed him to take the community brand-building route we had discussed at length. He then handed me a copy of his book and urged me to read it. He was convinced once I read it I would drop everything and do all that I could to make sure it became a bestseller. I refused at first. When he asked why, I was blunt. If he wasn't passionate enough to do what it takes to market it and build a brand, I didn't feel inspired to read it. If he truly felt the book was a must-read, he needed to get behind it. To his credit, he didn't take no for an answer. He insisted I take it, and I finally relented but only because I had another appointment. I took the book home, and to this day, I've never cracked it open.

 

This author essentially published his book and viewed it as a "Field of Dreams" project. If he published it, the readers would come. If the stars are aligned just right, that could indeed be the case. In other words, it's possible but not plausible. If you want to sell books, you have to be passionate about building your community and get behind the theory of dynamic brand building.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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The Generous Brand

 

The Three C's of Brand-Building

 

 

1,865 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions, branding
0

Change It Up!

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 27, 2014

I am prone to bouts of writer's block. There are times when I can't think of a thing to write. It is a maddening experience. Sometimes it can even get a little frightening. After all, a writer who can't find the inspiration to set his or her fingers dancing across the computer keyboard in a coherent manner is more or less a person who has mastered the art of staring pensively at the screen. That's not much of a skill. Trying to fight through writer's block usually fortifies the blockage.

 

One day, after struggling to overcome writer's block, I pushed away from the desk and decided to make a run to the post office. It's a trip I have made many times in my life. I have a set route that gets me there and back without wasting precious writing time sitting in the car. On this particular day, the route I normally take was unavailable due to construction so I had to take a long and annoying alternate route. I grumbled and groused the entire way.

 

Turning down a road I normally don't travel, I spotted a street sign, Able Street. For whatever reason, the name stuck in my brain. By the time I reached the post office, I must have repeated the name in my head a hundred times. I was constantly aware of the name. While I stood in line to mail a package, I changed Able to Abel. Suddenly it wasn't a street name anymore. Abel was a man, a large, gruff, and volatile man that had the temperament and skills to save a town from a band of marauders. That was it. My writer's block was a dusty pile of rubble. I had a main conceit for a story. By the time the night was done, the first chapter was saved to my projects folder.

 

What allowed me to break through the writer's block? Change! I did something I normally don't do. My mind wasn't on autopilot. I was forced to pay attention to my surroundings because I was thrust into unfamiliar territory. If you are blocked, I invite you to break out of your normal routine and compel your brain to take on new tasks. You never know the creativity you may spark.


 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Unblocking Writer's Block

Do You Have Writer's Block?

3,494 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, publishing, writing, craft, writer's_block, writing_tips
0

The Generous Brand

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 25, 2014

I've taken to producing short project update videos for my Facebook friends that I post once a week. For whatever reason, I've discovered that most of my interaction with readers takes place on the social networking site. After posting a video not long ago, a young writer contacted me and wanted to know if I would be willing to give him advice on writing and publishing. I was more than thrilled to do it. His inquiry prompted me to produce a new video where I announced I would be happy to field anyone's questions on the same topics.

 

Within a few minutes of posting that video, I got a private message from a friend letting me know that I had lost my mind. This friend feared I had opened the floodgates, and worse yet, I had volunteered this knowledge for free. Surely there was money to be had, and I was throwing away an opportunity to make some extra cash.

 

I explained that just because I was giving knowledge away for free doesn't mean I wouldn't benefit from it. An author brand doesn't represent a corporate structure, not in the traditional sense. An author brand represents a community. In my community there are readers and other writers, all of whom discuss and recommend each other, and to their own branch of friends and followers, the books that I have written. I owe them a debt of gratitude. I offered to help them by addressing their questions as best I know how because it's the right thing to do. At the same time, I'd be less than honest if I didn't acknowledge that I am aware that I am deepening their loyalty to my author brand and our community by being generous with my time.

 

Free does not mean without profit. Don't be afraid to give of your time and talents to strengthen and build your community.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Building an Author Brand is Easy

Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

1,632 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, writing, branding
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Ways an Editor is like a Dentist - The Book Designer

An editor might cause you a little pain, but it's for the good of you and your book.  

                           

How to Be an Author Book Bloggers Will Love - Author Culture

It's really a matter of planning and being considerate.      

 

Film

                                                        

The Shocking Truth about Your Movie Idea - Filmmaking Stuff

The key to a successful movie idea may be finding the audience first.    

                                          

6 Filmmaking Tips from Terry Gilliam - Film School Rejects

And now for something completely different from the only American who was a member of Monty Python. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

In Response: You're an Artist AND an Entrepreneur - New Music Box

Success belongs to those who wear both hats.

 

Singing Low Notes at a Recording Mic: The Ninja Technique - Judy Rodman

Hitting that low note is a pressing matter.  

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup- August 15, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- August 8, 2014

1,796 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: filmmaking, writing, movie, editor, artist, recording, blogs, entrepreneur, musicians, filmmaking_tips, book_blogging
4

My friend Cathy Livingstone wrote a clever (and useful) book called Bubbe, Mimi & Gigi: The Best Grandmother Name Book Ever. The guide recently received a glowing review in grandparents section of About.com, which described it as "a perfect gift for a grandmother-to-be and an especially cool way to let a mom know that she's about to become a grandmom."

 

Wow! That's about as good as it gets. The grandparents section called it a perfect gift? Talk about target marketing!

 

Cathy published the book on her own, so how did this wonderful review come to be?

 

It happened because Cathy made it happen. I love that!

 

Here's what she did:

 

1) She searched online for a book reviewer in her genre
2) She sent the reviewer a personalized email query
3) The reviewer replied and said she would consider it
4) Cathy sent the reviewer a book
5) The reviewer wrote a review

 

See how effective marketing can be if you're smart (and organized) about it? When efforts to promote a book go nowhere, it's often because the author isn't reaching out to the right audience with the right message. By searching for reviewers in her genre, Cathy was able to connect with a woman who was interested in hearing what she had to say. That's half the battle right there.

 

Another reason book promotion efforts go nowhere is because the author isn't assertive enough. Cathy sent the reviewer a book without knowing whether or not it would result in a review. Another smart move.

 

Cathy was smart about her book promotion, and look at the result. You can do it too!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Use a Blogroll to Promote Your Work

Marketing Tip: Put Your First Chapter on Your Website

5,784 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, reviews, author, writing, promotions
1

A Satisfactory Ending

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 18, 2014

The end is nigh. You've been burning the midnight oil to get to that point in your novel where you can crack your knuckles and finally type "The End." The problem you're having is you're not quite sure if it's time to end your story. Is the ending you're offering truly satisfying? Will your readers celebrate your name or curse it once they read the last page?

 

Your first order of business is to forget your readers. If you try to craft an ending that will please them, you will most likely miss the mark badly. As writers, we love readers. They are our greatest partners in the storytelling process, but their participation can't influence the path your story needs to take.

 

With the reader not a consideration, what should be your guideposts to a satisfying ending to your novel? Here are three elements to consider when writing an ending:

 

  1. Tone - If you've written a dark horror story that's managed to include one terrifying passage after another, you're not going to wrap things up in a nice little cheery bow. Your ending should match the tone of the rest of your book. A romance novel will most likely end on a high note. A mystery will end in triumph for the protagonist. The type of book you're writing has a lot to do with the ending.

  2. The ending belongs to the main plot - Not all of the unknowns have to become known at the end of your book. You can leave unanswered questions, but what you don't want to do is abandon the main conceit of the story at the end of a novel. The primary thematic element of your book has to come to a conclusion in some way on the last page. You may have introduced secondary plots throughout the book, but the time to address those is before you're ready to end your story.

  3. Open or closed - That conclusion can come in open or closed form. It is possible to answer a question in a way that creates more questions. You may end a mystery with the good guy killing the bad guy. The closed version of that ending is the good guy has all the evidence he needs to prove the shooting was justifiable. The open version of that ending is the good guy has no evidence that the bad guy was even the bad guy. He just has an unwritten confession. In this case, you've concluded the main conceit (Who's the bad guy?), but you ended with an unanswered question (How will the good guy avoid getting in trouble?). Open endings can be great catalysts for sequels.


If I were to include a fourth item to this list, it would be that your own personal style has bearing on how you end a story. That style is something you will develop over time and after writing more books.

 

How do you end a novel?

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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When to Say "I Don't Care"

Does Writing Change the Author?

3,106 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, ending
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

 

Books/Publishing

 

 

Reaching Readers: Lessons Learned from Blog Tours - Self-Publishing Advice

Are blog tours worth the time and money? One author shares her experience.  

                           

Why Books Make Us Laugh - Huffington Post

While our minds may distinguish between fact and fiction, our brains do not.      

 

Film

                                                        

Independent Filmmaking - Finding Your Style - NoHo

The only way to know what kind of filmmaker you are is to make a film.    

                                          

Stabilize It! - Raindance

How to shoot smooth moving shots on a budget. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Learn How to Sing Nature's Way - How to Sing Better

There's the wrong way to sing and then there's nature's way.

 

INFOGRAPHIC: Anatomy of Songs - Perfect Porridge

A fun little series of graphs that reveal the components of a song by genre.  

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup- August 1, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- August 8, 2014

1,863 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: music, movies, writing, recording, filmmakers, independent_film, singing, blog_tour, music_production, funny_books
0

Makes Some Noise

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 13, 2014

I follow well-known author Cormac McCarthy on Facebook. I should clarify: Cormac McCarthy never actually updates his status letting us know what he had for lunch, nor does he post cute cat videos. He never posts anything at all himself. There is a Cormac McCarthy consortium that posts on behalf of the reclusive author's brand.

 

Today, Cormac McCarthy's Facebook feed featured a status update about how he doesn't write about his books. He thinks it's bad form. He believes if you're talking about a book, you're not writing it. He's very old school.

 

My philosophy is the polar opposite of Mr. McCarthy's, and it's painful to admit because I am such a big fan of his work. I talk about my books as I write them. I devote blog posts to word count updates, and I upload videos about plot points and current character development. I express my excitement if I have a good day of writing, and I publicly curse the days when I struggle to get the words on the page.

 

I do this not because I think so much of myself that I believe everyone should know. I do it because I have found there is a direct correlation between the noise I make about what I'm writing, to the number of books I sell of existing titles on Amazon. In short, my brand isn't on as solid ground as Cormac McCarthy's. He has earned the luxury of remaining reclusive. I have not. Who knows? In a few more years, maybe I'll have a consortium posting for me on Facebook.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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The Recluse in the Age of Social Media

Social Networking Sells Your Brand

2,098 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, self-publishing, writing, social_networking, social_media, marketing_ideas, marketing_advice
0

I've talked about failing on this blog; now it's time to talk about succeeding. Just as there is a lot of misunderstanding that goes into what it means to fail, success is largely misunderstood as well.

 

We've all seen the glamorized version of success in publishing. Become a bestseller right away and sell a couple million copies, right? It's the pinnacle of publishing, or the assumed pinnacle of publishing. Reaching those heights immediately is rarified air. Only a handful of books do it, and when they do it's not usually by design. By and large, such results greatly exceed expectations.

 

If you want to succeed in indie publishing, you're going to want to do it in steps. In other words, don't make your goal to sell a million copies or bust. Make your goal out of the gate to sell 50 books, and design a strategy around that number. Once you've reached or exceeded it, up the ante. With the next goal reached, kick it up a notch, and so forth and so on. You have a novel that will never go out of print unless you decide otherwise. Use that fact to your advantage. Don't frontload a strategy with all your resources in an effort to sell as many books as you can right off the bat. You'll find yourself swimming against the current.

 

Achieve success in increments. Set small, achievable benchmarks that will allow you to accumulate momentum, build readership and increase sales over time. This strategy can result in exponential growth, and it will boost your confidence and your knowledge of the market along the way.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Setting Goals for Your Brand

Selling Books Out of the Trunk of Your Car

1,974 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, book_sales, publishing_success
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Know What You Write - AuthorCulture

When researching a book in this day and age, you have to be at the top of your game because readers have a world of information at their fingertips to fact-check you.   

                           

Surprising Self-Publishing Statistics - Publishers Weekly

An interesting look at the state of the ever-growing and increasingly influential indie publishing industry.       

 

Film

                                                        

What I've Learned from Making Three Feature Films by Patrick Creadon - Film Courage

Director and writer Patrick Creadon discusses the films he's made and how they have shaped his career.    

                                          

5 Ways to Succeed as a Modern Filmmaker - Filmmaking Stuff

How to get out of your own way and make a movie.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Music Marketing Ideas: Are These Too Outrageous? - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Are these marketing strategies too outside the box?

 

How Singer-Songwriters Can Maximize Their Career Potential When Using DJs and Producers - Musicgoat.com

Make sure you're recognized for your original material.  

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup- August 1, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- July 25, 2014

1,886 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writers, directors, writing, films, producers, filmmaker, music_marketing, musicians, filmmakers, songwriters, djs
3

Has this ever happened to you? You sit down to write, and just as you start pounding out words, your mind drifts to that driver that cut you off on the freeway. You pull yourself back and redirect your thoughts onto your story only to drift back to that driver's smug face as he grinned at you through his rearview mirror. Still, you carry on. You write because that's what you do.

 

The next day, you return to your computer and read what you wrote the day before. It's off. The tone is different. The dialogue that's meant to be sweet and tender has a bitter current running through it. You wrote how you were feeling, not how your characters felt.

 

What do you do when you're writing and life gets in the way? You do something mindless. A mindless task will cleanse your thoughts of all those things that fill you with angst and worry. I personally do something that makes me break a sweat before I start to write. My goal is to physically exhaust myself so I'll be too tired to be concerned with the little bumps in the road of life.

 

Whether it is exercise, cooking or cleaning the kitchen, there is an activity within your grasp to clear your head and put you in the right frame of mind to contribute useful words to your story. Think of a mindless task as an inoculation against ineffective prose. When the day hasn't gone your way, doing something that doesn't require much thought may be the perfect solution to worry-free writing.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Should You Write Daily to Write Well?

Rewrites: Make the Hardest Changes First

3,785 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing
4

Much has been written about what reading a novel does to the brain. One study featured by The Atlantic showed that reading certain words associated with odors can trigger the part of the brain devoted to smell. Another study showed that reading a novel can change the structure of a brain. For example, reading about riding a bicycle can activate the parts of a brain that are used when physically riding a bicycle. In short, reading a novel can open the reader up to experiencing a kind of non-physical reality that is completely created by the author.

 

 

If reading can have that kind of effect on the reader, imagine what it can do for the writer. During my best writing moments, I slip into a trance that in many ways makes me feel removed from this world, a kind of Fringe-like alternate universe. The structure of my brain must be constantly under construction as if it's the Winchester mansion adding wing after wing with no end in sight.

 

 

Personally, I feel like my worldview has expanded a great deal over the years that I have followed the stories in my head. Some would argue that it's a natural process of aging and maturing, and while I can't say for sure that writing is what changed me, I lean in that direction. For no other reason than I know of, we are shaped by our experiences and thanks to my writing, I have experienced things that I haven't physically experienced. It's a wild concept that can leave you a little dizzy.

 

What about you? Do you feel your writing has changed you in any way?

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Thank the People Who Help You

Make Your Own Rules

2,050 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, publishing, writing, reading, craft, author_brand
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