Major Change!

Hey guys!

Today, I have something to tell you. I’ve decided to stop posting on this blog for now. I’ve recently started another blog called Infinitely Obscure, and I just don’t have the time to regularly update two blogs at the same time.

But here’s the good news: I’m going to incorporate this blog into Infinitely Obscure, meaning that I won’t stop posting about writing – it’ll just be under a different blog. That way, I can actually plan writing posts into my editorial calendar and have content regularly. Unlike on this blog, that’s been really neglected lately, and I’ve felt really guilty about it.

So if you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, I ask you to please go check out Infinitely Obscure and subscribe there. I post there five days a week, Monday through Friday, so there’s more content than here.

I’m still working on the projects I’ve shared with you on this blog, so I’ll update stuff about them there. (Including the e-book on writing a play for beginners, that I’ll hopefully get out this year!)

I hope that you can embrace this change with me. Luckily it’s not the end – it’ll just look a little different.

I hope to see you there!

Love,
Aino.

Conversations with My Inner Critic, Part One

Yesterday, I finally completed the first draft of Manna, my newest play. Time to party! WOOOO…

…OOO…

…ooo…

…egh…

Only not really. Why didn’t I feel like celebrating, even though I finally managed to finish the draft that I’d been struggling with for a really long time? By the time I got to the dramatic, emotional final scenes, I was exhausted, tired and frustrated. Why? After saving the draft and stepping away from my computer, it finally hit me. My inner critic. This was the first time I could see him, in my mind, staring judgmentally into my soul. Yes, him. My mind often personifies inanimate objects and apparently, voices inside my head.

So, my inner critic looks like this:

I know he’s been with me ever since I started writing, but this time he was exceptionally loud. I’ll walk you through one of our conversations. Maybe it can help some of you – at least it helps to get it out of my system:

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Tell Me About the Character Who Won’t Leave

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One of my favourite feelings when I write is realising that a character has won my heart for good. From the moment their story starts unfolding, I know they won’t leave my side. Ever. And I don’t want them to. Obviously every character is memorable in their own way, but some just have that extra something special.

I’ll tell you a little about one such character. Share your stories in the comments or on your blog and leave me a link. I’d love to fall in love with your characters as well!

So, Kristiina.
That’s her name. She lives in a small cottage in the forest with her husband and 9-year-old son.
She was born in the forest. She lived there until she fell in love and became human.
She knows magic. She knows of the wonders that exist around us, of the creatures and spirits that live everywhere.
She’s strong; she’s fragile; she’s passionate. She makes mistakes, some of them almost unforgivable.
When I first wrote about her, the story was meant to focus on her son. He never lives past 9, but continues to haunt a big farmhouse near his home.
The story was supposed to be about him, the boy in the wall. Then I started seeing that how he got there is more important.
I think she has everything to do with that.

And that’s how Kristiina took over the entire first draft.

I think one of the reasons why she’s still in my mind is that I haven’t finished her story. But I find it unlikely that she’ll ever leave. She’s like a mysterious friend, and I get to know her more every day. I don’t want her to leave.

Which character won’t leave you? Who keeps reminding you of their existence? Which of your characters do you turn to for advice, and whose face do you keep seeing in the crowd? Share your successes! Why do you think they’ve stayed in your mind?

Love,
Aino.

How Stating the Obvious Can Improve Your Writing

The Writing Days / How Stating the Obvious Can Improve Your Writing

I already know what you’re thinking. Going against this advice is the building block of any creative writing course or class. Stating the obvious means you’re (1) undermining your readers and (2) you’re probably just a lazy writer. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that sometimes avoiding the obvious means overlooking some very exciting stuff. But don’t take my short word for it – let me explain what I mean.

Plot

Now, by stating the obvious I don’t mean writing a predictable plot from start to finish – you can still add unforeseen twists to your heart’s content. I mean that if you set up for something to happen it should happen.

How many times has the following happened in books you’ve read or TV you’ve watched?

A: I’m gonna talk to him.
B: Don’t you think that’s a little dangerous?
A: Sure. But I have to know. I have to tell him to leave me alone.

Two hours later:
B: How did it go?
A: He said he wasn’t going to bother me anymore.
B: Okay cool.

WHAT?! No, not cool in the slightest! Unless what actually happens in the confrontation is a major plot point that needs to be revealed further into the story, do not set up drama that’s never going to happen. I think writers fear that showing drama will make their writing resemble a soap-opera, but I beg to differ. Why give us set-up and aftermath when we could have action?

Characters

Basically, my frustration with this can be summed into a sentence I’ve already used in this post: Don’t set up drama that’s never going to happen. This will apply to many sorts of situations, mostly with characters whose morals are questionable, or who are part of a minority. It is a phenomenon in which the writer seemingly recognises a minority but at the same time fears that writing a character who is a part of that minority will alienate their audience. Similar situations include, but are not limited to:

  1. Your character is bad. Only not really, he’s just behaving that way because of, let’s say, a curse. Not like any of it is actually his fault. So there are no consequences, because you know, he didn’t know what he was doing.
  2. Your character has this one friend. They behave exactly like they are falling for each other. Only, you know, they are best friends so no way.
  3. Your character dies. Only not really, haha, it was all just a dream.

You get my point. For example, queerbaiting drives me absolutely insane. Setting up a homosexual relationship and then passing it off as a homoromantic one is not right. Go with what your characters tell you. I don’t mind a little “will they, won’t they” fun, but as a reader and viewer, I demand action! Writers are supposed to be brave. So be brave and let your characters be who they are.

So sometimes, just sometimes, give your audience what they expect. Walk bravely towards drama. Trust me, your readers will love you for it.

What do you think about going for the obvious solutions? Do you have any cautionary tales from books/films/TV? Which writers succeed in setting up drama and seeing it through? Comment your opinions and let’s chat!

Love,
Aino.

How Pinterest Can Help You Write

The Writing Days / How Pinterest Can Help You Write

I have a confession to make: I’m madly in love with Pinterest. I have pin boards for everything from clothes and interior decorating to motivational quotes and – you guessed it – writing. While Pinterest is not always great for someone as prone to procrastination as I am, there are many cool things you can do with Pinterest that might actually increase your productivity and help you feel and stay inspired.

Visualising is key

And I do mean the key for almost anything. Seeing your ideas in visual form can help bring them to life. I have inspiration boards for many of my projects (for example, this one for my 2014 NaNoWriMo project), and whenever I feel like I’m stuck with my writing, I go back to look at the images. For me, pin boards help rekindle that original idea that got me interested in writing the story in the first place.

Explain yourself

As a writer and director, I still sometimes find that words fail me. Words can be interpreted in so many different ways that it’s almost impossible to check whether everyone is on the same page with me. That’s where images come in handy. By sharing a board, I can also share my ideas and get everyone working towards the same goal. This especially works in directing when I’m trying to explain the overall feeling of the work – that’s where words fail me most often. Explaining that vague feeling can be really difficult, so again – visualise.

Understand yourself

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” -Flannery O’Connor
(Yes, I found the quote on Pinterest.)

Often, I don’t even know what I mean until I see it in front of me. Sometimes I accomplish this by writing, and sometimes by Pinterest boards. When images start appealing to me visually, I can get a clearer idea of what I actually mean. When I write, a brand new idea might surface as a clear-as-day mental image, or a set of almost unattainable ideas that I spend many frustrating hours trying to write. When I look at pictures, my thoughts start clicking. Of course that’s what I mean!

Do it yourself

Writing is both an art and a craft, I think. I love handwriting, and it’s always a pleasure to see a physical work that I’ve made. Pinterest is heaven for the eager DIY-type like me. I pin images of zines, journals and writing prompts that I’d like to try, and they give me new ideas. Staying inspired by physically doing something is a great exercise in keeping my brain active and thinking.

Motivate yourself

You know, it does sometimes happen that I’m completely uninspired. No matter what I try, I can’t seem to get my writing flowing. That’s when I want to read advice and motivational quotes from other writers. They help with staying focused, and at least I’m learning about writing, if I’m not writing. (Psst! You can follow my writing. Pinterest board here.)

 

Granted, Pinterest is not always great, but when you learn to search for the right content, it can be very useful. I believe that seeing what I mean is also a way to understand myself. I never really understood my style until I could see unifying things in my Pinterest boards – so these are the things that appeal to me aesthetically! While Pinterest is also just a really fun activity to do, it can also be a method of self-reflection. And getting to know yourself as a writer is really important.

Do you have Pinterest? How do you use it? Do you visualise your writing in some way? Tell me in the comments, and make sure to link your Pinterest if you want. I’d really want to check them out.

Love,
Aino.

Living the Dream 1: Beginnings

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I’m sorry for my horribly long absence! I promise it’s because I’ve been writing. I’ll post some quick updates later, but today I’m starting a new series called Living the Dream: Adapting Beauty Sleep for the Stage. In this series, I detail the process of adapting the film Beauty Sleep by Elias Koskimies for the theatre. I’ve been dreaming about this project for years now, and finally seeing it happen is… beyond amazing! So here it is:

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The Spring and Summer Bucket List for Writers (Free Printable!)

The Writing Days / The Spring and Summer Bucket List for Writers (Free Printable!)Hi guys and my sincerest apologies for the long absence! I’ve been so busy with everything else that I had to drop something for a while. I’m feeling more energetic now, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to posting several times a week. The lovely spring weather here in Finland is definitely helping.

Today I thought I’d do something different, so I made a printable you can download. It’s a spring and summer bucket list for writers with several writing prompts and activities you can do to inspire your writing during the warm months. Here it is!

summerbucketlist-thewritingdays

If you use any of the prompts, let me know! It’d be lovely to read what different kinds of texts the same prompts can inspire. Also, share your summer activities on your blog and let me know how you keep yourself writing during the summer – always up for new ideas, I am. I’m also thinking about starting a summer writing competition on my Instagram, so if you have an account, follow @thewritingdays_blog on IG for more updates on that later.

Get writing!

Love,
Aino.