I screenshotted a recent Dazzled homepage, and... I don't know. Seeing the Rushmore review I wrote and submitted, along with the daily quote being a Max Fischer quote, it just made me realize that I really love doing what I do: getting to write and be published, both on here and on Dazzled. Like, there's an entire website that exists just because of words I wrote (this one), and there's one where an editor tailors her site to accommodate words I wrote, as well as what other writers and artists have created. It's kind of an incredible thing, the Internet being so accessible to so many people, so that anyone can create and publish their work, and so people who may not have ever met in person can collaborate to create a publication to showcase their talents.
Hey guys, short post today. Just wanted to get some thoughts out.
So, as many of you already know, I really love to write. I write this blog, I write for Dazzled, and I may be soon getting involved with yet another publication (can't talk about it now, details to come!). But, as fewer of you knew probably knew, a lifelong dream of mine has been to write fiction. The problem for me, though, in writing fiction, is not money. It is not having a room of my own. The problem is coming up with an idea that I feel passionate about and interested in to cultivate from a simple idea to a full-blown story.
I always get bored with my ideas. They're too sappy, or the plot isn't interesting, or the characters are impossible to empathize with. The last idea I had for a novel was a book about musical prodigies that I accidentally deleted from my computer, and I was unable to reverse the deletion. And only after deleting it did I realize the story didn't really work: I had a premise, but nowhere to take the characters. I had a few witty lines planned, and wrote the third person narration while channeling Alec Baldwin (in his narration of The Royal Tenenbaums), but that was it, and I had to delete all of my hard work in order to realize that fact.
Lately, I've thought about writing satire. For my junior year English class, I wrote a satirical piece, and everyone who read it thought it was really funny (except for one person in my class who read the first sentence and then handed it back to me, saying, "I don't understand it"). The comedy of Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, David Sedaris, Janeane Garofalo, and John Oliver are especially huge inspirations for me currently, and I would love to at least try to follow in their footsteps in that regard.
So... yeah. That was a bit of a ramble, I know. This whole post was just kind of improvised at 11:45 at night, so I'm a bit tired, too.
I love to write. But I'm almost always hitting a writer's block. Even with blog posts, I sometimes want to rant online about how great science is, or about feminism in popular culture, or about books I like, but it's always hard to get the complex web of thoughts that is my brain onto a page of paper or internet blog. A fun way to get my writing going is to add constraints.
I'm not one for "no limits" and being 100% spontaneous all the time always, and so having some sort of constraint actually helps me to foster my creativity.
So, what are some ways you can "constrain" your writing, or alter it in weird ways to get your creative juices flowing?
N+7 is a fun game to take normal writing and make it bizarre. Take a piece of common writing, and replace every noun with the 7th noun to follow it in the dictionary. Since dictionaries aren't all alike, you'll get varying results depending on what dictionary you use. You can also mix it up by using different parts of speech, like verbs or adjectives, or by changing the number so that instead of using the 7th word, you can use the 8th, or the 10th, or the 25th.
In Twitterature, you have to tell an entire story in 140 characters or less. I like to challenge myself by making it exactly 140 characters, and there are plenty of websites that help with counting characters that specifically set a limit at 140. I've started out by taking famous works of literature and summarizing them. For example, I've done pieces of Twitterature on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I might start trying it with TV shows and movies, as well.
Lipograms are where you cannot use a certain letter anywhere in your writing. It's easier without letters such as Q or X or Z, where it's a less common letter. More challenging to try it out by omitting an extremely common letter, such as E. This was actually done in 1939 with Ernest Vincent Wright's novel Gadsby, which is about 50,000 words long (NaNoWriMo much?) but does not contain the letter E at all. And it has a plot, too, in which John Gadsby rallies the youth of his hometown to make the city a better place to live in.
4. Snowball Poetry
Poems that contain only one word in each line, but with each new line, the word length has to increase by one letter.
This is somewhat the opposite of the lipogram, in that in univocalic writing the writer can only write using one vowel, thus omitting the others. A famous example of this is Ernst Jandl's poem "Ottos Mops," which only uses the vowel "o." These poems aren't that great for bilingual people, because obviously, with translation, these poems will most likely not retain their univocalic nature. In English, Ottos Mops translates to "Otto's Pug."
So there are some different constraints that I found interesting and challenging. Of course, there are more that you can find online. There's actually an entire French literary group called Oulipo that tries to create works of literature using different constraints, often based on mathematical patterns. It's really fun and interesting and I'm definitely going to be having a lot of fun with constrained writing during Thanksgiving break.
If you have tried any of these techniques and created a piece of writing using constraints that you think is really cool or innovative or bizarre, send it to me using the contact form on the "About" page. I'd love to see what y'all have come up with.
SO GUESS WHAT Y'ALL?
This is kind of a follow-up to my last post, regarding my collaboration with Dazzled, the online magazine designed for teenage girls to share their world (www.dazzledmag.com). I'm joining the writing staff! So from now on, you can not only find my writing on Dear Abbey, but you can also find separate pieces I write on Dazzled, which will not be published here. I will, however, post links on a separate page that will lead to all of my razzle-Dazzled writing.
Hurray! Don't forget to visit Dazzled to check out all the stuff that I and the rest of the fabulous writing team create and share! :)