Tag Archives: writing

WRITING Quick Tip: The War of Art

Every writer, particularly any writer who struggles with procrastination, needs to read the first 100 pages of Steven Pressfield‘s The War of Art. Part 2 is skippable, and Part 3… really wasn’t my thing. But Part 1, those first 100 pages, are absolutely essential.

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WRITING: @YouAreCarrying Literary Improv, Chapter 2

I’m pretty charmed by @YouAreCarrying, a Twitter bot that will give you a text-game style inventory if you tweet the word inventory at it. It’s like an insta-prompt, and it always gets my brain buzzing with creativity.

So, as a creative experiment, I’m going to write a story based on what the bot gives me, with each ‘chapter’ using the given inventory. Why not have a little fun? Think of it as literary improv…

Chapter one is here.

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WRITING: @YouAreCarrying Literary Improv, Chapter 1

I’m pretty charmed by @YouAreCarrying, a Twitter bot that will give you a text-game style inventory if you tweet the word inventory at it. It’s like an insta-prompt, and it always gets my brain buzzing with creativity.

So, as a creative experiment, I’m going to try and write a story based on what the bot gives me, with each ‘chapter’ using the given inventory. Why not have a little fun? Think of it as literary improv…

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WRITING: Love Your Writing

“The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it’s about and why you’re doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising (“but of course that’s why he was doing that, and that means that…”) and it’s magic and wonderful and strange.” – Neil Gaiman

One thing nobody says is that it’s okay to love your writing.

So, here goes: It’s okay to love your writing. Honestly. I mean that. Without disclaimer, you are allowed to love what you’ve created. Unabashedly and without downplaying it or peppering it “but”s.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the opposite: that it’s okay that you hate your writing. Don’t worry, they say, I hate my writing too. All real writers hate their writing, because their standards are too high and they’re artists and nothing’s ever perfect and– the list goes on and on. To the point, sometimes, where it feels like if you don’t hate your writing, then maybe you should.

Nobody will tell everyone else that it’s okay if you love your writing, and nobody – for fear of not being humble enough, for fear of being called out as not a real writer – will publicly say they love their own writing. It’s an extension of Imposter Syndrome: Everyone’s afraid that if they let on that they’re enjoying themselves, everyone will realise it’s not real work and take their writing away somehow.

So let me start: I love my writing, and it’s okay for you to love yours too.

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WRITING: How I Develop Projects

Every writer has a different process for falling in love with a new story, character, world. For some it’s instant, like lightning; from the moment a character appears, they loom large, taking up all available space until the writer relents and digs in. For others it takes a catalyst. I bet some can choose which to fall for and when; I envy them.

For me, it’s about visualisation and music connecting me to character.

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TV: On Identification and HBO’s “Looking”

“You’re a pervert now. You gotta wear those colours with pride!”

I’ve watched the pilot for HBO’s Looking a few times now. Not because I planned to review it, or because I’ve watched it with other people, or out of particular fondness for a member of the cast.

I keep rewatching it because I identify with it, so much so that it’s forced me to reconsider my view of what it means to identify with a piece of fiction.

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WRITING: On Bravery

Recently, a friend did something that I would never be able to do: she got up on stage and did stand-up comedy for the first time. Not only that, but she did another set only a week later, giving herself no room to retreat if the first didn’t go well.

And of course, she was great. I didn’t see her first performance, but her second was hilarious and unique, standing out from the crowd at its very foundations of tone and performance. Instead of the typical bonding with the audience in a chummy performance that was more about fighting anxiety than anything, my friend used anxiety as a performance, offering awkward silences, tentative readings and scrambling through note cards to double the effectiveness of the jokes. A risky idea that could backfire in a show aimed at showcasing newcomers – and yet it was a roaring success.

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ABOUT THE BLOG: An Update and a Few Thoughts

The Diversionist has become that most hoary and yet consistent of blog cliches: once the writer’s beloved home base and regular publication, only to devolve into a quiet hole where the only posts are the occasional apology for the ongoing silence. In the past three months I’ve posted a grand total of twice, a shameful record.

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CHECK OUT: The Compass Network

I’ve written about how I’d like to expand the script series model so that more training screenwriters can give it a shot. I’ve also been pretty clear that I love being part of a creative community, networking and learning from brilliant folks out there in the global Internet space.

This summer, I have, with the help of a pair of friends and colleagues, taken a big step towards all of these goals.

Check out The Compass Network, the online community we launched last month.

The culmination of a lot of years thinking about writer development, script series, networking and promotion for writers who aren’t in a place to prove themselves to Hollywood bigshots – or, alternately, aren’t in a place where training is easily accessed. I know MZPtv made me into the writer I am now, as much as Ryerson University did, and I’ve been thinking about how to pay that forward for ages. This is how I’m going to do it.

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PERSONAL: The Writersroom Model

I’ve written quite a bit about the Writersroom model. That is, taking a bunch of writers with only some experience and no TV credits and recreating the environment of a TV writing staff under an experienced showrunner in order to help train them. My pilot project in this arena has shown some success, though there are a lot of kinks to work out in the process.

I think the Writersroom model was key to my development as an early writer, and is a fantastic opportunity for developing writers to grow. Which is why, within the next decade, I’d like to turn it into an actual training ground for emerging TV writers in a hub like Toronto or Vancouver. And after that… the world.

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