My wife and I have been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. I saw most episodes during the original run, but it’s nice to visit old friends. My friends, mostly StarFleet officers serving aboard the Enterprise, are the crux of the show. If you watch the show often enough, you’ll notice that there are only about a dozen different mission types. If the missions were the primary pull, the show would not have lasted seven seasons.
I mention Star Trek when discussing character building, because the methods it uses for this purpose are transferable to writing. Star Trek characters emerge throughout the series based on how they react in a variety of circumstances. When writing, that is how we create/showcase/explore characters.
Unfortunately, I often see authors take a different approach–painful explanations about who the characters are. Few things bore me as much. Let your characters experience their world. Your readers (or viewers) will appreciate getting to know your characters for themselves.
I’m back from my long blogging break. Surely at least a couple of you missed me. I took a break from other writing, too, though that break ended sooner.
A lot has been said about the importance of writing every day, about making writing a habit. There’s truth to that. If one waits around for a muse to show up or for perfect writing conditions, one will never write anything. Many also suggest setting aside a specified writing time. Write each morning. Write each evening. Whatever works best for your mind. My work schedule and family demands make writing at the same time each day difficult, but I do try to write daily.
Except during this break. I needed these three weeks away from the blog and about a week and half away from poetry to prepare myself for better writing. I felt that I was in a rut, and my previous attempts to write through the rut failed. My writing became both sloppy and predictable. It was like I had a terrible poem in my head and each attempt to write something new returned me to that same awful idea.
In addition to taking a break from writing, I took a break from other aspects of life. August 5-7 was spent on a roadtrip with two photographer friends. We left Tulsa early that Friday morning, heading west. We visited the Great Salt Plains, then continued west through the Oklahoma panhandle and into northeastern New Mexico. We camped the first day near Las Vegas, NM. Day 2 covered much less distance but had many more photography stops as went drove through the mountainous Santa Fe National Forest. We went northwest toward Taos then took the high road from Taos to Santa Fe, where we camped. Day 3 was mostly concerned with just getting back to Tulsa in a timely manner, so we hopped on I-40 through Amarillo and Oklahoma City. The roadtrip inspired me as much by taking me away from my daily demands than it did by providing beautiful scenery. Not that I didn’t enjoy the scenery.
Taking a writing break has risks, primarily that one will not easily return to good writing habits. I’ve definitely taken too many breaks like that, intentional one or two weeks breaks that stretched into months of barely writing. I weighed the risks and vowed to return promptly to writing after this break. And I have. I’m back, and I’m refreshed.