Creative Writing: The Power of Limits

Once-we-accept-our-limitsHello to all you writers out there. This is Adair Heitmann writing to you about constraint.

I’ve just finished reading Biz Stone’s, Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind. Stone is the co-founder of Twitter. As a writer, you probably either love or hate the social media giant, but we’ll leave that conversation for another time.

Stone’s book encouraged me to examine how my own mind works and I’ve come away inspired. In his chapter, “A Short Lesson in Constraint,” Stone tells a few real-life stories to illustrate his point.  One is a story about his mother’s answer to his continuous query when he was a child, “What should I draw?” When she finally said, “Draw a dump truck,” limiting the options gave him a place to start.

Writers can take away a writing tip from this kind of thinking.  Instead of your character asking, “How was your day?”  Which is almost always answered with, “Fine.” Put restraints on the question, such as “How was your lunch with Steve?” This will yield a far more interesting answer.

One story tells about a Silicon Valley billionaire who invented the perfect microchip for mobile devices by accident. He gave his team no money, no time, and no resources. They came up with the technology that powers the chips that are in practically all cell phones.

Each story talks about the power of limitations. How many of you are writers who have full-time jobs outside the sphere of your personal writing? Welcome to my world. While my life is filled with what others may view as constrictions, I’ve learned to accept them. It’s exhilarating to be drafting this blog, sandwiched between work and picking up my son at cross country practice. The limits force me to think clearly about what I want to say, focus on that and that alone, then type fast. I’ll publish this blog later tonight after washing the dinner dishes.

Biz Stone says, “Embrace your constraints, whether they are creative, physical, economic, or self-imposed. They are provocative. They are challenging. They wake you up. They make you more creative. They make you better.”

Until next time, keep on writing.

A Writer’s Website: Part Three

Hello to all you writer’s out there. This is Adair Heitmann continuing my series about creating your own website. If you missed the earlier blogs you can scroll down to June and July for a recap.

In A Writer’s Website: Part One you learned about:
1. Researching other websites
2. Starting your own folder of new website ideas
3. Getting your domain name
4. Having a good PR headshot taken

What I’d like to emphasize today is that creating a one-page writer’s website is better than none at all. If you have never had a website this may be the best way to start. It can be as simple as your writer’s bio and contact information. If you want to showcase more read on.

In A Writer’s Website: Part Two you learned about:
1. Themes, choosing a design style appropriate for your market
2. Taking time to create the right content for your website
3. Tabs navigation
4. The big picture . . . communicating clearly, describing exactly what you are selling

Today I’ll talk about social media. Social media can include professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, or social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

In the current literary marketplace readers want to connect with authors more than ever and agents want to know you have a following before they commit to your book. A free way for an author to build relationships with future readers is through being active in social media. It can help build your writer’s platform by promoting yourself and your writing. If you are thinking about including social media on your website, get started on it now. There is nothing worse than going to a writer’s website, clicking on a blog and seeing that they haven’t published one since 2009. Test the waters now, get your feet wet. Try social media on for size. Then on the homepage of your website only include the one(s) that you are confident you can realistically keep up with.

I’ll briefly illuminate the key players here:
1. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking site. It’s easy to get started, fill in your profile, and connect to people who you know. I think LinkedIn is the perfect site for introverts because you can publish something then walk away, it does not have to be interactive, and your platform works for you while you are sleeping.

2. Facebook is a more casual, you can post photographs, and it is more interactive.  You can set your privacy level and establish your own professional involvement. It’s a great way for writers to find out about contests and to connect with other writers.

3. Twitter is all about words! In fact it is all about 140 characters. It’s quick, easy, and you do not need to be on it 24 hours a day. Consider what your writer’s brand is, and highlight that or speak from your niche.

4. Blogs are a good way to test the social media waters. You can start your own or contribute to an existing one.

When you are ready use the widget icon and add social media links to the homepage of your new writer’s website. Readers, future readers, and agents want to see that you are fluent in social media.

Until next time, keep on writing.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm  Comments (2)  
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