The Forrest Gump Effect: Is Your Stubbornness Making You Miss Good Stuff?

Ignoring Advice

The Forrest Gump Effect

“OMG, OMG, you have to see this movie.” Friends, family, the media . . . everyone wanted me to go see Tom Hanks in THE BEST MOVIE EVER!

Of course, when I finally bought my ticket and popcorn, I was disappointed. With all the hype there was no way the film could have lived up to the push. It had been oversold.

This happens with motivational sayings and life hacks, too. When someone oversells the latest self-help book or when a piece of advice is repeated ad nauseam, it becomes background noise. We resist.

I made this mistake recently trying to get my son to read a book that I’d found beneficial. I tried giving him a synopsis. I quoted from it every other day. I shared examples of how it had helped me overcome a bad habit.

As he resisted, I started leaving it “accidentally” where he might stumble on it, as if finding it in his car would make him more likely to give it a try.

Stubborn Kid Won't Read Book

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He is now convinced it is THE WORST BOOK OF ALL TIME. I blew it, and he’s missing out on some good stuff because of his stubborn refusal to give in to his mom.

Anytime we dismiss the too-often quoted or ignore advice with a “yeah, yeah, yeah,” we could be missing a life-altering nugget of truth.

There’s no shortage of advice out there for writers, either. We’re faced with never ending truisms about craft or the creative process and we often become conditioned to ignore the most common.

After this post about learning in layers, I had an epiphany on the idea behind “truth is stranger than fiction.”

In the popular book Immediate Fiction, Jerry Cleaver reminds his students that fiction is heightened, concentrated reality.

. . . you think there’s nothing to it, that writing a story is just like life. Like life, yes. But not life itself. Creating stories is a special craft—a special way of capturing reality on the page. It feels real, but it isn’t. You can’t just break off a piece of reality and stick it on the page. It won’t work. It won’t work because fiction is concentrated, heightened, intensified reality. It’s the essence of reality. All reality doesn’t contain such essence or truth, but all fiction must. You, the author, must create it.”

That’s a gold standard of writing advice but no less true for being familiar.

I’d read this excerpt at least five times and highlighted almost every other section of the book except this one.

It wasn’t until several drafts into my current project that a light bulb went off. Readers don’t care how long it took your main character to get to the bank, or the route he followed. They care that he was robbed at the ATM. Eventually, I was able to use this in my manuscript, cutting extraneous conversations and flabby descriptions.

Look around your shelves, you probably have how-to writing books galore. Try looking at an old one a new way. As your skills improve and experience grows, an old has-been could become the new go-to.

As for the book my son steadfastly refuses to read, I’m ordering the audio version for him. I’m hoping that in a weakened state he’ll accidentally hit play and absorb the information via osmosis.

Ignoring Advice

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Don’t dismiss an overused motivational quote or the latest popular self-help trend just because they’ve been done to death. Practice looking at things in the revised context of your most up-to-date self.

Give resources another read. Reconsider tips or advice based on your new level of experience or different life circumstances. You may absorb useful information and find yourself able to apply it in meaningful ways.

As for “Gumping” something myself, I learned my lesson with my son. There’s this book I think would be great for my daughter who is just starting out in her career. But this time, I controlled myself and only mentioned it once about a month ago.

To paraphrase Forrest, Christmas is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. The CD version arrived yesterday and is already wrapped and under the tree with my daughter’s name on it. She can listen to it passively on her way to work. Something’s bound to rub off.

 

 

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The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Author Interview

Fia Essen

2K International Writer's Blog Tour

 

Have you been enjoying the tour? Feel free to pass on the links you find here to other readers or writers in your circle. These authors have a range of accomplishments along with insight and tips for writers of any genre!  Welcome and let’s meet Fia!

Fia Essen

Fia Essen – that’s me. I grew up on the move, and then I kept going. I still haven’t really settled down anywhere. I’m not ready to say I’ve settled. You could say I got lost in transition. But I’ve found some great people and places on my journey to… well, destination unknown. And my journey through life is what gives me ideas for the stories I write.  Fia Essen

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

I wrote a short story when I was nine years old. I had just started a new school in Dubai and I was still learning English. Predictably, the story was about the adventures of a girl from Sweden who had just moved to “The Desert of Arabia”.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

The best thing about being a writer is being my own boss. It’s also the worst thing about being a writer. It’s not a “regular” 9-5 job, and I don’t get a regular paycheck. Nonetheless, I’m serious about my writing. Writing is my job and I give it my all.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

I can’t say I believe in writer’s block. Having said this, I can only speak from my own experience. As I mentioned above, writing is my job. I sit down and I do the work. Every day! I don’t expect inspiration to hit me out of the blue. I’m not that kind of writer. I don’t get struck by sudden flashes of brilliance. I work hard to create a story that I hope someone will ultimately enjoy reading.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

At the moment, I’m working on a novel called Ariel, which is about a woman who has lost control of her life and finds herself stuck in a rut. Currently, Ariel is being looked over by an editor. Personally, I think the editing process is one of the most challenging aspects of writing. It requires patience and an open mind. The thing to remember is that both you and your editor want the same thing – for your story to be the best it can be.

What supports you in your writing?

It’s not a what. It’s a who. Her name is Sanna, and she’s my mum.

What are you currently reading?

Blogs. I’ve recently started blogging myself and I’m having a wonderful time reading what other bloggers are writing. If you’re a writer or interested in writing, there are plenty of both established and aspiring writers that share tips and useful information on their blogs. Much appreciated!

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

You can find my 100 Word Blog at https://essenfia.wordpress.com/ . As soon as Ariel is released, I’ll write an overjoyed post about it. Meanwhile, I’d love it if you drop by and take a gander at my daily posts.

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The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Interview Author Kara Jorgensen

Kara Jorgensen

2K International Writer's Blog Tour

Friday’s stop on the tour is with Kara Jorgensen:

Kara Jorgensen

Kara Jorgensen is an author and professional student from New Jersey who will probably die slumped over a Victorian novel. An anachronistic oddball from birth, she has always had an obsession with the Victorian era, especially the 1890s. Midway through a dissection in a college anatomy class, Kara realized her true passion was writing and decided to marry her love of Kara Jorgensen literature and science through science fiction or, more specifically, steampunk. When she is not writing, she is watching period dramas, going to museums, or babying her beloved dogs.  She is a proud indie author, who has one novel published, The Earl of Brass, and one forthcoming entitled The Winter Garden.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

The earliest story I can remember writing was a sort of Sherlock Holmes fanfiction when I was ten or eleven.  My grandma had given me a YA Sherlock Holmes story by a modern author, and I fell in love. I dove into Conan Doyle’s short stories and began to write my own, but with the addition of a love interest, much more adventure and drama, and probably a bit less crime.  I think this sparked my love of historical fiction and is why I write historical fantasies set in the Victorian era.  As I grew up, I moved stayed in fantasy, traversing time and countries, before finally settling on the 1890s when I began writing The Earl of Brass.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

My favorite aspect of being a writer is being able to create worlds and characters my readers look forward to and love.  I love to write, but it is much more rewarding when readers ask when the next book is coming out or what happened to so-and-so.  My least favorite aspect is marketing. It’s hard work and not always the most rewarding part of writing.  I have a hard time figuring out how to creatively market my books and not become one of those people who spams their “buy my book” ads on social media.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

I’m unsure where I stand with writer’s block.  There are some days when I am severely stressed and know there is no way I am in the right frame of mind to work, but the block is usually within our control.  If you have things that are stressing you out, try to take care of them.  Walk the dog, clean the dishes, do your homework, do whatever you need to in order to settle down and get back to writing. If there doesn’t seem to be anything externally bothering you, then, it may help to do some pre-writing.  Try outlining the scene or jotting down the points that you need to cover.  If there is a scene that will come later and is knocking at your brain, write that and then go back to the one you are stuck on.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

At the moment, I am finishing up the writing and editing of my second book, The Winter Garden.  I’m stuck on the final battle. Choreographing the really important scenes sometimes gives me performance anxiety, especially if the scene is not clear in my mind.  At this point, I think I need to write out an outline and work on that before I can actually write the scene.  What I’m struggling with specifically is keeping track of everyone in the room and the cause and effect of each decision.  Note to self, have a “final battle” with less participants next time.

What supports you in your writing?

Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.  Actually, my boyfriend and best friend are very supportive of my work.  When I have a scene I am stuck on, I can always come to them and pick their brains.  Neither of them has ever told me to give it up or pick a more lucrative career.  It also helps that I am working toward an MFA in creative writing.  Many of friends are writers or poets, and my professors want nothing more than for us to succeed.  Surrounding yourself with a network of authors and poets definitely makes me feel more secure.

What are you currently reading?

Currently, I am reading two books, which is very odd for me as I am typically a monogamous reader.  I am nearing the end of The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman.  I honestly am not enjoying it, but because I bought the His Dark Materials trilogy as a box set, I’m finishing it anyway.  I’m also reading Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk.  In the past, I have really enjoyed her Whybourne and Griffin series, and from what I have read of Restless Spirits, I think I have a new series to enjoy.

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

http://karajorgensen.com

http://amzn.com/B00L4CWBVE

The Earl of Brass

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The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Day 2, Kate M. Colby

Kate M. Colby

2K International Writer's Blog Tour

DAY 2 – Introducing the other Kate!Kate M. Colby

 

Kate M. Colby

I am a writer of multi-genre fiction (because I could never limit myself to one genre) and creative nonfiction, as well as a writing craft blogger. My most reputable writing street cred comes from my recent college days. I graduated summa cum laude from Baker University in May 2014 with my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Sociology. While at Baker, I was a member of the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, and my creative nonfiction essay, “It Began with a Car,” placed third nationally at the 2014 Sigma Tau Delta Convention. I am also a three time recipient of the Moorman Prize in Prose from Watershed, Baker’s literary magazine, where my creative nonfiction and poetry have been published.

After agonizing about whether or not to pursue my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for months, I have finally decided I would rather pursue author entrepreneurship and independently publish without further schooling. I plan to publish my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, which I wrote over NaNoWriMo 2014, this fall.

When I am not writing, I enjoy devouring fiction, playing video games, and doting on my feline son, Thomas. I am happily married to Daniel N. Gullotta, a budding Early Christian historian, and spend my days with him in lovely Kansas, USA.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

The first story I remember writing emerged from “free-writing” time in the second grade. I was about seven years old, and we had just finished learning about the United States Civil War and slavery. My story was a picture book about a young girl who escaped from a plantation and followed the big dipper to freedom in the North.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

My favorite aspect of being a writer is the creative freedom. When I sit down to write, I can create anything I choose. Maybe I’m a bit egotistical, but I really love “playing God” with my characters and seeing what they do in impossible circumstances. I love naming them, too.

My least favorite part of being a writer is that, until you are published and no longer need a “real” job, people do not take your ambitions seriously. Even if they do support you, you are still likely to hear phrases like “writing can always be a hobby” or “but what will you really do to make money.”

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

I do not believe in writer’s block. For a long time, I did. However, upon reflection, I truly think that writer’s block was merely an excuse I used to justify why I wasn’t writing. When I finally got my life in order, dedicated myself to writing, and actually wrote a novel, I never once experienced writer’s block. I don’t think your creativity can ever be “blocked,” but I do think other aspects of your life can distract you and keep you from reaching your creative potential.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

Currently, I am editing the first draft of The Cogsmith’s Daughter. The most challenging part of this is being patient. Editing is quite tedious, and I am anxious to start writing my next manuscript. My next book is tentatively entitled Desert Child, and it is another dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel.

What supports you in your writing?

As far as “what” supports my writing, I suppose the best answer is Scrivener, my day job, and my unswerving dedication to reaching my goal of being a full-time author entrepreneur. Who, on the other hand, supports me is my amazing husband, parents, and writer friends.

What are you currently reading?

I’m in the middle of a few books, but my current favorite is The Earl of Brass (The Ingenious Mechanical Devices #1) by Kara Jorgensen (whose interview you will see Friday!).

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

You can find me and links to all my social media on my blog: http://katemcolby.wordpress.com

As of yet, I don’t have any books on the market. But you can keep up-to-date on my publishing progress here: http://katemcolby.wordpress.com/books

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The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Interview with Kate Evans

Kate Evans

2K International Writer's Blog Tour

First stop on the blog tour is with Co-Host Kate Evans. Tomorrow we’ll meet Kate Colby.

Kate Evans

I am a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, currently living in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. My book, Pathways Through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment, was published by Sense Publishers in 2013. I have an MA in Kate EvansCreative Writing from Sussex University and teach on the Degree in Creative Writing at the University of Hull, Scarborough campus. I have created two art installations using words and images for the local festival Coastival, one inspired by the work of Edith Sitwell.  The Art of the Imperfect, the first in my crime series set in Scarborough, was indie published in December 2014. My crime fiction is inspired by Ruth Rendell, Minette Walters and Ann Cleeves, though one reviewer thinks I write like Hilary Mantel. I am trained as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. I love walking by the sea and afternoon tea.

 What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

Initially I struggled at school with reading and writing. I had to have extra classes, working my way through the Ladybird readers, right up to number 12 (when most people stopped at 5 or 6 and went onto real books). However, by my early teens, I’d obviously found my stride; we read Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country in class and our homework was to write something inspired by it. I wrote a short story imaging what would happen if two of the main characters who were children in the book met up as adults in an airport lounge in London. I remember the teacher praising it and thinking, oh well, maybe this is something I can do. It was also my initiation into the writer’s question: what if?

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

I love the freedom, as a writer I can go anywhere, be anyone, explore, explore. I get completely lost in my writing at times, and even when I’m not writing, there is a parallel universe in my head which I can dip into and enjoy. My least favourite part is probably the struggle to find an audience. Despite there being so many more ways to reach readers, it’s still difficult for an unknown to get heard.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

I do believe in writer’s block, I wrote a book about it! I also have times when I have to face my own demons which want to stop me from writing. These are mainly to do with the fear of putting myself out there, or being seen, and the shame this induces, shame which comes from way, way back in my childhood. Would it be ungracious to say my best tip would be to read my book? I think, knowing oneself, knowing one’s creative process, reading, having a writing routine and getting support from other writers are the main things which help.

 What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

I am writing a series of crime novels based in Scarborough which explore themes of mental health/illness and marginalisation. I indie published my first, The Art of the Imperfect, in December 2014. Number two, The Art of Survival, has been through several drafts and had feedback, so is waiting for the final craft/edit. Intended publication date will be Autumn 2015. Number three, The Art of Breathing, is moving towards a first draft, and I would hope to publish in 2016. I also have two more in my head. The biggest challenge will be/is finding an audience and keeping motivated if I don’t have the sales I would like.

 What supports you in your writing?

Other writers, both here in the UK who I can meet face-to-face, and those who I have got to know on-line. They are good for advice, motivation and encouragement. I choose very carefully who I ask for feedback from, I think there needs to be an understanding of what I am trying to achieve and also an honesty without brutality. I tend to ask for feedback from writers who I can help in one way or another, it’s a lot to ask someone to close read over 60,000 words for nothing.

 What are you currently reading?

I decided to read what is reckoned to be one of the first crime novels published in the UK, Wilkie Collins’s ‘Moonstone’. I am rather regretting it as it is long, slow and verbose. However, I do want to know what happens, so am doing a bit of skimming to get to the end.

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

www.writingourselveswell.co.uk

The Art of the Imperfect Book Jacket

The Art of the Imperfect is available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.co.uk http://goo.gl/5r9WBv and Amazon.com http://goo.gl/GsQ6a8

 

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The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Interviews with Writers

2K International Writer's Blog Tour
2K International Writers' Blog Tour

Tune in for a month of interviews with The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour

Do you enjoy picking the brains of other writers? I’ve become obsessed. True, sometimes it’s procrastination rearing its ugly head but more often, I know I have a lot to learn and what better way than from another writer? Tomorrow, The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour gets underway. Hosted by Kate Evans and Kate M. Colby, every day in February (except Sundays), you can tune in to read interviews with writers from around the globe.

Tomorrow we will start with one of the Kates!

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