Tag Archive | writing

The Creative Potential of the Chaotic Mind

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.”BookNerd

Greetings Fellow BookNerds,

Since it’s been a little while since my last post, I just wanted to let you all know that I’m still here, and that I’m currently reading what is easily among my top ten favourite books of all time. I’m hoping to have finished within the next week, but there has been a lot of things going on in my life as of late that have been interfering with my reading schedule, one of which I will be addressing today.

Like most people in this modern age, I spend a lot more time on the internet trolling social media sites than I probably should be. Facebook is the worst for that, especially when sometimes that’s the only place you can get in touch with friends you never get to see.

There’s something I’ve come to notice after all of those hours clocked online, and it’s that so many people are so careless with their use of the English language. I know that meanings of certain words have changed a lot with the growing influence of popular culture, but there are just certain terms that shouldn’t be thrown about without a bit of consideration for what that term might mean for someone else. There are two words in particular that spring to mind: anxiety and depression.

Far too often, I see someone claiming to feel depressed because they didn’t have the bag they wanted at the store, or that they’re going to have a panic attack because their favourite celebrity broke up with their husband. People don’t realize how much of an impact we have on the meaning of a word based on how we use it, and how something that should be taken quite seriously, is instead turned into something of a joke.

I feel like there are still far too many misconceptions surrounding the idea of mental illness and what it actually is, and the only way to quash some of those preconceived notions is to keep shedding light on the issue until it is no longer the elephant in the room, and we can talk about it as freely as we talk about celebrity gossip or the latest grumpy cat meme.

First of all, mental illness is a lot more common than you might think. There is a very good chance that within your group of friends, at least one or two of them suffer from some sort of mental illness, and you might never be made the wiser because it’s not something that they can open up about so easily.

Second of all, mental illness comes in so many different forms and levels of severity, that it’s impossible to generalize the effects it can have on a person to everyone who suffers from it. It’s not like the common cold, where the soar throat, coughing and sneezing are pretty well the standard symptoms for everyone. It’s also not something you can cure with some cold medicine and a cup of tea… although mind you, I do find tea to be very relaxing for the mind. But I digress.

Thirdly, the worst thing you can say to a person who has a mental illness is that they should just get over it, or that it’s all in their head and they should just ignore it and move on. If it were that simple, then having anxiety or depression wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the reality is that it is NOT that simple, even if we want it to be. After all, you’re dealing with something that is inside your mind, a part of you that has sway over everything you do. There are ways to treat it, of course, but treating something and curing it are two very different ball parks.

And fourth… okay honestly, there is no end to this list, so I should probably just try to get to the point. There are so many people in the world, heck, in our own neighbourhood, who are struggling with some form of mental illness on a daily basis, even if we may not notice it. Many of us deal with it internally, because we don’t want to scare people off with all of the chaotic thoughts that plague our minds. It saps so much of our energy just trying to deal with it… which is why it’s not uncommon for them to turn to creative outlets to channel it all and achieve at least some peace of mind.

As a child, I would often spend hours reading books. I loved the feeling of being part of this grand adventure, while remaining in the comfort of my own room. Even back then, my imagination was always running wild, and at some point reading became my gateway to creative writing. As I grew older, I became more and more obsessed with books, until one day, I realized that I was no longer just reading books for enjoyment and inspiration, but as a way to escape from the anxious thoughts that were becoming more pronounced every day.

This actually put me off reading for a time, because the last thing I needed was another means of escape instead of dealing with my issues head on. So that’s what I did… for a time. However, this did not last, as it soon became clear to me that I was looking at it all wrong. I wasn’t reading books to escape reality, at least not entirely. What I was really doing, without realizing it at first, was trying to look at reality through the eyes of other people, in some cases those who see the world much like I do, in the hopes that I could understand myself better and perhaps once again find the inspiration I once discovered as a child so long ago.

The authors of some of my all time favourite books have suffered with mental illness for most of their life, and yet you wouldn’t know it with how famous they have become and how amazing their writing is. John Green, for instance, who has written many a tale of love, loss, and finding oneself, has struggled with anxiety and obsessive compulsion disorder for a long time. I fell in love with the Nerdfighter community him and his brother created before I even knew he was a writer, but even in his videos, I had absolutely no clue. You wouldn’t know it when reading The Fault In Our Stars or Papertowns, but that’s the thing about mental illness; it’s not always smack-you-right-in-the-face obvious.

Whether you’re a world renowned actor, artist, musician or poet, everyone is susceptible to developing a mental illness, and in some cases it’s the reason a person is able to take their social status in the world to such great heights. It’s human nature to want to push beyond our own limits and discover the true potential that lies within each and every one of us. It can be more of a challenge for some than it is for others, but that just makes it all the more rewarding when we’re finally able to overcome our own obstacles.

I’ve struggled with anxiety for a very long time, but something I’ve found interesting is that in spite of that, I’ve managed to find a sense of peace and solace in the one thing I love to do most; write. My anxiety has hindered many things in my life, but the moment I have a pen in my hand or a keyboard at my fingertips, then those irritating thoughts and feelings become nothing more than background noise.

When you lose yourself in something you truly love and feel passionate about, and I mean really throw yourself into it body, mind and soul, it becomes possible to forget that you even have a mental illness. Of course, there will always be days when we doubt ourselves and our abilities, giving into the lies that anxiety spreads throughout our minds, but there will also be good days, and that’s our opportunity to shine the brightest.

BookNerd

 

 

 

New Blog Page, Check It Out!

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.”BookNerd

Greetings Fellow BookNerds,

For those of you who haven’t noticed yet, I recently added a new page to my blog, which features information about some of the editing and proofreading services I have to offer anyone in need of them. The reason I decided to start doing this professionally – and by professionally, I mean offering to give my services to more than just people I know – is because I have come to realize that there are probably so many more people out there who need someone to go over their writing, but may be having trouble finding someone who isn’t outrageously expensive or hard to get a hold of.

Now, I am located in Ottawa – that’s in Canada, for any of my international followers who aren’t familiar with Canadian geography – so this limits how much I can do face to face. Of course, between e-mail and Skype, this could prove to be less of an issue, depending on what it is you actually need. Most of what I have done thus far has been done via e-mail, follower by a face-to-face meeting to answer any follow up questions or clarify the reasons why certain changes should be made. It really depends on the person and their need, but I’m pretty flexible so location and proximity shouldn’t be an issue.

Mostly, I have done proofreading for university students who don’t speak English as a first language, but are required to write English essays for their profs. This can prove to be a challenge when you don’t have a strong grasp of English grammar and verb tense, which is where I would come in. I identified what their main ideas and arguments were, and then made it so that the language conveyed them in a clear manner, leaving plenty of notes in the margins along the way explaining why certain changes were made, and pointing out any writing habits they may have picked up that detract from the academic nature of essay writing. I am by no means a teacher, and I don’t pretend to be, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any lessons to teach throughout my editing process.

I have also gone over academic journal articles for things like overall flow, or to make sure that those of us who don’t have a PhD can still grasp the finer points of their research without feeling like it’s all going over their head. My absolute favourite project was helping a friend of mine with her very first book she had ever wrote. It was a murder mystery novel, and she had incredible ideas, but again, English was not her native tongue, both spoken and written. This one took quite a bit more time, because not only was I fixing spelling and grammar errors, but I was also making sure that readers would be able to see the connections between events, and that the story remained consistent from beginning to end. This is tricky for even experienced writers to accomplish, but between the two of us I believe we were successful in bringing her ideas together in a very exciting and well thought out tail of murder, mystery and intrigue. It has yet to be published, but I was able to help her overcome the biggest hurtle for a writer, and that is to feel satisfied with your work.

  So feel free to visit my new page, which you will find in the menu above entitled My Editing and Proofreading Services. My prices are based on the size of the document, the services that you require for it, and when you need it by – in other words, on a case by case basis –  so feel free to contact me via e-mail for more information: emily.manns@outlook.com.

Before I start feeling like a salesman, I’ll end it here for today. Check back here soon, though, for my next book review posting, which will hopefully be by tomorrow at the latest. Until then, keep on reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd  

Words of Wisdom: Inspiration for Aspiring Writers

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds!

Looks like Word of the Week isn’t the only thing that’s making a comeback on this blog. For writers, the biggest obstacle is ourselves; our doubts, our second guesses, our writers block and our inability to see the end result of our labours amidst the cutthroat competition and our own self deprecation. I have started and stopped many stories, most of which I was certain would be my greatest masterpiece when the words first began to pour out of the creative recesses of my brain and onto my computer screen. There are many reasons why I haven’t been able to see any of my creations through to the end, but the most prominent of them all is lack of self-motivation as a result of the afore mentioned obstacles. However, this has not stopped me from continuing to pursue my dreams of becoming a writer. Why? Because every time a pick up a new book, it’s impossible to not be inspired. Every single one of those authors had to start somewhere. No one is great at what they do from the very beginning, and in order to become great, you cannot avoid the blood, sweat and tears that comes with the territory.

Todays quote is from one of my all time favourite authors, whose literary prowess and clever wit still have me coming back for more. His style is unique in a way that cannot be described by words… although if I did have to slap a label on it, I would have to say it’s unorthodox, satirical and clever. Who else could I be referring to than the infamous Neil Gaiman. Ever since one of my childhood friends read Good Omens to me during our morning bus rides to school, I have found myself helplessly ensnared by his imagination.

This quote is one that I only stumbled upon recently, but I shall forevermore use these words as my eternal inspiration for everything I do…

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” 

I’ve always wondered why my heart swelled with happiness whenever I made something with my own two hands. One of my roommates recently taught me how to crochet, and when I held that bright red scarf I made all on my own for the first time, I honestly did feel like the world had become a fraction brighter. It’s a small thing, I know, but not everything we do has to change the world on such a grand scale. If each and every one of us put our dedication into making one thing that wasn’t there before, then the world would be filled with over 7 billion new things. It’s really inspiring when you think of it like that, which is why no matter what, I shall continue to do my best to bring something new into this world.

I don’t usually hear back from you lovely booknerds, but I’ve always gone by the philosophy that it doesn’t hurt to ask. That being said, if there are any quotes that you would like to see shared on my blog, I encourage you to post it in the comments below, or on my World in Writing facebook page. I look forward to reading what motivates you to write, and until next time, happy reading! 

Cheers,

Booknerd

It’s Novel Writing Time!!!

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds

First off, I hope everyone had a happy Halloween. I was impressed with some of the costumes I saw this year, although per usual there were many slutty cats and sexy devils wandering about. I’ve always seen Halloween as a chance for me to be a bit different, to push my creativity beyond the typical costumes you see everywhere. My first year of university, I went as the 4th doctor from Dr. Who, and then it was River from Firefly, and then last year it was Anara – also from Firefly – although most people just assumed I was dressed as a Medieval princess. This year, I really got into the online anime series RWBY, and thought to myself that I could definitely pull off the Blake Belladonna look. Sadly only one person got the reference, so I settled for being called a ninja cat ^_^

Ready to fight some Grim!

Ready to fight some Grim!           

With Halloween coming to an end, it is now that time of year is upon us once again; a time to brush the cobwebs off the creative center of our brains and get those fingers typing faster than they ever typed before. That’s right, it’s National Novel Writing Month, and if you’ve had an idea clinging to the back of your mind for what seems like forever, this is a perfect opportunity to finally put that idea into writing. For those of you unfamiliar with the whole idea behind Nanowrimo, it’s basically a self motivating writing competition, the ultimate goal being to complete a 50,000 word story by the end of the month. Participants are encouraged to put aside their usual writing habits, like editing and re-writing everything until it comes out perfect. The point of this competition is just to get the idea down, and to leave all of the nitpicking and detail ironing until after the month is up.

This is my third year competing, and I can honestly say that it is one of the things I look forward to the most every year, right after Halloween and Comiccon. Ever since grade school, I’ve always had stories bouncing around inside my head, struggling to break free from the confines of my skull. The first time I finished writing one of my stories was in grade eight. It was a fantasy novel about a wild white stallion that was captured by poachers, and then rescued by a young girl, who took the horse in, and eventually discovered that the horse was actually a unicorn. I was really into unicorns, dragons and pretty much anything related to magic and fantasy back then, no doubt influenced by my love of Harry Potter. The story itself was only about 50 pages long, but that was the longest thing I had ever written that wasn’t for school, which made me very proud of myself.

There is so much joy to be found in both reading and writing stories, which is why one day I hope I can finish one of my novels and experience the thrill of having others read and critique it, and discuss with their friends the things they both hate and love about it. Until that day comes, I’ll just have to keep writing whenever I can.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the crisp colours of fall, and as always, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd 

Words of Wisdom: Joss Whedon

nerdfighters rules Hello Fellow BookNerds!

People have a knack for overlooking the true geniuses of this world, until they either climb their way onto their mainstream channels, or their ideas become so controversial that they can no longer be ignored. In other words, they either ride the popular bandwagon or they become the scapegoats for everything that goes wrong in society. Not that the ideas of a genius have to be of a radical nature with the intention of changing the fundamental values upon which humanity is built. Geniuses come in a wide variety, like Lays chips; there will be some you love, some you hate, and the rest you’re just indifferent to. Hey, the potato chip itself could be considered the creation of a genius, although that may not of been what Mr. George Crum had in mind when trying to satisfy the complaint of one of the customers at his restaurant. This talk of chips is making me hungry, so I digress…

The entertainment world is bursting at the seems with brilliant minds, one of whom is finally being given the attention and respect he deserves. His stories are not only outside the box, but every character, no matter how insignificant their part may seem, is memorable. It’s also best not to get too attached to any of them either, because in his world, no character is safe from the clutches of evil and death. I am, of course, talking about non other than Joss Whedon, the genius behind such stories as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, and most recently The Avengers. It is his creative genius that has prompted me to choose his words for today’s Words of Wisdom segment…

Joss_Whedon_by_Gage_Skidmore_3

(Joss Whedon, 1964 ~ present)

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ”

 

We all have our reasons for why we write. I, for instance, have difficulty expressing myself in a verbal manner; my knees still quake at the mere thought of giving a speech in front of more than a few spectators. I still have things I would like to say, though, hence my seeking out other, less spotlit mediums. I also write because, like Mr. Whedon, there are certain things I cannot do in the real world that can be made possible on paper, like soaring through the clouds on the scaly back of a dragon, or facing off against hoards of zombies with nothing more than a crossbow. Even if it can never be, I find comfort in knowing that I can create an entire world where I can be whomever I wish to be, even if it’s only on paper. Call it an escape from reality, if you wish, but some of the books I have read give more insight into reality than most of the people I talk to. Maybe if politicians read more fiction, they could see just what kind of world they’re dealing with, and just how influential and dangerous their actions can be …

That’s all for today. Be sure to share to leave your comments, questions or any other thoughts in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd

 

References:

Inventor of Potato Chips

Joss Whedon Biography

Joss Whedon Stories

Writing Tips

Hello All!

I have tried again and again to pick a storyline that I know I will follow through with until the very end. Over and over again, I succumbed to the same bad habits that prevented me from completing any of my stories. Until now.

Every since I participated in the Nanowrimo event, it seems like that huge wall that had always been standing in my way became nothing more than a mere stone pebble that I can easily kick aside. It was a great learning experience, and I felt that perhaps others who have struggled as I have could benefit from what I learned.

                                                            Novel Writing

 Steps to Write a Book to the Very End

1. Write down ALL of your ideas

     Before you even start to write your book, you need to come up with a topic and a basic storyline. I used to spend hours sitting in a chair, staring into space as I searched through the recesses of my mind for that perfect idea that I knew would be a hit with the readers. That’s one way to do it I suppose, but what I found to be a better way is to just write down every single idea that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. Sometimes, it is the most ridiculous ideas that become the most memorable tales. Also, if you start writing one story and decide that you really don’t like it, then you have an entire list at the ready for you to choose from.

2. Leave the title alone

     I know many people who will come up with the title of their book, and then write the story based around that. Again, I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea, but I have found through trial and error that it is best to write the story first, and then come up with a title that encompasses the essence of everything you have written. Also, keep in mind that you may end up changing a lot of what you have written during the editing process, potentially making your initial title absolutely useless.

3. WRITE!

   Once you have your idea, the best thing to do is just start writing. Many people tend to spend months planning out their story, perfecting every intricate detail and ensuring that everything connects back to the plot. Again, during the editing process, you are highly likely to end up changing the majority of what you write, making your outline all but useless. It does help to at least of some idea of where you are going, but sometimes the best way to do that is to just start writing, and let the words show you where it’s going to go. This is the main thing I took away from Nanowrimo, because what they try to encourage people to do is actually finishing that story, and then concerning themselves with the more intricate details afterwards. In other words, once you start writing, don’t stop for anything else; just keep going until the end, and then go through it can take it apart.

4. Mix it up

    There are certain places where I feel more comfortable writing, but every once and a while I like to mix things up a bit. A change in surroundings can really help with the flow of ideas. I’m sure there is some kind of scientific explanation behind it, but all I know is that when I sit down with my laptop in a room I have never been in before, the idea’s seem to flow out much more smoothly. It can also sometimes help to write with other people, whether it be just for their company, or maybe even to bounce idea’s off of one another.

5. Keeping a positive attitude

    It’s so easy to get discouraged when writing a book, especially when you have read so many other books that have been so successful, and seem to be on a completely different level than anything you could ever hope to write. When self doubt creeps up on you, just remember why you wanted to write in the first place. I write stories because when I read, I feel like I am walking in someone elses shoes, seeing the world through their eyes. It is such an amazing experience, and I want to give others a chance to experience that same sensation through my writing, showing them the things I see behind my eyes. Choose your reason, and perhaps stick a post-it note or something nearby so that you can keep reminding yourself that your writing has a purpose.

6. Avoid comparing

   It’s hard not to compare your writing to that of others, especially when there are so many literary geniuses in the world. Just keep in mind that nobody writes in the same way, and it’s the variety in writing styles that makes reading so much fun! No two books are alike because no two authors are alike, and that’s what makes each and every book written something special.

7.   EDITING!

   The idea of editing always seems like such a daunting task. I myself have always cringed at the thought of reading my own work and finding error in it. It feels like you’re punishing yourself, a form of self criticism where you purposefully try to find fault in everything. It can be a grueling process, but it can also be the most rewarding. You can edit a story for years without ever being fully satisfied with it, but every time you edit it,  you know that it is that much closer to your desired outcome. Just think of editing as taking what you have done, and making it better!

8. Take a breather

    We all get to a point in our writing where our minds are stuck in a kind of feedback loop, where we keep going over the same idea over and over again, until we realize that we have no idea what to write next to keep the story going. Before you start tearing up papers, pulling out your hair or chucking your stress ball out the window, just stop. Stop writing, walk away, and go find something to do that is completely unrelated to what you are doing. I like to take a long walk through downtown Ottawa, taking in the sights and sounds of the city, and maybe even stopping for a hot chocolate and apple fritter from a nearby Tim Hortons.

9. Keep a thesaurus on hand

   Be prepared for when word block strikes, because it will happen. Not only do I keep a thesaurus on hand, but whenever I hear a term that I have never heard of before, I jot it down along with a brief definition, just in case. It’s amazing what strange words will end up coming in handy when you’re writing. There are also lots of websites that are dedicated to providing a vast cache of synonyms, so you should make sure to bookmark those pages.

10. Enjoy Yourself!

    If writing feels like a chore, like something you feel obligated to do, then you are missing the point of it. People write because they love to write, not because something or someone is forcing them to. You should look at writing as an extension of our consciousness, an expression of the inner workings of our minds laid out before us so that we can see it with our own eyes. It is an incredible experience that is different for everyone, but the one thing they share in common is the fact that they are enjoying it.

 I don’t know if this has been helpful for anyone else, but this is what has kept me going through all of my writing endeavors. If you have some useful tips of your own that you would like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below. The next time you will be hearing me is from the inside of a train, on my way back to Ottawa. Until then, keep those pencils and/or fingers going, and as always, happy reading!

Cheers 🙂

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