Mental Health Monday–Reflections

Thanks to Elizabeth Mueller for creating such a cute award!

It’s really amazing how the month of April flew by. I certainly had a lot of fun participating in the A to Z challenge.

But the challenge isn’t over yet!

Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out has a linky list set up for us to join. All we have to do is sign up, post about our thoughts about the challenge, and check out the other bloggers participating in the blog hop.

Reflecting on an experience is pretty common in the mental health field. Those of us who practice therapy  often review a session in hopes to identify more effective ways to connect with and assist our patients/clients.

It’s important to consider pros and cons…in other words, we want to identify things that were good and things to improve on.

For the A to Z challenge, I enjoyed the challenge of developing a post for each letter of the alphabet. I liked how it made me work the creative part of my brain. I had a good time getting to know other bloggers I’ve never had a chance to interact with before.

What would I like to work on? Well, I wished I’d visited more blogs. I would’ve planned posts more thoroughly and in advance. I would’ve offered more writerly tips than I did.

What about you? Any reflections on the A to Z challenge?

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Don’t forget to check out Sarah and Lydia’s psychology and medically related posts today!

“Z” is for Zip By

My goodness, this month has flown!

It’s been a LOT of fun working the A to Z challenge and getting to know other participants. I hope my posts have been informative and entertaining and that we’ll all continue to circulate and converse.

I’m always open for feedback, so feel free to let me know what likes and dislikes you have or if there’s some topic you’re interested in me covering.

As always, I’m happy to answer any psych related topic (as long as it pertains to writing) on Mental Health Mondays!

See you ’round the interwebz!!!! *waves*

 

“X” is for X’ing it out

What, praytell, do I mean by this?

Well, I’ve come across a couple blog posts lately about the dastardly delete button and writers’ struggles with it. In my early writing days, I was quite afraid of the darn thing. I loved my wonky words so much that I couldn’t stomach the idea of cutting them out.

I was left with a gargantuan, 125,000 word mess. Oy.

It was through much learning and patient coaxing by my crit partners that I learned how to use Delete.

Much to my surprise, I found out Delete was not a monster. In fact, he was my friend. We erradicated passive voice, backstory, wordiness, even chapters that didn’t advance the plot.

We became BEST friends when I deleted the original draft of my YA dystopian. (I’ll be honest and say the deleting was figurative and not literal…I did reuse a few scenes in the rewrite.)

Now that Delete and I have a strong working relationship, I can use him without panicking or tears.

What’s your relationship with Delete like? Are you friends, enemies, frenemies??? Do you jump to Delete at a moment’s notice or do you use Delete as a last resort?

“W” is for Worry Woes

Okay, so I’ve finally getting my YA dystopian to where I want it. Which means the next step is polishing the query letter (AKA document of doom) and synopsis (AKA I don’t wanna I don’t wanna I don’t wanna). (I don’t have a complex about these things or anything. *shifty eyes*)

So, what is it about the query letter and synopsis that has me shaking in my flip flops?

Well, I won’t go off on a rant here, but I’ll give a quick rundown:

  • The last time I queried, it was a disaster. DISASTER.
  • Rejections are depressing. (Yes, I get over it and move on, but still, it hurts.)
  • I got frustrated that I didn’t get anywhere. (Okay, so my writing sucked, but still, as a newbie I didn’t know that.)
  • I *hate* being frustrated. (I really don’t know anybody who likes it, LOL!)
  • No matter how many times I revised the query and synop, they were never “punchy” enough…which led to feelings of utter disappointment (in myself) and a sense of failure. Icky.

Okay. Lots of negatives here. GREAT fodder for worry, right?

Yeah.

So, how am I going to break out of it and dive into the crazy query race again?

  • Remind myself that my writing is, like, a THOUSAND times better than before.
  • Remember the support and compliments of writing buds and CP’s who believe in me.
  • Practice patience. More R’s will come, but I don’t have to get fatalistic about it.
  • Hang onto hope. Even if it ends up shredding my fingernails to bits, I’m not gonna let go.

Now it’s your turn to share. When you get the worry woes (for whatever reason), how do you get over them? Share your strategies.

Don’t forget to check out Deb’s answer to this month’s round of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog!

EDIT: Deb’s taking a break from the Sisterhood this month. 😉

“V” is for Visualize

It’s a writer’s job to paint a picture with words. We have to describe settings, create movement, elicit sounds and smells, heck, even mimic touch.

Keeping all this going takes a lot of mental power, IMHO.

Personally, I focus on picturing an entire scene in my mind, through my main character’s eyes. I literally try to experience their world as if I *am* them. Colors, sounds, smells, distractions, weather, pain, hunger, emotional states, I want to envision it all.

Granted, not all this information gets catalogued in my novel, but it helps me picture what’s happening and where things are going.

Tell me, what strategies do you use to visualize your scenes?

(link to pic)

Mental Health Monday–“U” is for Understanding

Part of my role as a psychiatrist is to convey a sense of understanding to my patients. A lot of times, people experience frustration, rejection, loneliness, despair when they don’t feel “heard.”

I’m sure we’ve all been through this.

Turning to writing, I think it’s safe to say that our characters want to be understood too. As writers, we have the power to make conversations go smoothly, to have our characters say the right thing all the time, every time, and to create a world that runs perfectly. Easy peasy, right? Everybody’s happy, right?

BUT HOW BORING IS THAT?!

The challenge, then, is to captialize on conflict. Create tension by purposefully torquing misunderstandings.

Shannon Whitney Messenger offered a tip she learned at a conference:

From an editor: Remember that characters don’t speak to reveal. They speak to conceal. Real people rarely say exactly what they’re thinking. Characters shouldn’t either.

There you have it. People (and characters) want to be understood, but they often aren’t clear about what they’re thinking. They’ll often not say anything or say the OPPOSITE of what they feel.

I think the characters in Maggie Stiefvater’s LINGER exemplify this perfectly.

What about you? Do you create misunderstandings between characters in your writing? How do you do it?

Check out Lydia and Sarah’s posts on medical and mental health related topics. Remember, these posts are for writing tips only and are NOT to be construed as medical advice.

“T” is for Time for another blog chain post!

Margie starts off another blog chain round with this fabulous question:

“How do you get in the mindset of your genre? Do you research people or facts? Do you just reach into the recesses of your mind for events that would make a good story? Something else?”

I guess the way I get in the YA or MG mindset is to picture my character and his or her world. I’m not one to do character sheets and stuff (and I don’t do a lot of research–tsk, tsk), but I do ponder/imagine what it’s like for them to be in school, deal with siblings and parents, navigate growing up, and managing relationships.

I think it helps that I work in the field of psychiatry because it forces me to be imaginative and “walk a mile in another person’s shoes.” (Maybe that counts as research, eh?) It takes practice to see the world through another person’s eyes, but it certainly helps when I’m “pretending” to be a character and interacting in their world.

(Gosh, I hope that made sense, LOL!)

So, how do you get into your genre’s mindset?

Stay tuned for Sarah’s post tomorrow to see how she gets into her genre!

Flake-out Friday–“S” is for Suspense

Creating suspense can be a challenging thing.

Here’s a link of Alfred Hitchcock describing his take on mystery versus suspense at an AFI Seminar in 1970. (YouTube won’t let me embed it).

Here’s an example of how a cat works the suspense angle. Basically, there’s a slow build up and then the BAM! ending. All important elements of suspense.

Can’t you just feel the suspense here? Oh, what’s gonna happen????

funny pictures - There's nothing to be scared of. There's nothing to be scared of. There's nothing to be scared of. There's nothing to be scared of.

How do you create suspense in your writing?

“R” is for Rorschach

A blog buddy and fellow Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog contributor, Sarah Fine, is hosting a blog contest over at The Strangest Situation.

All you have to do is look at a Rorschach blot and comment on what it looks like. Then, she will analyze your mind and describe you darkest and deepest desires.

JUST KIDDING!

Okay, really, if you comment, follow Sarah’s blog, and spread the word, you will be entered to win a $30 Amazon gift card, a 3-chapter crit by Sarah herself, or a psychology reading pack (a couple books to help writers deal with psych stuff in their characters).

Super cool!

So head on over there and enter!!! Go on, what’re you waiting for???