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Friday, July 1, 2016

GUEST BLOG: Turning it on Like a Faucet by Victor Milán (The Dinosaur Knights Blog Tour Stop)

Victor Milán's novel The Dinosaur Lords, which was released last year, was well received by readers. It was being talked about as a combination of Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones. Now, on July 5, 2016 The Dinosaur Knights, the sequel to The Dinosaur Lords, is set to be released by Tor Publishing.

Summary of The Dinosaur Knights:
Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often cruel world. There are humans on Paradise but dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden, and of war. Armored knights ride dinosaurs to battle legions of war-trained Triceratops and their upstart peasant crews.

Karyl Bogomirsky is one such knight who has chosen to rally those who seek a way from the path of war and madness. The fact that the Empire has announced a religious crusade against this peaceful kingdom, the people who just wish to live in peace anathema, and they all are to be converted or destroyed doesn't help him one bit.

Things really turn to mud when the dreaded Grey Angels, fabled ancient weapons of the Gods who created Paradise in the first place come on the scene after almost a millennia. Everyone thought that they were fables used to scare children. They are very much real.

And they have come to rid the world of sin...including all the humans who manifest those vices.

To celebrate the release of The Dinosaur Knights, Victor Milán stops by Fantasy Book Critic to talk about the writing experience and what truly helps in getting those beautifully written words down on paper.

Fantasy Book Critic is the first stop on the blog tour for The Dinosaur Knights. Future stops include:

Suvudu – July 5
Nerdophiles – July 6
JADBB – July 7
Mighty Thor Jrs – July 8

Please welcome Victor Milán and feel free to stop by the other blog stops on this blog tour.  

Turning it On Like a Faucet by Victor Milan
I can’t tell you how to write well.  I can’t tell you how to sell your writing.
But I can tell you some things that might help you to write.  Which we all agree is an important first step to those other things, I hope.
I want to talk about inspiration.
When I was back in high school, we creative kids had a cliché:  "you can't turn inspiration off and on like a faucet." And then, after decades of writing, and working daily to make myself a better writer, I discovered something shocking.
Oh, yes, you can.  That is how it works.  
Except, it’s not so much a matter of turning it on.  In my experience(which is the only one I can vouch for), inspiration is exactly like the water pressure in, yes, your faucet.  Water’s always there.  And as you know too well if you’ve ever blown a leak in your water lines, it always wants to come out.  
It works the same with inspiration.
The reason water doesn’t gush out constantly from that faucet is that something’s stopping it.  That something is the valve which you use the faucet to open and close.  So more than turning the water on and off, it’s a matter of letting the water flow – or of choking it off.
That’s how inspiration works, too.
The good news is, it’s inexhaustible.  Inspiration is not only always available, it never runs out.  
So what am I talking about?  Inspiration is creativity:  where cool stuff comes from.  It’s where you get the heart and soul of stories and songs and beautiful pictures.  
You can’t reason your way to a good story.  That's not what reason does.  Your rational mind is great for planning out story structure, say.  For me, it’s most powerful use is figuring out the right questions for inspiration to answer.  It’s a modifier of creativity, not its source.
What do we do to shut off the flow?  I’ve spotted a couple of ways I do it.
You know that little voice in your head?  The one that tells you you're doing it wrong.  That you're not good enough.  That you can't do it.  It's your doubts, your fears.  Sometimes it's even common sense – like fear, and doubt, and reason, common sense has vital uses.  But not when it's telling you, you can't.
Another twist on this is constantly asking yourself, Is this the right scene?  The right paragraph?  The right character?  The right sentence?  The right word?
Yeah, that one’s lethal.  At least to me.  When I find myself worrying about that – and worrying is a poor thing to find yourself doing in general – it’s like trying to drive with the emergency brake on.  Either I stall out completely, or I force myself by sheer will power to slowly grind words out.  Which turns the most joyous thing I do (well, it’s tied) into one of the most painful.
I have a personal touchstone:  if it’s not fun for me to write, how can it be fun for you to read?  The stuff that comes out when I’m constantly squeezing hard on looking for the right this or that … really bears that out.
And you want to know something ironic about what I grind out like that?  Within a couple days, I damn near always throw it out – because inspiration provides me a beautiful way to do it.
Here’s where you ask for a simple, easy way to stop turning off your creative flow.  And here’s where I wish I had one.  
I do have some things you can try.  One quick trick that I find useful, as I gather many authors have throughout history, is taking a walk.  It’s fun for me, especially now that I have a dog again.  And I find I do some of my most productive thinking on our walks:  on what I’m writing, how I write, and how to overcome my tendency to stop the flow of inspiration.
Look for and learn the ways you block yourself.  Then work out ways to stop doing that.  For instance, I’ve taught myself to be on the lookout for the “right” this and that perfectionism.  When I catch myself doing it, as I so often still do, I literally tell myself to knock it off, let go of that concern, and drive on.  Which is a strong way to break a habit:  break the spasm (here, perfectionism), and then overwrite the habit with a more useful one (write freely) and then get on with it.
I find the currently popular concept of “zero draft” immensely helpful at overcoming my deadly, blocking perfectionism.  My basic criterion for a zero draft is simple:  done = good.  And that’s it.
Please note this absolutely does not mean I don’t try to craft the best piece of writing I possibly can; indeed, this is the only reliable way I can do that.  Grinding it out produces the opposite.  And I know from experience that I do not really know the landscape of a tale – character, incident, structure – until I’ve walked over it once.  It takes me a draft to know my story, and how to tell it.
So I leave “good” for the rewrite, and just get it done.
Ideally.  I am still struggling to overcome decades of unwittingly instilling this habit of crippling perfectionism in myself.  That’s something I can’t switch off like a faucet.
But teaching myself the discipline of the zero draft is helping me learn to stop shutting off my inspiration.  So I recommend it to you.
And good luck at stopping stopping yourself.  Let the inspiration flow.  And have fun!


Raven said...

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