Listen. Think. Speak. Write.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Repetition versus repetitive

I've been binge reading the words of a popular author recently.  Obviously, I generally enjoy the books or I would have stopped after the first one.  However, now that I'm like 5 in, I'm seeing patterns that have begun to annoy me as a reader—for example, a very controlling mother and a very fast resolution (too quick to resolve big issues, IMHO) among others.  Readers, viewers, listeners generally like repetition.  People enjoy the familiar and appreciate knowing what to expect.  It's why formula works so well in TV and movies. 

However, it's a fine line, though from repetition to repetitive.  Once that line is crossed though, we move from expectation to boredom.

Doesn't that sound a little like the workplace?  It's nice to know what you're supposed to do from day to day.  It's great when you can feel like you've mastered things, but there's got to be a little zing in there or it becomes so mind-numbingly boring that you spend your days dreaming up extravagant ways to quit.  Or at least watching YouTube videos of people who really did it with flare.  This woman is most certainly, "Gone," for example.  

Or how about your exercise routine?  Why do you think I have umpteen million different work out DVD's in my house AND a gym membership? I bore way too easily.

I'm not saying that life has to be all glitz and glory all the time.  One of the most important lessons I'm constantly telling my kids is that you have to go through some of the boring to get to the good stuff.  Routine ballet class with its focus on skill and repetition must precede winning at dance competitions. 

For that reason, I expect some repetition when reading and writing and even living.  I know there are boring parts to everything we do.  

But as soon as repetition feels too repetitive, the audience is probably lost.  

What are you ruts?  If you write, what are your repetitive habits?  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Variety and the imperfect perfection

I used to be a part of a monthly blog hop called the "Insecure Writer's Group" but I'd been letting that slide.  I valued that experience so I'm "hopping" back in. One of the things I've found most valuable over the years is the way in which my writing lessons have connected to life lessons.  Learning a new skill has given me so much perspective on everything else I've already learned, and I'll carry on that perspective today.

Aspiring writers are told to be voracious readers.  Agents, editors, and fellow writers insist that reading improves writing—makes sense, right?  It gives authors an understanding of market and genre, helps them notice concepts of voice and story development which may either subtly or directly influence one's own writing.

Potentially, reading also changes perspective about your own writing. One of the things that happens when you read a lot is that you don't like every book.  You might even hate some.  It's possible you'll even despite a book that everyone in the world things is the best thing ever written.  You might really enjoy a book or an author who "serious" critics say is too formulaic or sophomoric (or YA or fanfic or "trashy" novels). 

The point is, we all have different expectations and different preferences, right?  As a writer, it lets me off the hook a bit.  Perfection is relative ... to what?  Good is relative to what?  Now, that doesn't mean I advocate writing crap, but it's a good reminder.

As a public speaking teacher, I constantly tell my students that good speaking isn't one-size-fits-all.  It's about being an authentic communicator, about your ethos.  You need to be the best YOU possible even if you have some delivery flubs and or your voice is high-pitched.  It may be what audiences most like about you.

The same goes for writing, it goes for your job and your relationships and your art and your music and your bathroom remodel and everything else under the sun.  The more variety you experience, the more you're able to find yourself in the process. 

Your imperfections are an important part of your voice.