Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#IWSG Strategy for Relieving Tension



It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group blog posting. IWSG was created by the awesome ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can find a list of all the other members of the group here

His awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott! 

JULY 6 QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
 
I will answer this question at the bottom of my blog post for today.
 
*****     *****     *****
 

Stress and tension are a normal part of a writer's day. If it isn't a novel's character running amok or a scene refusing to be visual enough to interest a reader, then chances are the point of view has become skewered. When I received my edited work-in-progress back from the editor, red marks ran rampant. Along with comments about cliches and over-used words, several pages featured such comments as "talking heads" and "need more scene setting."

At times like this, it is always good to have a strategy for relieving tension. Sometimes jumping right back into writing works for me, especially if it involves composing a fun blog post. If a particular activity helps to relieve stress, all the better. In this case, I combined the two by writing about an activity that helps me reduce tension.

When Life Gives You Blood Oranges

Iced tea lemonade on the lanai - what a great way to relax! At times its just old-fashioned lemonade or fruit juice. But last time I mixed up a batch, I decided the preparation might make an interesting blog post. The tart lemons, lime, and blood oranges would certainly present a colorful picture story.

With the fruit at room temperature, I rolled each lemon and the lime across the table to “loosen” the juice inside. Then I used my manual hand-squeezer. If you have one of those electric juicers (lucky you) then you can probably skip this step.

Oranges, especially blood oranges, are soft enough and I don’t roll those, just slice them in half and squeeze. (The first time I cut open a blood orange and saw the deep red color of its pulp, I almost dropped it!)

In my hometown cookbook, I found an old recipe from 1951 that suggests combining 3 ¼ cups of cold water with ½ cup of lemon juice, then sugar to taste. Everyone has their own preferences and a nice variation on regular sugar is honey, or even ginger ale for a fizzy drink.
 
Whatever your method, just remember: If life gives you lemons, smile because you can use your pent-up energy to create something of value. I convert my stress (usually computer related) into character conflict that drives the next scene of my novel. Or fix my "talking heads."

 
When life gives you lemons, what is your strategy for relieving tension?
 
JULY 6 QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
 
 
I'm not sure if this answer quite fits the question, but it tickles me when someone says how much they like the protagonist in my mystery series. I have grown quite attached to Pepper, and a compliment about her is considered a compliment to me.
 

27 comments:

  1. It really matters when others appreciate our characters.

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    1. My cousin accidently called my by my protagonist's name once because she so closely related our personalities. A bit of a shock to find I had put so much of myself into my work!

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  2. I'm off to buy lemons!! What a lovely post, Gail. To relieve stress, I've also been known to bake my own bread. There's nothing like thumping that dough to activate the yeast :) I do hope my new readers will enjoy my protagonist as much as I love her :) Have a super writerly month filled with refreshing fruit punch :)

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    1. Nicole, one of the most relaxing times in my life was when I had my own rather large garden. So many zucchini! I loved baking zucchini bread and luckily, everyone liked eating it!

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  3. Hi Gail, its always nice when people tell you that they love your protagonist. That means they want to read more. In your case, its even better, as its a mystery series and these readers will follow Pepper in every book.

    Love the Iced Tea Lemonade.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna's Scriptorium

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    1. Agreed, Rachna. Lately, it's become routine to figure out new ways to introduce readers to even more Pepper. Summer and iced tea do go hand in hand.

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  4. It is a great compliment to know people like a character you created.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth. Your article about Elizabeth Gilbert's latest book is very helpful to writers.

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  5. Love it! Having someone like someone who's become so important to you is awesome! :)

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    1. It is interesting to discover how possessive we can become of this imaginary person, also.

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  6. Oh yeah! When people love your protagonist, there's love all around. Tension relieving strategy... Exercise (usually at an amusement park or beach), and CHEESE. =)

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    1. Ah, yes, Crystal, CHEESE! Born in Wisconsin's Dairyland, total Cheesehead Packer fan, it is a major food group for me (along with chocolate.)

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  7. I agree that tension can be used for good--otherwise, it sits inside you and slowly eats you from the inside out. You have to release it!

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  8. The first thing I put in my stomach each morning is boiled water with a teaspoon of squeezed lemon juice. For tension I meditate or/and do t'chi. I deal with tension much better at this time in my life, generally. Haha. Last month, not so much. Happy IWSG Day.

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    1. Your morning drink and t'chi routine sound so healthy. I'm not there, unfortunately. Writing has done wonders for keeping me calm and not letting the turkeys get me down.

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  9. The lanai! I haven't heard that word since Golden Girls! (I loved that show!)

    Loving a character is an important part of what brings readers back, probably the most important part!

    www.cdgallantking.ca

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  10. My mother lives in Florida - they all have "lanais." Here in the mid-west, we call them "porches." And when I want to relieve tension, I love to sit out on mine with a good book, my cat Hemingway, and a glass of wine. I agree with C.D. - if readers make a connection with your character, they will come back for more.

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    1. Remember porches well from my decades up in "cold country". Does your cat have five toes?

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  11. I've had many comments about my protagonist. As many hate him as love him, but I'm satisfied if in the end they love the story!
    Great way to reduce stress!

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  12. Liking your protagonist definitely counts! Thanks for the tips on making fresh squeezed lemonade. I'm going to try it the next time we have lemons.

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  13. I see on your bio that you're in Honolulu. I love Hawaii. My daughter visited Kauai for the 4th of July and had a terrific time. Great IWSG post!

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    1. Hope your daughter enjoyed the 4th. Used to be, fireworks clouded the sky with smoke and earsplitting booms throughout the night. Not any more, far more civilized and enjoyable.

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  14. Hi, Gail! I got a kick out of your IWSG post today! I think I would be tickled to hear that someone liked my protagonist! I'd probably be floating off the ground! I'll have to try your blood orange, lemon, and lime drink. I never thought of making lemonade as a stress reliever; although now that I think of it, I do get satisfaction out of hard-twisting a lemon or lime on my manual squeezer when I'm ticked off. I dearly love Honolulu, although I'm not sure I could live there full-time. I need it as a place to escape to. Happy writing this month!

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  15. When you get something back that's been edited to death, you need to do something to chill! I admit, I've never seen a blood orange before. I might've dropped it as well.

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  16. All this talk about blood oranges has me thirsty for another batch of lemonade. Off to the store for provisions!

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  17. It is good to have something to do with your hands as the editorial comments sink in and filter into usefulness. This drink sounds delicious.

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  18. Great post. Love your solution to writing tension. And getting back a rough edit is always tough.

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Aloha and thank you for visiting today!