Monthly Archives: June 2010

Writing Research…Otherwise Known as Cyber-Stalking

I’m back in full blown Crazy-Writer-Woman-Mode and have no shame. I stumbled on some advice during the course of writing this book, which I wish I’d had during my first, and have found it helpful for me to use pictures of people I liken to the characters I try to create. I do this by searching on the internet for images of people based on physical characteristics alone until I find one that suits me. For example, I may search on young woman, blond hair, and simply choose based on one that strikes me. I can then refer back to the photos when I need inspiration or need to imagine a scene in my head.

I try to choose someone fairly anonymous and not liken them after more well-known people as I’m afraid my novel’s characters will start to take on a distorted view based on how the already famous person is often portrayed, either in real life or in movies or television in the case of actors.

So, I was perusing the internet yesterday for a random, dark-haired, blue eyed guy in his mid twenties and came up with the headshot of a hunky specimenĀ  from London on an acting agent’s website (not that my character is British, but his looks fit the bill of what I had in mind and I hadn’t previously heard of him).

So, I cut and pasted his pic onto my character notes. For all intents and purposes, I call him “Jared”. (I won’t mention his real name here because I already wonder if my research isn’t toeing the line of conventional novel legwork and crossing into something that might warrant a restraining order on his part.)

I do some more poking around and find that he’s got a Twitter page. So I follow him. Being that he’s an actor, I figure I have to keep tabs on this guy in case my book ever hits the big screen, maybe he’ll just want to play the part I already have all planned out for him.

It’s been both an amusing and useful tool in the writing process for me. What about you? What tools do you use in your writing to help you with researching a novel, bringing a character to life, or gleaning inspiration for scenes as you work them out in your head?

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I Don’t Care What You Think..and I Mean That in the Nicest Way Possible

“The more I run, the less I care about what other people think,” I recently confessed to a close friend of mine. She wondered whether it could be caused by the fact that I’ve become more physically fit, and I thought about that for a moment. “Yes and no,” I told her.

It’s true that, over the past nine months of watching what I eat and regular running, I’ve brought about greater physical transformations than what I ever would’ve thought possible. I’ve dropped some pounds and even traded some in for muscle. But I don’t think my I-don’t-care-what-you-think-attitude can be contributed solely to this.

I’ve built self confidence. Strength. Stamina. Endurance.

All those things could not have been achieved by improved physicality alone. Each mile I conquer brings about mental and emotional changes as well. A feeling of accomplishment. (There are still days where I pinch myself, thinking, “I really did finish my first 5K in 26.09 minutes!”)

When I first started running, I would only run early in the morning since I was less likely to be seen then. My form was bad. My hair looked awful. I was drenched in sweat. I was self-conscious about every little thing. I had flashes of “Run Forest, run!” playing on a continuous loop in my head. Not that I ever once heard anyone say anything, negative or otherwise. No jokes from passersby, no snide comments. But, in my head, I felt every criticism, either real or imagined, I felt it. I just didn’t realize that the loudest voice of all was the one in my own head.

Now, the welcome sound of my feet hitting pavement drowns out everything. Negativity and self-defeating comments aren’t even a whisper.

These days, I run whenever and wherever–morning, evening, broad daylight, along a busy street or through a quiet neighborhood. With people. All alone. In a race against the clock or my own self imposed goals. When I pass others walking or running in the opposite direction, I look them in the eye and nod “hello” instead of dropping my gaze.

I’ve come to realize my own opinion about myself is what really matters most in the end. And the voice I hear is kinder, more caring, stronger and more prominent than ever before.

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