100 Words - Writing Voice Take Two

100 Word Challenge writing promptIt seems last week's 100 Words writing prompt was a bit of a bust. Some of you seemed to have simply missed the posting and Tara reported that it didn't show up in her reader. I checked Feedburner to see if anything seemed awry, but everything looked fine. Do tell me if my posts are not showing up in your reader though - and for that matter if you experience any other technical problems/glitches.

I can't promise I'll know how to fix them, but I can promise you I'll lose much sleep trying to figure it out.

Nevertheless, the show must go on! As promised we'll continue to focus on writing voice throughout October. Have you ever taken note of the interesting phenomenon that once you focus on a topic, it seems to show up everywhere? Call it magic, or call it paying attention.

Lessons from a Young Musician

Last Saturday we went to see Seth Glier live at a local music house. I didn't know a thing about Seth before going and was happily bowled over by his enthusiasm, his talent, and his fantastic lack of cynicism. His voice was quite unique - a bit high and nasally for a dude - but it was his persona and delivery that kept the crowd glued to his performance.

Had to look him up when I got home. Found some videos from early in his career and when I compared to the performance I had just seen I knew the topic for finding voice this week would be about practice. 

Here's Seth in 2006. I'm pretty sure he was still a teenager at that point.


And here's Seth now.


Ok, yes, the second is a professional music video, but it still illustrates how much Seth's "voice" and style has evolved, been refined, and polished. And live? He was even better.

The lesson - practice.

Artists sweat and bleed for their craft, day in and day out. For good reason. The more you do something, the more effortless it becomes, and when the tool and the mechanics of the thing can get out of the way of creativity, you enter what psychologists call a state of "flow".  Here's one way that's described:

According to pioneering research by Anders Ericsson at Florida State University in Tallahassee, it normally takes 10,000 hours of practice to become expert in any discipline. Over that time, your brain knits together a wealth of new circuits that eventually allow you to execute the skill automatically, without consciously considering each action. Think of the way tennis champion Roger Federer, after years of training, can gracefully combine a complicated series of actions – keeping one eye on the ball and the other on his opponent, while he lines up his shot and then despatches a crippling backhand – all in one stunningly choreographed second. (New Scientist)

For more on Flow I'll refer you back to the same blog post I linked to last week. Basically, "flow" is where every artist and craftsman/woman wants to be. It is the state from which your very best can, *ahem*, flow.

*Side note - I studied cognitive psychology in college and focused a semester or two on the work of positive psychology and Flow, and it's a point of pride that I know how to pronounce Mihály Csíkszentmihályi's name. If we ever meet, you can ask me. I promise you, it barely resembles the spelling.

Your Task Should You Choose to Not Wimp Out

Aside from the obvious, "just write dammit", we're going to continue from where we left off last time with Kurt Vonnegut's #3 on his 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story.

Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

Only this time, write the same 100 word story from another character's perspective. If you didn't write last week, then write two this week. In fact, go hog wild and try to write the same story from the perspective of multiple characters/observers. The point is to stick with the same thing but work it from different angles.

Now go on, write something.

*P.S. Since I'm a day late, I'm keeping this prompt open until Sunday at midnight.