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Breaking the routine

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Routines can be good.

They allow us to have consistency, get in the flow and concentrate at certain times.  For example, I like to write in the mornings, I find (unless I’m exhausted) my brain functions better and there are less distractions in the morning.  I like the sunshine and the sound of the birds.  It feels like the morning is a peaceful and contemplative time, with everyone just having woken from dreams there is a certain stillness to it that makes it ideal.

So I try to keep my routine.  I think it’s important to write every day, whether it’s just a blog post or a few words on a work in progress.  Gotta keep the juices flowing.

On the other hand, routines can be bad.

Writers should be keeping their eyes open for the unexpected parts of life, the parts that jump out, make an impact, feel different than the every day.  If you are stuck in a routine and every day falls into the same pattern, how are you going to experience the unexpected?

Routine can also become an excuse if you let it.  If I told myself I was going to write every morning from 9am-11am and that was my ‘writing time’, what would happen if I was busy one morning?  I don’t want to use a routine as an excuse not to write, or to lock myself into something so completely that I feel guilty if I don’t do it.  For example I missed the past two days of this blogging challenge.  I immediately got cranky with myself and tried to think of ways to make up for it.  Then this topic of routine came up and it got me thinking.  I don’t want to beat myself up for not doing something, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s a good way to live.  I want to do it because I love it and not stifle myself with routine.

I want to break the routine and embrace the spontaneity of my passions.

That’s the joy of freelancing too, the lack of routine.  There is no nine to five, we work when there’s work and play when there’s none and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  If I need to I can work at midnight to finish a project because I just had to finish that episode of The Office (see the symbolism?).  As long as it gets done, it doesn’t matter when I do it.

So routines can be good for some things, but what’s better than sticking to a routine tirelessly is breaking with routine and embracing the unpredictability that follows.

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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Rock your metaphors (like a hurricane)*

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I love metaphor.

I love when one thing means something else.  I love a story with layers.  I love when things linger below the surface.  I love metaphor so much that I don’t mind if I can’t understand what the metaphor is about and I’m left to fill in my own meaning.  I want stories to be rich and full and brimming with metaphors that make me think and question and relate.

When a metaphor is done well there is nothing like it, it fills you up and makes you feel as though art is real.  It makes you marvel at a world where such perfection of wordplay can exist.  However, where such a possibility of perfection lives, there must also be it’s opposite.

Bad metaphor rips open the page and exposes the story’s innards.  It jars you and dislodges you from the flow of the story making you feel as though you’ve tripped, fallen over the words and bruised your knee.  Now the world looks a little different, a little more mundane then when you set out on your little journey.  Maybe it was an inconsistent feeling that the metaphor gave off, or the wording was just a little too cliche, but either way you are trying to catch up to a story that is not as satisfying and that just won’t do.

Because I am fond of lists (although not to the scale of my love for metaphors) here is a list of ways in which you can rock your metaphors:

Avoid cliches.  I’m pretty sure even saying this is cliche, but it unfortunately needs to be said.  Sometimes I fall into the cliche trap and I’m lucky enough to have someone who loves me to pull me out.  So find someone who loves you (or just about anyone willing to point out your flaws) and get out of the habit.

Be consistent.  If you are writing a story set in medieval times don’t use modern metaphors.  Try to think about your characters, location, time period, feelings, themes and anything else that is a part of your story, then try to make your metaphors consistent with that.  Use the imagery you have available within the scope of your story to expand and reflect exactly what you’re trying to say.  Go through and check your metaphors at the end, make sure they are consistent throughout.

Symbolism matters.  Remember that even if you don’t intend it, people will read more into your story than you may have put in.  So start intending it.  Leave easter eggs.  Choose words, items, locations and people that mean something, that somehow reflect the themes in your story.  People will find patterns no matter what, but if you put some of those patterns in there you get bonus points for awesome!

Be accessible.  If you use something completely abstract or rare your readers might find themselves removed.  You want people to be able to vividly associate with whatever  image or feeling you are trying to conjure.  I reckon this is also based on your demographic and what kind of audience you are writing for.  If you are just writing for your own enjoyment though, go wild!

Experiment.  This doesn’t have to be the flip side of being accessible, but if it is than that’s okay!   Try things, be brave and bold and discover hidden meanings that you didn’t even know were there!

Got more ideas on how to rock metaphor?  Let me know!

*Intentional irony