Posted in blogging, General

On Being Overwhelmed

Normally I like to set one project a month to focus on, for a couple of reasons. One, I’m not as likely to get distracted by a million other projects I want to work on. Two, it makes it easier to break down huge tasks into smaller ones. In a perfect situation, that means I’m not juggling a multide of things to do.

Life being what it is however, that’s not always the case. For this month, I’m not only juggling my main project, but also a new job, and trying to put together some semblance of a plan for what I’m doing with Crimson and Gold. Faced with the first round of edits on my current project, wanting to start NaNoPrep and figuring out what I need to do for a launch, it feels like there’s not enough hours in the day.

When facing a seemingly insurmountable task–or tasks, as the case very well is–often it helps to take a step back. Some of that overwhelming feeling comes from picking up more things and forgetting not everything has to be done right now. Often it helps to figure out which tasks can be done later. In this case, that happens to be my NaNoPrep.

Another part of that is also to break the large tasks down into smaller tasks. For my first round of edits, that means breaking it down into doing a plot overview and an outline so I can fix a couple of larger plotholes. For sorting out Crimson and Gold, that means taking a day or two and coming up with a plan so I can check things off as they get done. After all, I’m at least a few months away from publishing that, which means plenty of time to organize myself so I’m not swamped by huge amounts of work.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed?

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One Word Prompt: Flutter

Flutter

This week’s one word prompt is Flutter! As always I’d love to see any responses you come up with. Feel free to share!

Posted in writing

Using Myers Briggs for Characters

One of the hardest parts about building a character is sometimes getting their personality down. Although you could sit down and hammer out every single trait–loyalty versus selfishness, naivete versus worldly experience, et cetera–there are a lot of different traits that go into a human personality.

The other way way might be to look at their Myers Briggs personality type. As simple as it sounds, the sixteen types of personalities identifed by the Myers Brigs system provides a detailed base to work off for characters who need a little more fleshing out. It’s important to note that no one type of personality is superior to any other, nor does having a particular personality type make a character or person immediately qualified for a particular roles. People with ENTJ and INTJ personalities might have qualities that make them drawn towards leadership roles, but leadership requires development of skills outside of the personality itself.

The Myers Briggs system works based on four categories: Extraversion versus Introversion, Sensing versus Intiution, Thinking versus Feeling and Judging versus Perceiving. Each of these correlates to how you think and where your energies are focused.

Extraversion vs. Introversion: Extroverts are the people who gain energy from being around and interacting with others. Introverts however, gain energy from quiet reflection and quiet activities. These are different ways of expression energy and both discharging it and renewing it. Extroverts lose energy when alone and need socialization to recharge. Introverts lose energy by socializing and need time for reflection and processing. Within the Myers Briggs, this first category is marked by an E for the extrovert, and an I for the introvert.

Sensing vs. Intuition: Collecting information is something we do every day. Sensors however, focus on the details of the information and gather information directly from the external world. Intuitives look for patterns and context, relying on internal judgement to fill in missing information. Neither way is wrong, merely different from the other. Sensors are represented by an S while intuitives use N to prevent confusion with the above introverts.

Thinking vs. Feeling: Everyday situations need choices, regardless of  what the situation is. Thinkers respond to choices based on logic and reasoning. Feelers make those same choices based on their emotions. This can also apply to reactions: does your character spring for the immediately logical and deal with the emotional fall out later, or does your character’s emotional state rule how they react at any given moment? Thinkers are denoted by a T while feelers use F.

Judging vs. Perceiving: Judging and perceiving deal with organizing information. Judges organize things by rules and repeated patterns. Perceivers however, are open to improvisation and flexibility. Judges may be more reliant on experience to help sort their thoughts while perceivers may go on a base-by-case basis. As with the others, judges recieve a J while percievers have a P.

Each of the sixteen types recognized by the Myers Briggs system is denoted by a four letter notation: INTJ, ENFP, ESTP, ISFJ and so on and so fourth. Often these correlate to profiles, which, for building and developing a character, can give you a good sense of what’s happening in their head. If you need to, take a Myers Briggs personality test based on how your character would respond to the questions. Don’t be surprised if there’s some variation either: these categories aren’t polar opposites, but a spectrum.

Posted in worldbuilding

Worldbuilding: Superstitions

It might not surprise you to learn that supersition ties into your culture as well. Your culture, after all, is built on your terrain and the available resources. Superstitions are much the same way. In order to create a good superstition however, it helps to understand what they are.

By definition, superstitions are beliefs or practices based on beliefs in the supernatural. Often these aren’t based in fact, but they may be based on a false idea of causaution. For example: having a lucky item. If you happen to have that particular item on you when you’re having a good day, you might think of it as ‘lucky.’ Your brain then subconsciously looks for more evidence to back up that idea while disregarding anything that refutes it. In other words: If you think an item is lucky, it will be. The same thing happens in reverse.

Because of that however, things like old wives’ tales tend to persist because lots of people have heard them, and because our brains are looking for reasons to believe them (or not, dependent on your view). Stepping on a crack in the sidewalk won’t really break yours or anyone else’s back, but a common schoolyard rhyme warns against doing just that: Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.

Superstitions also include practices. Things like throwing salt over your shoulder, or knocking on wood are done to ward off bad luck. Picking a penny up face-up off the street invites good luck (some claim this is especially true in regards to finances). Other practices making a wish on a star, or kissing a necklace clasp before putting it behind you. These little rituals are things that you or someone you know might do without putting much thought behind it, a sort of ongoing habit that you almost know doesn’t mean much, but you still do. Just in case.

As I mentioned at the top however, superstitions tie into your culture. In some places, certain colors are considered lucky. Red wedding dresses are signs of good luck in China and India, but a daring and even deadly choice in western cultures. Finding a place to start building your supersition is as easy as lookign at some of your ceremonies. What colors are associated with those ceremonies?

Another place to look at is the animals your created people would be exposed to. Cats are one such example. The Japanese maneki neko is a cat believed to bring good luck to its owners. On the other hand, black cats have picked up an unfortunate and undeserved label of bad luck due to old fears of witchcraft and evil. Similarly, snakes are considered bad,  and some practices include nailing a dead snake over the door to prevent illness. Examine which animals your people would deal with, and some of the trouble (or lack of trouble) they might cause. Keep in mind that other superstitions can affect how an animal is perceived: cats in general after all, are supposedly lucky, it’s only black cats that are supposed to be unlucky.

One final place is also in your plants. Knocking on wood is one common superstion, with little known about it’s actual origins. Making wishes on dandelions is another. Plants have a number of uses, from food to medicine, which makes them a prime place for superstitions. Plants that are difficult to grow in a gardens and herb beds might come across as ‘lucky’ plants for those that can get them to seed and sprout. Interestingly this can lead to some curious beliefs as certain plants should never be given away: instead have a friend ‘steal’ them from your garden.