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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Universe of iggi U: Student Speaker - SA Larsen

Today we have our Student Speaker guest post and blogfest!  SA Larsen (AKA Sheri) was one of the first people to join in on DIY MFA and has been a part of this blog community since... almost since when this blog started.  She's a young adult and middle grade writer, wife, and mother to four humanoids. A romantic at heart and self-proclaimed chocoholic, she's a lover of all things paranormal and the owner of the infamous Graffiti Wall on Writers' Ally. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Read on for Sheri's take on DIY MFA and don't forget to scroll to the bottom, to read other posts by other DIY MFAers.  And now, here's Sheri!

Writing is an evolution for both writer and the works he or she produces. A successful writer is not merely one who is published, but one willing to constantly train and mature within the craft.

Over the last four weeks, iggi U has taken us from one well mapped-out element of writing to the next and given us our own in-house Do-It-Yourself MFA. Totally cool! Technique, reading habits, and inspiration have all been covered. I, for one, will take with me the sense of community developed here and Gabi’s enthusiasm for the written word. It’s contagious, and I love that.

The idea of mind mapping is one of the exciting techniques I’ve honed while at iggi U. It almost reminded me of my theatre classes when the instructor gave us a phrase, and as we acted it out, he’d toss another completely unrelated phrase at us. This kind of activity is great, pushing us out of my comfort zone and beyond our average, mundane thoughts. Personal translation: resurrection from the cautious and otherwise boring scenes, plots, or sub-plots I might have come up with. It’s an innovative way to stretch those mental and creative muscles. I’ve tucked this tool away in my creative writing arsenal for the next time I’m jittery about taking a writing risk.


If you’re anything like me, once I have a scene or a chapter in mind, I tend to go on autopilot and just write. I’m definitely a pantser. Outlining is too restrictive for my squishy brain. Grid out my gray matter and you might as well have erased my thought process entirely. But Gabi’s lessons on the In’s and Out’s of Plotting and the Character Compass, not to mention TADA—which is magnificent, BTW—got me thinking. An itemized list of capital A to G with numbers trailing behind like the Pied Piper isn’t necessary. But I also don’t need to abandon planning all together. I can ask myself simple questions, analyzing conflict, and character traits and growth as I write. If I find any weaknesses, I can turn to the mind mapping method to develop more. And even if I find solid, engaging conflict, I can still use this technique to add a little heat and spice, and maybe deepen the plot in a way I hadn’t thought of yet. I call this non-restrictive, and I’ll definitely be applying this to my writing rhymes.


The last element I’d like to mention is the idea of Reading Like a Writer. This happens to be a topic I’ve studied a lot. Don’t get me wrong; it is vital we read for pleasure. But learning to have that ‘writer’s eye’ while reading other’s work is a form of invaluable training for a writer. I plan on honing this method even more now.

Overall, iggi U has been a wonderful experience and has given me insight into my personal workings as a writer. And best of all, the lessons and discussions can be a continued writing resource by the simple click of a key and a link.

I’d like to thank Gabi for sharing her talents and love of writing with us.

Thank you Sheri, and thank you everyone who helped make DIY MFA a success.  Now, check out these awesome links below.

14 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love Sheri and her fab blog. Not to mention her contribution to YA Oasis. :D

Creepy Query Girl said...

Great guest post Sheri!

Janice said...

Loved your post, Sheri. I gave mind mapping a go and loved it - I used to hate the idea.

Talli Roland said...

Thanks Sheri - great post! I love mind mapping.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Cool idea. DIY MFA - certainly isn't that what we writers have to do - learn as we go, on the ground running sort of thing. I really love the topics of mind mapping and reading as a writer. Thanks!

Candyland said...

Great post, Sheri!!!

Kerryn Angell said...

Great post, Sheri. You've done us students proud. :) My own DYA MFA and Beyond post is up now and I'm more than thrilled about what is in the Beyond. :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I really struggle to shut my writer mind down when I'm reading. It stinks! But the best stories take me out of writer mode. It's the ones with hiccups that give me trouble!

Theresa Milstein said...

Great guest post!

I'm a panster too. Outlines suck the sun out of it for me. When I get a big picture or an idea for a few scenes, I just jot some notes in case I forget the ideas later. But I never forget the ideas.

I can't read books without using my writer mind.

Renae said...

Great guest post Sheri!

salarsenッ said...

@Kerryn, thanks so much! I was rather nervous, but doing this was fun. Gabi has done a wonderful job with sharing her knowledge. I'm excited for the future of iggi U. <3

Christina Lee said...

You have inspired me to mind map today--nice!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post Sheri. I'm trying to read more like a writer too.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

WTG, Sheri! Great guest post...

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