What the HELL is a Johari Window?

Hi everyone.

I recently discovered an amazing writing tool, courtesy of another writer. (Shout out to Kristen Lamb @authorkristenlamb.com).

It’s called the Johari Window.

It was created by two psychologists in 1955 – Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. They thought it would help people to better understand their relationship to themselves and others. Self-help groups and corporate team-building exercise leaders loved it.

Ugh, I know. Snoozefest.

However, if you stop reading right now just remember this – these two guys named their creation after themselves – JO for Joseph and HARI for Harringtion – which is kinda cute.

Still here?

Great, because if you don’t think, Wow, this would be a great tool for character development the first time you see a Johari Window, then I don’t know what I can do for you.

That first box – OPEN (sometimes called ARENA) – this is all the information that your character knows about him/her/their self and that everyone else knows, too. Like – he used to be a lap dancer, but then he became an EMT, and now he’s a convicted felon out on parole.

That second box – BLIND SPOT – contains stuff about your character that other people know, but that your character is currently ignorant of, or blind to.

Like – she feels worthless and ashamed because she can’t afford name brand clothes, but other people see her as creative and stylish.

The third box – HIDDEN (sometimes called FAÇADE) – is full of all the crap your character knows about themselves, but that they keep hidden from everybody else.

Like – they have a shoe fetish, only no one can tell because they have 40 pairs of the same style shoe.

 

 

 

 

The fourth box – UNKNOWN – is where all the stuff that no one in your story knows about yet.

Like – aliens have been keeping an eye on your character ever since they were born, because your character’s bio-dad is the leader of a great civilization on Alpha Centauri.

Once you use the Johari Window to map out your protagonist, you can continue to use it to structure your story. The way you do that is to design a story problem that will eventually help your protagonist finally see their blind spot and how it’s negatively affecting their life and other people’s lives too. And in the process of doing that, you want to shrink that UNKNOWN box by the story’s end with the goal of ending up with a more balanced, whole person who knows who they are, likes who they are, and knows where they’re going.

Have you ever seen the Johari Window before? And have you used it in your writing?

Let me know in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading.

How long should it take to write a novel?

Hi everyone.

If you’re at all like me, you alternate between “good” writing days (you know, where you actually get some writing done), and “bad” writing days (all those other days where you barely string two sentences together before deleting them anyway).

So I wondered what other writers’ creative flow looked like.

Here are a few of the most famous works of fiction along with how much time the authors spent writing them.

  1. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne.  Published in 2006, the movie based on it came out in 2008. Boyne finished the first draft in 2.5 days. 
  2. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Originally published in 1954. It took Tolkien 16 years to finish it.
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K.), by J.K. Rowling. Published in the U.S. in 1998, it took Rowling 6 years to complete it.
  4. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. First book in the fantasy series, A Song of Fire and Ice. It was published in 1996 and it took Martin 5 years to write it.
  5. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley. Published on January 1, 1818, it took her a year to write it.
  6. IT, by Stephen King.  Published in 1986. King says it was first conceived of in 1978, but that he didn’t start writing it until 1981. It was finished in 1985.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Published in 1960. It took Lee 2.5 years to complete it. 
  8. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. Published in 2005. Meyer wrote it in 3 months.
  9. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Published in 1843. Dickens completed it in 6 weeks.
  10. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Published in 1886, Stevenson knocked this out in 6 days.        So there you go.

We now know it takes anywhere from 2 and a half days to 16 years to finish something worth reading.

I feel better already. Don’t you?

Does knowing how long it took some of your favorite authors to write their novels help, or hurt?

Let me know in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!

Writer’s Journal vs. Writer’s Notebook

Hi Everyone.

Today I want to talk about a topic that came up online recently — what is the difference between a Writer’s Journal and a Writer’s Notebook?

It’s all just a bunch of  OCD writers once again obsessing about stuff that doesn’t matter, you say? Oh, you are so wrong.

Not only does this stuff matter, it matters A LOT.

At least to us writer types.

Let me explain.

Writers’ Journals are kind of like specialized diaries. This is where you put all the writing that should probably never see the light of day.

For instance:

  • If you do daily writing prompts — this is where you put your responses to those prompts. Five ways to describe a dung beetle!
  • If you spend the first ten minutes of every writing day writing I don’t know what to write today. Do that here.
  • If you’re thrashing around, trying to nail down a difficult scene that’s not quite ready to be introduced to  the rest of your manuscript, this is a good place to do your thrashing.
  • If you need to get the boring, every day stuff off your chest before you can be creative, then unload that crap here.
  • If you sometimes find yourself compulsively writing Zarry or BTS fan fiction, because … well, just because — then this is a safe space for it.

Writers’ Notebooks, on the other hand, are where you get to live as a writer.

Here’s what goes in your notebook:

  • Your thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, observations, bits of overheard conversation
  • Pick a place, like a coffee shop, and move around the room listing the things you hear, smell, taste, wonder about — you can use these bits to flesh out a setting or a scene later on
  • It’s where you collect random — or not so random — ideas
  • Bits of poetry or song lyrics you like
  • Topics and themes that are important to you, or that you find yourself coming back to over and over again
  • Character sketches of strangers
  • Bits of dialogue — even if you don’t know who will be saying this dialogue yet
  • Doodles or sketches of people or places that intrigue you for some reason
  • Quotes from books or authors that turn you on
  • Words that you just frigging like the sound of
  • Lists of things
  • Whatever else you feel like including — as long as it’s personal

Believe it or not, all of this stuff is valuable. These are the tiny bits of grit and sand your writer’s mind will use to create pearls.

So get yourself a couple of blank notebooks and make one your Journal and the other one your Notebook. Add something to each of them every day.

You’ll be glad you did!

Do you have a separate writer’s journal and writer’s notebook? Let me know in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!

The Year of Living Dangerously, 2020

In 1978 Christopher J. Koch wrote an amazing novel about the 1965 failed coup attempt to oust Indonesian dictator “Bung” Sukarno. In the aftermath of that failure over 1,000,000 people were butchered. The book was called The Year of Living Dangerously and it was made into a movie in 1983.

 

 

 

 

 

Sukarno was president for 17 years and suppressed Indonesia’s parliamentary system in favor of an authoritarian “Guided Democracy.” Endowed with a “larger than life” personality, Sukarno’s personal and political excesses, and his infamous cabinet of 100 corrupt and cynical ministers, induced a continuous state of national crisis.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, welcome to my world.  There don’t have to be exact parallels between Sukarno’s rule and the current president’s rule for you to get the chills and the heebie jeebies.

Americans have always felt immune to the harsh realities of life in other, less fortunate, countries. You know, those places where sociopathic dictators  gleefully destroy their own countries for the sake of ego gratification and money?

This shit only happens in other countries, not America. Right?

However in the few minutes it took to stage that ridiculous “photo op” in front of St. John’s church America’s plight became all too clear —

      • there was the obviously timed escalation of a peaceful protest into a “violent” protest (which simultaneously diminished and demonized the BLM protesters who were seeking justice for George Floyd and everyone else victimized by racism);  
      • followed by a mask-less Trump’s meandering walk across the street (accompanied by his band of equally mask-less minions, because, well, The Boss doesn’t wear a mask! and because Fuck Science!);
      • ending with an already-disinterested Trump holding up a Bible for the camera.

 

 

 

Thoughts? Comments?

Thanks for reading.