Channeling a Character

I will sometimes finish a scene, sit back, and wonder who wrote that. The characters appeared to write themselves. They did and said what they wanted, despite what I had in mind.

I heard writers admit how their characters seemed to take over a scene, as if they came to life. I agree with writers that channeling could be the reason.

People think of channeling as psychics or people sensitive to the spiritual world. As background, a writer is limited in their writing by education, culture, environment, personality, and other traits linked to their life and mindset. When a character goes against these traits, I think the writer can be tapping into the spiritual world.

Whether or not the writer believes it, there are times when the writer becomes so focused on a scene that a connection is born and someone from the other side expresses themselves onto the page. Much like automatic writing. No, the writer is not seeing dead people like in The Sixth Sense. I think of it like this:

Channeling is possible when a writer focuses so much on a scene and characters that the writer enters a meditative state. I focus on writing a scene to the point I feel I am a part of it. Like in automatic writing, someone else comes through.

I know, you can’t wait for the catch or the joke to this blog. There isn’t any. I don’t think channeling is common, nor does it happen to everyone. Or, if it happens it comes briefly without the writer realizing it. But it exists.

Of course, many people would think this is nonsense. Yet, some stories could use a little collaboration. What better collaboration than people who do not ask for a byline?

Try this when you get stuck on a scene:

    • Get comfortable
    • Breath
    • Concentrate on the page without worrying you need to type something.

If you fall asleep, at least you’ll have a good nap. If you say awake, you may be happy about what had been written.

A Nonprofit’s Need for Stability

Nonprofit operations need to continue in a consistent manner each time and every day. Without this stability, mistakes occur and, when a problem happens, the people struggle for a solution.

Most of the time, nonprofits (and other organizations) rely on people staying in their same position over time to maintain stability. Unfortunately, when these people leave, the operations must be relearned. This costs time and other resources and could be a significant point of failure in the mission or a program.

A simple list of what to do is sufficient to keep operations stable when people leave. As an example, when receiving grant money, the instruction should state what spreadsheet to use, what information to enter, who to inform about the grant, and who will be accountable for spending the money (receive, record, inform, and establish accountability). The instructions do not have to be long.

While it can seem daunting to write instructions for each activity and process, they can be written without many details. Do not write about every possible contingency that may come up. Keep the instructions simple so they can be used as a baseline for what to do. Keep the instruction to one page or two at the most. Make sure there is plenty of white space on each page, maybe use an outline form. The reader does not want to feel like they are reading War and Peace.

I am trying to follow my own advice with the nonprofit I’m involved with. While I already keep records of everything, I am writing out the steps I take to accomplish each process. Now is a good time for everyone to do this since most of us are home. I’m also doing it because I do not plan to stay with the nonprofit the rest of my life.

Does There Need to be a Hero and a Villain?

Many authors and people in the publishing industry claim that a story is not a story without a hero and a villain. I disagree.

The thinking behind this claim is that opposing sides create conflict which keeps the reader’s interest. Suspense builds toward the resolution of the conflict. Historically, opposing sides have been between good and evil or a hero and a villain. However, I don’t think a hero or a villain is always necessary to make a story. Nor, is good and evil needed.

To make a story, something needs to happen. At least one character should exhibit some type of change that does not come from facing an enemy. A scene, environment, or events can create challenges that make a character become a better or worse person. Yet, writing this way can be difficult for writers.

Many writers find it easier and simpler to create a hero and a villain where the boundaries are well defined and the conflict is clear. Such as in the Hero’s Journey. Except, this can lead to flat characters who have no complexity, deep emotion, or distinct personality.

Flat characters are clichés who stay within the boundaries of what the writer defines as good or evil. The story becomes more about chasing after something like an object or a goal than about who is doing the chasing. To avoid flat characters and give more dimension to the story, a writer could question the good and evil of the characters.

As an example, chase scenes and quests could change the hero into a villain and vice versa. Or, there could be no obvious hero or villain. Just average people confronted with challenges that makes them into something different than what they were at the story’s beginning.

What it means to be a nonprofit

I have become involved in a small nonprofit that existed for many years. While the previous board members were familiar with the mission, they were unfamiliar with operating a nonprofit. They assumed that being small meant they were okay with not following all the nonprofit rules.

If the IRS approves a letter of determination and the nonprofit receives money, they must follow basic nonprofit rules. Size matters only in what rules to follow.

For example, this nonprofit had not filed an income tax form for several years. Previous members decided that the nonprofit’s small income exempted them from filing. This caused the nonprofit status to be revoked and it was reinstated at a cost.

Every board member should learn how to run a nonprofit. Of all the things to learn, the two most important ones are:

  • Protect the money by creating financial guidelines. Include at least two unrelated people on the bank account and require dual signatures on all expenses. Also, establish a process to balance the bank account and report to the members.
  • Keep the bylaws updated. These are the operating rules of the nonprofit and should be reviewed at least every two years. The most important part of the bylaws is what makes a quorum. Too low a number and changes could be made without members having a say. Too high a number and nothing can get change, even when needed.

Other matters to pay attention to are having a budget, maintaining archives, and keeping a set of operating procedures updated.

Everyone in a nonprofit has responsibility to make sure that, not only is the mission met, but that the nonprofit operates according to the rules. No matter the size of the nonprofit.