Ask the Author: Karson Braaten

“Ask me a question.” Karson Braaten

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Karson Braaten I have no major writing projects on the go right now. I have a few blog posts that I’m working on and am starting to get more involved with promoting Remember The Good Times. A lot of my reading currently is about the brain and happiness so perhaps I’ll pursue something along that route. I’ve also been interested in trying to have more impact on the subject of domestic abuse but I haven’t jumped too far into that yet.
Karson Braaten I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer. Even after self publishing my book I don’t tend to think of myself as an author (I’ll have to change that way of thinking) so I’m going to reword this question slightly:

“What’s the best thing about writing?”

There are two main reasons I enjoy writing.

1. Clarity of thought. Having to write down how I feel, why something is upsetting me, what I plan to do, forces me to make my ideas concrete. It helps get the junky thoughts out of my head because I realize they don’t make any sense when I try to write them. Once I have a finished post on the subject, only the meaningful thoughts remain (well, usually).
2. Help people. Every once in awhile someone will tell my that something they read helped them. I can’t express how happy it makes me to hear that. It motivates me to solve my problems in hopes that it will be able to help others.
Karson Braaten The best way to deal with writer’s block is to focus on preventing it in the first place. I’ve found a few ways to do this. First, whether it’s a few hundred words or a thousand, write everyday. Sometimes even this will be a challenge. When I’m in the process of writing and I feel that I’m sputtering there are a few things that I’ll do:

* Physical activity - I’ll take a 15-20 minute walk, or do some pushups, jumping jacks or some form of physical activity. Then when I sit down to write again new ideas and different ways to solve the blocking problem come to me.
* Alcohol - I’ll take a shot of tequila or have a glass of wine. This tends to loosen me up and I’ll get more written down then I can go back later and edit it if necessary.
* Write nonsense - Sometimes I’ll just try writing my stream of consciousness and see if it gets me back on track.

Sometimes none of this helps. Sometimes I just take a break. I don’t beat myself up over it (usually!), I just go and do something else and forget about it then come back to it another day. Sometimes I’ll finish what I was blocked and sometimes I’ll even realize that I don’t connect with it anymore and throw it out.
Karson Braaten Write every day. I can always tell when I’ve taken a few days off because the words will never seem to come out right, if at all. Everything feels clunky.

Write about things that you are scared to share. When I’m done writing about something that has been bugging me it usually isn’t bothering me anymore.

Most importantly, share your writing with the world. Ignore your brain telling you that it isn’t good enough, that no one will like it, or that it isn’t as good as the last piece you wrote, etc. It can’t help anyone if you keep it to yourself. Create and share, create and share.
Karson Braaten I read a lot of books, both fiction and nonfiction. I’ll read every morning for at least a half hour then listen to audiobooks on my bicycle ride to and from work. I’ll sometimes listen to music. I have a few goto playlists that get me in the mindset to write. They’re mostly songs that I’ve heard plenty of times before, otherwise it’s too distracting.

I also try being present as much as possible. I believe there is inspiration everywhere if you look for it. Whenever I find myself thinking someone or something is wrong I try to see their side. Whenever everyone agrees or disagrees on something I try to see the benefits of doing the opposite. Question everything. Every once in awhile I’ll stumble upon a topic that I can’t get my mind off of and I just have to write about it.
Karson Braaten My most recent book, Remember The Good Times, describes how I’m overcoming the murder of my cousin and her son by her husband who then took his own life also. Writing was my primary outlet after receiving the news of their passing. I would write until a point of mental exhaustion. I often felt hollow and emotionless afterwards, but I could get on with my day.

That same summer my two friends and I were going to backpack through Southeast Asia. I contemplated not going, but stuck to the plan. While we were there I was journaling obsessively in hopes that I would start a travel blog. I never did. However, I did decide I wasn’t going to let this tragedy in my life stop me, instead I would find a way to use it to motivate me to be a better person.

To that end, I was reading a lot of nonfiction books. Most of the “self-help” books I tried didn’t resonate with me though. They felt too preachy and impersonal. I eventually stumbled upon my journals that I wrote after the murder. The entries didn’t make a lot of sense in parts, but they were raw and real. They were more relatable for someone who was in pain. I wanted to write a book that describes what I found were the best techniques for overcoming a traumatic event, but instead of skirting around the dark emotional places I encountered along the way, I would embrace them. I hoped that doing so would build a sense of trust with the reader. That trust would give them the courage to try the techniques that I think can help someone to overcome any hardship.

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