Being Selfish

Have desk, will write

Have desk, will write (Photo credit: Bright Meadow)

I wish I could say that my two months absence was due to writing furiously; especially sense my last post was titled “Back-To-Writing”. 

Alas, it’s just because life is life. We’ve been busy. Too busy to think creatively elsewhere thanks to:

  • Work volume that’s unseasonably high.
  • Dudes going back-to-school and the realization that I am not smarter than a 3rd grader (seriously, 3rd grade homework will be the death of me).
  • Catching up with friends I haven’t seen or heard from in a while.
  • Volunteer commitments which are important.

At the end of most days, I don’t have much to give. Right now, no one is getting the best me. My employer gets first dibs on my energy just because it’s first in my day. My dudes get marginally less than my job. My hubby never gets the best me (which is sad). And me … I don’t get any of me (which is pathetic).

I know, I’ve told you this before. You’re wondering, what’s new? Nothing’s changed. If anything, the pace of busy keeps increasing.

Back-to-writing didn’t go the way I planned.

What I learned in the process is I am not effective at writing every day. Every other works better. It allows me time to refill the creative bucket. Then brain dump the next day and keep moving.

I am thankful to have this writerly knowledge of myself.

Now, I’ll stop whining and tell you what I going to do about.

I am attending a two day writing conference this coming weekend. Hello, Breathe Christian Writers’ ConferenceHere I come!

The countdown is on. This year’s theme: Let It Out!

I’ve already registered for the workshops I’m interested in. Purchased new pens so I can fill as many blank pages as I can, with advice, thoughts, and maybe even new novel words.

Yep. It’s a big deal.

I am ready. I am going to be totally selfish and not worry about anything else for two days.

Our youngest dude is in a play that I will miss. His disappointment almost had me caving in; almost compromised my selfish ways. But it would have meant missing the keynote address on the first night of the conference. A topic I need to hear about: The Rule of Three

Thankfully, my husband reminded me that it’s okay to give myself this time. As a matter of fact, he’s excited because there’s a school event on a night he doesn’t have to work. Bonus. They will video it for me and we’ll watch it back as a family.

I’m going. No guilt trips.

Both of my writing partners were planning on attending with me. We’d all saved the date and talked about how great it would be when we could all gather together under one roof. Except, life happened. Babies, family, worthy things happened. Now they’re not coming.

I’m going anyway.

I turned my attention to two acquaintances who I met at the same event last year. I figured I’d still see some faces I knew. But one has a schedule conflict and the other decided not to go.

I’m going friendless … but I’m going. Wait … I’ll make new friends.

I don’t have any new story ideas; not starting a new project. I’m working on the same novel as last year this time (and the year before and the year before). Of course, I’ve made progress. Maybe not as much as I would like but …

I’m still going … hoping to be inspired.

Speaking of selfishness, I splurged and purchased new frocks to wear. I can always use more clothes and shoes but what a wonderful excuse to do so.

I’m going in style.

This is my gift to me. A writerly respite. A vacation from day to day. A writer’s retreat. A reboot if you will.

And, when it’s all over, I will share with all of you. Whatever I learn or think or feel … I will share with you. Community is a beautiful thing.

You’ll be hearing from me soon.

~Gail

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Back-To-Writing

Pen en papier / Pen and paper

Pen en papier / Pen and paper (Photo credit: Nationaal Archief)

Back-to-school (BTS) is less than a week away for our dudes.

It’s giving me anxiety. I wake up with a crippling “to do” list scrolling on my mental screen. And I fall asleep the same way.

  1. Order uniforms – Surprisingly between the end of school and now my dudes have grown. Go figure.
  2. Buy school supplies – It’s my favorite thing about back-to-school.
  3. Coordinate drop offs and pick-ups – The bane of my existence. They get out of school at 3PM. I get off work at 5PM.

There aren’t any checkmarks to signify completion of any of these” to do” list items.

  1. Buy shoes – First must practice tying shoes or plan on shoes without laces.
  2. Buy backpacks – Not cool licensed stuff like Batman and Sonic because they don’t last. Need something reinforced. Boring.

And the list goes on and on …

  1. Discuss lunch options – Need choices that can survive without refrigeration.
  2. Get haircuts – Now, not later. It will grow out just the right length before pictures.
  3. Buy glasses wipes – Little people don’t care about grime.

Oh, I know some of you are feeling my pain. But that’s what BTS looks like for my dudes. These are the things Momma needs to do to get them ready for the 2013-2014 school year.

 

14:365 Pen & Paper

14:365 Pen & Paper (Photo credit: mattbeckwith)

BTS looks different for me personally. This year, BTS for me is Back-To-Writing. Writerly me needs a back-to-school program!

For those of you who don’t know, I started writing my first novel in August 2010. The idea came to me one morning while I was curling my hair. A flash of brilliance.

I was excited and the words flowed. Then I realized I had no idea what I was doing. So I started looking for help and there’s an abundance of it available. By abundance I mean more than any one writer could ever sift through.

It was paralyzing to realize all I didn’t know. Plus, it was overwhelming to realize what I did know and maybe wasn’t applying right.

In August 2011, I reset my goal. Put my word count goal in Scrivener again.

In August 2012, I reset the goal again. I’m half way there.

We’re coming to the end of August 2013 and I am facing my third reset. I have mixed feelings.

I think: “Why am I not done yet?”
Then, I think: “No worries. Take your time.”

I’m sure some of you are ready for the whining about the novel and my writing process for it to be over.

But my enthusiasm has waned and with it my habits. I’ve gotten sloppy.

How do I combat this slowdown in progress? How do I overcome this dwindling enthusiasm and momentum?

Easy! Back-To-Writing.

By getting back to the basics and rebuilding my writing habits, which means, I must write daily; adhering to word count and time goals.

Discipline is the key.

I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Twenty one days of doing a task over and over to make it second nature.

 

Calendar Card

Calendar Card (Photo credit: Joe Lanman)

So here I go … 21 days of writing new words every day. That’s my first semester or quarter or marking period. Call it what you will.

It won’t matter what I write at this point. I just need to be intentional about sitting down each day to write. Words on the page. It could be novel writing or blogging. It just needs to be daily.

For the past 6 months or so my characters have been on sabbatical. Their leisure time is over. It’s time for the hard work. Together we will finish this.

Otherwise, the characters from a second novel idea will breakthrough. They’ve been knocking at the door and whispering to me in my sleep. But I refuse to answer until I finish book idea one to satisfaction.

Oh and did I mention, if I miss one day, then I will have to start over counting my 21 days. I will reset daily if necessary to avoid resetting at the end of August 2014. FINISH.

Once I complete a full 21 days of writing, I’ll up the ante by selecting specific word counts per day or time writing per day. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted. And, you can help hold me accountable.

I had good habits in the beginning when I was ignorant. Maybe naïve is a better word. Either way I want to have that sense of innocence back; that feeling of invincibility. I can do this.

What does BTS look like for you? What will you rededicate yourself to? Will you get Back-To-Writing? Creating? Painting?

Images through WordPress…

 

excuses! Excuses! EXCUSES!

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint  New Journals

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
New Journals

This post has been simmering in the creative juices of my stewpot brain for weeks.

I’ve been unwilling to let it come to a boil and bemoan (yet again) my lack of writing. I know this is the writer’s journey. The cycle of highs and lows. Triumphs and defeats.

But I wonder should I keep talking about the journey? Especially when said journey is at a standstill?

Apparently, the answer is yes because here I am, telling you (yet again) that I have writer’s block. Or better yet, as Jerry Cleaver, author of my go to resource, Immediate Fiction, puts it: “Page Fright”.

Last time I talked about writing, it was on the heels of a recommendation to take a sabbatical. To which I publicly said no, only to traverse that path anyway …

Confession: It’s been months since I’ve opened Scrivener. It’s been weeks since I made a note in my journal relative to the novel in progress. It’s been days since I’ve thought about my characters and what’s going on in their lives. Truly, I am embarrassed at my lack of concern for them.

So you’re probably wondering what has me blocked this time. What’s the trigger for my “page fright”?

  • Excuses
  • Self-loathing
  • Emotions
  • Self-doubt
  • Oh yeah and did I mention?
  • Excuses

Tell me my creative friends … have you ever said any of these things:

I’m too tired …

It’s an excuse. I have the energy to stay up all hours of the night and day watching TV or surfing the web (especially for books on Amazon) or playing games on my iPhone. So I’ll take the hit for this one. It’s really just laziness on my part.

I’m too busy …

And I am. I’m a wife and mom who works outside of the home. Needless to say in the last six months my day job workload has more than tripled; leaving no room for anything else. Except maybe: baby blankets? Remember all my friends who are expecting or adopting? Wait. That’s another excuse. If I’m being honest it just means I procrastinate and writing is first thing to go.

I don’t have time …

Okay, is this the same as being too busy? Maybe. What I know is in a high time in my writer cycle I would say something like: “It’s about making time,” which is a truthful declaration. And I would. I just don’t know what to do in the low times like right now.

Writers should read widely … inside and outside their genre

So, I’ve immersed myself in books. Isn’t that what the Goodreads 2013 Challenge is for? I need to read more before I can write well. Reading a well written novel should teach me tips and tricks. Unfortunately, all the great writing I’ve been reading is discouraging me … paralyzing me. Plus all the bad writing I’ve been reading is discouraging me. This losing myself in other people’s stories instead of my own is a distraction.

Who am I kidding … Nobody’s going to want to read this

The word drivel comes to mind which is why good writing and bad writing is discouraging. It all depends on the day I peruse my darlings. Sometimes I find gold and it makes me smile. Other times, I lay my head on my desk and weep because only rewriting can fix it. Ever been here?

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

“Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable.” ~Zig Ziglar

I’m not good enough because writing is hard …

Haha … this is Who-Am-I-Kidding’s kissing cousin. Writing is hard despite my love for words and the thrill of a story. Thanks to I-Don’t-Have-Time and I’m-Too-Tired, the last thing I want to do is invest my time in learning “the craft” of writing. I know … another play at laziness.

I need to build a platform …

Do I really? I mean, yes, I get it. I do. But having a platform and nothing meaningful or substantial as in finished to give those who would join “my tribe” is just social media fun not platform building. Distraction at its finest, right? Tweet. Friend. Post. Like. Sigh.

What is the cure for the excuse-itis I am experiencing? I’ve self-diagnosed the symptoms:

  • Distraction?
  • Procrastination?
  • Laziness?
  • Stress?

Truth be told, all my excuses boil down to good old fashioned FEAR.

  • Fear of finishing.
  • Fear of not finishing.
  • Fear that it’ll be bad.
  • Fear that it’ll be great.
  • The list is endless.

We are just a couple of months away from my self-imposed August deadline. WIP started in August 2011. I can look in my journal and tell you the day I penned the idea. I gave myself a year for completing. Ambitious for a first time novelist. Then I extended it to August 2012 and again to August 2013.

It’s fast approaching and I have little to show for it. I should cut myself some slack. August 2014 anyone?

Some of the podcasts I listen to have recently referenced authors who worked on a book for 10, 20, 30+ years before finishing.

Again I wonder … what’s the cure for excuses? Especially when the first words to form are my handy little phrases … there seems to be a shortage of the words I crave most. You know …

  • Clever words
  • Witty words
  • Rambling words
  • Story picture words
  • Pithy words
  • Words with friends (oh wait … no … strike this one)

I should be making word soup in my stewpot brain … not excuses …

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint  New Ink

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
New Ink

And yet during this unexpected hiatus I’ve found it easier to tell people who ask what I do: 

“I am a writer.”

And to respond to the question: “What do you write?” with “I write YA fiction.”

Now like the sign off from the podcast Writing Excuses: “This has been Writing Excuses. You’re out of excuses. Now go write.”

Today, I’ll take that advice. I’m off to write in my stacks of beautifully blank journals; fighting “page fright” with ink. But before I go, tell me:

What self-talk keeps you from your creative pursuits? What’s on your list that isn’t on mine? And most important, how do you combat the excuse mill?

How to Commit Identity Theft without Breaking the Law

Alachia GoodReads

Alachia GoodReads (Photo credit: alachia)I don’t usually do “how to” blog posts … but thought this was a worthy topic.

 

I don’t usually do “how to” blog posts … but thought this was a worthy topic.

It’s simple really. I do it all the time … this identity theft thing … but never thought much about it.

Have you ever considered it? That’s a rhetorical question, so please don’t answer out loud.

I will attempt to share my steps with you as an experiment to determine if it’s really as simple as I think it is.

Step 1 – Go to the bookstore or library
Step 2 – Select a book
Step 3 – Purchase or check out selected book
Step 4 – Go home
Step 5 – Get comfortable
Step 6 – Start reading
Step 7 – Lose yourself in the story

When you lose yourself in a story you are “experience taking”. You put on the life of the protagonist or main character. You get to feel what they feel; see what they see; and live through what they live through. For a brief moment in time you are that person.

As a reader, I love that moment when I’m whisked away to another time and place. I get to be someone else without the risk of committing a crime.

As a writer, it’s my dream that someone would connect so deeply with my characters. It’s my desire to create worlds that people will want to inhabit; stories where people never want them to end. That’s my writer’s utopia.

Sorry if you feel misled by the title but this really is the only way I know to steal someone’s identity. Writers actually would encourage you to do so … so I guess it’s not theft at all.

I was listening to a podcast called The Psych Files when this came to me. The title of the episode (#190) was Why Do You Get So Absorbed in that Book (or Movie)?

The host, Michael Britt, talked about a study that was done to determine what causes us to be engrossed in stories we read and watch. The first half of the podcast was most interesting to me but the second half he unpacks the study (a little too technical for me).

He explained the idea of “experience taking” and how being caught up in someone else’s story allows us to test our social identities or try things we wouldn’t otherwise try.

It was very reassuring. It validated one of the reasons #whyiwrite (check out other writers’ reasons for writing on twitter). Also, it reinforced one of the reasons I read: escapism. I love putting on someone else’s life.

Along with this podcast prompting, blogger buddy, Jordana East posted some thoughts on book selection … Which lead me to think about how I choose titles and make decisions about what to read, whether or not I should ditch books mid-read. Be sure to check out her “won’t read” list. 

How do I select an identity to assume (a book to read)?

  • I tend to gravitate towards books written by women. I don’t know why. In recent years I’ve been broadening my scope to include male authors. I guess I used to think that I couldn’t relate to things a man would write. Thankfully I’ve matured.
  • Likewise I tend to choose books with female protagonists. Probably for the same reason as above.
  • My #bookconfession (again check out this hashtag on twitter) is that I worry about cost per page. It started out when I was poorer in life, when I worked full time in my early 20s but survived by eating a lot of Raman noodles while barely making rent. It seemed to matter more how I spent my entertainment dollars. But I am still grappling this thought process and as a writer I am mortified that this exists within me. My budget is bigger now and I love hardcover books so I want to pay what a writer is worth. Surprisingly when it comes to buying books for the dudes this never enters my mind. Anyway … I am working on it.
  • I typically enjoy books with a “meet cute” element. One of my favorite “experience taking” moments. So you are likely to see romance or chick lit titles on my Goodreads page.
  • I like books that appeal to young readers. So I ask the young people in my life what they are reading and get to see them be excited about immersing themselves in a good book. Which is also why I probably like and write YA fiction.

I am sure there are other ~isms that lead to the identities will take on.

Anyway, a long post to ultimately say:

Goodreads Avatar

Goodreads Avatar (Photo credit: minifig)

GETTING CAUGHT UP IN A GOOD STORY IS LIKE COMMITTING IDENTITY THEFT.

This has been a public service announcement for literacy … read more … it could keep you out of jail … unless you choose a book on the topic.

What stories are on your list? What identities will you try on this week? Who are your favorite authors when it comes to creating great lives to steal? 

Images from Zemanta care of WordPress.

Write Now? Write Later? Write Never?

Keyboard

Keyboard (Photo credit: Quinn deEskimo)

To write or not to write? I’ve asked myself this question before but previously it was to determine whether or not I should be a writer. This time I ask for a different reason.

Making the decision to take a break is the latest meaning of this question. That’s where I am.

Over the past six weeks or so I’ve been struggling with my writing. You know the drill:

  • Wondering if I’m any good.
  • Comparing myself to other writers.
  • Finding the time to write or better yet making the time to write.
  • Finding the inspiration or motivation.

And it’s not just with my current WIP but with all writing in my life:

  • Blogging
  • Journaling
  • Lettering (okay letter writing … I liked the –ing I had going)
  • Posting to any social media

Right words elude me. Really, all words (good, bad, and indifferent) our outside of my reach for some odd reason.

My writing has been sporadic to say the least. It’s not a good feeling.

And I wouldn’t call it writer’s block because words will come to me. They just won’t stay. They flit around my mind and then fly off to places unknown; never quite landing.

What’s writerly me to do?

I don’t feel solid without my words. I am at loose ends because of this unscheduled and involuntary break from writing.

Which is why my writing partner and I had a brief discussion about taking a six month sabbatical. Six short months. What could it hurt?

And, for half a heartbeat I considered it. For half a heartbeat it sounded good … I mean I’m already not writing. Right? Why not call it? Label it?

But, only for half a heartbeat. Then I effectively dismissed it. I can’t make the deliberate choice to shelf my writing, not my project, but my writing. Taking an intentional writing hiatus is not going to happen. Why?

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like one of my favorite quotes says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~Maya Angelou

No matter how hard it is, this story has to be told. It’s this burden that keeps me moving.

My fear is that I won’t finish telling Baby Girl’s story. It’s a fear greater than facing this lack of creative flow. It’s a fear greater than worrying about whether anyone else will care about her story. It’s a fear greater than facing rejection for publication.

My mojo will return …

In the interim, I’ve been quiet and reflective. I’ve learned some things about my writer self.

First, I live in my head a lot. And I write mostly about what I think and how I feel and how I experience life.

The same is true for my characters. I am good at telling you what’s on their mind. Unfortunately, it all happens in a void … white spaces of the mind.

I need to practice giving thoughts, feelings and experiences a landscape to play across; a stage giant stage and beautiful scenery for the drama to unfold.

Second, I live life in extremes. I am either high or low; up or down. There is very little middle ground. You’ve probably noticed the pendulum swing from blog post to blog post. (Thanks for bearing with me.)

I am sure other writers have similar existences: zealous melancholy but not status quo.

And it translates to my writing too. It’s either feast or famine. A smorgasbord of words or a naked plate. A cup overflowing with motivation or empty and dry.

I need to learn to harness my energy regardless of the planting and harvesting season of my creativity.

So, if you hear from me a little less don’t worry. I’ve decided already that I won’t quit. I won’t take a break.

I’ve decided to write now … not later …

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Word Choice – It Matters

 

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

I’ve always been a writer but I am a fledgling novelist. One thing that writing a novel is teaching me: my vocabulary is lacking. Nonexistent really.

To think, vocabulary was once something I prided myself on.

I guess spending my formative years looking up words I didn’t know; writing down the definitions in my “reading journal”; and using the word in a sentence was for nothing. Especially because I don’t recall the majority of the words let alone their meanings.

Most of the time I rely on the context clues for meaning rather than the denotative meaning. There’s nothing wrong with doing this as a reader.

However, as a writer, I find myself struggling to convey what I mean without being repetitive. Or I have to use a thesaurus because I don’t know an alternative way to say certain things. And then it feels forced because they aren’t “my” words.

It’s a sad state …

Who wants to read a novel full of the same single descriptive word or phrase? For instance: “the twins” to describe our heroines.

Not me. Not any reader.

I know I can use: siblings, sisters, girls, daughters, doppelgänger. Or even combinations with: matched set, pair, identical, fraternal. But will it feel authentic coming from my mouth, my pen, my keystrokes?

Help!

I guess that’s why they say: “Writing is Re-writing.”

I wonder if this is part of finding my writer’s voice. The reason I choose the words I choose.

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

Poor vocabulary is limiting. HINT: I’m easy to beat in a game of Words with Friends or Scrabble which is why I won’t play against my hubby.

Although I am in a state of hysteria over this, I haven’t allowed it to slow me down. My choice? Let words flow. Even if the words are repetitive. I just need to get the story out. Right? Then I can go back and make the words matter.

This is part of the reason I am reluctant to share excerpts from my novel in progress. Eventually I’ll move past this issue. Or maybe the second draft will only contain deliberately repetitive statements, making it worthy to post.

Outside of using a thesaurus … I need to work on vocabulary building. My characters deserve a richer language than I have to offer right now.

Anyone else have this problem? What’s the cure?

Off to listen to my Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day and Grammar Girl podcasts. Oh yeah and to read more so I can learn from those who’ve done it well.

What I Learned at Jot

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

I believe it’s important to continue to grow personally and learn new things, despite being a creature of habit. There’s a saying:  Knowledge is Power. Maybe you’ve heard it before. Anyway, this is the reason I encourage all writers to attend a writing conference.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a local event … one night only … four short hours … with writing time built in. JOT:  the GR writers mini-conference.

It was a great event. I dare say special. And what made it extra special, is my hubby went with me and we made a date night of it.

The most valuable lesson I learned at JOT wasn’t a specific bullet point from a specific presentation. It was the entirety of the experience. The most valuable lesson was steeped in reflection. Like hot water is to a tea bag, JOT was to my writer’s mind. Extracting the full flavor.

It finally occurred to me … What I’d failed to recognize before was suddenly clear. And I smiled to myself as I sat soaking up everything this event had to offer, sipping coffee with my notebook open, and my husband sitting next to me. Ahhh … the moment of enlightenment.

You’re wondering what I learned and why I was smiling?

I realized that I couldn’t appreciate the message of each presenter or the questions of each writer without having already failed at their writing advice.

Huh? Yes, there is something to be said for the try, fail, and adjust process.

Let me explain …

One presenter said, “Write your first draft as quickly as possible,” which is great advice.

The reason? Your writer’s voice changes over time. Each book or article you read or write; each day that passes and experiences lived cause you to evolve.

So the quicker you put all the words for your novel down the better it is for keeping a consistent voice and minimize some editing as a result. Makes sense.

But as someone who is well into her second year of a first draft (writing in the gaps of life), I can totally see it. When I read the earliest parts of my manuscript I can recall what I was reading and see how it influenced my output.

Do you see? I wouldn’t  have been able to wrap my mind around this concept if I weren’t living the failure of it already.

Another presenter talked briefly about platform. That all important word that strikes fear and stress into writers. Because we have to figure out how to use social media to gain a following of engaged readers.

He said, “The number one reason books are turned down [for publication] is lack of platform.” He defined platform as the ability to promote your story.

I understand how important platform is. Still I struggle with it. I worry, wonder, and doubt what I should or should not share. Is it worthy or value added?

And even though I’ve garnered around 200 followers between my blog and twitter account, I dare say only a handful are “engaged”. If I weren’t in the process of building my own platform this advice wouldn’t resonate with me.

Trying and failing is a remarkable teacher. If we adjust our actions based on where we fell short and what we were trying to achieve we stand to accomplish something great.

So don’t be afraid to jump in and just start.

Now you may think I’ve contradicted myself … I still advocate for attending writers’ conferences and applying practical knowledge gained.

Just remember there is plenty of advice out there on writing. Some of it is Best Practice and shouldn’t be ignored, but it doesn’t mean all of it will work for you.

I’ve learned a lot about my writing process just by trying. And I’ve learned a number of things by following the advice of others.

I appreciated my experience at JOT for the epiphany and because they delivered exactly what they promised:  Meet. Learn. Write. Looking forward to the next JOT.

What life event led to your most recent “aha moment”? Do you learn best by doing or from instruction? Feel free to leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your story.

3 Writer’s Truths

Writer's Stop

Writer’s Stop (Photo credit: Stephh922)

I love how our experiences teach us the best lessons. I love how they shape us.

Over the past few weeks I’ve heard some interesting statements which have made me reflect on my writer life. These statements have led me to some new truths.

I want to share my new found knowledge with you. Forgive me if these are truths that you already carry around with you.

1. Knowing is half the battle.

I had the privilege of attending a motivational conference for work. One of the speakers said, “Know some stuff, so you can say some stuff.” Her topic was about meeting new people, striking up conversations with strangers.

My colleague and I were tickled by this assertion. Why? Because it’s obvious. To have something interesting to contribute to any conversation you have to know something.

I guess this is why some of the most frequent advice to writers is you should be readers especially in the genre you write. Reading is research. It helps you know stuff.

Another frequent piece of writer advice is write what you know. My recommendation … know some stuff, just as the speaker at this event said. Then you’ll have lots to say.

But equally important to remember, like in a conversation, is the other person knows something too. Your reader knows stuff. You don’t have to describe or explain everything because the readers’ experience can fill in gaps.

2. Boring is relative.

I listen to a few podcasts. On a recent episode of I Should Be Writing, the host was reading comments and questions from her listeners. One said, “My life isn’t interesting enough to blog about.” Hmmm.

Then I listened to an episode of Writing Excuses where the writing prompt was:  The Hero of the Most Boring Story Ever.

Both made me think of the Seinfeld phenomenon. A show about nothing that has a cult following.

Isn’t it the responsibility of the writer to help the reader connect to the content; to get them to feel something?

If our lives aren’t interesting or if we are the hero of the most boring story ever, it doesn’t matter. Boring is relative. We need to make them feel excited about what we perceive as boredom, just as Seinfeld writers accomplished.

My recommendation … write with abandon … write like what you have to say is the most important and exciting, interesting, wonderful story that needs telling. It’s your job.

3. Solitude produces the goods.

I recently added a new podcast to my list, The Introvert Entrepreneur. In this episode, they were explaining the differences between introversion and shyness. The guest quoted Carl Young, “…The introvert is usually happy alone with a rich imagination and prefers reflection to activity…”

This made me think of a cartoon that my mom-in-law sent me by Jason Love. The caption is:  “The writer:  Someone who spends a lifetime in solitude for the sake of communication.”

Sound like any writers you know? Maybe yourself. Definitely me.

Now … let me say that not all writers are introverts and not all introverts are shy … but it stands to reason that if introverts are recharged by their alone time that their best work would come during times of solitude.

My best writing ideas come when I am alone with my thoughts like curling my hair, taking a shower, doing the dishes or driving to work.

My recommendation … make solitude a priority if you want results. It can get your creative juices flowing.

So … these are my new truths. Maybe I’ve always known them but hadn’t categorized them. Either way I will be operating in truth.

What have your recent life experiences taught you? What new truths will you be exercising? Share the stuff you know in the comments and make it engaging!

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Something Got Done

 

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

Oh Yeah!

Thanks to my writing partner I set out to make the most of writing in January. I decided to make it A Month of Something.

And thankfully, I have the privilege of announcing that Something Got Done … Lots of something … I was able to check something off my list time and again.

As stated in the original post I didn’t want to focus solely on word count for fear of paralysis.

Instead, I focused on days/times writing. I focused on addressing open plot questions. I focused on new scenes without looking at old ones. I focused on character development. And, I focused on moving forward.

All that focusing on SOMETHINGS led to RESULTS.

Somethings” to Celebrate:

  1. The End – As I stated in the A Month of Something post, I wrote a 400 word scene of what I envision being the end of the story. Can I get woot-woot?
  2. Finishing Scenes – I wrote two scenes that I’ve been putting off since summer. I had one sentence descriptions and now they’re done. They are rough but have so much potential. Raise the roof!
  3. New Scenes – I wrote two new and unexpected scenes. Also, rough but ripe with potential. One Love!
  4. Characters – I discovered that my comic relief characters have British accents. Who knew? Nervous about how to write it well but it plays marvelously in my head. Throw your hands in the air…
  5. Planning – I actually sat down and revisited my story “outline”. Made some modifications based on where the story is right now. …and wave them like you just don’t care…
  6. Research – I did some. I looked up education requirements and credentials that my grief counselor would need to possess. I requested input on linking two worlds within my story. And, if you didn’t already know, this is my least favorite part of the writing process. Or, to state it plainly: I hate research. So this is a huge victory. Can I get an amen?
  7. Images – I found some great pictures to represent my characters quirks or personalities. That’s how we do it …
  8. Writing Days – I checked my writing notebook and have identified 10 novel writing days since January 1; 5 of which were consecutive. Thank you very much. This doesn’t include blog post writing days … or the days that aren’t captured in the journal. Woo-hoo!
  9. New Words – I wrote 3,378 words in one month. That may not sound like much to some of you but it’s the best writing month I’ve had in a LONG time. High five!
  10. Word Count – My “ungoal” … without trying … by focusing on other aspects of writing … I broke the 40,000 word barrier. Now I have to say … I’ve been hovering so close to this for SO long that I nearly cried. As, I write this post I am at 42,631 words and that doesn’t include the dialogue I need to type up from my last writing day. CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!
  11. Birthday – And I turned another year older, wiser and willing-er to chase my dream. Bonus!

Again, these may not seem noteworthy to you, but I am excited about the progress and direction. I am excited that I had wins instead of losses.

I am grateful for my writing partners (and you … you know who you are) who graciously tolerated my tweets, emails, texts, and now blog posts, about how it was going. Thank YOU for the love!

Switching my POV about writing my novel and what’s important reinvigorated me. I’m still in love with my story! I encourage you to measure something different to spark your creativity and drive your momentum.

Thanks for celebrating with me! Cheers~

A Month of Something

Month of Something Calendar

©2013 the Jotter’s Joint – My Month of Something

During our January accountability call, my writing partner, Talli (enJOYin’ Life), and I bemoaned the fact that we’d failed to meet our December writing goals.

We talked about the obstacles we faced: balancing time with family and friends, being out of our routines due to vacation and holidays, and just wanting to do nothing for a little while.

It was one of our toughest conversations in the eight months or so that we’ve been holding one another accountable. Tough, for me, because the do-nothing aspect of time off was so appealing. I needed it.

At the same time, the conversation gave way to epiphany. I realized what part 3 of my book should be. Or, at least, one component it should include. This gave me momentum in planning, which I’m almost convinced would be better than just seeing where the story takes me. Note the word “almost” in that sentence. My writing process is still discovery.

The best part of the call was setting new goals to accomplish in January. And, hearing my writing partner state: “This is going to be a month of something …” Unlike our December – The Month of Nothing.

She is right too. It will be a Month of Something.

For starters, I will celebrate my 41st birthday the 14th. Happy birthday to me! I am grateful for each year.

Second, it’s the month I will break through the barrier of writing I’ve been hiding behind.

How will I break through?

By writing those wonderful words: The End. Not because I’ve finished the novel. I’m not quite there yet.

Since the story idea came to me I’ve had the same image for the ending. No matter what twists and turns the story has taken, the end hasn’t changed. Regardless of the characters I add or kill off the last scene is vivid in my mind.

So, two days after Talli’s profound words, I wrote that scene. I attempted to capture the image of my main character closing a chapter of her young life; having evolved and matured.

I framed words to take me from my once-upon-a-time beginning to my and-they-lived-happily-ever-after end. Which of course isn’t really the end of Baby Girl’s tale; it’s just where I’ve quit telling it.

The scene is just under 400 words but fitting for the last moment. Now we’ll see if the ending starts to evolve just as the rest of the book has done.

Either way, I’ve accomplished something: new words on the page, vision for the next phase of the book, and The End.

This is a month of something.

However, I don’t want word count goals because lately they cause me writerly paralysis. Instead I will measure my “somethings” in time set aside writing. For a change, my “somethings” yardstick will account for me writing rather than talking about writing.

What will be your something this January?