Signing Off, Broken Process, and a Writing Experiment

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

My Colorado vacation highlight was hearing Gary D. Schmidt talk about writing and publishing. His advice was similar to what you may hear from other sources e.g. write every day. He recommended 500 words. Disciplined. Committed. Daily. No excuses.

I considered my writing process and the rationale behind it. Early on I determined every day didn’t work for me. It was too much. I needed time to ruminate, rejuvenate, etc.

Then I decided that word counts could be weekly instead of daily since I wasn’t writing every day anyway. It made sense.

And then, I figured my writing goals could be worked monthly so long as I donated some of my time to it. It’s not like it’s my ‘job’ right? Who needs deadlines? It will get done in its own time.

Four years later …

When my writing process seeped out of its dedicated-routine sized pitcher and leaked into a-hobby-I’ll-get-to later sized bucket, I didn’t notice. Until I kicked the bucket over making a huge puddle sized mess to mop up. A puddle, I promptly pulled up my pant legs and stepped over it.

I thought, “I’ll deal with you later,” because it was like trying to drink the ocean with a straw. A salty impossible mess.

Better for it to be out of sight, out of mind. (But not really.)

I realized, my process was broken. And broken processes are an irritation, a pet peeve. Ask my husband the number of times he listened to my rants about this topic on vacation. Processes are meant to run smoothly and efficiently. When they don’t, they’re meant to be improved.

Stay with me …

Gary also talked about how he’s not actively engaged in social media. He stated (and I’m paraphrasing), if you only write 500 words a day, should it be a blog post? Or tweets or whatever? Or should it be 500 words toward your fiction or non-fiction pieces? At the end of the year you’ll have 183,000 words to edit into the story you want to tell. You can get it done.

Ouch! That hit home.

Remember, my blog was supposed to be the place where I practiced writing? Okay, maybe it’s become a distractor or an “out” from doing the “real work” that’s hard and terrifying.

Again, broken process.

I know, I know, I just posted that writer’s write and it doesn’t matter what they write, but hmmm … I am rethinking that philosophy.

While I was on vacation my characters came-a-calling. They’ve lain silent for almost a year, only to shake me awake at 5 AM when I could be sleeping in for a change.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” they screamed.

I was game. I sat in the dark of our hotel room writing feverishly while my family slept quiet and peaceful.

There’s something about this time of year. Summer and vacation, being away from my normal seems to unleash my creativity, the playful side.

Hold on, we’re getting there …

While I thought about my recent reads (which were so good) and all of Gary’s encouragement, I realized the story scope on my novel was too broad; aggressive for a newbie. I started in the wrong place. I needed to plot the plot even though I am a pantser. The list of first-timer mistakes I’ve made is long.

I tweeted my epiphany which came in one of those 5AM moments:

From 40K to zero because starting over feels right. #plotting #AmWriting

Yes, I am scrapping it all. I am giving this WIP a clean slate to reinvent itself.

In working through this I found a new beginning to the story (4 unique versions of the beginning to be exact). A new direction and manageable scale which can help me past my writer’s block. I hope.

There’s a new working title: The Way to Wonderland, which makes me smile.

Character names, purposes, and motivations will change. Locations will evolve. Villains and heroes will get an unexpected twist, I never saw coming. And somehow it will all come together.

Here it is …

The culmination of events leads to the real reason for today’s post …

I am signing off.

No, not forever.

I am dedicating the entire month of August 2014 to writing; working on the novel in progress which technically is a new angle on an existing idea. I’m in pursuit.

31 days of 500 words a day. No exceptions. No excuses. It will be my little writing experiment,

Let’s see if I can fix my broken writing process. I’m nervous but hopeful.

Wish me luck. Live in the suspense. I’ll chat with you in September around the 9th. Be well!

~Gail

NOTE: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, thinking the timing would allow for character development and plotting. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it done. I will spend the first part of August completing the important task of planning. Then I will write 500 words a day. I’ll still check in with you early September but it’s likely I will need more off time to hit 31 days.

Advertisements

Writers Write, Right?

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Confession: I haven’t been writing, at least not in a fiction-novel-in-progress sort of way.

Of course I’ve captured conversations with my dudes that are humorous and notable, like:

S: How old is she again?
Me: She’s almost two.
S: Yeah. Right.
Me: Why?
S: Well, that’s why we’re keeping her away from the Legos. It’s a choking hazard till she’s three. You know because of all the small pieces.

Or this one:

Me: Do you want the last two books in the Sweetfarts trilogy?
N: I don’t know. No.
Me: They’re $1 on the Kindle right now.
N: I don’t know. I guess.
Me: Well would you read them? For a dollar each?
N: Okay. Go ahead. It’s your money. Spend it however you want.
Me: Gee thanks for giving me permission to spend my money on you.

Cute, right? Worth committing to paper for the sake of telling my future grandkids.

Confession: I haven’t written in the one-day-you’ll-be-a-published-author kind of way.

Hey, blogging is writing, right? Some of my posts have been longish of late, as I toy with sentence length, alliteration, and structure. My posts have ventured into new topics or maybe I should say, I’m not writing solely about writing (or not writing). Good, bad, or indifferent, I’m playing with language to share what’s on my mind.

Confession: I haven’t been writing in the sense of word count goals and manuscript deadlines. NaNoWriMo camps? What are those?

Sure my days are filled with endless forms of the written word: emails and tweets and Facebook posts.

I’ve engaged in rambling text conversations about homeschooling and teaching writing; about books on my “to read” list; and summer reading plans for my boys. Texts about grammar and Ted Talks; reminders and questions; random and fun; word bubbles and emoticons. Battling autocorrect when I want to intentionally misspell a word.

So much to say to so many people in a limited amount of time.

Confession: I haven’t written in terms of feeling like an artsy creative type; unworthy of the craft and tortured soul.

My first and only novel-in-progress remains at just over 40,000 words, which averages to be 10,000 words per year.

The new piece I wanted to start, stalled out because I tried to map it out. Poor Pantser me.

Accountability calls with writing partners have turned more social than productive. Well, when they attempt to steer conversation toward my writing life anyway.

How many times have I used a form of “write” in this post so far? Too many. I need to consult a thesaurus. I’m getting rusty and maybe language lazy.

Anyway, I digress.

Confession: I haven’t written in the butt-in-seat, every day way typical advice to writers.

Wait!

What?

Yes. Yes, I have written in the butt-in-seat, every day way, because I journal constantly; making notes of ideas that intrigue me; listing thoughts that challenge me. Jotting down phrases and words that may morph into blog posts.

What the heck?

I blog. I post. I send emails. I tweet. I text. I write down what my boys say. I even handwrite letters and thank you cards.

Does it matter what I write? No, of course not. What matters is the practice of writing, of thinking critically and creatively.

Writers write.

Writing is writing.

Don’t be fooled.

It starts small and it builds. It happens when you don’t affix the label “writing” to it.

What guilt riddled writing confessions hold you back?

Go fill all the blank pages with story …

Remembering Where We Started …

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

I have to start this post with a big THANK YOU to Letizia of reading interrupted, who’s recent post, Revisiting The Jefferson Bible, led her to her first blog post. Also, it led her down the path of checking out the first blog post of her followers.

When she commented on my first post it made me wonder what I’d said, what I’d been thinking almost two years ago. Reading it made me laugh. It made me smile.  It made me remember. 

Quite honestly, it nearly brought me to tears. Not because it was prolific or special, but it captured my feeling, my desire, my dream.

I am inspired by my intentions and hopes from that first post.

I was optimistic, and let’s face it, naïve, which of course is the beauty of beginnings.

Amazing how powerful and happy I felt about writing before I tried to incorporate ALL the advice in cyberspace or build a platform using social media. I was overwhelmed by self-imposed pressure to live up to an ideal of a writer, not defined by me, when all I wanted to do was tell a story.

Writing, and consequently blogging, lost the shiny new exterior because stats were tripping me up, checking the number of blog hits or new followers.  Worrying that I needed to change to increase my stats.

Writing became about pleasing others instead of pleasing me. My blog posts were about getting attention, catering to an audience. I didn’t know.  I see the time and care I put into those first posts because I was more concerned with liking what I wrote rather than having it liked.

Maybe you can tell by my personal marveling that I’ve been in the state of quitting writing for months now. If you recall, I shelved my novel recently.

Sammy, my writing partner, whom I love and adore, has been encouraging me and with each card, email, and phone call, I’d postpone my departure from the writing world one more day. I’d hold of giving up my title of writer for one more week.

She’ll be glad to read that I’m trying to work this out (albeit publicly) as opposed to avoiding the writing conversation.

And then, as if they’d planned it, another blogger buddy, Britt of A Physical Perspective, posted a renewed commitment to her writing dreams.  I am moved by her revelation and hope for the new year. Thank you, as well Britt.

Stories connect us. Good stories reveal something about who we are or what’s important to us. Letizia and Britt’s stories serve as great reminders.  Sammy’s investment in me keeps me sane. These events are a catalyst for creation. My muse is knocking. I’m tingly like someone sprinkled fairy dust.

So even though I didn’t make any resolutions for 2014, I am seriously considering making this a year of renewal … a year of remembering where I started … a year of celebrating where I am headed.

Which means, I am a writer, telling stories for me, while hoping others will love them too and join me on the journey.

I wish all my artistic and wordsmith friends a year of renewal!

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: A “Dear John” Letter to a Fictional Character

Dear Baby Girl,

What can I say? Arriving at this moment is surreal.

I thought we would be together for a long time; friends for life.

Our lives are inextricably linked with a common thread …

Eight year old you wanting to escape, finding solace in the pages of a book. Struggling to deal with the loss of your grandmother. Realizing the fate of two worlds rests on your young shoulders because only you can defeat the villainous Red Queen. Fighting the internal battle of the truth that surrounds you or accepting your mother’s beliefs.

And my forty something self, also longing to escape by penning your tale so others can escape into its pages. We’re a match made in heaven.

Yet here we are …

I have other characters whispering, okay shouting in my ear. Waking me from sound sleep and vibrating for my attention. Of course, I’ve denied them till now because I was committed to you. But I can’t deny my feelings for them any longer.

They speak to me in ways you haven’t in far too many months. Six to be exact. That’s not an accusation. It’s a fact. We don’t talk like we used to. Let’s face it, the spark is gone.

I crave the newness that comes at the beginning of a relationship. The “Honeymoon Phase” they call it. I miss that. I miss the excitement and exploration and surprise as we were getting to know each other. I need that.

Still I held on …

Why?

Because calling it quits would mean failure. Calling it quits would mean admitting that your story is bigger than my ability to tell it.

I know it’s selfish. I’ve stayed for the wrong reasons. I stayed because I was afraid of not finishing.

This may be cliché but:  It’s not you … It’s me.

After three years and four months of trying to make it work … three years and …

  • Countless reams of paper
  • Megabytes of memory
  • Tens of thousands of words
  • Three journals
  • Hundreds of phone calls and meetings
  • Lots of tears and heartache …

I have to say goodbye.

I have to put you on the shelf and walk away. We’re just holding each other back. I’m sorry. I know I’ll regret this one day.

There’s an old saying:

“If you love something very, very badly, let it go free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, it never was yours to begin with.”

Baby Girl … I pray you and your story come back to me. Please know that I love you, I just can be with you right now.

Tell the others bye for me …

Gail

Best of Breathe

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

As promised from my last post, I am sharing my Breathe Christian Writers’ Conference experience with you.

Instead of me telling you all about every detail, I’m going to give you the best sound bites that came out of the weekend.

I made every attempt to capture statements verbatim and will use quotation marks. With that said, please be forgiving if you later find I misquoted a speaker …

Take what works for you and leave the rest. Enjoy:

Treat your writing like a business because agents, editors, publishers, bookstores, and consumers do.” ~Peter DeHaan 

Writers shouldn’t settle for mere escapism.” ~Patti Hill 

No one is more qualified to give your message than you are.” ~Twila Belk 

If I took my character to a psychiatrist, what would I learn about them?” ~David Beach

Be faithful to the task of writing and God will do something with it. He probably won’t publish your thoughts though.” ~Latayne C. Scott 

If you get hung up on a form of writing, you won’t be able to write. Or, you get addicted to that form and you don’t move forward.” ~Tracy Groot 

Social media isn’t your platform, but it does direct people to your platform.” ~Peter DeHaan

I have a love-hate relationship with the writing life. I wouldn’t wish to have any other kind of life . . . and on the other hand, I wish it were easier. And it never is. The reward comes sentence by sentence. The reward comes in the unexpected inspiration. The reward comes from creating a character who lives and breathes and is perfectly real. But such effort it takes to attain the reward! I would have never believed it would take such effort.’ From Elizabeth George’s: Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life 

 “All dialogue should have tension.” ~Patti Hill

Don’t die with the story still in you … Let it out!” ~Twila Belk

Read your dialogue out loud in a monotone to see if the words move you anyway.” ~Patti Hill

We live most of our lives in contradiction … Quality writing requires friction.” ~Latayne C. Scott

Give the muse something to work with.” ~Tracy Groot on Preparation

An author’s job is to leave breadcrumbs.” ~Patti Hill

Our writing must link the reader from the seen to the unseen …” ~Latayne C. Scott

I needed to hear all these things and much more. My “to do” list has pretty much doubled, but I can’t focus on its length or I will be paralyzed by it. But it’s there in list form (in the margins of my writing notebook with g* as a signifier that I need to take action).

My “to read” list has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve added titles written by the presenters and writing resources they recommend. Some of the writing resources I wanted to avoid but my desire to do so is futile.

Resources:

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Elements of Style by William Strunk
  • Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
  • Writer to Writer by Cecil Murphey

I’ll be back soon with a few more things to share from Breathe!

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…

 

… chasing fireflies …

Fireflies 1

Fireflies 1 (Photo credit: ShutterSparks)

Curiosity of children is an amazing thing.

I love seeing their imaginations at work as they reason with and negotiate through and interact with their world.

The simplest concepts can become complex mysteries that want solving; like fireflies lighting up the night in a petite fireworks display.

That’s how we spent last week … chasing fireflies … entertaining our 2 nieces along side our 2 dudes. (Remind me to tell you later about parenting 4 kids for 10 days when you’re only used to 2 kids. Ages: 9, 8, 6 ½, and 4. Yeah, we were busy.)

What makes fireflies light up? Bioluminescence!

The kids all understood, at a high level, the complicated truth thanks to the children’s movie Curious George. It’s a defense mechanism.

But at it’s core, the elementary truth, is that it’s fun. They want to capture the light between their fingers and watch it blink in their hands.

And so, we spent hours waiting in the fading sun, trying as the sky darkened, laughing with hope and reaching for the little miracles.

When they were successful, they would preserve their prizes in plastic water bottles and plastic sandwich bags without air holes. In their enthusiasm they smothered the little bugs, forever extinguishing the light and lives.

Sad. I know. I tried to explain the value of life but to no avail.

From their inquisitive point of view there would be more fireflies to chase the next night … and the next day … and the next day. Youthful optimism.

This experience made me think of dreams. Okay, I had some help. Yesterday, blogger buddy, Britt posted a little ditty titled:  What’s Wrong with Having Dreams Anyway? She says it brilliantly. Which made me think of this post I’d started.

A post which I originally thought would lead to me telling you the story of how busting my bout of baby fever but instead it’s turned into a post about running hard and fast after something as elusive as fireflies.

Dreams, if your lucky come true.

Wait!

That’s not right.

Like chasing fireflies … if you want to catch your dream you have to be diligent and patient. You have to put effort into the result you want. You have to accept the fact that you are not like everyone else.

Being a dreamer is not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart. But I’ve said something like this before, here.

Dreams can be snuffed out if they’re locked away in an airtight container or ‘real life’.

Isn’t it odd how quickly we give up our dreams? How they end up by the way side? To Britt’s question I say, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams.

I’m a self-proclaimed dreamer. And that may be weird to some of you. But I embrace my weird.

My big dream is finishing my novel, being recognized as a best selling author some day. My small dream is to write every day.

I know … it’s kind of a single track. But like my kids this past week, hanging out in the front yard while darkness descended; chasing fireflies … I am chasing my dream …

I’d love to hear from you … What fireflies will you pursue? What dreams will you reignite?

Images from Zemanta

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?

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.

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~