New Year, Same Goals

Happy New Year! Checking in and happy to know people still follow my blog! Or at least I think you do. It could be the followers shown as following me have also disappeared from their blogs and are just a ghost of a follow, which is good too, I guess. One thing that hasn’t changed and is always a running theme, I will forever fight to post to this blog. It’s always been hard to find topics to post about. I’ve even posted when I wasn’t happy with the post but I was trying to post regularly so I would just post it. I have certainly found my theme for this blog over time, mostly writing about having trouble writing. And why not? There is a small section in bookstore with all such books.
I have big plans that will one day become a reality even if I can only seem to post here once every blue moon…or more often because blue moons happen less often then my posting. Blue Moons like my posting is not such a rare thing, just not an often thing. So, anyway, a New Year. Here we are again. Making promises we struggle to keep. So, this year, no promises other than write more. I’m pretty happy with making this the resolution of 2017 since I ended the old year on a good path of accomplishing more writing. I’m part of a creative group. It’s a writing/art group my co-workers organized. We have a few writers and drawers trying to meet once a week just to talk/do our creative thing, and encourage each other. It’s great. It’s the 1920s of Paris, France but 2016-17s (The years are not every poetic…oh well) New York/Ireland (Thanks Facebook and other internet programs).
I’ve found inspiration from author Gail Carriger. I tweeted her a writing question at the beginning of October and she answered! It was amazing for me and a big Thank you to her! Also, inspiration from Neil Gaiman, like his commencement speech and New Year posts. So, here is what I’m going to do this year…
Write more. About anything. Just create. I have a feeling it will be easier this year. More support, energy, and time. Try to stay positive through the frustration of work. Use that energy to write. If it’s exhausting don’t feel sad or mad just rest and try again tomorrow. Let’s get to work!

 

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Simple Writing Advice

I think I’ve seen this video in the past or maybe I the quote somewhere but I have found it again and I thought I would share. If you haven’t seen it watch it. It is from Ira Glass. It is not just advice for writers but to all people in creative work. If you’ve seen it, watch it again. Nothing like a friendly reminder that you’re not alone and you have to keep fighting for what you want. If you can’t watch it this second, (you’re reading this a work right now aren’t you. No judgement.) I have posted the text below. So be inspired. Don’t feel so alone. Keep fighting.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

– Ira Glass

I have a few other quotes and speeches that help me trucking along. Stay tune for more advice form others that helps me keep going on a troublesome writing day. Do you have simple advice that keeps you writing?

Fear As Fuel (Editing My Hair)

I think it’s been two years since I’ve gotten my hair cut. Not good. I know. I didn’t know who to go to without spending an exuberant amount of money. But I needed a haircut. The only way my comb made it through my hair was with a lot of tugging and some ripping sounds. I went to the place around the corner and made an appointment. I cut off maybe six inches and it feels good. It feels light, free, maybe a bit wild but looking healthy. I know now I’ll get a comb through it and it will curl more when it dries.

I haven’t had many bad experiences with my hair. I have always been clear about what I want done and so far most have listened. Also, hair grows back and mine grows fast. Why did I wait so long to get my haircut? Fear. Entering a new location, meeting the hair stylist, and sitting in the chair can all be scary. I had to stop avoiding feeling fear.  Just like the writing or editing life. With writing I had to stop fearing rejection, rereading my past work, and cutting writing that didn’t fit even if it sounded good. Fear is there to protect us from pain. There can be more pain never trying. Fear can help writing. It can be used as energy for inspiration. I didn’t think I would have an article this week. I had nothing to write about. This haircut inspirited me and reminded me that I have fears of trusting new people with parts of me but not letting those fears take charge.

While my hair looks good I have learn not to strive for perfection with my writing the first time around. I can continue cringing while reading but not stop editing. There may be a promising sentence that can make all the difference. I might have reached trying to find similarity with life and writing. However, I’m glad I did and do something that scares me. Next time it will be easier.

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Healthy hair on my head.

How Writing Is like Training A Puppy.

Sunday, my Other and I adopted puppy. She is a 3 1/2 month mutt and she now has a home with us. We named her Lana. She is gentle, sweet, and starting to get into trouble but we all keep teaching and learning. Even if it would make a good excuse I can’t give up my writing schedule with my new arrival. Instead I’ve adjusted to writing when she’s napping. (Puppies nap a lot). While going through the puppy training steps I couldn’t help think it’s like the writing process. (Now, bear with me.)

Have a safe place. For Lana it is her crate, under a table, or behind a christmas tree. I am happy to report by day three her safe place is her pillow, carpet, and crate. And this shy dog just needs a few minute to adjust to new situations. For me it’s my desk, the living room couch, or Starbucks (I like the hustle). I find my distraction is less in these places but it took me sometime and experimenting to figure this out. I remember trying a local library once and it was a waste of time for me. One time the librarian working knew me and wanted to chat. I tried to explain what I was doing but it lead to more conversation. Another library I happen to run into someone who remembered me and wanted to catch up. Trail and error but we are finding were we are most comfortable.

Set a schedule. It’s best with a new puppy to set schedule for walking, feeding, and playing/training. With writing it is best to set a schedule, for writing, editing, and story outlining. Maybe morning you write best, and after lunch you edit the piece from three months ago. Great! Keep it up. You’ll start to notice you write or edit most those times with speed and ease. Both schedule’s teach the puppy or brain when it is time to do your business.

Be consistent. My puppy is improving everyday with her daily schedule of walks, encouragement, and training she has learned her name and where to pee/poop. I constantly struggle with being consistent with my writing schedule but I have been improving. I know I need to keep up writing five days a week (for you maybe writings every other, after or before work) but I seem to do that for a month and stop. But I keep trying and I’ve seen improvement. Also, I see what my writing is like after a long dry spell. Less description and imagination. It is best to keep writing so your brain knows when it’s time to turn on and get those creative juices flowing. Don’t wait for inspiration. Your work will be few and far between. Write everyday and inspiration will come more often and when their is paper and pen.

Don’t over do it. Lana training has gone far in the few days we’ve had her but we have tried to limit what we teach and for how much time. She’s not going to learn anything tired. We try to not train for too long and try to notice when she is tired. A tired puppy won’t learn anything. Don’t want to stop all the good writing vibes but your brain needs time to rest and reboot. Sometimes when I finish writing a scene I put the story away. If I have more ideas in what direction to take the story I’ll write a next section outline and step away. Be patient. By letting my brain rest I find the next day I can write that scene longer and with more excitement then if I kept going. This is not always true. I have written two or more scenes in a row but after many writing sections I have learned to listen to my writing brain and sense if it’s getting tired and if it can go the distance of the next scene. It’s exciting but remember, it takes time. Don’t want to give up completely because you’ve mistaken overwork for writer’s block.

The puppy is waking up and it’s time for my writing brain to rest. Below is a picture of Lana (the real reason you’ve been reading). Enjoy and continue writing.

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Lana: The New Addition

Wattpad Or WritersCafe?

I have an account on both sights and I was thinking of using one and deleting the other. I been trying to cut down the number of social site’s I’m a member of and two communities where I can post my creative work seems excessive. Which to keep and which to throw away?

I have posted one poem on WritersCafe and receive a few comments. I was thinking about posting the same poem on Wattpad and see if I get more advice but the “Are you sure you read the terms” pops up and it makes me jumpy. When posting on the net there is always that fear your hard work will be stolen, hated or lost but why is Wattpad making sure I’ve read them? Is there something buried deep in lawyer language saying I’m selling my first born? (Trying to be funny here but seriously is there?) Also, does anyone really ever read the terms and conditions? (Eddie Izzard joke.)

But what to do? Have you experience on either or both writing sites? Which do you like and why?

It’s a First Draft Not A Finished Novel

It’s a First Draft Not A Finished Novel

I’m very proud of my accomplishment. I wrote 45,000-word first draft of a science fiction novel. I’ve told a few people since and I am quite surprised by the majority response. I think most believe I wrote a finished completed work of fiction. The number one reply is, “Have you given it to anyone to read?” They think it’s my number one mistake of why I’m nowhere near publishing. I then have to go into a lengthy explanation that my first draft is a complete mess I never edit as I wrote. I started thinking; do others believe a book, magazine or newspaper article they read is some genus one-time attempt?

The friends who want to read it even though it is not in a ready state. I’m ecstatic to have the support except they think I’m being shy and overprotective of my “baby”. I make note of their names and tell them when I’m ready I’ll send them a copy. To try and bring the point home, all I request is a, don’t worry about hurting my feelings evaluation. In spite of that they want it now.

I recently had to tell a group of people my still developing writing habit. The habit of putting the first draft away for an amount of time, so I can step back to my piece with fresh eyes, and continue to work on it. The retort was still someone can do that for me. I found it hard to explain that I wasn’t nervous about someone reading my work. I love good and bad criticism. Well, perhaps love is the wrong word. Makes it sound like I haven’t had bad criticism that didn’t make me recoil, wince, or shrink. On the contrary, when I stop being emotionally involved in my piece, some of that critique helps me work the story into a stronger quantity.

The other confusing question is, “will I self-publish”. Self-publish? First, I have to explain I’m not writing to publish. I’m writing for myself. There was a time I tried to write for a future famous novel and my writing was non-existence. Now I just try to work and see what comes from the mind. I get strange looks. Next I explain, “I will try and publish a book one day however, that is a step I’ll think about when I get there”.

Second, I express my dream to try going the traditional route before the self-publishing way. Everyone seems to know someone who has self published and has done well. That’s great but it’s not my first move. I think it would be nice to say some publishing house sees brilliance in my work and wants to help support me. Show me the way. I expect generic, mean, or suggestive dismissal in my inbox. Be like the writers I’ve read with their own stacks of rejections before hitting it big.

There are always the suggestions of what I should write. It is a memoir on their life, or a book about crazy women and clueless men with their help. I have to look at them and say, you don’t need me. You sit down and start writing your story, your idea. I may say I’m a writer but it is not limited to me or that person you see on the book covers in the bookstore. It’s your brainchild. Still people think it’s not what they can do.

I’m happy people are proud of the work I accomplished and they want to see me succeed except there is a lot more labor than just the first attempt at writing.

Pinterest For Novel Outlines

I’ve been trying to write and edit a few novels and I have come across a useful tool to help visualize characters, places, and things. What I was normally doing for my character’s description was trying to write everything I envisioned down  in a notebook. Each character would get a page. The page would list physical appearances, personality, and motive. It wasn’t until I saw a post by blogger Shannon A. Thompson called, “Writing Tips: Picture Book” I realized how much detail I was missing by not using this useful tool. Pictures.

I never thought of using pictures to help inspire and build images of characters, places, or objects. I’ve had a Pinterest account for years. When I first signed up I used it a few times but it wasn’t long that I left it having found no use for it. Now I can’t help but think, here was a writing instrument at my fingertips and I have left it idle.  Well, no longer, I have started to use it to help with my novel’s vision. Pinterest has an a great number of pictures, easy access for pinning from other websites, and a board privacy setting (so the world doesn’t have to know what you’re planning). Also, saves on paper and ink, which helps me, keep my limited budget from going over. Also, it adds a bit more of creative fun to the process. I find creating a character board or looking at a few photos can be all the pop I need for a shot of inspiration. Even on days writing is slow I can get a daily writing exercise from a few pinned pictures.

If there is anyone out there who is struggling to write a novel, I hope this helps. It has sure has helped me. If you would like to see Shannon A. Thomas’s examples I have linked to her website and her “Picture Book” blog above.

Blogger’s Block

I’ve been trying to keep up with a blog schedule but it is proving to be a hard task. I try to post every Tuesday but I didn’t post anything yesterday because I have nothing to write about. For a bit I thought I’d post a creative writing piece but that ended with my brain going quiet at the site of the blinking curser. I was thinking about trying different days even though I know creative flow has nothing to do with a certain days of the week. Lately, I read a lot and was thinking of writing book reviews to fill up some blog space.

How do you keep your topic creative juices flowing? Have you had a blogger’s block? (Like writer’s block but with blogs?)

Writing Tips

October 8, 2012

Making mistakes and learning from them.

I read the books. So much writing advice all stuck in this head. I’ve used it all. And now I will talk about what has helped me and why I think some exercises have worked. No, I haven’t published any of my short stories (though I have tried) or a novel (in the process of one) but I have written over a hundred blog post so I hope that gives me some credit. I think it was easy to write short blurbs of information when it was for work. It’s work. Need to get things done or you don’t get paid. Even unpaid work. I was writing and strangers I never met were reading it. I wrote celebrity news, food news, and style news and I gained experience. I learned that when it was for work I could write. What I struggle with is writing creatively.

Practice With A Schedule.

I have waited for inspiration to strike and I have barely written a paragraph. By sitting down and forcing myself to write everyday I have noticed I write better and faster. Try to write at the same time everyday. Make a schedule. Everyday, every other, or three times a week. Writing is a muscle in the brain and it needs working out like any physical muscle. Train your brain to switch the creative juices on. Just write. Doesn’t have to be a story. Can be in a journal. Everyday tasks or delicious meals you had. I found by writing more often the Muse visited me more often.

Find your time.

Some have a belief it is better to write in the morning and others believe they write better at night. I say, at least you’re writing. I did find after trying different time periods throughout the day I am a better morning writer. Unconscious, one eye open writing keeps me from editing while I’m writing. Just too tired to care.

Bird By Bird.

I read this book by Anne Lamott titled Bird By Bird and one thing stuck with me. She talks about her brother at ten years old. He had three months to write a report on birds which was due the next day. Surrounded by a number of books, and papers on birds and overwhelmed there father sat down next to him and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” I can get overwhelmed with everything I want to write. I don’t where to start, how to end, and jump ahead to just get everything down. Sometimes just the thought of 50,000 words stops me from writing completely. This book taught me to just slow down, take a deep breath and work on one idea or image at a time. Bird by bird equals moment by moment.

Procrastination.

In school I had no problem writing. With impending due dates I knew I had to finish a report/short story or not get a grade. Even then I was guilty of waiting until last minute. After I left school I had no one encouraging me to write. I had to learn to mentally kick myself into action, sit down, and write. Make myself feel guilty if I enjoyed a prize which I had no effort to show. Learn to encourage when I needed compassion. If you grew up with a great work ethic or someone encouraging you just realize how lucky you are.

Stop Being A Perfectionist.

“First draft of anything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway. All writers write shitty first drafts. I’ve had friends who want to read my work but I tell them, at least, not until the second draft. The first draft is where I pour all my ideas out onto a page. I don’t erase anything, write scenes out of order, and don’t correct my spelling or grammar mistakes.

Read.

Be inspired. Notice what you like reading and try your hand at that style. Also, when you read the use of language, vocabulary, and grammar are seeping into the brain. Of course, reading is fun!

Don’t know why I wrote this. Guess I read something that inspired me. Writing this helped me see how far I’ve come as a still struggling creative writer. Maybe, it can help you too.

Being Human

“Do you know what I think? I think you are way out of your depth. Don’t get me wrong, you are— You’re brutal. But I’ve been doing this supernatural stuff a long time now and trust me, grief and revenge are not things to get drunk on. You know I think you wanted wild and Biblical and rawr! But instead you just woke up somewhere unfamiliar with your underwear on back-to-front.”

Annie, Being Human (UK)