Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Archive for April, 2018

How to Become a Focused Writer – C. Hope Clark

Today we welcome a guest post from C. Hope Clark. She’s celebrating the release of her eighth mystery, Newberry Sin. Hope is a writer I admire and I’ve learned so much from her over the past few years. I began following her when I first began freelancing and discovered her weekly newsletter, Funds For Writers. Her book, The Shy Writer Reborn, soon joined my other writing books on my bookshelf – and is the one that’s most marked up, dog-eared, and highlighted.

Join us today as she shares her wisdom about becoming a focused writer. Then, hop on over and check out her mysteries. They’re excellent too!

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How to Become a Focused Writer

By C. Hope Clark

The faster this world revolves with the advent of technology, the more choices we have in everything we face. The speed of that information, and the resulting demands on our time due to all these opportunities thrown in front of us, the less we feel in control of our time.

For a writer, all that noise, tugging, and temptation takes a toll on concentration. So how is this writer supposed to pay attention to deadlines, much less the intricacies of storytelling, when hit from all sides with the busy-ness of life?

  1. Create Structure. Think of a child with autism or ADHD. One of the first suggestions to help them cope is to establish structure to their days. These children become flustered with too much stimulation, unable to process it all. Sound familiar? Same logic applies to a writer. Set a time and place to write if it does not come natural to you. When that time comes, and when you enter that space, your mind will ultimately adhere to the routine and kick into writing mode. If you cannot guarantee a place, at least adhere to the time wherever you are. Disorganization = enemy of focus.
  2. Have a Plan. What do you want to write? You cannot get into a car without a strong sense of where you’re going. Short stories? Poems? A novella? Make it practical because saying you want to become a writer then starting with a novel is like asking a new attorney fresh out of law school to represent a serial killer. It’s paralyzing. But if you are sure you want to tackle a book, then have a plan for the stages you’ll write it so that the project isn’t intimidating. Intimidation = enemy of focus.
  3. Have a Fun Backup Plan. You delve into your main plan, and you can’t make the words happen. Have three backup plans. First, write something short and fun. This might be all it takes to unclog things by making you enjoy putting words on paper. Second, write a letter to someone who has deserved it for a long time. Write it longhand, since this form of writing will tap a different part of your brain, giving the obstinate side a rest. . . maybe a chance to shake loose and want to go back to work again. Third, journal about your day. This exercise lets you fall naturally into a subject matter, freeing your writing, Do NOT let a sluggish attempt at writing give you permission to redirect to email, social media, or games. Distraction = enemy of focus.
  4. Keep Showing Up. The worst of days, when you hate the idea of sitting at the computer, are the days you need to show up most. That’s because you are demonstrating to your obstinate, pig-headed (maybe lazy) self that your writing is meaningful and important. Athletes hit the track. Swimmers hit the pool. Show up until the very act itself is as inherent as brushing your teeth. Irregularity = enemy of focus.
  5. Inform Family and Friends. Do not allow interruption. When you are in your place, in your time, you are at work no differently than if you’d commuted downtown, parked your car, and sat behind a desk with a boss looking over your shoulder. Once you give interruptions (and the interrupters) a palms-up stop-sign reaction, they’ll think twice about whether the interruption is necessary. Or they’ll leave a voice mail. Or they’ll come back later. Interruption = enemy of focus. Interruption = enemy of focus.
  6. See the End. How will you imagine the day you type the last word of the last chapter? How will it feel to send off the manuscript? Have a legitimate plan for a celebration or establish a reward system. No goals = the enemy of focus.
  7. Be the Writer First and Foremost. When your mind wanders, and you find the writing difficult, you do not have permission to start searching for editors, publishers, agents, or indie presses. This is a VERY COMMON tangent writers take when they cannot focus. They justify switching gears to the publishing side of the house with the argument that they need to understand how to publish so they can prepare. And the book never gets written. It’s easier to read blog posts, participate in discussion groups, and watch educational videos about publishing than it is to write. You have to become a habitual writer before you even think about publishing. Ignoring Craft = the enemy of focus.

We forget the elementary, basic fact that we are just trying to write. Nothing more, nothing less. When we allow the obtrusive racket of people and Internet to interfere, and when we attempt to write without much thought to the direction, we have already decided not to focus.

Focus isn’t out of your control, on the contrary. But there isn’t a magic formula to put your fingers on the keys and type words on the screen, either.  We wish it were easier, but focus is self-imposed, and it’s so much simpler when infused with structure, planning, goals, and dedication.



BIO: C. Hope Clark has just released her eighth mystery, titled Newberry Sin. She is also a freelancer and founder of FundsforWriters.com, and a frequent conference speaker, and podcast presenter for Writer’s Digest. She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her dachshunds and federal agent husband. www.chopeclark.com


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The 30-Year Story — Lida Bushloper

The 30-Year Story A looong time ago, I wrote a 4500-word light romance. Back then, there were a number of print magazines that published that sort of thing. I worked on it till it was polished, then sent it off. It didn’t sell. I sent it to another market. Same result. Over the next few […]

via The 30-Year Story — Lida Bushloper

Point of View – Writing Your Family Stories

Vintage Daze


On Vintage Daze we’re participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge and celebrating days long past by sharing about writing your family story.

Point of View


Point of view seems easy in concept. It’s in the execution that the writer finds out it’s not as simple as it sounds. Ask my critique group, they’ll concur – point of view is still something I struggle with. I am far from an expert on this subject. But, it’s something you’ll need to be aware of as you gather information and get ready to write your family’s stories.

Each scene has a narrator – a character that ‘holds the camera’ as many books like to describe it. There are four choices for point of view. Now, the point of view (you might commonly find it written as POV) may change throughout the book, but it can’t change within the scene.

First Person

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Deadlines Banish the Cloudy Days


Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?’

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Deadlines Banish the Cloudy Days

I wish I could say that my writing journey is all sunshine and roses. Not a peep of clouds here, thank you very much. Alas, I can’t say that. Truthfully, there are days that I question what I’ve been doing the past three years. I question the wisdom of my choices. I question whether or not to continue. I mull over the options of going back to a full time, punch-the-timeclock job.

What do I do to keep writing? I can’t say that I consciously have a plan in place to keep me moving forward. Sometimes the deluge of the current storm gets me in a funk and I don’t write. Sometimes for a few days. Occasionally the funk period has lasted a whole week. I wallow in the mire and waste away far too many hours playing mindless computer games. One weekend I binge watched a whole sitcom season in three days.

Fortunately I have several pre-committed deadlines already in place. I have a monthly newsletter, Back Story. I have my weekly reader’s newsletter, Trisha’s Tidbits. I’m in a weekly writing group, Tuesday Tales, that writes to a word or picture prompt each week. And, the first Wednesday of each month? I need a blog post ready for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. So after a few days of inactivity and slothfulness, one of these standing deadlines rears its talon and snatches me back into the writing game. Usually I find once I’ve written the 300-800 words needed for one of these projects, my self-pity party is over and I’ve placed my ‘Writer’ hat back on my head and I’m pounding the keyboard, the fears, insecurities, and doubts vanquished once again.


Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

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