Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘Writer’s Zen’

Only Five?

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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 Co-Hosts this month are: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

Only Five?

Oh goodness, Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) – you ask about five objects you’d find in my writing space? Only five? Since my writing room doubles as a crafting room also, I could list more like five hundred objects. Although I could see where most people would either quit reading or fall asleep – at least by item Number 47. So perhaps five is a nicer number to play with. Besides, after so many notebooks, paperclips, pens and staplers we’d all be snoozing, including myself. Many writers will probably have what I’ve listed first, but probably not the other four writing accessories.

IMG_0685[1].JPGStack of query and submission ideas

Many writers will have this item, a supply of possibilities to send query letters or essays to, or other publishing options to pursue. Although many may have a more organized approach, I am a pile kind of person. I have a notebook – two of them – that are supposed to hold these possible markets. Three years later the notebooks are gathering dust in a corner and the pile system is entrenched in place. And growing. I think for every one market I query or submit to, three or four other markets replace the one that’s gone.

IMG_0687[1].JPGA bunch of carrots

A few years ago, after I’d started writing in earnest, I had a dream. I was in the backyard with bushel baskets standing in front of four small garden plots. I was harvesting carrots. Two of the plots had a meager harvest, one had decent harvest, and one plot produced a bountiful carrot harvest. The bushel baskets on that one were overflowing with produce. I realized that with my writing I’m planting carrots. I’m planting the seeds of future harvest. Some seeds may not grow very well, giving me few carrots. Other crops may produce abundant supplies of the golden vegetable. I purchased some carrots from the local craft store to remind me that my words are simply planting seeds for future crops. I may not see immediate results. And the results will vary from scanty to plentiful. I just need to keep planting my carrots.

IMG_0686[1].JPGPieces of the past

Shopping malls don’t tempt me. Not in the least. I can live the rest of my life without going to another one. But antique stores…they’re my catnip. I adore pieces from the past and my home is filled with many family heirlooms and treasures gleaned from visiting antique stores in many different states. The ‘curtain’ in the window in front of my desk is a 1930’s quilt top, completely hand stitched and picked up for a pittance at a yard sale – the same one where I bought a set of 30 1934 quilt squares that I’ve since taken to a museum in Iowa. Handstitched dish clothes from the same era, vintage books, antique pottery, Depression glass, vintage bottles…they’re in here too, adoring the shelves along with books filling five book cases.

Wind chimes

Yes, wind chimes. A whole window full of them. Hey, if I put them outside I’d rarely see them. I spend much more time at my desk now than I do in the garden. So I installed a dowel in front of the window and hung a dozen wind chimes.

IMG_E0602[1].JPGTator Tot

Tator Tot is the newest addition to my writing space. My writing/craft room used to be (notice the used to part?) the only cat-free room in the house. We’d been watching one of the feral kittens outside for several weeks. One was extremely lethargic and listless. It got worse. We picked it up one day and its gums were so pale they were white. A month ago we made an appointment at the vets and brought it inside. Not knowing if it was sick or not, we couldn’t have it in the main part of the house with the others. So in my room it came. Tator Tot turned out to be a little boy and was extremely anemic, had roundworms, and was severely underweight. (1 pound when he should have been 2-2 ½ pounds) The vet said he probably wouldn’t have lasted another few days, and was doubtful if he’d even make it now. He made it and a month later is a little demon, never still until he wears himself out and plops down, now exhausted from hours of play instead of simply no energy.

So if my writing’s slowed down a bit over the past month, I’ll blame it all on Tator Tot. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll still keep him for Item Number Five in my writing space. Now…if I can only figure out how to have him help me harvest a few carrots.

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There’s Writing and There’s Writing

iwsg

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, ‘How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?’

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There’s Writing and There’s Writing

First off, we’ll answer the easy one. How do major life events affect my writing? Pretty much, if they don’t merely slow my writing, they usually bring it to a screeching halt. It seems that I have a limited reservoir of energy. I can use it writing – or I can use it dealing with major issues. I don’t always have the resources to do both.

Has writing ever helped me through something? Yes. And, no. There’s two types of writing in my world. Journaling, which is private and therapeutic. And writing for the public eye, such as books, short stories, articles, and blogs.

Journaling helps me through things. But that isn’t writing that I share with anyone else. Now, later on, after that difficult part of life has passed, then I may use some of that for fodder for the public writing. For instance, in 2010 I had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. My heart stopped beating on an airplane. That incident took me about two weeks to even come to grips with what had happened, let alone dealing with all the associated emotions that arose. Did my journal get a work out that year! Now, once the intensity of the moment subsided and life stabilized back to a routine (and I’m talking a few years here), then I began publicly writing about it. Several times I’ve even excerpted short snippets from my actual journal, but only in short selected sections.

But for me, I need a lot of processing time between the actual event and publicly writing about it. Sometimes I even need this transition period to even be able to talk about it with someone else. But, that’s me. I’m usually a private person and don’t easily show others the open shards of my heart. So I’ll show you some of my writing – the other – that’s tucked away on a shelf to rarely see the light of day. I guess it just goes to show that not all writers are open books.

 

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

How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

iwsg

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, ‘What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?’

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How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

A Sarah here, a Sarah there…how many Sarah’s can an author have? This month’s question for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was an easy one. Definitely choosing names are more difficult for me. The titles always seem to come with the germination of the book idea itself. And while they many change as I work on and complete the book – that is rare. I almost always go with my first instinct for a title.

But names, that’s where my own personal difficulty lies. I don’t have problems with naming characters, it’s just that I seem to always go to the same names. Sarah and William seem to be particular favorites to me, but I have no idea why. It’s like I have this internal list of ten to twelve favorites that my brain always accesses first. On my short stories spreadsheet, I had to add a column for main character names, so I don’t repeat names.

Another small glitch I find is that I can easily end up with two or three character names that all begin with the same initial. If I don’t consciously watch it, I’ll have Sarah and Sam with a dog named Spot. It must be that alliteration fascination coming back to haunt me.

Alas, if these were the only troubles I had to contend with, I’d be one happy author. Names I can change all day long. Now if fixing plot holes and characterization problems were just as easy.

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

 

The Garden Beckons #IWSG

iwsg

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, ‘It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?’

 

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The Garden Beckons

The seasons themselves don’t necessarily inspire me to write more or less. Now, they do effect the amount of writing that is accomplished. During summer and winter it’s too hot or too cold to be outside. So I’m nestled in the house, either in front of a fan or a heater and the words fly. Not because I’m inspired, but because the extreme temperatures limit my outside comfort zone. So, housebound I become.

But spring…that is my season! New growth is appearing after the dormant winter cold. Buds push their way through the earth. Flowers appear, waving their colorful blooms in the breezes. Roses spread their fragrant aroma in a swirl around me. Wildflowers usher in this most delightful season. Birds chatter and twitter away in the canopy of trees surrounding me. The cardinal couple flit in and out of the towering evergreen, tending to their nest of hatchlings.

Write? During spring? You have to chain me to my desk if you think I’ll be tapping away at a keyboard when the garden is growing outside. Thank goodness for spring time rains that curtail my gardening days.

You’d think fall would have the same results. The more moderate temperatures allow for being outside and comfortable. It’s not cold enough yet for thick, plush jackets. The searing heat is gone. But, no. It’s totally different. The garden is dying back. Even the weeds that have crept up between plants begin to wither away. It’s time to tidy up, cut back, bring in garden accessories and get ready to put the garden to bed. While I enjoy the coolness of fall days, I don’t like the threat of the impending winter. It dampens my spirits and makes me gloomy.

But spring it is, so this 300 or so words is all you get today. Next month, when the heat is here in Texas, I’ll be back writing longer posts. Today I’m out of here – I’ve got a garden to tend to!

 

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

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.

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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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Taking Me Back #IWSG

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. If we want to. 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, ‘What do you love about the genre you write in most often?’iwsg

Taking Me Back

Like many authors, I write in several different genres. It depends on what muse I’m listening to that month – or that day. But the genre that keeps calling me, luring me back time after time is historical fiction. Not as historical as in pirates and vikings of long ago, or even Civil War. Although, who wouldn’t love to write the next Gone with the Wind? The historical time frames I enjoy writing ranges from 1900 – 1950, with my all-time favorite period being the post-Depression years. It must have been reading Grapes of Wrath in junior high, which turned into one of my top-five favorite books, and one that I end up re-reading every 5-10 years.

There’s something about writing and researching that pulls me back to an era I personally know nothing about. But I feel like I do. I feel like I lived it. I think I’d like a time machine so I could really travel back in time and live a day in these times past – as long as I can bring my air conditioner and washing machine with me.

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

1930 chevy

IWSG – Making the Plan Isn’t the Problem

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. If we want to. 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, ‘What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?’

iwsg

Making the Plan Isn’t the Problem

Making a plan for my writing and publishing isn’t the problem. I’m a great planner. No – I’m a terrific planner. A planner like no other. I make plans for my plans. (Not really, but I think you know what I mean.) Making the plans isn’t what gives me any trouble.

The problems lie in implementing the plans!

Since I started freelancing in 2015, I’ve made a plan for what books to write, when to publish them, what blogs to write, what short stories to write, etc. I made my 2018 plans at the beginning of December. I planned which books to write, when I’ll publish, what classes I’m working on, what Vintage Daze Short Stories I’ll complete and publish, etc. I even made plans for what books will go on sale each month.

By the time we got to the first day of this brand new year, I’d already changed the 2018 plan…twice.

Plan B

And, in all truthfulness, a great deal of the plan for the New Year was already in place. It’s simply the tasks and milestones left over from 2017 that I didn’t make. And I think several of those items probably got pushed down the list from 2016.

Part of the difficulty I know is because when I’m sitting down planning where I want to go, I make very ambitious plans. And then with a part-time day job that becomes very needy with my time and energy at all the major holidays, I find that I don’t have the necessary resources to continue on as scheduled. And once I get behind…it’s downhill from there on.

Coupled with this is another malady I often fall victim to. The ‘Bright Shiny Object’ (BSO) Syndrome. Too often I find myself rushing about working on a brand new project – one that didn’t exist when the plan was made earlier in the year – but…it’s so fascinating.

I already added one BSO to 2018. That was the first change. The second was when I realized that I’d planned on spending most of December 2017 working on an old project from 2015, planning to release it in February. When I didn’t write a word to this old project, and it’s one that I need to spend some time with and get it right because there’s a corporate connection, I made the second change and pushed it off of 2018’s schedule and into 2019.

We’re on the third day of the New Year. And I haven’t made any other changes to the 2018 schedule. Now if I can just focus on completion for this year – and not adding anything new to the list – maybe I’ll make more progress towards what I actually plan. We’ll see. Update to come in 11 and a ½ months!

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

Plan Quote

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