Sunday, September 8, 2013

Is It Time?

“The first draft of anything is shit.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

Is it time to start thinking of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month)?

I know. I know. Thinking about Nanowrimo, which starts November 1, is an admission that summer is coming to a close and it's time to put the shorts and sandals away (well, at least in my part of the world).

But, when it comes down to it, now is just as good as any to start getting those creative juices flowing. With over half the year gone, there must have been something that sparked your interest. Something that you thought would be a good story. Maybe it was someone you saw while at the grocery store or walking down the street. Maybe when you went to visit a family member. Or, maybe you had to work the entire summer and found out something juicy about a co-worker, your boss, or a regular client.

Remember, this isn't about having a complete story in your brain that, once December 1 hits, you can throw on the bookshelves. This is about writing. Just writing. Whatever it takes, without any inhibitions. Letting it loose. Throw caution to the wind and go for it.

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. ” ― Joss Whedon

Write as if your life depended on it. Write as if it would save the lives of those in a zombie apocalypse.

This reminds me of an episode from the TV show 'Supernatural' called, The Monster at the End of this Book. The characters of the show, Sam and Dean Winchester (two brothers who hunt supernatural forces), discover that someone named Chuck is, unknowingly, writing books about the Winchesters; and thus, what Chuck writes is what Sam and Dean experience.

You are Chuck. You write what happens to your version of Sam and Dean. Whatever you want.

“Make up a story... For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul.” 
― Toni Morrison

See how freeing that is?
Isn't it amazing that there are no limits to the imagination?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Come On, Baby, Light My Fire

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.~ E.L. Doctorow

A week ago, I had the opportunity to meet Kelly Oxford, author of Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar. Originally from Edmonton, she moved to Calgary (where I am located), and spent 10-ish years here before uprooting her family and moving to Los Angeles.

I really didn’t know much about Kelly, aside from a few tidbits. I hadn’t read her book yet, but a friend of mine had read it and said it was funny.  Anyway, something compelled me to go to the author meet and greet. It was time for me to take a closer look at what other authors do. I’m so glad that, after writing for 20 or so years, I’m finally taking it seriously.

The author talk and signing was at the Chapters/Starbucks location I always frequent to do my writing; so, it was a pleasant surprise when Kelly mentioned that she would always come to this particular location to write her book.  She explained to us how it all started for her: she started blogging from the dawn of the internet. From there, she tweeted. Her tweets were then noticed by a few well-known people, including Roger Ebert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Diablo Cody, and it went from there.

As she was saying all these things: how she’s a Canadian mom who frequents the Starbucks and writes, it dawned on me how some key areas in her life were similar to mine. I’m sure, at some point, we sat in the same area of Starbucks writing our books. The only difference: she believes in her words.

To make this much easier on my inner critic (who will chop this blog to pieces due to its awkward-ness) is what I concluded from the Kelly Oxford talk:

  • No matter how much time you spend writing at Starbucks or how many soy chai lattes you drink, if writing is important to you, you aren’t wasting your time. No regrets.
  • Your writing and your words are important. It doesn’t matter if your spouse/ex-spouse/family members/friends tell you that you are spinning your wheels, or if someone says it’s crap, what you’re doing is important to you.
  • Let the words flow and say it like you mean it.
  • When on social media, engage others by being personable. Don’t blast them with a product. By engaging others, they want to hear what you have to say. The more engaging and relatable, the more they will go searching the Internet for whatever else you might have to offer. You become a real person, not someone hiding behind the computer looking for sales.
  • Kelly doesn’t sugar-coat shit. She just says it as it is. She has found her voice. You should find yours. When you find your voice, make no apologies for it...the words will flow.
  • There are always going to be haters. Laugh them off and grow from them. You can’t please everyone.
  • Believe in your writing. Go after it like your life depends on it. Decide that you must write this book to prevent a zombie apocalypse.
  • Decide, with every part of your being, that your writing is important. (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t stress this one enough.)
  • Go out and hear what other authors have to say. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read their work or if you barely know their story, it’s imperative that you get a different perspective.
  • Surround yourself with people who support you.

Pay no attention to what critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic. ~ Jean Sibelius

I’m a woo-woo type of person with her feet planted firmly on the ground...and I believe in synchronistic events; there are no coincidences in life. For me, meeting Kelly was important to my writing journey. Let’s just say that it lit a fire under my ass. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Twitter: A One Night Stand Without the Guilt

I recently went back on Twitter after not posting there for several months...or something like that. Back then, I didn't see any benefit. Everyone was talking but no one was listening...unless you were a celebrity, or a pretend celebrity bearing a celebrity name.

But, seeing as it's still going strong, I thought I would give this old bird another try and find out what makes it chirp. Obviously, people find benefit in it; it's a quick and easy way of feeding your social addiction without blowing a lot of precious time. But, what can it do for us writers?

In the last couple of months of posting tweets, here is what I am discovering:
1) Twitter is a great place to post info about your product, book, or whatever it is you are selling. You are making connections. You are marketing your bling (do people say bling?). The price is right! (Free!)

2) Twitter is a great place to connect with writers and other people in the writing community. Catch up on the latest news, what other writers are doing, tips, tricks, inspiration, and whatever else strikes your fancy.

3) Twitter is not a place to delve into deep conversation. People are less inclined to socialize on Twitter, even though it is a social media website. I like socializing.

4) Twitter is like a one night stand. No guilt. No commitment.

5) You throw something out into the Twitter-verse in hopes that someone will pick up on it; and, if you keep hammering it in your Twitter feed, someone might see it.

For writers, Twitter is good for getting your books out there and tweaking people's interest quickly and easily. Get in, get out, and move on. You can follow who you want, providing you aren't being creepy (and then get yourself blocked). And, typically, the people you follow will follow you back. So, you have a bigger audience of all sorts of people from all over the world that are not close family/friends (typically), and that might enjoy reading your book. You basically are tapping into a market that may have not been available to you.

Let's talk about Facebook for a second: Facebook is a great place to socialize and make strong connections with others. It's also a great place for people to sound off (and, at times, quite loudly) about hot button topics. If you are looking for meaningful conversation and soulful discussion about your project, then get your followers to click on your Facebook link that you insert into your Tweet.

You can also Tweet other website links, blogs, Instagram photos, places to buy your schlock... the list goes on. By doing this, your Tweeps will discover more about who you are and what you do. lists 10 Ways that Twitter Can Help You. Check it out.

As writers, we typically like to hide behind our computers and focus on the creative stuff while someone else takes care of the marketing and promoting. Nowadays, writers have to show up, do the leg work, and be interactive. You want people to know you exist, so, start taking advantage of all of the resources available to you. You never know where it might lead.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Your Elusive Creative Genius

I recently listened to a Ted talk that Elizabeth Gilbert did in 2009. I think it's inspirational, enlightening, and funny, and I wanted to share with you.  Enjoy!
(If you can't see the video below, here is the link: Elusive Creative Genius )

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Alphonse Mucha

I was going to put some sort of quote or interesting picture with a quote on here, but it was taking me longer to find one than to write this post. So, this is what it came down to: a woman postulating on what to write as a wind storm swirled around her.

In case you've been living under a rock, today marks the start of a brand new year. I don't know about you, but I've endured a lot of crap and am really glad that I have closed the door on that treacherous year known as 2012.

Anywho, now that it's a new year, it always feels like you can start fresh. Like yesterday didn't exist...and that you can look forward to new plans, new adventures, and take the next step forward to make a better life.

I know I have been slacking on the writing. I have many excuses, especially that of not feeling the flow of creativity....but I need to get past that and do something! I think this is why I am getting back to the blog again; time to open the flood gates of creativity and let it flow.

Some people may say it's hard to do, and some say they don't know where to start. I completely get that. But, it's only as difficult as you think it to be. And, the starting point will always be there, no matter what. So, write a blog, write a love note, write a shopping list. Put thoughts in a journal of how you would like things to be; make up a story of whatever you think. It doesn't matter. As long as you write.