Monday, December 29, 2014

Taking a Chance

Today, I am stuck in Joss Whedon mode, and that's okay. I appreciate the man's thought process and writing style. 

His work also has me thinking about my work, and the fact that I've been doing this thing for 20 years and haven't really moved forward with getting my stuff out to the masses. I mean, really? Who does that? I have tons of completed projects, but why haven't I shared them with the world? I know focusing on my children has played a role, plus other life changes. But, come on, isn't it time to start doing something with my work? This is what I've wanted for a long time. Isn't it time to kick it up a notch? Isn't it time to take a chance? 

Maybe you have been waiting for some sign that it's time to take your writing to the next level. Well, here it is. 

Put yourself out there. If you are worried, like me, that your work isn't perfect enough, well, here's a newsflash for you: It will never be perfect enough. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't proofread and edit your work. However, it does mean that there comes a time when you have to cut the apron strings and let it go.

Friends, the new year is coming. It's time to decide what you are going to do with it. 

Keep on writing and Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Beginnings

With the new year around the corner, what will you move forward with regarding your writing? What you will choose to accomplish? 

I find that we would rather hold back our passion than suffer judgement from others. I completely get that! Who wants to endure the haters? Who really wants to get stepped on? 

I have mentioned in past posts that, no matter who you are, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Anne Rice, you will have your work ripped apart. It happens. 

The fact is, you have to not care what others think. Of course, always measure constructive criticism with logic. But, you are the one writing the's yours and yours alone. When you come across someone who doesn't care for your work, it means it didn't resonate with them. And, that's okay. 

So, what do you do? You keep moving forward, and, with the new year starting, it's time to decide how you will move forward. Will you decide that your writing is important and deserves your undivided attention? Will you decide that, no matter what, you will make your writing as important as eating? 

Dear friends, take the time right now to decide how you want next year to look. You, and only you, can create it. 

Keep on writing! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Moving On After a Crappy Review

No matter what you write, you are going to come face to face with those people who disagree with it, hate it, love it, or view it in a completely different way than what you intended. 

Here's the thing about the perspective of the reader: it is subjective. Everyone has a different viewpoint on what they are reading and experiencing. Some will find that what they are reading triggers something in them that they can't understand or choose not to face. Some might think the writing is degrading or possibly cheesy. Maybe they feel the writing is forced. Whatever the reason, people will always have their own opinion. (See previous blog post on pleasing others.)

Just remember that, whatever happens, you cannot take this personally. Attempting to get everyone to like you and your work will eat up your time best spent writing. Let's focus on what's important here: the writing part. 

This isn't to say that you shouldn't take into consideration what the reviewer said; we all can benefit from these experiences. However, make sure to ask yourself if the reviewer is providing constructive feedback or do they simply love to hate?  Are they saying something that will help enhance your writing? Sometimes people come into our lives to help us expand our viewpoint, and it's in that moment that we are taken to another level. 

Your writing will always be changing, evolving, and growing. This is a good thing. Just keep moving forward and keep on writing.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Nanowrimo is Over... Now What?

Now that Nanowrimo is done for another year, how do you feel? 
Are you upset because you didn't make 50,000 words? 
Are you upset because you feel that you've written crap? 
What do you do with yourself now that the frenzy is over? 
What do you do with what you've written? 

Well, firstly, if you didn't make the 50,000 word limit, don't beat yourself up. In the 5 years (I think it was 5) that I participated in Nano, I completed it once. Do I care? Nope. Not really. My life is busy. I have a job, kids, a household to care for, and other writing's a juggle. 

Secondly, if you feel you've written crap...well, ya, you probably have. You just clumped together 50,000 words in a short period of time, there's a good chance that it won't be a cohesive story at this point. That's why you have to edit, proofread, etc, etc. You've laid the foundation, now you have to build on it. 

Thirdly, do not bother beating yourself up about not doing it all in 30 days... it's not worth it. What you do next with your writing is what's important. 

What will you do next? Maybe take a break from that project to refresh your mind. Maybe start a different project. Then, a month later, come back to your Nano story and start re-working it. 

The main thing is to keep moving forward. 

Nobody But You by Charles Bukowski 

nobody can save you but
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
to make you submit, quit and/or die quietly
nobody can save you but
and it will be easy enough to fail
so very easily
but don’t, don’t, don’t.
just watch them.
listen to them.
do you want to be like that?
a faceless, mindless, heartless
do you want to experience
death before death?
nobody can save you but
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it.
think about it.
think about saving your self.

Keep on writing, my friends. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing

Over the last week and half, I've been struggling with finding creativity. Constant distraction at home and re-learning grade 7 science and math (to help my son) has made this woman tired and brain-dead. The writing muse does not want to come out when I'm stressing about rocks and tectonic plates. 

So, how does a writer manage to let in the creative muse when distraction abounds? How does a writer focus when a small child wants to do her own work in the same room as you, promising not to make a sound...but still chats? Headphones seem to work really well. Unfortunately, they don't permanently solve the problem because said child will still tap your arm to get your attention. 

There's always learning the fine art of becoming desensitized to the incessant noise. However, that only lasts so long. It's a juggling act. It's fitting in moments of inspiration when they arise and when you can grab the chance. If the moments aren't there, then you are stuck with writing that doesn't even have a pulse!

I don't think there is one antidote for when distraction has you cornered, nipping at your ankles. We are all somewhat alone in this, searching around in the dark, trying to find the right combination that will help alleviate frustrations and get us writing again. 

Writing my feelings out in this blog seems to help. Maybe that's all that needs to happen. And, if it means staying up late to gain a sense of accomplishment, then bring out the midnight oil!

“To be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.” 
― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Keep writing, friends....even when the muse is taking a nap!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Upping the Ante

As some of you are entering into the second week of Nanowrimo, you might feel some resistance to finding the right flow and words to your story. Quite possibly, your story has come to a complete standstill. 

Sometimes writing is tough and painful. Sometimes the words just won't come. Sometimes the characters refuse to talk to you; it's almost like they are giving you the silent treatment. What did you do to them anyway? 

Maybe it's time to turn up the heat with your characters, and throw them to the wolves. Your characters have become stagnant and they are waiting around for you to do something with them. 

Who can you throw in front of your characters' path to make them have to work for what they deserve?

What event or mishap can you write to make things more difficult?

It's about upping the ante in your novel. Your characters need to work for the reward that comes at the end. By doing so, you will surprise your readers by giving them something more than the standard. 

We all love our characters. We grow attached to them, and really don't want to see anything bad happen to them. However, your characters need to grow by facing contrasting situations, and you get to decide how they are going to work their way out of it.

It's time to release the hounds!

Happy writing! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nano Inspiration

Since many of you are engaged in Nanowrimo at the moment, I will keep this short and sweet.
Here is a writing prompt for those who need a kick of inspiration:

"Your character is walking down the street when something catches his/her eye. He/she turns and realizes someone he/she knows is walking toward him/her. Your character feels the fear pounding through his/her veins at the sight of this person."

Happy Writing! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

To Nano or Not To Nano?

You may have seen a couple of articles floating around the web encouraging writers not to 'Nanowrimo'. Reasons include:  'If you are a serious writer, you would just write anyway', or 'only non-serious writers would participate', or 'expect to write a crappy story in 30 days'.

I'm of the mind-frame that if this is what will motivate you to write, then do it. I know that life gets busy; I certainly struggle at times to find a moment to write between juggling the kids, the household, my job, and my writing clients. Sometimes, we need a group of writers to encourage us and a challenge to motivate us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

However, as Nanowrimo closes in, keep the following in mind:

Your Nano novel will not be ready for publication by December 1. Your novel needs to go through numerous drafts before you self-publish, or send it to a publisher/agent. It needs to be put away for a month, maybe two, and then looked at with fresh eyes.... and then re-written again. If you want to be lauded for your work, then take the time to make it exceptional.

Keep on writing! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nanowrimo 2014

If you haven't noticed, Nanowrimo is less than two weeks away, and many of you may be wondering how to get 'in the 'zone' to Nano effectively.

There are numerous strategies to help keep you focused---it's all about figuring out what works for you.

Here are some of mine:

1) Free write. This means 'write freely' whatever is on your mind. It could be your grocery list, how you don't want to go to work tomorrow, how uninspired you feel, or whatever is happening in your life. When I'm stuck and I write about 'whatever', 'whatever' turns into something pretty damn good.

2) Meditate. Meditating shuts down the crazy mind chatter and will help you to focus on what's important!

3) Read. Read something you enjoy and something that inspires you. Read a book from the genre you are writing about. Read blogs/articles on writing. Whatever it is, read it.

4) Change locations. Leave your current location and go somewhere completely different. Doing this can offer a whole new perspective.

5) Exercise/Get outside. Go for a walk or run. Get to the park and enjoy nature.

6)Watch your favorite TV show or movie where the writing is exceptional. Joss Whedon is one of my favourites. I appreciate his talent for crafting extraordinary stories.

7) If all else fails, take a nap. A quick nap will recharge your batteries and refresh your mind.

Finally, don't be hard on yourself for not keeping up with your word count. The fact that you are getting out there and taking a chance speaks volumes!

Keep on writing!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pleasantly Surprised or Deeply Disappointed?

What book or story have you read that, at first glance, you didn't think you would enjoy but ended up pleasantly surprised?

What about a book or story that you thought you would like and it sucked?

Reading is a very personal experience. What one person takes away from a book may not be what you experience. I can think of numerous books that I loved and recommended to friends and family thinking they would love them too, only to find out that they didn't like them at all. In contrast, the same emotion that someone else experiences with a book that they recommend may not resonate the same for me. For instance, I like J.K. Rowling, and I find it shocking that other people do not like her work.

That's okay. I'm sure J.K. Rowling isn't concerned about it, and I'm sure she has made peace with the fact that not everyone will like her books.

We all have different perspectives, different likes and dislikes, and enjoy different writing styles.
Think of it this way: Not everyone enjoys eating pie. Fortunately, there are many other desserts in this world to choose from. Try to remember this when you are writing and muddling through your 25th draft and hoping that you can please everyone in the entire world with your book.

It's not going to happen.

There will be people in this world who think your work stinks. My advice to you is: Don't worry about those people; you didn't write for them anyway.

Keep on writing! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When are You a Writer?

I thought I would share something with you about how you determine if you are a writer or not: You are a writer when you say you are a writer.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Check out this blog post by Jeff Goins called The Shocking Truth About Starting a Writing Career. 

Keep on writing! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Writing Prompts and Banned Books

This is a good week to look at using writing prompts and having fun with them. Why is it a good week? Just because.

Writing prompts can certainly spiral our creativity forward, especially if we feel stuck.
Here are a few to get the creative juices flowing:

  • Start a sentence with the word 'oranges'. 
  • You arrive home to the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking...but you live alone. 
  • Start a sentence with, "He had $5.67." 

On top of all this crazy fun with prompts, it's Banned Books Week! Check this link out to view challenged books from the past. I think I was surprised to see Captain Underpants on the list. Really?

Happy writing!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Illuminating the Path

What can you do today to take the next step in your writing career?
Why haven't you taken that step?
What are you waiting for?

We can easily blame our lack of progress on being too busy; maybe protest about how there are not enough hours in the day. We can all blame the juggling of home and family life, and the toll it takes on us. We can complain that we are too tired, or not feeling creative enough. Maybe the house needs cleaning or the kids need to be shuffled off to hockey or ballet.

I have said every single one of these things, and have always put it off for another day. And then ,one morning, you wake up and realize that a week, a month, or a year has passed.

The truth of the matter is that the only person who can make progress in your writing career is you!  Sometimes you have to let the dishes sit. Sometimes it means taking your writing to the kids' swimming lessons. Maybe it means staying up an extra half hour or getting up earlier just to get a page in. The fact is, it's doable. Determine what is important and make a plan to do it. If it's important to you, you will make time for it.

If lack of creativity is a factor, find something that will get the creativity flowing. Maybe it's doodling or colouring. Maybe it's listening to music or reading a chapter of a book you enjoy. I find 'free writing' is always helpful. Free writing is simply writing whatever is on your mind. Just go with it. When I do this, I find the words begin to flow and my characters start talking.

So, what is the next step that you can take to progress your writing further?
Does it mean starting the book? Finishing it? Editing? Proofreading? Contacting an agent or publisher? Or self publishing?

Whatever that step is, take it and own it.
When you are done with that step, take the next one.
And then the next...till the path illuminates itself for you.

Keep on writing! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Money or Passion

A number of years ago, when I was doing a lot of freelance work, I had numerous requests for my writing services. Some were from students who were looking for someone to write their paper for them. Others legitimately needed my assistance with writing and editing. And then there were those who hinged their retirement plan on writing a best selling book and living off the royalties forever.   

One person in particular emailed me and wanted me to write her story pro bono. She was in dire straits and needed money, and she was sure her story would net her an income, which she desperately needed because she was unable to work due to an injury. 

This is what a lot of people don't understand: Because you have an interesting story to tell doesn't automatically guarantee a publishing contract. The writing of the story is a long process. Lots of time energy, blood, sweat, and tears goes into writing a book. Writers paint a picture with words so the reader can use their imagination and understand exactly what the writer is writing about. Clearly, this can be very challenging. 

Also, no writer should work for free. Your hairstylist, your dentist, your plumber ... they all don't work for free. Unless you are collaborating with someone, you should be paid for your efforts.   

The biggest thing of all is that the book may not make money, especially if the author has no desire to market or promote it. 

So, what are you writing for? When you write because you have a passion for it, a drive for it, then it will show in your writing, and your readers will know you are writing from your authentic self. 

If you are writing only because you think you will be offered a 6-figure advance, then you are writing for the wrong reasons. 

Happy Writing! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Your Calling

I know I haven't been focusing on this blog for a long while; but, I promise, I will from now on.

What have I been doing with my time? I've been focusing on an area of writing that has been calling my name for a couple of years. I have been focusing on relationships, love, self love, and everything else that comes with it over at my blog Soul Love Awakening.

Ever since my fiance passed away almost 3 years ago, and after having a large variety of relationship experiences from great to not really great, I felt a passion and an inspiration to assist others by writing what I know.

What should a writer write about? Many writers struggle with this. Some writing projects seem like a struggle and it's difficult to find the flow.

Keep in mind that writing what you know is part of finding your niche. The other part is to write what is guiding you. Sometimes, it's a topic you aren't entirely familiar with, but you feel that you need to pursue it. And, sometimes, inspiration shows up and we don't know what it wants or where it's going. So, we drop it, thinking it's just a crazy thought when we really should dig deeper.

Inspiration can lead you in a whole new direction you never expected if you have the courage to follow it.

What is it that is inspiring you? What writing project has been on your mind for a long time and doesn't seem to go away? Maybe it's time to pursue it.

Happy Writing!

Friday, February 28, 2014

If You Care About Your Writing Career... Don't Do This

Face Palm
Head in Hands photo displayed as original. Thanks to Alex E. Proimos for the use of the photo. Follow link to his work here.

“Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.”  - David Foster Wallace

If you care anything about your writing career and where you would like to see it go, do not trash talk another writer. Constructive criticism is much different than demonstrating jealousy towards someone else's success...especially if you haven't read their work.

All of Lynn Shepherd's hard work may go down the crapper, especially when people maliciously leave 1-star reviews on Amazon. I guess time will tell. However, any publicity is good publicity. Right?
Read the story here:
Crime Author Urges JK Rowling to Stop Writing