RSS Feed

Guest Post: How to Feel Like Writing Again

We’ve all felt it at one time or another. The story loses its shine and you’re left with a half-completed story. Why does this happen, and how do you continue?

For a lot of writers, this is the mid-point of the story, but truly, it can happen at any point. I want to focus on something entirely different from “writer’s block”; this topic regards when you know what to write next, but you just don’t feel like doing so.

“Of course, motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” – Zig Ziglar

The cursor blinks at you, nudging you to continue typing, but the combination of your eyes drooping and the itch to do something else feels overwhelming. You’ve already procrastinated enough today. Your bedroom can only be cleaned so many times, and you’ve already checked Facebook, Twitter, and your email twice in the past half-hour.

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”

You’re a writer. You know how to get the job done; it’s the motivation that’s lagging. Let’s look at some different factors.

Your story no longer excites you

For me, this usually happens just on the other side of the midpoint, roughly 55% into the book. About then, I usually start envying short story writers. It’s when the thrill of the beginning and even the spike of the midpoint event wears off, and I have to begin laying the ground work for the finale, but it’s not yet to the exciting build-up for the ending climax.

Wherever it normally happens for you (and it could change from story to story), it can be a trial. Why does it happen? Here are a few possibilities:

  • You’ve already thought of the next story, and you’re more interested in starting the new one than finishing the current one
  • You hit a plot snag and aren’t looking forward to unraveling it
  • You realize that your story idea might not be as interesting as you thought it was
  • Self-doubt creeps in
  • Life got in the way of writing, and you’re not as emotionally connected
  • Something as simple as: it’s just not new and shiny anymore

The first one gets me every time.

To remedy many of the above, you could take a short break from writing to read your story from the beginning as if it was a finished product. Oftentimes, that brings about the romance for writing this particular piece again.

Whenever I daydream about the next project, I jot down all my ideas onto a pad of paper, but I promise myself not to start writing it until the current project is finished. That way, I have a treasure trove of tidbits to work on by the time I do transition.

Also, take a look at your writing schedule. If you wait until you have 4+ hours to write, try writing more often but in smaller chunks. It could be your method of attack that’s holding you back.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

Mainly for me, I had to come to grips with the concept that at some point in the book, it would be a chore to continue. Perhaps other authors aren’t this way, but that’s how I operate. I had to wean myself from the mysticism that I have to be in constant love with a story to write it. 100% of the time, when I go back to polish what I had to prod myself to finish, the magic is there again.

Whether you reluctantly write and later polish with passion, or you passionately write and later reluctantly polish, in the end, the reader can’t tell the difference. Either way, a quality product is completed. But if you wait for passion to do anything, the project will likely get done much, much later.

“What I adore is supreme professionalism. I’m bored by writers who can write only when it’s raining.” -Noel Coward

Just plain don’t feel like it

To me, this is another thing altogether. This could be due to some of the reasons above, but largely affected by mood, hunger, emotional state-of-mind, how restful I am, etc. Here are some things that I do to warm-up to writing when I don’t feel like it. In advance, don’t judge me.

  • I go into a different room (dependent on a portable writing apparatus). I read a study once that changing rooms resets the mind, but for whatever reason, it seems to help.
  • Reading some of what I wrote the day before to get me in the mood. This usually does the trick, for me.
  • I listen to music. In my Writer’s Toolbox, there are two of my favorite picks of music to listen to while I write.
  • I have a small spray bottle of water, and I occasionally spray myself in the face. This is used when I am tempted to curl over my laptop and take a nap. This is the “don’t judge me part,” if you were wondering. So, yes, my method for staying awake is the same as the punishment for your cat for eating the houseplant.

Similar to what I mentioned in the last section, usually when I don’t feel like writing, I do it anyway. There are a few times that I succumb, but I usually remind myself that people can’t tell their boss that they don’t feel like working, which is something Janci Patterson also mentioned in my interview with her.

 

Conclusion
Everyone has a different method. All these suggestions might work for you, or perhaps none of them will. The key is to experiment with what motivates you to write, so that you can get one step closer to your writerly goals.

Ryan Lanz

A Writer’s Path

Guest Post: Are Writers Stalkers?

Recently, I began reading the Teach Yourself series of books directed towards writing. I took interest in them after I noticed the “Getting Started in Creative Writing” edition at my sister’s house not long ago. Within this book is an exercise that led me to the question of this post; Are Writers Stalkers? The specific exercise (Exercise 17, Page 38) stated:

“Take yourself off into your nearest town or village. Spend some time really looking at your fellow citizens. Find someone who is as different from yourself as you can. Someone much older, say. Or much younger. And follow them. Keep a discrete distance but stay close enough to be able to watch how they move. If they are with companions, try and overhear what they say. You could even begin this exercise in a café, overhearing what your fellow customers are talking about and then following a selected target as he or she leaves the premises. Try and gather as much information about your target’s life as you can and then, safely back at home, make some detailed notes. This should give you enough material on which to base a central character”

I will be honest, when I first read that exercise, I was a little offended. Is this writer’s book actually asking me to stalk someone? The definition of the word stalker according to the Google (yes, I said the Google, is “a person who stealthily hunts or pursues an animal or another person”. In my over-thinking mind, the exercise was asking me to violate a person’s privacy, and is quite frankly, no different than stalking. I could see little separation from the two forms of following other people, and I was creeped-out. Majorly.

After thinking about the exercise, and the definition of a stalker, I found myself looking back on some of my notes. I often take notes on the subway, and a particular one caught my eye upon review. I had been sitting across from a man I took great interest in. I noted that he was wearing steal-toe boots, beige cargo-style paints that were covered in paint. He had headphones in and was rocking out to the wave of tunes diving into his eardrum. I noticed that from the neck down, he looked as though he worked in construction, perhaps for a carpenter. He worked in colder temperatures as he was layered in plaid decorated, thick sweaters that were all equally covered in his work. He was eating steaming hot food out of a black to-go container. It was 8am, and it was not a breakfast meal in that container. I concluded that he is not an egg-loving man, at least not in my mind. From the neck up, he looked like a typical hipster. He had that messy just out of bed, but yet meticulously worked-on hair. Thick framed glasses rested on the bridge of his nose. Plugs did exactly that; they plugged the holes in his stretched earlobe. As he swung his head like a pendulum to the beat of the music, I couldn’t help but think he looked like two completely different people. That day, I took a page and a half of notes in my writing journal all on this stranger. This man who intrigued me, and confused me. I found myself wishing I knew more about him. Where was he going? Where was he from? Who was he with? What did he like? Essentially, I was wishing I could take time out of my day to follow him. I don’t know that I would follow, if given the opportunity, but I do know it crossed my mind. As soon as I thought about it, my head rang with the question “Am I a stalker?”

I was left struggling with this question, and dealing with feels of insecurity and uncertainty. The question itself threw me away from writing for a few days, honestly, because I was a little scared of myself, and my capabilities. I didn’t enjoy thinking of myself as a stalker, or being capable of such imposition of privacy. I never want anyone to feel threatened by my presence, to notice me lurking their way. However, I need people. People are my work. They are the muse for my writing. It’s the same need for almost every creative writer. So, what makes us different from a stalker?

Here is my weak justification towards not being a stalker.

A stalker usually maintains a lengthy fixation and develops an end game. Depending on their reasons for pursuing, the end game usually involves the target directly. For instance, with animals, the end is often death at the hands of a precise scope, and a blast of gun powder after hours of waiting and tracking. In some cases, humans meet the same sorrow-filled demise. Other times, it is a grand love gesture gone wrong, or some kind of worship-led mishap. A writer’s end game, on the other hand, does not directly include the target. In our case, the target is simply our muse, and we only fixate on them briefly so we can re-purpose their characteristics for later use as a fictional character. Our target’s life serves a purpose to create many literary lives.

The truth is, we aren’t all that different. As writers, we have to be careful not to frighten people with our curious minds. As a good practice, if I know I am making someone uncomfortable with my note taking or quick glances, I have no problem stating exactly what I am doing. If they ask me not to take notes, I am not going to take notes. No means no. In the end, I am not out to cause people any feelings of harm. I am out seeking the means to bring fiction to life. My end game is to write incredible fiction using incredible people. If you were once my muse, thank you. Especially thank you to the man on the subway having a bee-bopping good time while eating his not-so-breakfast, breakfast. You sir, helped me write this, and I kind of like it.

Lauren E Miller

Confessions of a Writer

Guest Post: I’m going to slit my wrists if you don’t publish me…

… Well not really. Hmm, scratch that, I’m only kinda telling the truth.

The fact is I have had my moments, you know the type, the devastating (albeit occasionally histrionic) outbursts of “it’s not fair! Why me? What have I ever done to anyone? Who was I in a past life? Hitler!” Okay, so maybe that last one is just me. However, I have spoken to enough writers to know that emotions of desolate desperation at never being read (at least by enough people) or known are ones that attack many of us at some point in our turbulent creative journeys.

I have been writing from a very young age, seriously trying to get some sort of recognition for the past seven years or so (on an off and on basis in all honesty) and have given up on my attempts at many intervals during my writing “career”.

The countless knockbacks classily framed in those “sincere” rejection letters that have so obviously been meticulously crafted for me personally [come on publishing/literary agents, at least change the font and colour when you cut (and may I add creatively misspell) and paste my name assuring me there is someone out there with whom my story is going to click eventually, I just need to find that needle in the haystack] were enough for me on an individual basis to throw in the towel once and for all.

I would just stop, there would be no calm before the storm or voodoo inspired smoke signs before the eventual demise of my pen (or keyboard), I would seriously just get up one morning and that would be it. No more writing, no more creation, nothing. Nada. Blank space full stop.

When I look back on those times when my imagination would be firmly tucked away in the abyss that occupied the supposed artistic section of my cranium, I wonder if I was truly fine not writing. I have been innovating places, people, stories, worlds, everything and anything really that my brain can possibly conjure up for so long now, I don’t really know how not to do it.

It was only when my extremely insightful father asked me one day, “Why do you write?” that I truly reflected on the reason.

“Why do I write?” I asked myself aloud one day. I mean before all the drama and the hypocritically enamoured materialism set in, why was I writing at six? It wasn’t for the publishers. God knows I never really wrote anything to be read, I just wrote because I had to, because it made me happy, because it kept me sane and safe in a world I still, till this day, often struggle to comprehend.

Screw the publishers, I thought. Kick the literary agents to the kerb, I mentally screamed. I will write because I don’t know how not to. Not for the money, or the elusive and often fallible “fame” associated with compiling a bestseller, but solely because I can’t not write.

When I would open up the dam I had forcefully deployed to block all the creativity within me and commence on my imperfect path to writing heaven, my mind would seriously punish me by not allowing me to sleep for weeks, often months. It was like opening up a realm of wonder, full of untapped imagination that was just waiting impatiently to pounce, rip apart any sort of entrapping realism I was attempting to band aid on.

The reality is it is much more torturous for me not to write than it is to. Sure, the chances of being read by anyone really is meagrely slim, but those few and far between who do, make me so much more grateful. Who knows if I’ll ever be “famous”, but accepting my fate as a writer (successful or not) makes me that much more content to do what I don’t just love to do, but in unbridled reality, have to do.

Last time I checked, breathing isn’t an option, it’s survival and I don’t need the act to be recorded on television or anything. Similarly, writing for me is living.

So, what does writing mean to you? Truly?

MP Sharma

Guest Post: The Wonderful World of YA

Why do I love reading YA books? This is actually a question I get frequently because nearly 95 percent of the books I read are Young Adult books. The other 5 percent are a mixture of Middle Grade and New Adult books, with a dash of whatever my future Mother-in-Law throws my way. I’ve read a variety of other genres but nothing ever felt quite right, like they were lacking something. It’s almost like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

My Start

When I was a freshman in high school I was pretty terrified due to the fact that I had been home schooled all of grade and middle school. When it came to my first week of freshman English we went to the library to pick out our own book to read for the month. I was familiar with my public library a few streets down from my house, but I never really enjoyed what I read. The class period was almost over and I still couldn’t find anything and all the other students had already found their books. My teacher pulled me aside and handed me Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. She pulled me into the small YA section of the library and simply said “I think you’ll like these books…” and gave me a warm smile. I took the book home that night and by the time I was in English the next day I had finished it. I begged my mom to take me to Borders that night and buy the second book in the series, Pretties. They’re still my favorite books to this day!

YA’s Unwarranted Criticism

People bash YA books quite a bit. It’s sad. I think regardless of the quality or genre of book a person is reading, at least they’re reading! Every genre has poorly written books. But there are some amazingly talented authors who write YA that can rival some of the most legendary authors out there. Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, Leigh Bardugo, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas, Alexandra Bracken and the list goes on and on. Many of the books that are being adapted into movies are mostly YA! Divergent is phenomenal and The Hunger Games is spectacular. Then there’s John Green. The Fault in Our Stars. Looking For Alaska. Two adaptations in two years! Panic by Lauren Oliver was optioned for film and she’s writing the screenplay! Whether you’re a young adult yourself or you’re in your 40s, these books offer something for everyone. YA should not be viewed as a “lesser” genre than any other, because that’s just ridiculous.

The Appeal of YA

YA appeals to me for so many reasons. For one, a lot of the explicit language and material is cut out. It’s not necessary and the author just adds more adventure to the story. During this period the characters’ emotions are heightened. Everything is felt so intensely. This is a time in your life when you’re experiencing a lot of firsts. I think how these authors capture all of this, then throw in some crazy plot of the world being separated into factions and fighting each other to the death, is pretty amazing. When I first started reading YA a lot of the stories dealt with issues I was also dealing with, and they became a coping mechanism.

Now I’m a twenty-something, engaged, college student and daycare teacher. I read to escape from the stresses of  daily life, and YA is my primary escape. The books are fast paced and unlike a lot of people (I guess), I don’t want to read five pages about the description of a forest. I read because I enjoy reading, not because I want to give myself a headache. I read YA because I like it. Simple as that. Just like John enjoys reading crime novels. That’s what interests him. YA is what interests me!

Happy Reading!

Aly

ILikeBooksTooMuch

 

Guest Post: The Buddy System

About five months ago, I agreed to edit a short story for a client in California. Her story was a joy to read, and she was a pleasure to work with. Unlike most clients, she and I hit it off on a number of levels, and before I knew it, we were chatting daily over instant messenger.

I’m also part of a Mom-Geek-Writer group on Facebook (don’t judge). I’ve befriended a couple of the women in that group, and we talk regularly as well.

We talk about everything: Life, relationships, our kids, our jobs, the state of the world. But it always circles back to writing. The art. The craft. The hard work and heavy lifting. The self-scrutiny. Our triumphs. Those facepalm moments we wish we had to do over.

Last weekend, as I worked on writing my current chapter, and one of my buddies lamented over editing her recently-finished novel, I realized: Neither of us would have come as far as we have in the short time that we did without each other.

And that’s when it struck me: Writing is better with a buddy.

Buddies Provide Encouragement

We think of writing as a solitary act. We sit in a room like a hermit in his cave, tapping away at a keyboard. And in some aspect of reality, that’s still the case.

But when you reach out and talk to others who understand the act of writing, you find that you’re not alone in your struggles. At one point, one of my buddies asked me, “Did you finish the chapter last night?” In truth, I had not. I’d stalled out. She encouraged me to keep at it. I did. Now we have daily check-ins that are constant reminders that someone out there cares. We value each other’s writing as much as we value our own.

Buddies Challenge Us To Excel

I’ve been writing for twenty-five years. I’ve only given my writing its due in the last year (another topic entirely). But whether I’m focused on writing-as-a-hobby or writing-to-feed-my-family, I’ve always pushed myself in terms of grammar and style.

When a writing buddy commented that she found X-number of occurrences of the word “was” in her manuscript, it prompted me to search my current work in progress. In 22 pages, I have 64 occurrences of was.

Insert passive groan here.

It became a challenge: Write without using was. My buddy and I discussed proper use of passive-voice words. We agreed that in dialogue, the word was is probably inevitable. Otherwise, your characters come off sounding like pretentious snobs. Other than dialogue, there’s almost never any reason to use this horribly lazy word.

And so I wrote. And I’d share. And she’d point out where I had gotten ahead of myself, lazed out, and dropped the W-bomb.

I put down about 8,000 words after our discussion, and then re-read it last night. It surprised me how strong and tight my first draft had become.

Buddies Get The Joke

My husband is my best friend in the universe. I also have a close group of friends nearby. We share many similar interests, but none of them write. When I tell them that my main character woke me up at 3 AM and wouldn’t let me sleep, they look at me like I should probably be committed.

A writing buddy understands.

Writers are an odd lot. We don’t view life through a typical lens. We see plot bunnies scurrying before us, and we chase them down. We daydream out windows and reply off the cuff in ways that make people wonder.

Having writing buddies who not only understand your odd tangents, but continue them and build upon them, is refreshing and energizing.

I saw a bottle of glitter vodka in the store, so I snapped a picture and texted it to a writing buddy with the caption, “Looks like something your main character would drink.” She agreed completely. My buddies and I have exchanged stealth pictures of strangers and we’ve written little stories about them over instant message. We laugh at our own bad grammar when it slips into our manuscripts. We celebrate together when our marketing pages gain followers. No one but another writer truly gets these moments.

Find Your Buddy Today

Finding writing buddies who match your style, interests and genre can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

  • Go to writer’s groups: When you read your work out loud to others, you’ll find the other writers with whom you click.
  • Join online groups: There’s a Facebook group for just about everything now. Sometimes they make you want to run for the hills, but occasionally one of them sticks.
  • Read and comment on blogs: I have writing buddies who I’d never had “met” unless I actively followed and commented on their blogs.

When you find people with whom you click, stay in touch. Reach out to them when you’re stuck. Share your works with each other. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Encourage, enjoy and laugh. Pull each other from your respective writing caves, and find mutual joy in the process of writing.

Shanan Winters

Interpreter of Inspiration

It’s Guest Post Week!

Snapchat--7825948817445979068

I made the image in Snapchat just for you.

Remember a few weeks ago when I asked for guest bloggers to guest post during the week of February 23-27? No? Well I did. And on that day I basically gave any person reading this blog the opportunity to write a post about anything that you would normally find on here. Because let’s be real, y’all are tired of my writing style and topic choice. I know you are even if you’re shaking your head no. And I’m hoping y’all really enjoy this week of different voices and opinions.

So here’s how it’s going to happen. I currently have four posts (I’m expecting the fifth in the coming days) and the posts will be 100% written by the guest bloggers themselves. All I’ve done is read through them to make sure there aren’t any typos. If all goes according to plan, you won’t hear from me until Saturday. And all you have to do is sit back and enjoy these posts written specifically for you.

Last thing, if you enjoy what you read then check out their blogs! Cause you can never follow too many good blogs, right?

Guest bloggers, I definitely encourage you to reply to any comments on your posts. I’ll be checking during the week and if you aren’t replying then you’ll just be discouraging me from doing anything like this again.

See y’all Saturday!

PS: there were a few bloggers who expressed interest in participating this week (or I specifically asked them to) but did not write me a post. So you will for sure not be hearing from A. M. Freeman, Patricia Hamill, Deborah Bowman, or Jess from Like Star Filled Skies. Feel free to block their blogs. I have. Or have I? La La La.

Little Free Libraries Have Come Under Fire

LittleLibrary400x290

On this day in 2014 I published 100 WordPress Followers!.


This is a joke. No other words to describe what’s happening in a few cities across America. But first, let me explain to you what Little Free Libraries are. Usually someone puts them outside their home, but they can be anywhere. They’re small structures full of books. And anyone can walk up and take one out on the premise that they will put one back in. It’s literally a little library. I only know about them because I backed a Kickstarter project for some back in 2013.

Well recently in cities all over America people have decided to complain about the Little Free Library in their area. And local leaders and politicians are not handling these “complaints” with any common sense whatsoever. In Los Angeles and Shrevepoet politicians are ordering for some of these wonderful little libraries to be taken down. Because they violate city codes.

I have nothing against city codes and ordinances because in most cases they serve a valid purpose, but I don’t think anyone writing said codes ever meant for them to be used to take down these Little Free Libraries. This is absurd. I just read story after story of people coming together around their neighborhood Little Free Library. They stop and discuss books they’ve read. They make sure to put quality books back in. They get to know their neighbors for the first time. But most importantly, they’re reading! And some ignorant people want to complain and get these taken down? Come on. Seriously.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with Little Free Libraries, but the people who feel the need to complain about them are doing no one any good at all.

PS: I’ve read about some local lawmakers trying to give Little Free Libraries an exception to city codes. Go them!

Photo Credit: Purewow

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,973 other followers