Tag Archives: confidence

Hella Year

 

thankyou

 


Thank you for being so patient with me!

It’s been hella year for our heroine. Mostly health related and don’t worry, I’m not going to kvetch about details. We also just moved in a hurry after at the last moment being offered a ground floor unit in a nicer apartment complex. Snagged it in a hurry!

I have not been writing. I do plan to do NaNoWriMo, so I need to get started on at least some planning and flash writing to build traction. The NaNo I began last year is in such dire need of revision (as in the first six chapters need to go!), I may use that as my NaNo and write it from word one. There are characters I didn’t develop who would add great texture to a rewrite. No cheating, though. Some plotting/planning and then writing from word one.

I’ve had some interesting ideas for writing lately, but unusually, they’ve just gone up in puffs of smoke when I consider writing. I’m beginning my own storystarters file so I can get hold of them properly. Here’s hoping I have something new to show you soon.

In the meantime, I wish you great words, great fortune, and really shiny worlds!

 

 

Back to Center

Writing the last story I posted, Emptiness, really threw me off center. Such a small thing, a short flash. I didn’t expect the difficulty I faced writing it. I certainly didn’t expect the soul searching which came after.

The title was appropriate to the story, but I think it had more to do with how I felt about it. It took three days to write the rough draft. I dragged my feet because I knew where I was going with it and was horrified to face it, horrified to think I could contemplate it. Self-recrimination and introspection went on for days after. Silly thing to happen, but there it is. I avoided writing, avoided thinking about the whole issue for a while. I think stepping away, even in that manner, helped.

I wrote a flash this morning. I’ll post it on Friday. It’s not one which left me questioning myself. One thing I did learn from this process, though: if … no, when… another dark horror idea comes my way, I’ll write it and take joy in bringing a new story into the world.

Balance is a good thing.

It’s Never Too Late

Getting Your Writing Groove Back

Photo by Mike Vondran

When it comes to writing after time away, it’s never too late to be on time. Take it from someone who took a fifteen year hiatus from writing: getting started again is like coming home and finding your bed made with your favorite linens, freshly washed. It’s been there all along, patiently waiting for you to notice. It doesn’t take a long hiatus for you to lose steam, though.

Routines are important. Did you carve out a specific time for writing? Maybe it’s early mornings or late nights, when the world is quiet and you can hear your muse think. Your lunch hour at the dayjob or time at the coffeehouse each day? Crises of all sizes come up at times, ones which can knock you off your game.

Perhaps you’re so busy with life / work / family, your routine consists of random spare moments when no one is tugging on your sleeve and demanding attention. Writing in that case requires a special sort of commitment. There are naturally going to be days which provide zero spare moments. By the same token, you may need the few available so you can be quiet and sew together the shredded edges of your sanity.

Even if you’ve just been away a few days or a few weeks, getting back into the swing of things can be difficult. I tend to place too high a standard on my return, one I can’t possibly accomplish. I end up walking away, shaking my head in disgust, putting off getting back into my routine even longer. Many of us have ways of sabotaging ourselves. I finally came to recognize this stumbling block and try to go around it. Sometimes it even works.

How do you turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones? I can only tell you what works for me. I start small. Hanging out with other writers on Twitter, that lovely timesuck, puts me in the right mind for writing. Keeping an open doc on my computer so I can track ideas, phrases or bits of dialogue is helpful. They often grow into a blog post (like this one), a flash or – if I’m lucky – a part of the novel I’m writing or revising. Other writers turn to pen and paper or notecards at times like this, finding motivation in seeing the inked lines accumulate.

If necessary, start small with the amount of time you devote, too. Grab what time you can in whatever fashion gives you joy. Small amounts add up. They get the writing body into motion. A body in motion is more likely to stay in motion and all that. Momentum is everything when it comes to writing. Get your motor purring and become the Little Engine That Could, having faith in yourself: I think I can, I think I can. Chugga chugga chug.

Still can’t get started? Remember, writing isn’t just about art. Writing is also a job. That means sometimes you just have to make yourself show up. “Butt in chair,” as they say. Grab a little time, sigh elaborately, roll your eyes. Make your fingers cooperate on the keyboard or pen by writing whatever comes to mind, even if it’s just how useless it is because you can’t think of anything to write. Free write, get it all out there, let it be what starts the ball rolling. Momentum!

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Do something goofy and fun, try something ultra structured instead or just go clear off the reservation and try fingerpainting a scene from your story. Anything which kicks you in the creative butt and gets you going.

Stick to it! You’ll ride your momentum back into a writing routine.

“Never give up! Never surrender!” – Galaxy Quest

This post originally appeared on the #amwriting site.

Embracing My Own Advice

Our heroine has spoken of her NaNo Curse before, dear Reader. Briefly, each time NaNo comes along, something happens to throw me off track. Minor illness, sprained limb, near misses with an ongoing major illness – you get the idea.

This year, the NaNo Curse holds me firmly in its fetid jaws. A desperately bad first week meant huge amounts to make up. Doable? Surely. And so I marched on, chanting like The Little Engine that Could, “I think I can, I think I can.”

Then came the hospitalization and requisite rehabbing.

Do I still think I can? Well, perhaps I *can* and believe me I shall try my best. I’m here to tell you I don’t think I’ll actually make the 50k this year. That’s a hard admission for someone who usually hits it around the 10th of the month, writing 5k per day. Still, things are as they are.

This is a remarkable exercise for me, though. I’m plunked down in my own advice: embrace the SPIRIT of NaNo! The spirit is to Just Write. Write as you can, when you can, and you’ve already won NaNo. The parent who works full-time and still throws into the fray of NaNo has my highest respect, no matter the total at the end. The student who fights against a full-time schedule just to fit writing in? Props to you. The parent who cares for children all day long and while exhausted after sits in front of the glowing screen creating a story? Amazing to me.

So yeah, I’ve had setbacks. Some doozies. But if they can stick with writing, no matter their total at the end, so can I. Here goes!

Forum: The Hook and Pitch

You’ve got a good story. No, a great story. You’ve polished it until it gleams and all your readers have patted you on the back for a job well done. If only it were that easy.

Now comes the shift from creative process to business process. Submissions, synopses, queries, platforms, social media. It can be overwhelming. Our heroine is approaching it inch by inch, trying to make it easier to swallow as a necessity, dear Reader.

Today we’re looking at the combination of hook and pitch, inextricably entwined. Can you boil your story down far enough to pitch it to an agent without losing its voice and individual flavor? Sure you can. It may just take some advice and a lot of practice. Here’s some advice:

Joseph Finder shares his initial experiences with pitching in his newsletter article What’s a Hook? The Art of the Pitch. Informative and engaging, Joe explains why being able to pitch is important for writers. What’s your story about? Your answer shouldn’t be “Um, er, well…”

I like this little article in Fiction City, Lisa Katzenberger‘s blog. The Pitch is about what she’s facing as she prepares for a writing conference. She gives some good advice and some good links as well. Take a look at both.

Gary Smailes of BubbleCow has an article titled How to Pitch Your Book with a Single Email. His style is direct and easy to follow. What’s his secret for a new writer? “Fight dirty.” He shows some ways to do that.

Always a great resource, The Book Deal‘s Alan Rinzler wrote Insider Tips for Preparing and Delivering a Winning Pitch. Absolutely terrific information and advice here. Read this one, bookmark it and use it.

There’s some remarkable advice on the net from people who are on either side of the pitching every day. The trick is in taking it, applying it and believing in both yourself and your book. You can do this. We both can.

Forum: Reach Your Goals

Happy New Year, everyone. May you and yours enjoy a blessed, loving and prosperous year.

So you’ve done it. You’ve decided to set some resolutions or goals for 2010. There are arguments for and against this. Our heroine figures if you’ve come this far and set some goals, dear Reader, you’re either optimistic or used to pounding your head against a wall. Mind you, either can be good. Means you’ve got the stuff to reach out and grab the brass ring in my books. (See what I did there? I crack myself up.)

One of the key elements to reaching your goals is setting them properly. Jennifer Minar wrote an article geared for non-fiction writers that is really just basic goals setting. It’s on WritersBreak.com and is called 5 Steps to Goals Setting.

I found a .pdf I liked very much. It’s called Habits of Effective Writers. Would you believe seven are listed? What are the odds? It goes into good detail, especially regarding the last point: Avoid Common Mistakes. I strongly suggest you take a look at this one, especially the second page that lists so many basic errors writers make.

Now, this article is from a self-esteem site, but if you scroll down you’ll find a handy method for detailing your goals. It’s titled Creative Goal Setting Worksheet. I liked the method, perhaps you will as well.

Another key element to reaching your goals is having the tools available. Information, applications and even support are tools that are helpful in ways you may not recognize at first.

I’ve seen a number of people declare that they will attend a writers conference as one of their goals. Shaw Guides has The Guide to Writers Conferences & Workshops. Failing that, I’ve seen a few people post their locations on Twitter and ask about writers groups that meet. The ones I’ve seen have always gotten replies.

Have you set a wordcount or amount of time per day goal? Bookmark Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die. As Dr. Wicked says, it’s “Putting the Prod in Productivity.” It’s a valuable tool for anyone who’s pushing the clock. Having trouble writing without that inner editor second guessing everything? Use WoD. You won’t have time to listen to it. WoD comes in a site based version, but the desktop edition is very popular and affordable.

Support is important. Even one person can be an accountability partner. Communicate with each other at least once a day about how you’re doing on your goals. Anne Tyler Lord is hosting an online support group geared to the Twitter writing community called #writerlbsOff. The name may mislead, though. They are supporting all writerly type goals and lifestyle changes writers want to make. Check out New Year Resolutions for Writers for all the information.

If you make your goals reasonable and reachable, there’s no reason you can’t get where you want to be. Be sensible, plan ahead and get your tools handy. Pantsing resolutions doesn’t really seem to work out well, in my experience.

What are your goals? You show me yours and I’ll show you mine…

Friday Forum: Confidence

Our heroine asked in Twitter if anyone had a topic to be tackled this week in the Forum, dear Reader. She has a list of topics so long, she was overwhelmed. She got an immediate reply: Self doubt.

Well, you may notice that the title of this week’s Forum is not “Self Doubt.” No, I just went for the opposite, more optimistic, side of the coin: “Confidence.” In my mind, they are merely different aspects of the very same thing. Facets of the same gem, and all that.

No, I’m not turning Pollyanna on you, not about to suggest you turn that frown upside down or some other nauseating thing. (No offense to Pollyannas who are inspire by such.) Self doubt is an important concept and needs to be explored to be understood and overcome sometimes. At that point, bolstering with the concept of Confidence fills that void immediately, helping to avoid backsliding. And so we begin…

Jason A. Myers wrote in his blog about Uncertainty, which I see as an aspect of self-doubt. This is a well-written and personal accounting of how he faces down this demon. Take a look and see if you can relate.

The blog In Search of Dessert has an extensive and thorough exploration of self-doubt and its effects upon a person’s writing. Take some time to read Self Doubt and Writing: Taming the Beast. It’s a good article. Highly recommend it.

Here’s a useful post from Brad’s Reader entitled 5 Ways to Overcome Doubt While Writing! Hard to mistake the thrust of this article. Stuck or not, this is a good overview of the topic and how to get past it. If you’re dealing with it, give the techniques an honest try. If you’re not, file them away. You or a friend may need them some day.

Lee Masterson at Fiction Factor wrote an article called Writing with Confidence. Let’s look at things from a different perspective now. What can happen when you approach this world of writing with a little oomph? You may want to give it a shot and see.

Now here’s a useful one. Dan Goodwin wrote How to Boost Your Creative Writing Confidence: 5 Top Tips You Can Start Using Today to Write with Confidence. It’s a really good look at the self doubt that can make us stumble and, more importantly, the getting back up and moving on that brings us back to center.

Self doubt plagues most, if not all, of us from time to time. It’s how you handle it that makes all the difference. Are you going to wallow in it and let it define you? I prefer to pull myself up by my bootstraps, dust off and keep on going. (Maybe after a tiny wallowing.) Perspective is everything when it comes to the coin that is self doubt on one side, confidence on the other.

Perspective. Use it or lose it. – Richard Bach.