The Solitary or not so Solitary Life

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So if you were like me growing up, you thought that writers hid themselves away, toiling over their work. Agonizing over every word, sentence, and punctuation. They locked themselves away from all forms of life to finish the next great novel.

Well, part of that is true, I have found.

The parts where you drive yourself crazy over a word choice. Pull your hair out over sentence structure. Work for hours on end when the muse has you in her clutches.

What I found not to be true? The hiding away part. At least, for me.

I need that interaction. That contact.

I need to see facial expressions, hear voices (that are actually talking to me and not just my characters in my head), converse, laugh, have fun. Without it, I don’t seem to have any inspiration.

I had always believed when I was younger that the life of an author was a solitary one. While I do spend many hours on my own, in my office, writing away, I am not actually alone.

There is always someone in my house. Whether it’s my kids, or my husband. Someone is talking, someone is laughing, someone is running through the house.

They say that to be a good writer, you should write what you know. Well, how are you supposed to write great dialogue if you don’t hear it? How are you supposed to describe body language if you don’t see it? How are you… well, you get the idea.

For me, hiding in my office for days at a time has hindered my inspiration. I find myself struggling with scenes, characters, their interactions. I have to get out. Go into the world. If it’s to people watch at the Arts Market, or just go swimming with my kids. I need that to keep writing.

So don’t think that in order to write you have to lock yourself away and hide from the world. Go out. Gain experiences. Live life. And then, come back and write about it.

Writing Struggles

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Photo Credit: Louis Allen

I cannot tell you how many times I have let that voice inside my head get to me. Every writer knows it. The one that while you’re in the middle of your WIP says “This is crap.”

Do you listen to that voice?

I have, before. I have worked on, deleted, trashed, thrown away, and shredded so many started novels that I lost count. I’ve finished some too, though.

But there is always that voice, that one that says it’s not good enough, that it could be better, that this isn’t the story you should be working on. That voice is a liar. Don’t listen to it.

While yes, during your first draft, it may be crap. It probably is crap. The first draft is to get the story down, on paper (or computer) and out of your head. Then comes revisions. Make it not crap.

You have to get through this voice. All writers hear it, even the greats. No one can sit down and write a publish ready first draft, no one. If you can, you’re a unicorn and I want to be your friend.

You see, you’re not alone. While you’re sitting there, staring at your blank screen, or your blank page. While you’re reading over the chapters you just wrote. While you’re reading the critiques you’re getting back. We all have that sliver of doubt that enters our minds. It’s normal. It’s how you push through this fear and doubt that matters.

Don’t give up. Don’t assume because your first draft isn’t what you expected that you’re not a good writer. Don’t doubt something that pulls you back to it, no matter how long of a break you take, it’s your passion.

This is only one of the struggles writers face. Every. Day. Every time they sit down to write or edit. I have made a name for that voice. I call him Edgar. Yes, the voice in my head is a guy, I’m not sure what that means.

I imagine him sitting in my office at home while I’m writing at the other desk. He is across from me in the other desk chair, his fingers laced together and clasped in his lap. As I look over to him he gives me mischievous grin as he prepares to speak, yet his three feet stature and pudgy face makes me giggle. When he starts his negative talk, as he always does, I threaten to punt him across the room. That tends to shut him up for a while.

Who knows, I kind of like Edgar, even with his negativity. He pushes me past my comfort zone in my need to prove him wrong. He may end up in a story one day.

You don’t have to give that voice a name, or a physical embodiment, like I did. But do what you need to do to no longer listen to that voice anymore.

Now it’s your turn. What do you do when you hear that doubt creeping into your head?

5 top sites for writers

So today I wanted to talk about my favorite websites that I visit for writing information, tips, answers, and generally just everything writing related.

There are so many sites out there. Seriously, google it. But I want to give you my top 5. The ones I go to the most, and the ones that have helped me grow as a writer and a CP.

So here we go:

  1. Scribophile.com – This one is more of a community and a forum. Writers get together, share their work, get critiques, join groups. And they are very active. I’m in about I think, 7 groups now. You need karma points to be able to post your work and get critiques. You earn those points by reading and critiquing other members work. You are exposed to so many different writing styles, and types of people, it can really open your eyes. At least I know it did for me.
  2. jamigold.com – If you’re a plotter, like me, this site offers so many beat sheets and resources for writers. All of which are downloadable in excel format. They do all the math for you, and if you’re not a fan of math, this can be incredibly helpful. Also if you’re still learning structure, the numerous beat sheets they have will show you all different structure styles. I highly recommend it.
  3. Writability – Ava Jae is the Author of Beyond the Red. Her blog is hilarious as much as it is informative. She shares tips on writing, editing, revising, etc. She also runs contests to win a chance for her to critique your first 250 words, and all the critiques I’ve seen her do are incredibly helpful. She been blogging for years, so you probably won’t get to read all of her posts (I’m still trying) but read as much as you can.
  4. The Creative Penn – Joanna Penn is Author of multiple Fiction books, as well as Non-Fiction books on writing craft. Her blog has been so helpful to me over the years. Just about every question I have had, I have been able to find multiple answers to on her blog. Seriously, if you haven’t checked her out yet (And if you’re a writer, I’m not sure how you wouldn’t have heard of her) go do it. Now. Really. I’ll wait.
  5. Jane Friedman – Jane is a former publisher and gives all kinds of advice to writers. She has classes, books, resources. All of it, invaluable. Hers was one of the first sites I found when I typed in a writing question years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

So there you go. The top 5 websites I visit for writing purposes. I’m not kidding when I say they have all helped me in one way or another, and I don’t think I would even be the writer I am today without their helpful posts and communities. So if you’re serious about being a writer and getting published, these sites should be on your list too!

So what’s on your list? What are some of the top sites you visit for help when it comes to writing, editing, revising?

Top 3 issues you might face when returning to Writing

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So starting a blog is the easy part. But figuring out what to write about, yeah, not so much on the easy scale.

I have been racking my brain on what in the world I could share after my first post, and then it hit me. I could talk about what it’s like and the feelings of jumping back in after not writing for a while.

So here we go, my experience thus far:

  1. Fear: Yep, fear. Afraid I couldn’t write anymore. Afraid the imagination I once had and all ideas would be gone. Afraid that anything that I managed to get out would be chock for of garbage.

Well guess what, it’s not that bad. Honestly. I think I was in my head too much which kept me from starting sooner. If your currently afraid to start working on that story you’ve had in your head, just sit down and do it. Push that negative voice aside and just start typing, or writing, or lyrical dance it out, just get it out. The fear will go away as you continue.

Yeah, sure, my first draft may be complete sh**, but that’s what revisions are for. The first draft is for me, and you too. Just get it out and on paper.

Even if your first sentence is: I have no idea what I’m doing everything sucks I have no ideas this idea isn’t good enough maybe I should just stop now but if I stop now I will never finish this thing and I really want to finish this I really want to write this and I will write this I can do this and here we go.

And so on.

Once you start writing, and you get into a rhythm, you will find that fear slowly goes away. At least it did for me. Now, what happens after the fear?

  1. Excitement: Excitement over writing. Excitement for the story and the characters you’re working on. Excitement for the idea that THIS. MAY. BE. THE. ONE. And excitement to see what others think. But slow down, are you even done with it yet? How many chapters do you have? It’s not ready for other peoples eyes yet.

After excitement comes…. Bum bum buuuum….

  1. Procrastination: Yep, you’ve reached the middle. And you’re bored. You’re sick of your story and you’re wondering why you even started it when that new shiny story over there is begging to be written. So what do you do? Well, I’ve found myself stumbling here more and more often. I wind up at places like Pinterest and Facebook, and now here. But you have to push through this. You have to keep going. Finish that story. As you get closer to the end, the excitement comes back.

You’ve Finished! YAY! Now what? You revise. And Revise, and revise some more. Oh what, you thought you were done? Nope, revise again. Polish that story until it shines like a silver dollar.

Now you’re ready for others to see it. Now you’re ready to start querying. If that’s the route you’re going. Now you have a fully completed, polished story and you have successfully finished writing a book. Congratulations!

Seriously, that’s hard work. That’s awesome. Go have a drink. Reward yourself.

Welcome!

Hi, and Welcome! To what is my very first blog post. Thank you for stopping by. My plan when I first decided to start this was to just document my journey through writing and (hopefully) getting published. But then I thought, maybe I could help other young writers along their journey as well. So here we are.

I plan on sharing my ups, my downs, my bumps in the road, and a few pieces of writing advice I’ve picked up along the way. If I can help anyone, like I’ve been helped, I want to do it.

I want to first say, I am no expert on writing, by any stretch of the imagination. No where near it. But I’m learning every day. I know that I have been writing short stories, novels, and poems since probably 3rd grade. So I know a little something.

I am also, not currently published or agented. Though one day I certainly hope to be. Though throughout the years my writing was always just that, for me, it’s something I have never been able to shake.

I once thought along the way I wanted to be a journalist, because, writing. But the facts and not writing what I wanted really got me down. Boo. So I shifted, and thought maybe I could just be satisfied with writing and no one ever seeing it. But…. That was not what I wanted.

I’m going to be honest here, I know a lot of people, and other writers will say, write for you first and never expect to be published or anyone to ever see it. And that’s fine and good if they believe that to be true for themselves. But that’s not me. I have always, always, always wanted to be able to walk into a bookstore and find a book with my name as the Author.

Will that be easy? No, no way, no bueno.

I know it will be hard, and I know it may or may not happen. I know that there are writers out there who have been writing for years and have never gotten an agent or a publishing contract. But I’m not going to let that discourage me, and you shouldn’t either.

While writing for just yourself is noble and could help you keep your sanity, at least be honest with yourself. Me, I am writing to be published.

(Please hold off on the name calling and tomato throwing, seriously)

I’m writing to be published, and ideally, I would like it to be traditionally. I do not care if it takes me 1, 10, or 50 years. That is my goal. I will write, every day, and revise, and critique, and get critiques, and beta readers, and polish, and query. Until all avenues of traditional publishing are shut to me. (Really hoping that doesn’t happen.)

So if you’re like me, and you have that end goal in mind, welcome to the club! We can take this road together.