This Writers Life: New Teenage Driver

0c93fcd0e1d1772ad9501c3dd39b4c6cSo, this week I have been a little distracted. Why, may you ask? Well, I spent the week running around getting everything needed so that my daughter could get her drivers license. Which she did, yesterday.

I am both proud and a little scared.

She got her learners permit. She took all the classes online, then took the test online, so all we had to do was go pick up her license. She was excited, I was excited for her. This is a big milestone in a kids life. It’s that first taste of freedom, of being a little grown up and no longer a kid.

I, on the other hand, am scared out of my mind. Now, don’t get me wrong, she so far has been a decent driver. While I am worried about her, as she is a brand new driver with no real experience, I am more worried about everyone else on the road.

Where we live, as I’m sure every where else, no one seems to know how to use their blinkers, no one is paying attention, if they need to turn they do so at the last possible second slamming on their brakes to do it. It scares me behind the wheel, I can only imagine what will happen with her.

On a different note though, and I know every parent feels this way and says this and it’s a little cliche, I don’t feel like I’m old enough to be here yet. I’m really not sure how this all got here so dang fast. Is she really old enough to be driving?

I remember a moment, when she was maybe two, if even two. She used to go on walks with her ‘Tapah’ (cause she couldn’t say grandpa yet and the name stuck this whole time). He would put her in her stroller, put the leash on Buddy, and they would head out the door. She loved it.

Well, one time she saw him put the leash on Buddy, but he hadn’t put her in her stroller. She ran to her stroller and started freaking out. It was put up against the wall with a chair in front of it. She couldn’t get it out. She was pulling on it, and crying, and looking back and forth between the stroller and the door. She thought her tapah was leaving her behind. It was sad and funny at the same time.

Now, he did end up taking her that day, but the point of that story is that I remember it like it was yesterday. Like it just happened. But here we are and she is getting her drivers license.

I know that when I was younger my mother used to tell me to cherish everything, because time moves so fast. “In the blink of an eye you’ll turn around and she will be heading off to college.” Oh how true those words are. It feels like all I did was blink.

I know, cliche. But it turns out, it’s very true.

So here is to all you parents, who have watched your kids grow, awed at their triumphs, cried for their pain, and just couldn’t believe how fast time was moving. And to you parents who may just be starting out, it will go by in the blink of an eye.

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Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 tips when finding a Critique Partner

wednesday-writing-tips-critpart

So as writers, we always hear “Find a Critique Partner.” Though, when you hear that, it tends to not go hand in hand with what to look for in one, and what a good one is. As a writer we know these are important, and if you are just starting out, you may not have any idea of what to look for exactly.

So here are 5 things to look for and consider when trying to find a critique partner.

  1. Someone at about or above your writing level.

Let me expand on that. You need to find someone that is at or above your writing level. As with anything, this is how you improve. Once you are comfortable with your writing, then yes, take on a critique partner who may be a little behind you, and mentor them. But when you are just starting out, you want to find someone that is able to help you move forward in your abilities.

 

  1. Someone who has experience with critiquing.

You want to find someone who has experience critiquing. The reason is you want them to have that eye. Read like a critique-r (I made up a word, oops), not just a reader. They should be looking at sentence structure, pacing, grammatical errors, spelling errors, plot holes, etc. Someone who may not be experienced in critiquing may not be looking for these things. So make sure you find someone with experience.

 

  1. Someone who is familiar with the genre you’re writing in.

You want to find someone who is familiar with the genre you’re writing in because each genre has its own rules to follow. Bah, rules, I know. But it’s true. Each genre has some very specific readers. They are used to the pacing, the plot points, and can pick up on when something is amiss. Someone familiar with your genre will know these things, and will look for them, both consciously and subconsciously.

 

  1. Someone who is willing to give you more than “This was good” for a critique.

Critiques are important. They help us grow in our craft. So you need to find someone who is willing to give you more than a few words in critique. “This was good” doesn’t help you grow. But say, “This line here flowed a little awkwardly, I think it could sound better if…” and so on. You want someone who can comment on the flow of the manuscript, and make suggestions when they say something isn’t working.

 

  1. Finally, pass it on.

Don’t go into a critiquing situation not expecting to critique in return. That is selfish. There is a reason they call it Partners. Swap chapter for chapter or a few chapters at a time, whatever works for the two of you. And give a critique that you would like to get in return. This is just good sense.

Also by pass it on, offer to be a critique partner to someone just starting out. We all start somewhere, we all need that one person to step in and say “Hey, I’ll help” whether we want to admit it or not. Trust me, I am the queen of not asking for help.

 

So there you have it. 5 things to look for when looking for a critique partner.  Do you have anything to add to it? I would love to hear it!

Monday Motivation & Humor

Good Monday Morning!

Boy am I glad to be back to my regular schedule. I’m so used to my routine, that the fact that last week threw me off was stressing me out.

I hope that everyone had a great weekend and is looking forward to the week ahead.

Here are the funny and sometimes motivational images I found over the weekend.

This Writers Life: Pushing Forward

keep_moving_forward11I know on Fridays I tend to talk about what’s going on in my life on a personal level, but today I want to talk about what’s going on in my life on a professional level. I want to talk about pushing forward.

If you have been reading through my blog, you know currently I am working on world building for my new WIP. You also know that I have fallen down the rabbit hole of research. So much so that my original story idea changed to fit the world I was creating. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The problem I am finding though, is that as I am building, as my story is changing, it is starting to sound more and more like another published novel. This, of course, scared me. While a lot of writers take inspiration from everywhere, things around them, shows they watch, stories they read, we have to be careful that we don’t get too close to that line. That line of where we are clearly following that other inspiration source.

Was this my intention? No, not at all. But, now that I have noticed it, I can adjust. It does sadden me however. I was really growing attached to this world, the characters, and the story that was forming. But, I can’t, won’t, allow myself to tow that line so close that I might tip over it.

As writers, this is usually something subconscious that happens to us. A story that we read years ago, that we don’t even know we remember, is suddenly staring at us on the screen. We let details, or traits, or settings slip in from that story. If you recognize it, you have a chance to change it so that you are not looking at the same story.

Thankfully, I have only started the outline phase. That’s where I noticed some of the plots were eerily similar. So I have plenty of time to make adjustments so that it’s not the same, it’s something new, and mine. So that’s what I will be working on. Making the needed changes so it is not the same story, making it mine, making it new.

If you find some plot lines, or scenes, that are strikingly similar to another story, don’t fret. Make the changes needed to differentiate your story, to make it yours, and to keep pushing forward.

This Writers Life: About Bravery

BraveSo today, I want to talk about bravery. As writers, as people, as humans we sometimes shy away from doing something we want to because of fear. We fear how we think we may do, we fear what others may think of us, we fear failure.

This week, I witnessed bravery in the face of something that would have terrified me. And I witnessed this from a teenager.

Now, I have said before, that I believe teenage girls to be the cruelest animal on the planet, and I stick by that. But, setting that aside, I witnessed my daughter look that fear in the eye and… shrug.

This week my daughter tried out for the High School Volleyball Team. Why did this simple act put me in awe of her? Because she has never played volleyball in her life. Aside from the few times in gym class, which of course does not go over the rules or positions. So she really had no experience in this sport.

Given that, she had really enjoyed playing in her gym class, and was set on trying out. My stomach was in knots for her, but of course I supported and encouraged her. She wanted to do this thing, where the odds were greatly stacked against her. Trying out with a bunch of girls who had far more experience, far more skill, and she still went for it.

I took her on the first day of tryouts, and I watched her shoulders square, her chin lift, and walk into that gym with her head held high. In that moment I stood in awe. So proud that she was trying, so proud that no matter how nervous she was, she didn’t show it, so proud that she didn’t let the fear stop her.

Now tryouts are over, and this isn’t a story, this isn’t fiction, and my heart broke for her when she told me she was cut and didn’t make it. However, she still said, after telling me she didn’t make it, she wants to practice, and she wants to go to the summer volleyball camp over the next summer so that when she tries out again next year, she will make it.

She faced the fear, the insurmountable odds stacked against her, and faced it with bravery. And though she didn’t accomplish her goal at this time, she isn’t lettting it stop her. In fact, she is more determined than she was before tryouts. To improve, to make it next year.

Sometimes in life, we allow these things, these fears of failure and doubt, to tell us we’re not good enough and we don’t try. We aren’t brave. I was reminded this week why we shouldn’t let that stop us. And I was reminded by my teenage daughter.

And though she didn’t make it, and though my heart still hurts for her, I couldn’t be more proud of her. For the way she handled herself, for the way she faced something that most adults would have shied away from, for the way she didn’t let this one obstacle stop her in her tracks. That she became more determined. And proud, that she taught me something.

So, to my daughter, one of the bravest people I know.

Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 tips to overcome self-doubt

Wednesday Writing Tips overcoming self doubtThere is no doubt, that no matter where you are on your writing journey, you have faced self-doubt. That you probably still feel it. Whether each time you sit down you feel it like a shadow creeping in on you, or after you find yourself published you wonder if it was a fluke.

Every writer has self-doubt. Because writers, as a group, want what we write to be amazing, to be perfect. It’s why sometimes we find ourselves in a circle of revisions, always feeling it could be better.

Writers demand a lot of their writing, because readers demand a lot from what they choose to read. This can cause a crippling effect for the writer. Always thinking of how their writing will be received, the comments they will get, the feedback, and most of the time our minds always wander to the worst case scenario.

If you feel this way, know that you are not alone. This is a completely normal feeling that most, if not all, writers have. I know I do. So here are 5 tips to help you overcome self-doubt about your writing.

  1. Write. 

No, seriously. If self-doubt creeps in, write. Write through it. Don’t think about what you’re writing, just write. Write a novel, a short story, a poem. Just write. When you work through your doubt, when you keep forging ahead, by the time you finish you will feel so overwhelmingly relieved that you finished, that self-doubt you had about writing will wash away.

  1. Ignore the negative people.

I know, I know that it’s hard. It hurts when we get particularly hard criticism. As writers we know we need to have a thick skin, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel. In fact, I have found through other writers, that we feel a little too much some times. These can cause self-doubt to creep in again.

When this happens, remind yourself, you’re writing for you. This is your story. You’re not writing to make friends; you’re writing because this is unequivocally what you want to do.

Take every review, every comment, every critique with a grain of salt. You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Some people, no matter if you are the second coming of Hemingway is going to hate what you wrote. Some people are just going to hate it. And that’s ok. If you can please yourself, if you can tell the story you want to tell, and you are happy with what’s on the page, that is what matters.

Keep this in mind, it does not matter how many and who hated what you wrote, what matters are those that loved it.

  1. Talk to other writers.

Yes, this can be a huge help. When you are facing self-doubt, instead of wallowing in it, talk to other writers. Every writer, everywhere, has dealt with it at one point or another. When you can talk with others that have been exactly where you are, they could offer insight, guidance, and advice on how to move past it.

Knowing that you are not alone, that this is a normal feeling, a rite of passage if you will, can help you greatly when that monster of self-doubt is lurking in the shadows.

  1. Get inspired.

Yes, when writing there is no muse sitting there whispering in your ear making everything you write gold. If you are waiting for inspiration to hit you before you start, you may be waiting a very long time. But you can inspire yourself.

Go outside, people watch, imagine what their lives are like.

Read, read widely. Every genre. Get inspired by other writers. Their words, their stories. By no means am I saying to use their stories for yours, but use them as inspiration. To fuel your imagination.

Daydream. Daydream about what it would be like to win the lottery, if a dragon came crashing down on your house right now, if the zombie apocalypse were to happen right this second.

Your imagination is a muscle like anything else. You need to work that muscle to keep it flowing. Use it, and let the inspiration flow through you, to fuel your writing.

  1. Accept the fact that sometimes, sometimes you will just fail.

Failure is a part of life. It’s our failures and how we handle them that we grow. It helps to mold you, it teaches you, and you learn from them. It’s also our failures where the self-doubt stems from.

I have found that I have learned more from my failures, than from my successes. While yes, of course I love the successes more than the failures, but the failures I am grateful for. It’s the failures that stay with me. It’s the failures that I will analyze. The failures that I will pour over to learn from. To find out what I did wrong and to determine what I could have done differently, so I don’t make that same mistake.

So don’t let any past failures hold you back. If you started 50 novels, but never finished, analyze why. Learn from it, and try again. If you finished that novel, but always failed to edit it, find out why. Learn from it, and grow. If you finished a story, and you just hate it, and so do your critique partners and beta readers, figure out why. Where you not in love with it when you were writing, did you not do enough research, are your characters flat and 1 dimensional? Find out, and fix it.

Failures are just another step on the journey. You have so much more to gain from your failures than from your successes. Take a step back, realize what you messed up on, and fix it.

So there you have it, 5 tips to overcoming self-doubt in your writing. Now obviously, there are so many more things that you can do. Do you have any to add to this list? I would love to hear them!

Monday Motivation & Humor

Oh Good Monday Morning everyone!

I hope that everyone had a fantastic weekend and are up and ready for the week ahead, bright eyed and roaring to go.

I don’t have a lot to say this morning, so I will just right in with our funny and sometimes motivational reading and writing memes.