Coming Soon!

I am very excited to announce a new feature on my blog: The Author Interview. Beginning June 15th, I will be interviewing authors from every genre of writing to get insights into their writing experiences and sharing them with you.

If you are a writer and would like to participate please contact me and we will chat.

Please check back on June 15th!

 

Happy Writing

Today I sat at my keyboard trying to decide what to write. I reached deep into my creative mind and I looked straight into a pure blank wall that reached far beyond my peripheral vision. I actually have been looking at this wall for days now and today I came to the conclusion that I am really tired of looking at it, but I had no idea how to get it knocked out of the way. What was this thing anyway? Why can’t I pull even a simple sentence out of my head?

I sat at my desk a good portion of the morning wondering what the heck was wrong with me. As I have shared with all of you before I am REALLY good at procrastinating and a talent for finding things to do other than writing. This huge grey wall is the problem. It is a wall that quietly sits at the tip of my nose and is expansive. The grey is the color of a day that is cold, dull, cloudy, and not quite snowing. You know those days. There are no leaves on the trees and the grass is brown and, if you live in the burbs, all of the houses are tan. This is my wall. It covers the whole of my mind.

After plowing through an entire bag of M&M Peanuts I had a break through…..I built this ugly gray wall in response to frustrations I have been facing in my writing. Enough is enough. I needed some help so I reached out to my wonderful writing friends at Delve Writers and posted this:

Some advice please….
Whenever I “finish” writing something I don’t really like it and it makes for motivational problems to write something more. I am in a constant state of frustration and this leads to not writing. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this issue….if you too have this problem what do you do to move past it?

I want to emphasis that I know I’m not alone in being stuck like this and I am sure there are a vast number of writers (if not all) that are in a constant state of frustration at some level or another. There were many responses to my post with many words of wisdom, but there were two links in particular that really rung true for me.

Ira Glass on Storytelling is a quick video giving advice to anyone who is embarking on a creative future. This particular piece struck a cord for me in that I need to be reminded, on a daily basis, that I’m at the beginning. I know what is good and what sounds good in a story and right now I hear a lot of bad coming from my creations so I have to keep plugging away to get to that point if being good.

“Why Writers are Procrastinators” is a fun piece by Mary McArdle that describes me to a tee. At times I feel like I am the Queen of Procrastinators and it is great to finally know why. I want to be at the end of the creative race without doing all the training and I figure that if I sit around long enough I will magically get there. HA!

Tonight I sit at my keyboard with a happy set of fingers itching to get back to it. If you are anything like me then take my advice….don’t sit staring at a blank wall. Not only is it boring, but it really doesn’t do much to get the creative flow going. If you don’t already, find a group of amazingly talented writers to share your burdens and successes with. There is no one else that will really get it like another writer. If all else fails, paint that wall a different color. Yellow might be a good color to start with then add some green, blue, and just a hint of red to give the scene some tension.

28 Days of Writing

Many of my friends (who are gluttons for punishment) participated in NaNoWriMo back in November (that’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you who are smart enough not to be writers). I, as smart a person as I am (and not smart enough to not be a writer), chose not to participate. November has to be the absolute worst month of the year (right after December) for me to write anything. So, I watched from the sidelines as all of those crazy writers pounded out 50,000+ words in the course of a single month. This number is another reason I chose to sit on the sidelines. To achieve the unachievable mark of 50,000+ words I would have had to have written at least one thousand six hundred and sixty six words per day from the first day of the month to the last. I’m lucky to get one thousand one hundred and two words whipped out on a frenzied day of writing. Therefore, I watched everyone else write.

I did feel a little left out of the whole madness like when Alice fell down the rabbit hole and everyone else was left behind. She had all the fun of shrinking and growing going to tea and keeping company with smiling cats while everyone else sat by and watched. What’s the fun in that? Recently I got a email from someone inviting me to a 28 day writing spree where participants sign up to win amazing prizes ranging from a huge “Atta boy!” to priceless webpage badges that can be proudly displayed with all of the other amazing writing awards. This I might be able to do, I thought to myself, until I opened the page and read the fine print. I would have to write a blog post everyday so that by the end of the month I would have 28 blog posts (29 if it were a Leap Year, but alas it is not so we are stuck with a mere 28). Folks, I’m a realist and I know my limitations, and there is no way under the sun, clouds, moon, or forecasted snow that I will get a blog post done 28 days in a row.

With my head hanging low I left that website and promptly forgot about it until yesterday, and when I thought about that webpage again I realized that it was the first day of the shortest month of the year that only lasts 28 days. In my usual state of elderly forgetfulness I couldn’t locate the email, the website, nor remember what the 28 Days of Writing was really called so in a rush to make myself feel just a tiny bit better I made one up. It is called (can you guess?) 28 Days of Writing and it is filled with only one requirement and one reward.

First, and most important, I must write each and every day of the month. It doesn’t matter if 5 words are written on Facebook or 20,000 in any one of the novels or short stories that I have in the pipeline. I just have to write every single day during the month of February. The reward? Well, this is the best part and, of course, my favorite. After all why do all of this work over the course of 28 days (remember 29 in a Leap Year) without some kind of reward? So, after much thought, pondering, and pacing around in a quick circle I decided not to decide what the reward will be other than it will be something fabulously custom designed.

“What?” you say, “What if I want to play your game too? If I can’t have a reward why should I play?”

My dear reader, I can only say in reply, “I hope you do play my little game. You will have a reward and it will be like nothing you have ever experienced in any contest you have ever entered.”

Your reward is whatever you want it to be. Give yourself a massage, a cup of hot chocolate, a steak dinner, or even a million dollars. Just spend 28 days writing and dreaming about what it is you are going to give yourself at the end. Will it be a new car, a new snow shovel, or a new pair of gloves? Consider a cigar, a top hat, or new shoes. Anything you want is the reward to you. No cheating on the fun. At the end of each day ask yourself, “Have I written today?” and if the answer is a “Yes!” then give yourself a gold star for the day.  When February 28th comes to an end take a look at your calendar and when you see each and every day shining with a golden star you will know that you have accomplished something that few can say they have, “I have written for 28 straight days, and I deserve something for that.” Then, on the very first day of March be sure to give yourself that “pat on your back” and place a golden star on your own shining reward. WELL DONE!

It’s 2014! CRIPES!

Has your writing ever come to a screeching halt and froze at a point just before impact? Days follow that turn into weeks and soon, not only has a month gone by, but you are into the next year already. Cripes! A new year already? What to do? You have already circled your desk 60 times and opened your laptop 12. Your masterpiece lays in darkness, waiting to come back out and see the light. Your mind has been occupied by an evil entity forcing you away from your desk to do any, and all, of those wonderful things that lurk around the house. The dishes are piled in the sink, the mounds of laundry are rolling out the door, the vacuum is collecting dust which is curling into dust bunnies, and the teetering piles of paper must be put away immediately. Oh, and let’s not forget the dreaded bathroom! Hey, any excuse to keep the writing at bay.

Does any of this sound familiar? Call it writer’s block, call it procrastination, or call it “I don’t want to write today so I’m going to do all the dreaded things I have been avoiding since my last writing binge.” Charles Bukowski said it well:

“writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems

I recently recovered from this dreaded phenomenon that afflicts most writers (and to those who have never suffered from it….I hate you!). I’m here to tell you that there is no cure but time and a few nudges (ok, they were full on slug fests) from good friends and fellow writers. I was running full steam toward the end of 2013 and pounded out some amazing scenes in two novels that I had been working on. Then the holidays hit right along with some pretty awesome excuses to put off writing. After all, how could I sit down to focus on writing when the dogs needed special ribbons to reflect the joy of the season?

Depression quickly set in as I stared at the computer. NOTHING! I cursed the curser (yep, I just wrote that….get over it). I sat at my computer at the beginning of January and started this tirade and now it is the end of the month and I think I can actually finish it and move on. I quit compulsively cleaning and decided it was high time to just spit some words out.

As I slop out this last paragraph I am feeling refreshed. The words are slowly coming back and the gloom of winters deep freeze seems to be thawing a bit. I like the feeling of my butt in the chair and the sound of the keyboard. The block from the holidays has finally released its grip and I am ready to go. I can only hope that at the end of 2014 I don’t find myself in this same situation and having to say, “CRIPES! It’s 2015 already!?”