Rain on Your Writing?

It wasn’t too long ago that my life made an unexpected left turn, the wrong way, down a one way street. It started a few years ago and, today, there are vestiges of life’s crap still creeping around in the background. I won’t go into the grim details here, but trust me when I say, “It really, really, really sucked.” Life was dumping a torrential downpour on me, and my writing.

Shortly before everything went off track, I had started to write seriously. My mind was filled with stories that needed to be told. I went to writer’s conferences to learn the nuts and bolts of the writing business, and, furiously, I got to work. Then the sky opened up. I was sent awash down an overflowing river without a paddle (and I fell out of the boat a few times too).

What is a writer to do when they get hit by life’s “little” floods? How do you drag yourself through the quagmire to get back into writing? My biggest suggestion; don’t stop in the first place. Unless you are comatose, there isn’t a reason not to write. At some point my creative juices shriveled up into a grey clump of rotten raisins. I couldn’t think a thought that ran in a straight line. They jumped from one anxiety attack to another. Writing? HA! Sometimes I could only write a paragraph. Sometimes just a few stray thoughts. No matter what, I wrote something.

If you are trying to navigate through one of your life’s rainstorms here are a few suggestions to keep going:

  • Write as much as you can manage.
  • Attend your critique group whether you have written anything or not.
  • Stay in touch with your writing friends (and friends at large).
  • Attend writer’s conferences – (I’ll be at, PPWC2018, and RMFW2018 – I hope to teach a class at the latter of the two).
  • Write about your struggles. It is cheaper than a therapist! *grins*
  • Visit your therapist – they are amazing.

DON’T QUIT! There will be days that you sit at your computer and think, “I’m a fraud! I can’t do this! I quit!” After a brief pity party, get back at it, one word at a time. The flood waters will recede. You will once again be on a safe shore to write how you were meant to; BEAUTIFULLY.

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This post is inspired by Insecure Writer’s Group’s April 4th question: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

The awesome co-hosts for the April 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim,Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

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The YA Emotional Rollercoaster

Life is a rollercoaster. From youth forward, there is a steady climb to the day we are freed from home and set out on our own. We scream down that first hill into the ups, downs, twists and turns of life. No matter how terrified we are, we can never get off the ride until it is over.

The Emotional Rollercoaster: Plotting the Young Adult Novel was the premise behind a workshop I recently attended at Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Lit Fest, presented by author Wendy Wunder. Following the graphic below, we discussed the main turning points in the YA novel. The early pages set the stage for our protagonist. It is the who, what, where, why, and when of their situation. Then, in an instant, they make a life altering decision (the inciting incident) that sends them on the ride of their lives filled with heart pounding highs and gut wrenching lows. There are two main high points for the protagonist that are followed by the floor dropping lows, and at the end our protagonist has finally learned something or grown in some way.

Emotional Rollercoaster by Wendy Wunder, handwritten notes added by K.J. Scrim.

When you are writing your next novel (or the one you are working on now) take a look at your protagonist. Do they have the highs that touch the sky and the lows that slam to the ground? Your readers have been waiting in line for a long time for this rollercoaster and they want to feel the twists and turns that you put your characters through. They want to feel the wind as your protagonist flies over the highs and dives down into the lows. Are you taking your readers on an Emotional Rollercoaster? Young adults don’t hang out in the kiddie park anymore; this is the monster rollercoaster so give them the ride of a lifetime!

 

~~~When not spending time with her family, Wendy Wunder teaches yoga around Boston and writing at Grub Street.  Her first story was published in The Gettysburg Review, and is the author of The Probability of Miracles and The Museum of Intangible Things. 

PPWC 2014

Over the weekend I was treated to an amazing four days surrounded by writers. For the first time, I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) and I don’t think I have learned so much since I was in college. Let me share with you just a few of the highlights, but before I do, did I mention that I was surrounded by writers? Oh, and editors, and agents, and more writers. There were even writers who have books. Yes, plural….BOOKS that are actually published and available on Amazon (or a bookstore near you). I was in writer’s heaven.

I sat in on workshops taught by authors like Becky Clark, Kris Tualla, Linda Rohrbough, Brandy Vallance, Chuck Wedig, Cindi Myers, Jim Hines, and Carol Berg. I was given an opportunity to read a first page of my historical fiction to Beth Phelan (The Bent Agency) who had some great feedback for me. I had lunch with a detective, and dinner with an agent, and after every meal I was back at it again. WHEW!!

The workshops were all amazing. I could take each one and share all the details with you, but that would actually take an entire book and I really only have the space for a blog. So, let me just give you some of the tips (in the form of a bulleted list) that stood out for me.

  • Self-editing is, and must be, painful. Take yourself into “editing triage” and rip that first draft down to your best writing.
  • Do your research when it comes to indie publishing. There are a ton of options to publish that famous novel so check out all the available avenues.
  • Make a good marketing plan. You are your own product (I should say your book is your product) and it needs to be sold. A marketing plan will make that happen.
  • Know your genre. If you have written a horror romance novel, be sure you publicize it as such. Your readers will be upset if they think they have a romance novel when it is more a murder mystery with a bit of romance in it.
  • Create memorable characters that come to life off the pages. Think of them as people who live beyond your book. Who are they? What do they like? What is their favorite color?
  • Your first draft will be crappy and that is a good thing. NO ONE writes beautiful prose right out of the starting gate (well, I should never say no one but you know what I mean). Get your story on paper by any means. Don’t do any research during the first draft. Don’t do any editing during your first draft. Just get it down on paper!
  • Be sure to develop your characters as much as you develop the plot. One gives the other form and color.
  • Real life can be, at times, pretty boring. Leave it out! Your readers already have to live some of that boredom and you, as the writer, do not need to inflict this upon them in your book.
  • If you are writing a book….get Scrivener or some other software dedicated to writing novels. It will save your sanity and prevent balding. OK, you might still go bald, but you won’t rip your hair out while you write.

The four days did come to an end and I fell into what was referred to as post-conference slump. I wanted to continue riding the wave with my fellow writers, but alas, life called me back home. I made new friends and I learned so much about the craft of writing. I am looking forward to applying all the things I learned in my writing. I hope you will consider joining me next year at PPWC and enjoy a piece of writer’s heaven too.