I’ve found the perfect way to bring my writing to a complete halt. Lose confidence.
I was working on the sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl, and I was about half way through the first draft when the gloom began. I started worrying about the first book. Was it really any good? Am I wasting my time writing another? And of course, those questions led to … Is anything that I’ve ever written any good? Can I even call myself a writer? Where is the chocolate? Is it time for a nap?
Yeah, well, you get the idea.
So, last week I passed the manuscript along to a friend who has children the same ages for which the book was written. Her son “liked it a lot.” She said a couple of other nice things, too, but I was so thrilled to read just those four words, I didn’t really need any more. A child liked my book. Wow. Could it get any better? Not for me. Not right now.
I’ve been working on some paid gigs this week, but this afternoon is set aside to get back to the manuscript. I hope that you find some creative time today, too, and that the right person at exactly the right time says that they like what you wrote.
I’ve found some interesting links in the past few days that I want to pass along.
The first is a blog by one of my favourite writers/bloggers Elizabeth S. Craig. In her post, “Chalk One Up for Outlining,” Craig explains that she is not an outliner by nature. “I despise outlining and I hate following outlines.” If you feel the same way, you might like to read how she found a way to make it work for her.
I loved Darcy Pattison’s blog post, “6 Ways Out of Writing Slump.” I could really identify with her reasons for letting writing fiction slide, and I could also see how her suggestions could make a difference.
If you’re getting a project ready to submit to a publisher, read about what seven agents say can stop editors and agents reading: “Seven Agents Talk About the Most Common Submission Mistakes.” Their comments cover the synopsis, the query and your first pages.
Finally if you love writing in journals or with pen/pencil and paper, you might be interested in this opinion piece by Andrew Coyne that was written in response to a report about the lack of teaching of cursive writing in school. “Words on paper – how we write affects what we write.”
I’d love to hear your feedback on any of these links. Who do you follow for great writing advice?
Yay for Friday! I had a lot of fun this week writing a story for the SCBWI mash-up. The plan is for an author to write 500 words based on a four word prompt and an illustrator to create a drawing based on the same four words. Neither knows what the other is doing. This weekend they get put together, and we get to see how it all turned out. I’ll post the link as soon as it’s ready, so you can see the final result. This week’s words: Brascoe, Television news anchor, treehouse, T-Rex.
It’s funny how some writing prompts work and other don’t–well, for me anyways. I love prompts in which random words are thrown together, and you have to create a story or a scene from them. I like working with stray bits of dialogue, too. I wrote 65,000-word historical romance based on three words that I drew from a basket during one of my own writing classes. That kind of prompt requires my puzzle brain, trying to figure something out with just a few clues. It probably has to do with my love of mysteries, the books on codes and secret messages that I used to check out of the library when I was in my Nancy Drew phase, and the fact that I still like to do crossword puzzles and Sudoku.
What kind of writing prompts work for you? Do you like random words or sentences or do you prefer the ones that demand a deeply personal response? Why do you think you prefer one kind of prompt over another. I actually hope that you’re one of the lucky ones that has so many ideas in your head for stories or poems that you don’t need a prompt. If that’s you, celebrate!!
I create writing prompts every month. I ‘d love to know what prompts you’re looking for, so I can include them in my first-of-the-month-writing-prompt post.
Have a great weekend!
This week began with the Victoria Day holiday, and I discovered that I should never go away without my NEO. My son needed my laptop for exam prep, and the work I wanted to do just wasn’t going to get done without a keyboard. The solution? A couple of early mornings for me when I could have the laptop to myself. Of course that meant that all I could do for the rest of the weekend was read and relax. Somehow I managed to cope.
This week has been all about editing. I’m converting a middle readers novel from third person to first person POV. I did a quick run through first, just changing the he’s to I’s, etc. Yesterday I began a much slower edit where I get to have fun getting into the head and voice of my character. There’s a section that needs a total rewrite near the end, but I’ll worry about that when I get there. I’m really enjoying this process right now, which is also telling me that I made the right decision to make the change.
Have you ever changed the POV of your novel or story? Why did you decide to make the change? What did the change add to your story?
Next week I have a school visit to talk to a writer’s craft class about publishing. I’m looking forward to meeting the students and their teacher, and have already started gathering all the material I want to take with me. I’m sure that the hour that I have with them will just fly by.
This is one of the projects I’ve been working on this summer, and I’m happy to say it’s finally online.
In 201 Writing Starters, I’ve collected previously published writing prompts and added over 100 more. I’ve also included an article, “Keeping the Writer in You Motivated,” to help keep you inspired when the writing doldrums hit.
Currently 201 Writing Starters is only available at Smashwords, but in a week or two, it should be available at other online booksellers. I’ll keep you posted!
If you have a moment, please drop by Smashwords to explore the book and download some sample pages.
I added a new sample chapter to my book’s website today. Though the book is called Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, I think that writers of any age can find something useful in it.The two sample chapters available now are “Meeting Your Writing Goals” and “Stuck for a Story Idea?” You can find them under the Sample Chapters tab at my book’s website.
Also, if you’re looking for other story inspirations click on the Writing Starters tab and explore.
I’m in the process of creating an ebook of writing starters, some previously published and a lot brand new. I’ll be posting more about that venture soon.
Hope you all have a creative week. Please drop me a line if you find yourself inspired by any of the writing starters. I love to hear about the stories that they lead to.
I’ve been thinking more about my recent post about defining the word “writer”, and admit that up to a point it’s true. Freelancing is extremely satisfying work, and I do love all the opportunities I’ve had to be creative within its boundaries.
Lately, I’ve put several projects to bed, and guess what’s left? Time to write. Yes, that extremely precious commodity of time to write and create is actually available, and with my semester winding down, there will continue to be writing time over the next several months. In the past, I would have been thrilled to have all this time and have immediately plowed away at the short story or novel that I’d been living with for the past weeks or months. Finally, those characters who had been talking in my head would get their words recorded on paper. But I have no voices, no story, no novel–just time. The irony of getting paid by The Writer Magazine to create writing prompts is not lost on me.
A recent post by Laura Best has brought the fact that I’m missing this into sharp relief. Where will I go from here? I’m not sure. But I can’t help but believe that all of this time is waiting to be filled with something and that if I’m just patient–and keep reading and scribbling in my journal–I’ll find out what it is.
I’m one of those people that really dreads the blank page. I’m fine once I get started, but beginning something new is a struggle for me. In my head, I know that I’m only writing, in Anne Lamott’s words, a ‘shitty first draft’ (Bird by Bird). I know that every word that hits the page the first time through does not have the right to sprout roots and stay put and that changes will be made later. In fact, I really enjoy editing. However, all that ‘knowing’ does not help the fact that I would rather clean my bathroom than start typing those first words–or put in a load of laundry–or organize my files, or my bookcase, or the top of my desk–all things that normally are regularly on the bottom of my to-do list. On the plus side, starting a new project usually coincides with a much tidier office.
Now, obviously I do get started, or I wouldn’t be much of a writer, but if anyone has some tips for short-circuiting my initial plunge into a story, I’d love to hear them. And now, I’m going to pick up my story where I left off yesterday and get some work done.
I’m starting to write a short story that, I hope, will be one of several. I haven’t read any short stories for a long time, except for mystery stories in The Strand Magazine and some Sherlock Holmes stories on my Kobo. I think I should do something about that.
Do you have a favourite short story? What is it? A favourite author? What makes this writer’s stories exceptional?
I look forward to hearing your suggestions.
I’d just like to send out a big ‘thank you’ to Christy Giesler, Teen Services Librarian at the Kitchener Public Library and the librarians and staff at the Country Hills branch who were so helpful while I ran my teen writing workshops. Their support was wonderful. They gathered books written by teens for display in my workshop room and prepared a display in the library of how-to-write books and printed a handout of a list of resources for teen writers that are available at the library.
I had such a great time working with the young writers. We averaged between 12 and 15 participants over 4 weekly workshops. As always I was blown away by the creativity and imaginations of all the writers. They enthusiastically jumped into the exercises and activities and now have a cache of story ideas and writing tips to take them into the future.
Later this month, we are going to reconvene and the writers are going to share some of their creations. I can’t wait to hear what they’ve done with the story prompts we’ve used. I’m smiling already, just thinking about it. I got to do what I love for four weeks and now I get to hear where their imaginations have taken them. Priceless!
If you are looking for a way to jump start your own creative writing, check out my writing starters at http://wrightingwords.wordpress.com. Have fun!