Tag: writer’s block

Writing Update and Mini-Workshop

Friends! It has been a long time since I have written anything really noteworthy. I became very engrossed with my job and family and while those things are amazing, I’ve said it a million times before, writing is essential for me.

Here I am here bringing you an update as to what I have in the works regarding writings.

I have already talked about my other undertakings; videos, travel, gaming, ect., but what about books, poems, writing workshops? Yes! I am so excited to get back into making writing a focus. I think many writers suffer from a constant ebb and flow of creativity, the struggle to write consistently and the feeling of failure when you do not produce something. Writing is a weird sort of beast. Your accomplishments give you this amazing high and if you don’t reach your own personal goals or you feel it’s “not good enough,” well, the lows are incredibly defeating.

You can feel on top of the world one minute and like a speck of garbage not even worth cleaning up the next. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and it’s not easy.

Now, throw in distractions, family, day job. other hobbies and you have a recipe for procrastination and the procrastination diminishes your self-esteem, you feel like garbage and therefore let the distractions become even more distracting.

This cycle is hard to break and most people won’t break it, or you’ll break it for a little while maybe a year or five years, but its an easy slip and it only takes a little to fall back into the folds of distractions.

That’s OK. Everyone is a work in progress and sometimes we are going to show the kind of discipline it takes to write that novel we’ve had in our head for years. Other times, we are going to eat a try of cookies and say F#$! it! Then, probably feel like shit later and regret it, while eating another 2 cookies and watching Netflix. Guess what, you can still write that novel. You don’t have to be anywhere close to perfect, but you do have to try.

And be honest with yourself. Most people don’t learn to be honest with themselves until, shoot I don’t know if most people ever learn it. I think you start to learn it when you start to learn to love yourself. When you love yourself, you can accept your flaws and failures with grace, understanding and a reasonable sense of betterment.

If you let the distractions get in your way, instead of grumbling about it, succumbing to the idea you are a failure, acknowledge the misstep, try to understand why you acted that way. Are you afraid that if you wrote something, you would hate it? Are you not sure where to start? Did you actually just WANT to watch Netflix instead?

By the way, all of the answers to those questions are okay, no matter what they are, but you have to be honest with yourself. Once you find the real answers, you can focus on real solutions. So you’re afraid? Fair, now research some ways to handle and conquer fear. I’m going to tell you, that answer is exposure, which means you need to sit down and face the blank page. Throw away your pages at first if necessary. BURN them. Do whatever it takes to take the edge off the fear and you will see progress.

Not sure where to start? Again, easiest thing you can do is research. Research some ways to get organized, or ways to create a work space that inspires you. Research prompts, do them daily. Again, you can get there, you will see progress.

Okay, you actually just want to watch Netflix instead. There are probably a few things going on with that one and you need to answer honestly. Are you serious about writing? Yes or no? Is your current lifestyle able to accommodate writing, realistically? If you are working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you have kids, or a family, pets, you need time for self care and as much as you want the self care to be your writing time, writing is work. You have a lot on your plate and you actually just want to watch Netflix instead. You know what? That’s fine too. Being honest and realistic about who you are, what you fill your life with and not feeling ashamed because you cannot realistically fit more into without suffering in other areas is a very important step. You may decide that writing regularly is not for you and you would rather play with your kids at the park and get good sleep than try to cram it in daily. You could choose to devote one day a month to writing, see if it’s something that fulfills you and if it does, eventually, you will want to choose it over Netflix. Or maybe you don’t want to. Again, that’s ok. Being a casual writer is ok.

I know I choose movies, games, my family over writing. I started to choose a job I was not passionate about over writing as well. So, with a lot of planning, I quit, because if I was honest with myself, it was going to take that big of a change to put me in the right space for writing and I want to write.

I have babbled on enough. Here is today’s short exercise:

Be Honest with yourself. Grab a piece of paper, right now, and answer these questions:

  • What do I really want from life?
  • Do I enjoy how I am spending my time?
  • What do I like about my life?
  • What do I like most about myself?
  • What do I like least about myself
  • Am I prepared to change?

Practice honesty, don’t feel bad about the honest answer. If you don’t like the answer, you, and only you, have the power to change it. No one is going to do it for you.

As for what I am writing, I have a children’s book that needs some last edits and illustrations. In fact, a highly rated, cheap drawing tablet just came to my doorstep thanks to Amazon. I am going to finish this up and go test it out. I have never used one before, and I’m sure I am in for some failures, but honestly this is what I want to be doing and illustrating this book will be so worth the failed attempts. I will probably also put on Netflix, just in the background… honestly.

 

 

 

Gasp! Some Air, Some Time, and a Post on Where the Heck I’ve Been

Alright guys, what has it been… closing in on 3 weeks with no posts? Yep, today marks 3 weeks exactly. I’m sure by now I seem like the every-writer-ever stereotype of high energy enthusiasm followed immediately by the typical depressed crash, resulting in weeks of shuttered windows, alcohol abusing, and dark writing that only ever ends crumpled or possibly on fire. Though I do consider myself slightly disturbed, very occasionally known for the abuse of alcohol, and certainly a drifter into near depression none of the above are a reason for my long absence. (I really wish any of those were, in that case I may have at least come out with something on paper). The truth of the matter, I have not written a sad single line.

So if depression, alcoholism, or other writer blocking woes are not the cause, what is?

Work. The day job. My legal assistant and file clerk position, now including fire fighter extraordinaire, superhero, and the trades master.

Here are some highlights of the past weeks. Our computer system went down. Upon restoring the servers, we encountered other issues. Our accounting and data program lost a years worth of information. Now, we back up everything hard copy, so it’s a matter of restoring the past years worth of data – a complicated process, but we are making progress.

But imagine trying to send out bills or explain to others how the accounting data is a year behind and we need to look things up manually, or how the balance forward is not an accurate depiction of the account. In this day, when people are accustomed to producing this info in a click or two, its extremely frustrating and fairly unnerving.

Throw in a few (very) heated office meetings, upset coworkers, and a robbery (just to spice it up) and I’ve got hell on the 16th floor.

My silver lining? I was praised for my contribution when it came to getting the system back in order (not that it’s all in order yet) but like I said, progress. The whole project could take a couple months.

So, I’ve spent my normal writing time either working or exhausted and trying to sleep and I’ve produced nada.

Hopefully, now that I can see the light and things are slightly slowing, I can pick back up and start writing more. I might give myself another week to just feel out the “could this really be true” emotion I’m feeling, but I’ll be posting on any day I have the time.

Glad to be out from under my rock 🙂

Improper Words

Today’s writing exercise is a mind workout. It’s a simple process, that for me really opens my mind to new word choice possibilities.

Here we go:

  • First grab a dictionary.
  • Flip to any page you want.
  • Randomly choose a word from the page.
  • Now, use the word in a sentence, but change the part of speech it normally is to another one. So, if the word is a noun, use it as an adjective, or a preposition.
  • Do any part of speech, but try to maintain a similar meaning or at least a meaning you would expect that word to have in the new form.

Colors are a good example. You hear about a leaf greening, or a face yellowing, what would be oranging?

How about the sun oranging the street?

What about the word corolla – a noun meaning the petals of a flower?

What if a building had no windows on the first floor, but the higher up you looked the more windows there were and the tighter together they were built? What if they seemed to curve together and make up the whole top of the building. Could the windows be corolla windows?

Not only is it a word that evokes specific imagery but the vowels smooth over from one word to another. Corolla windows.

Words are limitless.

I always joke with Justin that my English degree certifies me to change the language at my will.

The truth is (I love this topic, if you can’t tell) language changes by anyone’s will.

Obviously, I think there is importance in the proper way of writing and using the language -proper spelling, grammar and all that, but I think about how fun it is to manipulate the language as well and really-how important it is too. Creatively changing the language to meet the needs of a writer wanting to express a very specific idea makes using words in uncommon ways important, as an exercise of the creative mind and a practice for writers pushing envelopes like e.e. Cummings and Shakespeare.

What are some of your favorite uncommon, improper uses of words?

 

Also, check out a review for my poetry collection by Michelle Proulx! A big thank you goes out to her for reading and letting people know about it.

A Writers Business Plan

I have been bad. Well, not all bad. I have been rather successful at writing this blog 5 days a week. Though its not really too much work, it takes dedication and commitment. I may have missed some days here or there but so far I am proud that I’ve been sticking to writing each day. Now, where I have been bad is not continuing to write on my zombie book or my angel book, despite the available tools, and a genuine excitement (anxiousness) to get these published. Last year I started a business plan and I accomplished many things because of this plan. However, as time continued and holidays, family, excuse, excuse got in the way I neglected to update and keep up with that plan.

I am growing tired of these ideas being trapped in my head. So onward plan and outward with creativity.

I have a beautiful planner my dad got for me and I am ready to business plan it up. And get these books PUBLISHED!

Want to create a business plan for yourself? It’s a fantastic way to delve into the projects, and create realistic, achievable goals.

I plan on mapping out specific goals for the next 12 months. All sorts of goals, like finishing certain chapters, finalizing, editing, proofing, ( I have so many pages of written text that just needs to be typed its daunting, but I can, I think), and don’t forget market strategies (some are best before the book is published, others after), giveaways, tours and spotlights, etc. There is A TON involved with getting that book published and if your a self-publisher, God help us.

Truth be told self publishing is pretty easy (once you get the hang of it) but if you lack dedication, a realistic outlook, enthusiasm, or confidence, not to mention patience, you may see a lack of productivity.

A business plan helps. I had a plan created for each book, each broken down by different categories like marketing, writing, editing, etc. as well as a plan for this blog and other social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Getting back on track with a solid, updated business plan will be the push I need to publish the proposed 2 (or even 3) books I have lined up for this year.

If you want any tips on business plans, I’m happy to give my thoughts.

Also, if anyone has something specific they would like to know more about regarding poetry or writing, I will make next weeks workshop dedicated to you 🙂

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Inspiration Deflation

I hate, hate, hate it when I want so much to write on something specific, but then I begin my downward spiral -a special combination of high motivation at the wrong time, zero motivation when I’m ready, lack of enthusiasm, blank mind, writers block, and inspiration deflation.

You know the month before I got into edit mode for publishing my collection I could not seem to zero in on my target. Absolutely no writing was working for me. Everything I produced was either terrible or non-existent. Then after I finally came back around I was flying.

So, my silver lining today, this week, maybe this month, will be that when this rut runs its course, amazing, inspired, uninhibited writing will just be shooting from my every vessel. And perhaps, fingers-crossed, my zombie book will be ready to publish -and (I don’t want to ask for too much here) but maybe my angel/demon novel will be well on its way for the hopeful spring release.

Off I go to get nothing done, or maybe something terrible.

Tools for the Writer

Many, many, MANY resources are out there for a writers advantage. Each tool helps spark ideas, regain momentum while writing or unblocks the dreaded writers block. Generally, I keep (on my bookshelf, in a cabinet or on the computer) a bunch of resources that I find work particularly well; some common among writers, others not quite so common.

Common Tools for the Writer 

The basic tools a writer should have close at hand, ones you think of first and probably already own, yet no matter how many times you back to them they still prove just as useful as the last time.

  • Dictionary– Of course, I must list the dictionary first as one of the most obvious tools used to look up words as a writer needs when unsure of the meaning. However, dictionaries are a great way to spur random words just by flipping to pages each day at random and selecting a word. One practice that maybe useful (if you have not yet tried it) is each time you sit down to write, before you start, randomly select a word and at some point during your writing attempt to use it in the work.
  • Thesaurus– The great tool to help find exactly the right words when yours are not quite accomplishing what you want. However, it can lead to a writer overusing synonyms and losing the meaning or sincerity in the writing. Try not to rely heavily on a thesaurus. One way I edit is I go through my poem and circle all the words that seem to not fit well. Then I use a thesaurus to see if I missed something that works better. Typically, I only circle one or two words and when I read the thesaurus I do no necessarily use anything I find, but just throwing around different words helps me think in different directions.
  • Books of Inspiration– Everyone should keep books that inspire them nearby while writing, whether they are writing exercise workbooks, journals, you own personal diary, photograph collections or novels that just inspired you when you read them. I have already mentioned Pocket Muse, by Monica Wood, a wonderful source of writing encouragement, but this is just one of several books of inspiration I keep on my bookshelf. Another noteworthy workbook I keep handy, In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop, by Steve Kowit, is especially good if you are wanting to experiment with styles of poetry. Each chapter gives the reader the chance to write 3 different poems based on the topics of the chapter. For a dedicated writer this could lead to a whole new notebook full of poems. Beyond workbooks, I have several collections of poetry, I have already read through, that I keep close by to flip through and analyze what works, what doesn’t and why to keep my brain working right. (I think it’s important to read bad poetry as well as good). One of my favorites is The Pocket Book of Verse: Great English and American Poems, because it is simply about 100 poems from well known poets, but what I love most, is I really enjoy some of the poetry, while others I dislike greatly.

Uncommon Tools for the Writer  

While painting you can use absolutely anything around you as a brush, your hand -a Q-tip, a spoon, a hot-wheels car- everything creates a different effect and should probably be experimented with at some point. Like painting a writer can use any source as a tool. I greatly enjoy and probably reap the most fruitful work when using unconventional writing tools. Here are just a few of my favorites, but remember that any source can be a resource.

  • Lists, Lists, Lists– Not only are lists categorized, but they are completely adaptable. You can continue adding and organizing the content however you wish to suit your needs. I keep lists on any major theme I have in my poems; flowers, trees, types of clouds, rocks, fragrances, foods, spices and seasonings, cities, and interesting objects. I continue to add, change or create new lists. My flowers list is organized several different ways like by color, scent (how strong or musky), how interesting they look, and simply alphabetical. So when I look for a white flower that starts with “C” I find camellia and carnation. By keeping lists on the computer, through a word processor, you can add pictures, links and organize the several ways with minimal effort.
  • Notebook of Words- This almost falls into the category with lists… almost. A notebook of words would seem like just a huge list (which it basically is) but it functions a little differently. While with the organization that lists give help you grab that very particular thing you need, a notebook of words is not organized and instead helps generate ideas or a different thought process. Fill a notebook with words that catch your attention, words you love the meaning or sound of, or words that make you gnash your teeth, and suddenly you are developing a stronger vocabulary for your own unique voice.
  • Medical Books– Now this one I highly recommend. Medical books are a great source of terms usually not used in poetry as well as a great resource to examine the body. It may be helpful to explain an emotion by using very specific part of the body that is affected or have available illnesses or reactions that would be descriptive in new and interesting way. Just looking at the muscle form or the nervous system can get you thinking in different ways. Phrases like “my heart skips a beat” become fresh and renewed with words like arythmia.

 

I hope this post gives you ideas for using different tools while writing, or common tools in new ways. If you have any unique tools or want to share ideas (or just have something to say) – leave a comment 🙂