30 September 2011

Why Every Writer Needs A Blog

So, the other day I was struck with this thought:

I have nothing to write for my blog.

I couldn't believe it. I had been going so well for so long when I realized I had nothing to say, I was so frustrated. I can't just go to my blog and talk about nothing (although the thought did cross my mind...)

So, rather than torment myself over it, I went to one of my latest writing projects -- a short story that has been rewritten so many times I can't even count (and yes, I know, soon I will have to let it go and say it has officially reached, "The End.")

After a few pages into the story, I suddenly got the idea for a blog post -- ironically, I can't remember it at the moment -- and I jotted down that idea, which resulted in two more ideas coming into my head. And then I realized something...

This is why every writer needs a blog.

But to tell you the truth, I didn't start out blogging to help my writing.

I started blogging because I got sick of hearing the "blogger success stories." You know the ones...it's those urban myth tales of someone reaching publication or making enough money from their blog that they don't  have to work (not to mention how cool it sounds when someone says that they blog).

When I heard these stories, I kept thinking to myself, "I am a good writer...I can do this!" So, whether these stories were true or not, when June came around, I started a blog. And I knew that the one topic I would have a lot to talk about -- writing -- would be the focus of my blog. And as I went along with my blog, I kept thinking that if I was writing on my blog about my writing...well, I would have to write, right? I can't write about writing if I'm not writing (okay, I'm getting confused now.)

And now three months have passed...and when I hit that "blogger" block or "writing" block, if you even
believe in that...I didn't want to fight it or push myself too hard to find an idea...I just started to work on something else.

And I wrote.

At this point, I have begun to realize that my writing is now developing a strange relationship with my blog. For a few reasons...first, I want to keep my blog up and current and I don't want to have a ton of time go by where I'm not blogging.

I'll just feel bad and I've learned that guilt makes the anti-muse stronger. So, if I want to keep up my blog and have something to say...I have to write.

And you know what? When I can talk about new writing projects on my blog, whether they are perfect or not, finished or not, I feel even more inspired to write. So, I guess you can say that if I want to write...I have to blog.

I know that nothing is so cut and dry and I know that this intrinsic balance of finding time to do all this is work all by itself...but I'm closer to my dream today than I have ever been. I can feel it.

So, if you write. You should blog.

Write about writing.

Even if you think everything has been said before.

Even if you worry about not having enough to say.

Even if you worry no one will read what you write.

Even if you worry that you won't have the time.

And you know what? It may just be me, but don't you have those same doubts when you really start to write?

And if you can conquer those doubts on this type of smaller platform...Then you can conquer those doubts
when they come up later on.

And when you do? You know how it will feel?

Well, something like this --

27 September 2011

Writing as badly Awfuler as I Possible Could

We all have bad writing experiences. Stories where we think…

Why on earth did I write that?

Which is usually followed by…

Why on earth did I show it to someone?

Yet, at the same time, we also know about the “awful” first drafts that we must go through in order to get the story done. If all we expected was perfection of ourselves, we wouldn’t get a word on a page. Right?

If we keep at it, we have that transition of really awful…to readable…to publishable. If we’re lucky (or determined) we get to that last phase and find ourselves…well, published.

But what if you could make it as a really awful writer?

Well, I read an article recently about a writer who won the bad writing award. My first reaction to this? Is writing really bad if you’ve won an award?

According to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a contest sponsored by San Jose State University, writers prepare the worst beginning to an imaginary novel. (In case you’re wondering, the very first winner of this awful beginning contest started out with, “It was a dark and stormy night…” Snoopy, anyone?)

I know…when you think of awful beginnings, you’re thinking of your first and only attempt at writing an apocolyptic short story, too, aren’t you?
But don’t you have to work hard to write that really awful beginning, too? To put in all those excessive descriptions that go on too long…to include those adverbs that we’re all told to avoid…to tell and not show…to write with exclammation points!...to write what we don’t know…to make our characters as plastic as a barbie doll…

The thing is we learn along the way. We learn about what we should and shouldn’t put in stories. What works and doesn’t work. So, we all need a really horrible first draft…but should it be so bad that we think…I don’t care what I have learned so far…

Because to me…I do care what I’ve learned so far, and even though I need to write out that first draft, I don’t believe that I should throw away everything that I have learned. So, writers…write out that first draft…write as badly and as awfully as you need to…but don’t forget what you’ve learned along the way.

So, with that…here’s to all of us….here’s to the writers who keep trying, whether it’s good or bad...here’s to the writers who keep learning…here’s to the writers who keep creating and keep going …here's to those of us who keep dreaming...to those of us who never stop...to those of who never let it be "just talk"...

Here’s to the good, the bad, and to the clich├ęd…


22 September 2011

Rabbit’s Feet and Wishing Wells


Copyright by Moomsabuy

Do you have a charm that sits by your computer as you type out that last chapter of your book? A special pen that you use as you scribble down your ideas for your next story? A song that you must play while you write out your poetry, your stories, your novel?

Why do you have that? Well, let me tell you this - every writer is superstitious in some way. Every writer has a rule they stand by that is special to them. Why? Because we have to be.

Our superstitious behavior is always very unique and we may not even be aware of it. But, we swear by it. It’s what gets us writing, and gets the words down on paper. For some writers it’s a special time that they must write at. Or a location. Or a method, whether its typing or handwriting. Or for some writers it’s a lucky charm.

I have a reason why I am finally recognizing the importance of such a charm, habit, or quirky behavior that goes along with the desire to write…those reasons came about when I broke my own cardinal rule when it comes to writing.

My rule?

I never talk about my writing idea when I haven’t yet completed my first draft.

I broke it when I was talking to a friend, and it came up that I was working on a new story idea. In just a few sentences, I described my idea. I thought by not explaining the entire idea that I wasn’t breaking my rule.

What response did I get after describing my idea?

Hmmm…that sounds mildly interesting, they said.

Excuse me? Mildly interesting?

Quickly, I ended the conversation from there and pulled back into my shell where I rarely talk about writing at all with people. But, when my frustration directed towards this person wore off, and I regained my confidence in my latest idea all over again, I realized the importance of having rules, and superstition when it comes to writing.

Maybe some people can easily talk about their first drafts before they are done. I have heard of well published authors who give their first few chapters to people to read and critique before they are even done.  Me? I couldn’t do that.

I have learned the hard way that talking about my writing before I have crossed that finish line is a terrible idea. I will when I am done with it and I need the story critiqued. But that first round? I need to protect it. I can’t even talk about the fact that I am working on a book or a short story.

So, whether you need to turn around three times before sitting at the laptop, wish upon a falling store, rub that rabbit’s foot, or toss a coin into the wishing well, let me tell you this…your superstitions aren’t weird and they aren’t useless…they keep you writing.

And remember, at the end of the day…that is what matters the most. Today I’m inspired to write because I have kept writing. I am inspired because I am learning along the way. I am also inspired because I think my story idea is more than mildly interesting and I get a cheap thrill out of proving people wrong. And that in and of itself is inspiring.

19 September 2011

Welcome to Tiggerific Tuesday! Blog Hop...or Bounce!
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16 September 2011

Wait, Don’t Leave…Come back! I Wasn’t Ready For You To Go!

It’s so funny how quickly things can change. While this may be the first blog I have ever had, I can’t say that this is the first time I have had an online community that I have gotten involved in. Just a couple of weeks ago, I went to the website About.com and I went to their creative writing forums.

I couldn’t believe what I saw…

I saw…nothing. Okay, maybe not nothing. But I saw very little.  I couldn’t believe how inactive it was in comparison to years before. I loved using that site to develop characters, provide feedback…you name it. After my initial shock wore off, I went to my profile and found the profile of someone 17, still reading CosmoGirl and Mercedes Lackey, and in regards to political stance said, “You know what? I”m not even gonna start.”

It’s amazing how things have changed. While I updated my age to 24 (sigh), and took off CosmoGirl as one of my favorite magazines, I couldn’t help but recognize how empty the site was in comparison to when I used to be on it.

Inspired, and definitely distracted from writing, I went to my other favorite writing site of the past (you will laugh)…Craigslist. Okay, now before you go berserk, let me tell you this…before the whole serial killer thing, Craigslist used to be a lot less creepy. They had writing forums, and I used to be just as active on those and even took some chances to post my work (I will tell you this…you need nerves of steel to post work on that site). Like any online community, I got used to the people, the conversation, and theofficial (and unofficial) online rules.

And like everything…

Things changed. For one reason or another, I stopped going to these sites. Maybe my schedule changed. Maybe my energy level for the site shifted. Maybe it was me that changed. Or maybe it was the site itself.
And initially, I wondered whether this had an impact on anyone online. I wondered whether it really mattered…because you know how it is…you’re online. These aren’t people who are close family and friends. What would they care?

And then I started thinking about my fellow bloggers. The people that read my blog, the ones that I read, the online communities I’m on…and I realized something.

Yes, it did have an impact.

So, on a nostalgic kick…I went on sort of a “blog hunt.” Here’s what I did. I went to the very top of my blog and I hit “next.” When you do that, it doesn’t take you to the next blog on your blog feed (that’s what I thought at first), it took me instead to the next blog similar to mine. Fascinating, isn’t it?
And I found some blogs. Really pretty ones too. And some funny ones. And others that were just downright clever.

Some are recent bloggers that I am starting to follow that are blogging and posting and being their usual entertaining selves.

And others…others just haven’t blogged in a very long time. So, I followed because I have some secret hope that they will come back and reclaim what is theirs.

We all go through difficult times. Times that cause us to stop, reprioritize, and put different things first. I’ve been through them, too. But…with that said…I just want to let all of you know that the impact of you is felt throughout. Whether it is your readership, your blog site, your creativity, your writing, your involvement in the online community, your comments. Even if you don’t feel like you are getting enough comments…or enough followers…trust me, you will look back on this period of time when you were doing this, when you were blogging, and you will realize the impact it had, even if you realize the impact it had on yourself.

And I just can’t help but wonder if these bloggers ever think about their last post. Their last comment. Did it resonate like they wanted? Was it thought out? Or was it a quick remark in an attempt to stick with something?

Anyways…I just hope this never happens to me with my writing. I don't want to look back on the stories I have written and realize how creative I really was, even during my really awful first drafts. I know I ay now with plenty of self-assurance that my writing will never drift away like the ever-evolving internet communities do. But like I said…Things change, right?  Life happens.

Well, today I’m inspired to write because I realize that the energy and life that I put into my writing and my creativity does make a difference. Even if those stories I write are just for myself. I’m inspired to write because I want to stick with it and look back and know that no matter what, my writing stayed a consistent in my life.

Because that’s the thing about dreams…dreams are living, breathing creatures. They grow, they move with you, but you know what they never do? They never stay silent. Dreams are like the little child that keeps poking your arm until you give them attention. It’s the mosquito in the room that you can’t find, but damn it, you can hear it. It’s the missing card in a deck of 52. You recognize it’s presence. You know when it’s there.  Because we don't find our dreams, our dreams find us. And they just never know when to quit.




And isn't that an encouraging thought?


13 September 2011

Digging a Hole to China

Remember being told that as a kid? I certainly do. Do you ever remember why you were told that? No, me either. But, I remember believing every word of it.  And giving it a try.  On entirely different note, what are kids in China told? Are they told to go outside and dig a hole to America? And do they believe it too?


Well, this thought came to me one day when I was thinking about the writing process. Isn’t that what this writing stuff is all about? Aren’t we just trying to get our readers convinced that they can dig a hole to China (metaphorically, of course)? What we are trying to do is get them so involved and so connected to our book and our characters that they don’t realize that it isn’t real.


Am I the only one that googled to be sure that the book Amityville Horror was based on a true story? While there has been extensive controversy about the book on whether or not it’s claim is based on a true story, the book (not the movie) gives you an intense ride through the life of the family living inside of this house. It’s one of the few horror stories that gives you a better experience in the book, than the movie.


And how about the writer that’s telling this story? When reading these writing interviews, how often do writers get asked whether these events in their book were inspired by real experiences? (Remember the movie The Blair Witch Project…didn’t you just want that to be real?) Or how about writers who get asked whether their character’s were inspired by real people in their life? (I’m certain we’ve all gotten that question.)


Readers want to be convinced so much that what they are reading is real. It may have been found in the fiction section, but when a writer weaves a tail so cleverly that it leaves the reader wanting to meet this character, take them out for lunch, and gab about the experiences they just lived through, it seems as if that’s when the writer has truly achieved success.

Today I’m writing with the knowledge that my reader wants me to take their hand, and take them on a journey where they can believe in the story.  I may be telling them about something that hasn’t really happened…about a place that doesn’t really exist…about a character they can’t meet…but that doesn’t really matter.


You know why?

Because at heart, we are still little kids, with a shovel in our hand, digging that hole to China.

Still wanting to believe that Santa is real.


That toys come to life when you’re not looking (or when you push them too far)…


And that the Great Pumpkin will rise again.



*grabs shovel* So, if any of you need me. I’ll be outside.

08 September 2011

Weekend Blog Hop till you Drop!





Hey party people of the blogosphere, welcome to the Weekend Blog Hop till you Drop! This week our 'Epic' guest host is Nicole from The World of My Imagination.
Blog Hop Rules: This is a low key hop to find other blogs we can follow!


1. Follow the hostess, Epic Mom a.k.a Char from The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom, and our guest host Nicole from The World of My Imagination and be sure to leave a comment so that we can follow you back.


2. Link up your blog so we can all check it out.


3. Please feel free to follow each other on Twitter and Facebook too!


4. Check out some other blogs and if you find some blogs you love, become a follower and leave them an epic comment.


If you are interested in being a guest host, please feel free to contact me at epicmomblog@gmail.com!


Now come on y'all, let's party like it's 2011! And have an awesome weekend as you Blog Hop Till You Drop!


The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom...20,000 Leagues under the Laundry!


05 September 2011

My Politically Incorrect Shoes (And My “Character” Flaws)

Check out those shoes right there.


 
Everyone, meet my moccasin boots. These are my favorite shoes of all time. No, they may not be entirely glamorous, but they are comfortable, look great with jeans, and (to me) they are a timeless classic.
And the store they came from has a majorly politically incorrect name.

The name?

The Indian Store. I know, I know. It should be…The Native American Store. Right? That’s more politically correct, right?

Well, that just isn’t its name. But, I have to tell you this is my favorite store to buy these boots. This little flaw doesn't stop me from loving these shoes...

Why does this matter?  Well, I’m trying to develop a character and I am having the hardest time developing her negative points. I have no idea why. It is extremely important to have a likeable main character, but what’s likeable about a character that says the right things at the right time in the right way? Who always has an opinion that’s acceptable by the masses? Who uses all the right politically correct words?   No one likes that person, no matter how “nice” they are.


And why am I having so much trouble? You see, this plot line is shaped by the fact that she goes into a certain situation naive, and a little too trusting (I know, it doesn’t sound fascinating…yetbut it’s barely started and I don’t want to give anything away…so just go with it for now…) So I get an image in my head of this character having very few, not-so-obvious “character flaws.” But, that’s not quite honest, though, is it?  I mean, I’m a nice person and I never want to hurt someone intentionally (and if I do, I want to know!). I’m also very genuine, and not phony at all. Like everyone else, though, I’m not perfect. I can also be very competitive (and if you are competitive, or know someone that is…that doesn’t always come out in the “nicest” way) and highly opinionated once you get me going on a certain topic (foot-in-mouth disease, anyone?).


I do know that our character flaws shape us as much as the other parts of who we are. No, we don’t like those negative parts coming out front and center when we first meet someone. And like any character you meet for the first time in a book, most of us don’t like to following along with a main character that’s unkind, mean, and completely unlikeable. But wouldn’t you get tired of a character that’s too a little too nice?
I mean…didn’t we all enjoy reading about Becky Sharp and her quick tongue and “I-don’t-care-what-people-think” attitude in Vanity Fair?


How about Anne from Anne of Green Gables and her gutsy, outgoing, and self-assured personality that you can’t help but adore?

But then again, not all characters have to be like this…just like not all real people are like these two characters. One of my other favorite female characters, Rebecca, from the book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, resembles my own character’s personality the most. In the book, she is courted by Maxim de Winter (a very well off, recent widower) and almost overnight, becomes his new wife. Throughout the book she is compared to the former Mrs. de Winter and deals with her own self-doubt and insecurity, while also struggling with the curiosity of what really happened to her husband’s former wife.


Rebecca does not resemble Becky or Anne in the slightest, but all three of these characters reveal their own “character” flaws in the book. Not one of these characters were liked by everyone that was around them in the story.

So, how about my character? Something about her is imperfect. Something that rounds her out to being a real person instead of a robot, clone of a human being.

Because sometimes our characters (and us too) can be a bad friend…



Or be pushed too far…


Or talk down to someone (and/or) have a wicked tongue….


Or just be downright scary…


Carrie Gets Angry
Carrie — MOVIECLIPS.com

Most importantly, though, I’m inspired because I finally feel like I am getting a handle on a new story. A new idea. I’ll figure out. I know I will.


So, readers, how about you? How do you figure out your “character” flaws?

02 September 2011

[Guest Post] The Journey of Writing Well

Written by Angie Kinsey

The process of writing is a bit like going on a journey. You know where you want to go, you need a map and a few signs to get there,  and you want to enjoy yourself along the way. How do you do this?  

Start by getting your groove on. Set a routine that will help you sit down and do the work. You must fight resistance  in all its forms (distractions, laziness, procrastination, and any acts of self-sabotage) just to get on the road. Some key habits I use are:
  • Get up at the same time every day. Have a routine that works for you and not the other way around.
  • Set a timer for use of the internet, social media and email to limit the distractions.
  •  Use a post-it note for your to-do list. If the list won't fit on a post-it, it won't fit into your day.
  • Face the blank page everyday. I once wrote, "Facing this blank page is like visiting the hospital and smiling at the sick people."  Some days will be harder than others, but face the blank page anyway and write something.
Once you have a routine, writing regularly is easier. It's time to start your journey. It's time to do the work.

Become a 'Overnight Sensation'. On average, it takes 5-10 years to become a 'overnight sensation'. Comedians work for at least five years to become as good on stage as they are in their own living rooms.  It takes about 10 years to become a good comedian. Not great, just good. The same applies to writers.  The more you write, the better you will become.

Cultivate a 'split personality'. One side of a writer's personality is the creator. The other side is the editor.  The creator must be free of the editor in order to create.  Know the rules before you break them. Get a good style guide (Strunk & White: The Elements of Style) and familiarize yourself with it. Once you know the rules, feel free to break them ('On Writing' by Stephen King). When you're finished creating, use your editorial skills to tighten up your work and make it readable.  

Practice the art of seduction. A good story is all about the senses. It's a seduction of sorts. You must draw your reader in using all their senses and make them want to keep reading. This is how you 'show don't tell'. Work on your art of seduction.  Put yourself in the scene before you write it. What does it look, smell,  feel, taste, sound like?  

Live to create  Feed your inspiration. Hang with creative people. Stretch your boundaries. Experience new things even if you're uncomfortable. You will draw new inspiration from these experiences, and you can later use them to describe feelings in your characters.  

Remember, art is messy. Most of what you write will be crap, but that's OK. Mine your work for gems, and polish them. Take those gems and string them together to make your story shine.  

Monkey see, monkey do. Read good stories twice. Read it once to enjoy it. Read it again to see how they did it. Join a writers group. You'll learn from other writers, and you'll have someone to join you in your struggles. Find a mentor. Someone who is better than you, and likes you enough to help you along.  

Get ready to be a billionaire.  I hate to break it to you, but writing does not equal big bucks. It's the exception, not the rule. You should love writing, and love what you write about.  "I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself." - J.K.Rowling. Write for yourself.

Don't give up! Now that you are well on your way, stay on your journey, enjoy it, and don't give up. Rejection is part of being a writer. Some of the greatest writers were rejected before they were ever published. Rejection comes with the territory. Don't give up.  

Angie Kinsey is a writer, blogger, and public speaker.  She currently has a daily inspirational blog, Anji-Kinzy-Whimzy, and a weekly blog devoted to the process of art: Angie Kinsey.

01 September 2011

Check it Out!


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