The Wonder of Writing Every Word: Writing Encouragment #NaNoWriMo #MondayMotivation #AmWriting

If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” ~Margaret Atwood

Writing is a journey…most days it is an exhilarating adventure that never disappoints, always lending its cathartic powers to the creative soul who has taken up the mantle to bring life through the power of word, paper and pen…or computer.

But there are moments (for many those moments show themselves during NaNoWriMo) where our fountain of words and musing seem to run dry, our focus is lost, or the plot line has gone from thick with delectable tension to just being nothing short of sludgy mud.

If you are like me, you find that in these moments you are questioning your ability as a word weaving wordsmith. You wonder if you can truly hack it. If you have been writing for any length of time, especially during NaNo, the answer is yes!

What we as creatives must never cease to remember is that even though we have something good, it doesn’t mean that every moment is going to be great. That is what editing is for.

So in this final week of NaNoWriMo 2017, I would like to give you your last bottle of refreshment for this writing marathon.

  • As already stated, you will have plenty of room to edit, to build your plot, rework it, or slim it down. Keep your focus on the words ahead and be grateful for what you’ve learned from the work behind you.
  • Ignore the pull of perfection. Perfection comes with practice but in the case of writing editing and revisions.
  • Remember that sometimes your dry spell for words is really the result of an exhausted muse and mind. Allow yourself the chance to refuel. None of us are machines no matter how much we tend to believe the converse.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back for the job well done thus far.

Whether you make novel status by the end of this month or not you’ve still done a fantastic job.

Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep soaring and enjoy the wonder of writing!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

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NaNoWriMo: Encouragement for the Weeks Ahead #NaNoWriMo #Author #Writer

The first five days of NaNoWriMo are behind us with many more blessedly ahead. Some of you have achieved your daily writing and creative goals while others may have missed your designated marks shy of a few words.

No worries. You will achieve your goal if you stick with it. Consider the first five days of NaNo as your glorious warm up.

The fact still remains that when we set out with a great goal and miss our intended marks at the very start, we tend to lose momentum or even the courage to continue. Our plans seem not to be as ‘plausible’ as they were before…and then we drift…staring at our computer screens too afraid to make music by clicking the keys of our keyboards.

Can we really do this? Can we conquer our vision for NaNoWriMo? Everyone else around us seems to be doing just fine.

I would like to take this time to give you a bit of creative advice especially in moments when our creativity seems to get the best of us and cause knots to form in our bellies as well as our creative thoughts.

My advice for you is to simply breathe. Take pauses when you need to. Take a few steps back if you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Sometimes when we are racing toward a finish line we tend to turn our eyes and focus toward those who are around us. Let’s make it a point to no longer see other creatives as competition but community.

Be encouraged by what your neighbor has done and take hope in knowing that you can do it too but in your own unique way.

Don’t give up! There are several full weeks left ahead. Keep your focus, keep your peace, and keep writing!

“We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” ~HENRY JAMES

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

How to Take NaNoWriMo 5 Day Creative Tip Countdown Begins TOMORROW #NaNoWriMo #Fiction #Writing

Hello, Creatives!

We are just FIVE days away from November 1st, which means we are FIVE days from the start of NaNoWriMo! (National Novel Writing Month.)

This is the month for NaNo vets and newcomers to put their creative noses to the grind and crank out a 50k word novel in 30 days!

Starting tomorrow at 9am EST, I will be giving a daily tip to help you get ready to accomplish your writing goal.

Also, for those who are maybe stumped about what to write, I am adding a link to some of my favorite Monday’s Muse Writing Prompts to help you get started should you need a little bit of a boost.

Remember, if you do choose to use the writing prompt(s) be sure to omit the opening line from your overall word count.

MY ADVICE FOR HOW TO USE THE PROMPTS 

  • Use the pictures as inspiration and create your own opening line that will lead to the start of your 50k word count.
  • Use all 5 suggested prompts and dedicate 10k words to each prompt
  • Use all 5 suggested prompts and create 5 separate 10k stories for a Novella collection

BONUS: ENJOY THE WRITING JOURNEY NO MATTER HOW YOU CHOOSE TO EMBARK UPON IT!

Happy writing.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Voice of Description: A Writing Exercise

I am certainly not the best at description but like most of us who strive to be the very best writing versions of ourselves, I am a work in progress.

Today, for Wisdom from the Writer’s Journal, I want to do an exercise of Description.

Writer's Table‘Description’ is everything when it comes to writing. We as writers do not have the same ‘advantages’ as those who create physical visual art. We do not paint with oils on canvas, we paint with words on the canvas of our reader’s minds.

We don’t have the bonus of background music to lead our scenes, letting our readers know the monster is coming around the corner or that the brooding man is about to kiss his love interest.

Nope. What we have are words to translate the vibrancy, heart and soul of our stories, and boy can they be the most powerful tool of all especially if they are wielded in the right way.

In order for our work to translate with the vibrancy, we intend it to we need to master the art of creating imagery through proper description. This is done through practice and exercise.

After all, you don’t want your action thriller to be mistaken for chick-lit, having sweet violins playing with the crescendo of mezzopiano while your hero is caught up in a shoot-out that may lead him or her to death’s door…

That is unless you are writing a chick-lit action thriller which is totally possible. Still, the sweet stringed music created by your description wouldn’t work there.

So with that in mind, here is an exercise to help you stay on descriptive track.

EXERCISE:

  1. Using the image below, write the first ‘novel-style’ description that comes to mind. This would be your ‘usual’ writer’s voice. (Example: If romance is your jam, describe with romance in mind. Get those violins playing!)
  2. Next, using the same image, write a second paragraph describing the character from a specifically from a woman’s point of view. (Note: How characters see each other also sets the tone of your story. Gender also affects this.)
  3. Do this now from a man’s point of view. (If you hadn’t already.)
  4. See which of your descriptions works best for these different Genres
    • Action-Thriller
    • Romance
    • Drama
    • Comedy
    • ETC
  5. Now, take the time to decide why you feel this way. Jot down your reasons.
  6. Keep these things in mind for the future.

pexels-photo-119705-large

Voice is everything, the voice behind the voice especially. Don’t just live in a creative comfort zone. Stretch yourself on purpose, with purpose and take your stories to a whole other level. Be able to write in several ranges.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

What Did You Say?: 4 Steps to Building Up Your Craft with Words

We’ve all done it, said ugly things about our art, found the faults in our craft so much so that we alone have brought ourselves down into the very depths of discouragement’s dumps. (Take a look at Artful Aggression for more on that.)

It’s an easy thing to do, really, to see what is wrong with what we’ve created. And let’s face it, nothing is ever really perfect not even your final draft. But even with that being the case there has to be something worth praising in the work that you have accomplished in its pre-polished form.

So as an exercise, I am challenging you to create a list to combat all the negatives that you’ve said about your work in the past while giving you some keys to keep you positive in your creative future.

STEP ONE:

  • Identify your familiar negatives, the ones you say the most about your work.

STEP TWO:

  • For each familiar negative, create a positive response.

Here, I’ll share my own top 3 negatives and do some positive combating as an example catching myself within a downward spiral of creative discouragement is what prompted this posting in the first place.

Negative #1: My stories are far too long.

Positive #1: Length in most cases is relative and the fact I can muster so many words is a strength for storytelling.

Negative #2: My words are weak, the flow of them is stagnant.

Positive #2: What I have is a very good start. Now that I see where I can improve I can take what is weak and carry it to the next level. I have something good to build from.

Negative #3: Nobody cares about this story. Critics are going to tear this apart.

Positive # 3: Every story has its audience and those for which this story is written will love it and share it with others. Even if only one person finds joy having read your my they were worth writing for.

STEP 3:

  • Combine your positives into one encouraging statement.

Here is what all three positives read like together:

Length in most cases is relative and the fact I can muster so many words is a strength for storytelling. What I have is a very good start. Now that I see where I can improve I can take what is weak and carry it to the next level. I have something good to build from. Every story has its audience and those for which this story is written will love it and share it with others. Even if only one person finds joy having read my work they were worth writing for.

Doesn’t that just put an encouraging smile on your face? It does mine and hey it even makes me want to get back to work on my stories.

STEP 4: Now you give it a shot!

  1. Write down your top self-discouraging statements about your craft (3 to 5 is good.)
  2. For each negative immediately write a positive.
  3. Create a statement of heroic encouragement by combining all of your Positives.
  4. Print it out and post it in your creative space to look at each time you are feeling discouraged.
  5. BONUS: Remember that you are always growing and always learning and there is never any negative to combat that!

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Artful Aggression: How We Abuse Our Creative Work & Why We Shouldn’t

 

art-aggressionHave you ever watched a movie, sat in horror or just sheer irritation as you witness one character (generally a parent or a lover) verbally abuse their child or partner? And as you are watching you begin to judge that character thinking, “Gosh, they are wrong. I would  never talk to my child like that.”

The scene ends, the couple or family members come to some peaceful ground, and then the movie ends.

We cruelly victimize our art. Art’s greatest victimizer is often the one who created it.

The movie ends but the hypocrisy continues.

In the Book of Matthew 7:5, Yeshua Jesus says “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

You are probably wondering, what in the world does a scene from a movie and teaching from Jesus have to do with art. They have everything to do with art, even if indirectly.

taken from www.fails.net
taken from http://www.fails.net

We as artist and writers  have a tendency to look at our creations the same way the harsh parent or the cruel lover in the movie look at their child and partner.

We, like these characters, look at our creations (children born from us, lovers grown through intimacy and time) with unreasonable scrutiny, judging it with irrational standards.

One minute we are in love with what we have done, staring at it with admiration. The next we are setting it ablaze or trying to hide it from world’s view because of some “issue” that we have convinced ourselves is there.

We cruelly victimize our art. Art’s greatest victimizer is often the one who created it.

The fact of the matter is, this criticism of our creations is spelled out in the verse in the Gospel of Matthew. We subconsciously or consciously, have an issue with our self and the displeasure with ‘self’ becomes an attack upon our creative works. We don’t deal with our planks so we burn up the splinters in our work.

…if we can’t celebrate our growth, then what is the point of growing at all?

Now, I know Yeshua wasn’t necessarily talking about how we treat our works of art when He said this, but the truth of the matter is, we cannot truly be kind to others if we are not kind to ourselves. We cannot love others if we cannot love ourselves, and this is the same for our art.

I had to call myself out on this recently awhile ago when I nearly destroyed all the work I had put into my novel, Ascension Graveyard. I even wrote a POST about it. (I was seeing problems that were not there.)

Let us, as artists, writers, parents, and lovers, come to a place of self-love and appreciation. Let us realize we are good enough even if we still have room to grow, and thus our creations are good enough even though they have room to grow.

Art and expression are about the journey. It is about telling the story in truth and authenticity from where we currently are. This should never be victimized, but always celebrated. After all, if we can’t celebrate our growth, then what is the point of growing at all?

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*This was originally posted on November 4th, 2014.

*Above image taken from Pexels.com: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-blue-dress-shirt-while-painting-89860/

 

Write that Book!: 3 Reasons to Write Your Novel

I believe that everyone at some point in their life journey has made the statement, “I think I should write a book.” While many have said it, very few have actually embarked on the task when you think about it in terms of the ratio of said versus done.

Now, having completed several tomes myself (two are currently in Beta) I have to admit that writing a novel from start to finish isn’t the easiest thing to do BUT it doesn’t have to be as difficult as many of us make it out to be.

Most of what causes the process to be difficult are:

  • Over-thinking
  • Lack of confidence
  • Perfectionism
  • Thinking its already been done before/ Someone took your idea

These four are definitely creativity killers not just in the world of writing but in the world of doing just about anything that poses a challenge but holds interests to you.

What are the cures to these nasty bugs:

  • Think less, do more
  • Believe that trying is worth it even if you ‘fail.’ (Failure is relative.)
  • Remember that no matter how sharp we are at our craft there will always be a flaw
  • Your idea is unique even if it resembles someone else’s…how many vampire stories are out there? I rest my case…sorta.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time for you to leave the ocean of ‘sayers’ and become part of the flock of ‘doers.’ It’s time for you to WRITE THAT BOOK!

If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.” ~Beverly Cleary

“Many Great Authors began their writing careers in meeting their own imaginative and literary need. Perhaps that ‘book’ you crave to read, but can’t seem to find, rest deep within the soil of your imagination. Perhaps it’s time you begin to bring it to light! Write the book!” ~ Candice Coates

Octavia E. Bulter is a celebrated Science Fiction author. Her success grew from watching what she said was a terrible Science fiction movie and saying to herself that she could write better than that, and you know what? She did.

1.WHY should you write that book: If a concept has been playing like a movie in your mind for more than a month (or even a week) you should give it life, even if you are the only one to read it.

And don’t worry if you thought up a great storyline only to find that someone else has tried something that seems similar. Here is the reality, many people have shared ideas and they’ve never even discussed them before.

As I said, there are so many vampire novels out there with the undead being in love with the living. Or think about how many mail-order bride romance novels there are. Similar concepts but if you’ve ever read any of these, you would find they are vastly different.

So write your book because your idea is worth sharing.

2. HOW should your write that book: I recently read a book by Mark Batterson called Chase the Lion. (Great book!) In it, he describes his concept of using the 80/20 rule when it comes to writing. I liked what he had to say BUT I kind of have a similar but different view of it.

Putting it in my own words, 80 percent of finished work is better than 20 percent of daydreaming about it. Daydreaming without any work done will only lead you down a rabbit hole of nothingness where you let in those four creativity-killers.

Let your first draft be just that, a first draft! Go on and misspell a few words, dance over correct grammar, and use ‘to’ in place of ‘two’ too many times. It’s okay. Goodness, even let the plot slip a few times.

Your job during the 80 is to bring the bones and muscle of the story to life. The skin and clothes will come during the rewrites. Yes, there will be rewrites…at least three.

Putting down the words even with the mistakes is HOW YOU WRITE THAT BOOK! You get out the 80 percent and then weave through the 20 percent during second drafts, editing, and beta.

3. WHEN should you write that book: NOVEMBER 1st of ANY YEAR is a great time to write that book or to at least get it started. Why? Because that is NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. Check out the official site here www.nanowrimo.org.

Participating in NaNoWriMo gives you the chance to connect with other like-minded creatives who are running toward the same goal, like a marathon except you are using computers and being pretty sedentary…and probably packing in the calories instead of burning them but that’s beside the point.

The point is you will have a platform to gauge your progress and be encouraged by that of others.

Me, I like to use June as my Novel Writing Month, but any 30-day month will do just to get you started.

Just get started. Write that Book! Why? Because it’s in you. How?  By sitting down and doing it. When? Right now is a good time to start!

WRITE THAT BOOK!

Writer's Table

*Original image acquired from Pexels.com: https://www.pexels.com/photo/fashion-legs-notebook-working-5279/

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Writing When Word Weary: Why You shouldn’t Do It

*This is a revised posting from January 26, 2015

You ever have that moment where you have been working on your novel all day, and the writing is so good that it has completely eaten up the reality around you? You are literally in your book.

Being word weary is when you have all of the meat of the story ready to be devoured, but no teeth to chew it.

Ideas are coming at you faster than bullets from a gun, the story is kicking, the plot is thickening…your eyes…your eyes are getting more tired by the minute, No! second. You are hitting the wrong keys left and right, slowing down your once brilliant pace.

What in the world is happening?! Sleeping kid typing

You are Word Weary. ( I totally made up this phrase up…Just go with it.)

First, what is Word Weary? It is when your imagination is going 200mph, but your brain and cognitive skills are going 5mph and slowing with each key stroke.

You are thinking one thing and typing something else. It’s a mess.

Being word weary is when you have all of the meat of the story ready to be devoured, but no teeth to chew it.

Your body is awake and hyped up on adrenaline but your eyes have tapped out.

It simply means you are tired. It’s okay to be tired and even more so to rest. It is better to rest than run on fumes. The worst things happen when we write on fumes.

WHY SHOULDN’T WE WRITE WHEN WORD WEARY?:

When you are weary, anxiety kicks in, and with anxiety that beast called ‘Frustration’, that tells you to rush everything just to get it out.

What should have been detailed, fantastic scenes, full of punch and climactic power, end up confused, stuttered, and limp like cold spaghetti noodles.

All that fire of your creativity will get quenched by exhaustion and confusion will rob you of your train of thought.

When you read that section of writing later, you will think of it as junk, lose interest in what should have been a great nugget of creative work.

What could have been a great idea for later, has now turned to dust and fallen through the crevices of your keyboard.

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?:

Your imagination was no longer flowing smoothly with the rest of your  skills and everything became a frustrated blur.

But you just HAD to write a few more words, right? WRONG!

SO WHAT DO YOU DO IN THESE MOMENTS?:

Some people get a caffeine fix, but even that will buy you only so much concentration time.

There is  a saying in visual art that is, “Know when to cut off your own hand.” The phrase is referring to knowing when a piece is finished before you take it from great to ruined with one stroke, and to a point of no return.

As writers, we need to know when to “cut off our own hands” or at least bind them for a time especially when we are WORD WEARY.

When we feel our eyes growing heavy from looking at a computer screen for hours, we should give ourselves a break:

  • Jot down our ideas and come back to them later.
  • Write them (type them) like you would a quick synopsis.
  • Record them with a voice recorder just as if you were writing the scene out by hand, and then type it later. There are so many options.

FOR THE FUTURE:

If you are not already in the habit of doing so, plan blocks of time to write. This will help keep you from becoming frustrated with Word Weariness.

  • Try to write at least 1 hour a day to no more than 3 hours per session if you choose to have more than one writing session a day.

I am still working out the kinks with this, but I know it is successful because I used this system two three years in a row for NaNoWriMo, and was able to have more than 50,000 viable words before the end of 30 days.  It also kept me from wearing myself out.

Now I am allotting at least 1.5 hours a day to Ascension Graveyard during the day, with 1.5+ hours in the evening for editing and revising other works. 

Writing, being creative is an organic, asymmetrical expression, that although free flowing, still needs to be tamed. It’s wise to catch it when it sparks, but just like a fire that is left uncontrolled, it will burn you out when it was only meant to warm you.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS? WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP FOR BECOMING WORD WEARY?

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

5 Benefits of Participating in Writing Prompts: Wisdom from the Writer’s Journal

Writer's TableWriting prompt: (In my opinion is) The Creative springboard or theme from which a story is directed or born…In less fancy words, it is a writer willingly giving up creative control of their imaginative ideas in order to grow through the ‘prompting’ of someone else’s.

I don’t know about you, but I really love writing prompts. Writing prompts do two things simultaneously; they cause us to surrender control while incubating our process in a controlled environment.

Writing prompts create boundaries while enabling us to write with inhibition of our previously set creative  ‘boundaries.’

Through them, we sample other flavors of genre and creativity while learning to laugh again, gaining a creative adrenaline boost that comes from facing a challenge, whether it’s through the boundaries of a time-limit, word limit, or even theme or opening lines.

If you want to grow your creative writing muscles, keep them toned, participate in a weekly writing prompt.

Here are 5 benefits of doing so:

1. You know that you will have something to write about: Sometimes it seems our creative wells run dry. We have the itch to write but no idea what to write.

Participating in a weekly writing prompt ensures that you will always have an idea to springboard from, a starting place.

2. Not knowing exactly what you will write about, week to week, keeps you sharp: Knowing that there will be a writing prompt but not knowing what it is exactly, builds your creative reflexes, keeps you excited and hones your skills, mongoose-like writing skills (whatever that is like.)

You become accustomed to readying yourself for whatever curveball may come your way.

Check out these reflexes. This guy, Evan Longoria, is SHARP! Write like he catches! Be ready for anything. Be Evan Longoria.

3. Writing Prompts loosen you up and ready you to try new things with your writing: If you aren’t like me, genre-jumping isn’t your thing. You might just be a genre purist, but hey romance writer, unicorns and aliens fall in love too.

Try a prompt that takes you out of your comfort zone.

4. [While doing a prompt] You are less inclined to take yourself too seriously thus you are able to better enjoy the fruits of your labor as anything can come from a writing prompt: As with any craft, one can become stiff, locked in a cycle of ‘perfection’ or ‘status quo.’

Writing prompts break that down. They don’t destroy our expectations but they enlighten and heighten them, reminding us that we always have somewhere to grow.

5. You may get a great short or even a full-length novel idea from doing one: What may start out as a simple exercise can turn into a great novel.

Writing prompts have the potential to draw out of us fresh creative water that has always been inside us, we just didn’t know it until we took up the challenge to find it.

Bonus:  By participating in [weekly] Writing Prompts you have the opportunity to build a great writing community with others who are also  faithful participants!

Bonus Bonus!: Community leads to excellent constructive feedback and support, and we all need that!

If you are interested in doing a Weekly Writing Prompt, check out BlogBattlersit’s a great community with faithful creative writer’s tackling random word writing prompts. You can also try my prompts, Monday’s Muse, a weekly prompt that gives the opening line and image with a 20-minute writing window for you to create a story. There are also a few others you can explore on my blog by clicking HERE. 

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

5 Paths to Take When Your Manuscript Runs into a Fog

First. Don’t panic and don’t throw a fit. You are in good company, here.

If your writing journey has been anything like mine (and I am sure it has) then you know what it feels like to be writing with creative momentum one moment only to find in the next that you’ve written yourself out of ‘road.’

You’ve somehow trailed into a creative fog whereas you don’t know what your next step should be, or what direction you were heading in in the first place. Or you see where you want to go but the bridge there has been washed out by murky waters. I could go on…

Now before you begin to think that I’m referring to that nasty phrase, ‘writer’s b%#ck'( I don’t allow swear words on my blog) stop! This is not that.

The happening that I am referring to is similar to those moments in life where you have so many options to choose from that you simply become frozen. Or, you have all the right pieces in hand but you don’t quite now how to fit them together yet no matter how hard you try.

Now that we’ve clarified what we are talking about, here are 5 Paths you can take to get back on the ‘road’ to creative momentum again.

1. Read over your previous chapters or read your entire work from the beginning: Sometimes we lose our way because we forget where we are going. Me, I inherently write my stories with several threads.

Sometimes things get knotted and working out the tangles requires going back a few chapters in order to straighten things out again.

2. Create a separate document and try writing different scenarios for the scene you are working on: Having options is a good thing and sometimes what you had initially planned to do in your story (before you got that grand idea to rewrite chapter 3 which shifted EVERYTHING after that) no longer cuts the mustard.

This is the time to try new things. Your creativity, your characters will throw ideas at you if you let them. Give each suggestion a shot and see what fits in the end.

3. Just put your fingers to the keyboard and let out whatever comes to mind: It could be you have a creative cramp and just need to do a bit of stretching.

‘Stream of consciousness,’  ‘free’ writing definitely helps stretch out the creative kinks.

4. Get into a different environment, get into a different frame of mind: Listen to music, read someone else’s work. These things could realign your focus. The same way certain scents trigger memories so too can sound or imagery trigger your creativity and get you back on the right road.

5. Take some time off: Maybe some time apart is what you and your manuscript need. Ever heard the adage “Too much familiarity breeds contempt?” This can happen between you and your manuscript. So give each other space when you need it.

Take a week to even a month from working on your piece. Then come back to it with fresh eyes. You may find that those murky waters have receded from your ‘bridge’ and have left you some great nuggets of awesome to use in your story.

BONUS: Create in a different outlet: Just because your writing road seems to be down for maintanince doesnt mean all paths of creativtiy are cut off.

Draw a picture, bake a cake, knit a sweater. Just create something to keep your creative muscles warmed up and ready to go.

Don’t lose heart or faith when the fog hits. What you need will come to you in time. It just takes time…some times.

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!