On Writing

How To Be A Writer: Start Writing

technology-3200401_1280

Over my extended winter hiatus, I’ve accomplished little to no writing at all. I want to be a writer, yet I don’t write on a regular basis. This has been a recurring theme in my life. One that I’m in the process of changing.

The truth is, I have been working on a story idea that first came to mind back in December but I haven’t starting writing it yet. I spend way too much time in the pre-writing/plotting/planning stage. I know deep down that this is nothing more than procrastination and a way for me to avoid writing the actual story, but I’ve convinced myself that it’s okay because it’s “just part of the process.”

But here’s the thing:

  • Planning a story is not writing.
  • Outlining a story is not writing.
  • Thinking about a story is not writing.

Over the past twelve months, I’ve paid more attention to trying to build up my writing habit. One thing that I’ve noticed is that when I take a day or two off, those couple of days can easily lapse into weeks without writing. Getting back into the groove after such a long break isn’t easy and I often feel as though I’m starting from square one every time I do this.

It’s clear to me that I am a person who must write every day, especially while I’m doing the pre-writing stuff for my novel.

I’ve created a goal for myself and that is to set aside a minimum of fifteen minutes a day dedicated solely to writing something. It could be a blog post, the start of a short story, a flash fiction piece, or a writing exercise from one of the many craft books in my collection. What I write isn’t necessarily important, creating the habit is what matters here.

My dream is to be a writer, finish that novel, and become a published author. The one and only way to do that is to start writing and do it often.

Life + Other Stuff

Winter Hiatus

Hey Everyone! Did you survive the holiday season? Somehow I managed to make it through Christmas and New Year’s unscathed. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks thinking about the things I want to accomplish in 2019.

Writing, of course, is at the top of the list.

In 2018, I managed to write more than I had in past years, but I still feel unaccomplished with respect to where I want to be at this point in my writing life. I’ve flip flopped over what I want to write about, still haven’t found my voice, and haven’t completed too many stories. I’ve been thinking about what’s keeping me from moving forward, and a big part of it has to do with self-doubt and my inability to truly commit to anything. I’ve half-assed my way through life and it’s come time to end that behavior.

Commit is going to be my 2019 word of the year. Instead of wishing, dreaming, and simply saying I want to accomplish something, I am going to commit to putting in the work to achieve my goals. This means major behavioral changes are in order. I’ve done a bit of self-reflection to try and understand what issues are keeping me from getting shit done and I’ve narrowed it down to two things: Distraction and laziness.

These are two of the biggest hindrances in my life, as well as my resistance to stepping out of my comfort zone. My life will never change if I don’t make the effort to overcome these obstacles.

I’ve decided to tackle obvious distractions that get in my way. The internet and social media are problems for me. They’re also part of what creates self-doubt for me. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and their perceived successes. You end up feeling bad about yourself and thinking you suck. I do this with the writers I follow online. It’s just not healthy.

A few months ago, I started cutting back on the amount of time I spend on Facebook and I’m glad for it. FB is a huge time suck. Now it’s time I cut back on the rest of my online activity. For the rest of the winter, I’ll be disconnecting from the interwebs so I can concentrate on writing, reading, and a few other personal things I’ve neglected over the years.

It’d be great if I was going to be holed up in the cabin pictured above all winter. Imagine all the writing I’d get done. Instead, I’ll be wintering in the warm South as always, committing to becoming the writer I know I can be.

Life + Other Stuff

Seasons Greetings

Happy Holidays, everyone!

This is my last post of 2018. For the most part, this year has been an uneventful one. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago and instead adopted the practice of choosing a word to help guide me through the year.

The word I chose for 2018 was CHANGE.

I had big plans in January for all the ways I was going to make changes in my life: Write more, submit more work for publication, transition to a healthier lifestyle (aka lose weight and exercise), meditate, earn more money, etc. Welp, most of that stuff didn’t happen. I did write a little more than I had in years past, but focusing on my one word for the year went out the window around mid March.

Needless to say, not much in my world changed in 2018. As of yet, I haven’t settled on a word for 2019, but I have a few ideas mulling around in my brain and I’m looking forward to a fresh start come January.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you all have a great holiday season, and I will see you again in the new year!

 

On Writing, Writing

An Illuminating Discovery

books-2596809_1280

I had a light-bulb moment last week about why I’m struggling so much as a writer. It happened while I was reading The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft. I got sucked into this story from the very first page and could not put this book down. It was a well-told mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. When I finished the book, I’d had an epiphany.

I’ve been focusing all of my writing energy on the wrong genre.

FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS!

For at least six years, the stories that I’ve been working on have ranged from romantic women’s fiction to straight up romance. I’ve been reading romance novels for decades, so it seemed like the route to go with my writing. I know what’s expected from the genre as far as reader expectation and basic romance story structure.  An even bigger incentive to write romance is the fact that it’s the best selling genre out there, and, as much as I hate to admit it, the sole reason driving my decision to write romance.

A couple of weeks ago, I set my current work in progress aside because I was getting nowhere. Instead, I started working on a short romance story with the intention of submitting it to Woman’s World Magazine, one of the few magazines (or quite possibly the only one) that still publishes short romance. I’ve submitted short stories to them in the past and received rejections for each one, but I’m determined to sell them a story. I plotted out an idea that I’d been toying with and then sat down to write. After about three paragraphs the story stalled out, so I closed my computer. I went back to it a couple more times, but couldn’t make any headway and finally decided to go read a book instead.

It’d been a long time since I’d read any mysteries, a genre I’ve always loved but pushed aside in order to focus on romance and women’s fiction. That Kathryn Croft book made me realize how much I miss reading (and writing) mystery and reminded me that many moons ago I fancied myself a mystery writer.

When I went back to work on that short romance, I knew I wouldn’t be finishing that story. My heart just wasn’t in it. I’ve thought long and hard about the romance/romantic women’s fiction novel that I’ve been working on for the last number of years. The story is nowhere near complete and it will never be completed. I’d flip flopped between making it a romance novel to women’s fiction with a little bit of romance and then back to full-on romance, letting what I thought might appeal to agents/publishers guide my decisions. The concept and story line have changed so many times that at this point I have no clue what my original story idea was when I started. 

The end goal of getting published has been the driving factor in what I write and so far I’ve yet to get published, or finish anything substantial for that matter.

It’s time I go in another direction entirely and take the idea of getting published out of the equation with respect to writing a novel. When I gave up on the short romance story, I opened up the file of an outlined mystery novel that I’d abandoned long ago and made the decision to work on this story.

My goal for as long as I can remember is to write a novel, but I’ve been consumed by what I think the publishing world wants and that has stymied my progress.  What’s important is that I reach my goal and write that book, not for an agent, not for a publisher, but for me and no one else–whether it gets published or not.