Saturday, February 26, 2011

Five Reasons You're Not Writing Your Novel

5 Reasons You’re Not Writing Your Novel

This post was written by Jessica Stilling who also writes for pharmacy technician and medical assistant

So you’ve always wanted to be a writer. Maybe you got that fancy MFA, or you sit in your room during all hours of the night typing away, or maybe you fantasize about what it would be like to be a best selling author at your day job. Whatever the case, you know it’s time to write that novel and yet you’re waiting. Why? Here are a few reasons you might be waiting, and a few reasons why putting it off would be the worst mistake of your life.

#1. You don’t have time. Make time. Yes, you have a job, a family, a social life. There are bills to pay and a girlfriend to keep happy. You don’t need to give up your life, or your income, to write, just set aside some time. Wake up an hour earlier and write a few pages every day, set aside a few hours on the weekend when you would otherwise be breezing through an entire season of Dexter. Evaluate how you’re using your time and see where you might find room for writing.

#2. You’re not inspired. This is a problem and no, the solution is not simply get inspired. Though inspiration may seem like a magical force that comes and goes whenever it feels like it, there are ways to jumpstart creative juices. Sit and think for a while, go for a walk, sit on a park bench and listen and watch people. Maybe the inspiration for the heroine for your best seller is standing over by the hot dog vendor.

#3. Your head is not in the right place. Again, this solution is not so simple, you can’t just get your head in the right place to write a novel. Still, there are ways to evaluate where your head is and where it needs to be. Is your boyfriend being a pain, does your best friend need to cry on your shoulder about her latest break up? You don’t need to drop every emotional connection you have, on the contrary, those connections can feed creative juices, but you might want to re-evaluate where you’re spending your emotional energy.

#4. The Market. The market is bad, the market is flooded, the market doesn’t want this. Whatever the reason, the all mighty market seems to take a lot of blame for a lot of unwritten novels. What does the market have to do with your writing? Maybe by the time you finish this project the market will have turned around, maybe you’ll be the lucky one person who hits it big? And if not, so what? You’re writing a novel, not working for the market.

#5. You simply do not believe that you and/or your idea is good enough. Well that’s just silly. You’ve wanted to write since you were how old? You’ve been planning this novel at least in the abstract for how long? Of course you have talent, and of course your idea has merit and even if those publishers and agents tell you otherwise, don’t listen. Your ideas, your talent will grow as you write this novel.

Overall, you owe it to yourself, you owe it to your work and the greater literary society to write this novel. So go for it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

VBT Writers on the Move

I forgot to post this yesterday but I was featured on Jennifer Gladen's blog as part of the VBT Writers on the Move monthly tour. Please stop by and see what I have to say about making a name for oneself. - E :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Five Must Have Books for Writing Books for Writers

5 Must-Have Writing Books for Authors

By: Joy Paley who also writes on the best social work schools and for various other websites like this site.

There must be thousands of how-to books on writing out there. It makes sense, right? If you’re a writer who is good at writing, clearly you’ll want to share your knowledge with others through your favored medium. Have you ever heard an expert trying to explain their field, though?  Just like listening to a nuclear scientist tell a layperson about their latest research, writers aren’t always the best at explaining the tricks of the trade to a broad audience. There are some good ones out there—you just have to persevere. I’ve sifted through the chaff and found five books on writing that won’t leave you groaning or scratching your head.

The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction

By: Stephen Koch

For the beginning writer, reading about craft can be, well, mysterious. It doesn’t seem so much a craft as some mystical process which happens in a writer’s head under a full moon on the winter solstice. Koch taught at Columbia University’s creative writing program for decades, and he’s clearly used to explaining the mechanics of fiction to those who are new to writing. His tone is that of a kind mentor, and he offers practical tips and interesting quotes from some of the most well-known authors out there.

  • Good for: the new short story writer or novelist

Zen in the Art of Writing

By: Ray Bradbury

Sci fi legend Ray Bradbury serves up inspiring writing advice in these ten short essays. Here you won’t find tips like how to outline or pace a story. The book is more about getting outside one’s head and tapping the creativity inside of them; consider this the zealous antidote to Koch’s sage, practical advice. While some might dismiss this as the same vague mysticism that comes with lots of writing advice, it’s more empowering than that—it can get me excited about writing, even when I’m sure I’m ready to give the whole thing up and become an accountant.

  • Good for: the depressed writer

Women Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews

Edited by: George Plimpton and Margaret Atwood

I would recommend all three volumes of this set, even though I’ve only linked to one. These Paris Review interviews are by far some of the most intimate and candid ones out there: instead of the standard Time magazine softball questions, you find the writers in a relaxed atmosphere actually sharing how they work and think about their writing. As fiction writing is still largely a man’s game, this set can be inspiring for any experienced or amateur lady writers out there.

  • Good for: women writers

The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers

Edited by: Vendela Vida

You can consider this the antidote to the Paris Review interviews. If you’re familiar with the literary magazine The Believer, you’ll recognize its funny, slightly off tone in the interviews of this book. Writers as diverse as Grace Paley and Haruki Murakami are interviewed by fellow writers. The questions aren’t only casual and funny, but also revealing—you’ll get a glimpse into their personal life, which, as a neurotic writer myself, I am always interested to see.

  • Good for: the seasoned writer

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

By: Anne Lamott

It’s only the truly masochistic person that decides to pursue writing seriously. Because of this, most writers have a pretty close relationship with self-deprecation. As you watch a new work unfold from its choppy, undeveloped self into something more readable, it’s always tempting to abandon it midstream and call yourself a failure. Lamott’s book offers valuable advice on getting over your own perfectionism and self-esteem hang-ups—something that all writers deal with. It’s personal and well-written, and I often turn to certain chapters for an inspiring pick-me-up.

  • Good for: the unsure writer

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Guest Blogger - Dallas Woodburn: Sticking with your goals

Today, my guest is Dallas Woodburn, another accomplished person at such a young age. Dallas will stop by during the day to answer any comments and questions, so don't be shy, ask away. Dallas has provided us with an article about short-term goal setting. Thank you for joining us today, Dallas.

by Dallas Woodburn

How is 2011 going for you so far? How are those new year's goals and resolutions holding up?

To really make a new habit stick, I've heard that you need to do it consistently for three weeks, and then it much more likely to be a permanent part of your routine.

But, as we all know, new habits set with the best of intentions can be difficult to stick to. Especially in the hectic weeks of a new year after coming back from a holiday break. Especially in the frigid February snow. Especially when there are so many other, important things clamoring for your attention.

I'm a big believer in daily goals, and I'm also a big believer in baby steps. Break down something that seems huge into small steps you can take every day. Just do a little bit every day. Consistently. Baby steps add up to huge accomplishments.

Here's a motivation tool I found, courtesy of the wonderful positive-news site Gimundo, that has been helping me with my goal of writing a certain number of words every day: Joe's Goals. It's supposedly inspired by a motivation concept of Jerry Seinfeld, with the simple idea: Don't break the chain. You enter a goal you want to do consistently -- every day, three times a week, etc -- and it is marked down on this calendar for you. Every day, if you do the goal, you get to check it off. Your checks soon become a chain of happy green check marks, and the last thing you want to do is "break the chain" and have to start all over again! It sounds simple, but it has really helped me stay on top of my writing goal so far.

Case in point: last night, I got home late, and I hadn't written enough yet for my word count goal, so I plunked down in front of my computer and wrote some before I went to bed. All so I could truthfully have that little green check mark. If not for that website, I very likely would have thought, I'll just write more tomorrow. But, as my role model Coach Wooden used to say, "You can't do anything about yesterday, and the only way to improve tomorrow is by what you do right now. We kid ourselves: 'I'll buckle down tomorrow and work twice as hard.' No. If you can work twice as hard tomorrow, it means you're holding something back today. I want 100% today. And tomorrow."

Of course, it requires that you be honest with yourself, but I think that is a requirement no matter how you are going after your goals.

Good luck! I'm rooting for you!

Bio: Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and editor of Dancing With The Pen: A Collection of Today’s Best Youth Writing. Her short stories have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Dzanc Books “Best of the Web” anthology and have appeared in numerous literary magazines including Monkeybicycle, Arcadia Journal, flashquake, and The Newport Review, among others. She has also written articles and essays for Family Circle, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, and The Los Angeles Times. Dallas is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Fiction at Purdue University, where she serves as Assistant Fiction Editor for Sycamore Review. She is also the founder of Write On! For Literacy, an organization that empowers youth through reading and writing. Learn more here.

Where to find Dallas:
Write On! Books
Dallas's Blog
Order 3 a.m. from amazon
Find Dallas on Fictionaut
Follow Dallas on Twitter
Dallas's Facebook page

Be sure to follow the VBT Writers on the Move tour with Mari Taylor tomorrow when she hosts Heidi Thomas.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Spindle clarification

Remember a few days ago there was a posting about what the British equivalent of a spindle was? Well, it seems my first impression or first-and-a-half (because after reading the definitions Diplo_Dad posted from wikipedia about what a spindle was, I turned to the metal stick where you push papers on it - posted a picture and all; but originally I was thinking on the lines of this clarification. I think this does a little bit of clarification but suffice it to say how a 5-year-old would come up with a statement like "Be careful of the spindle or it will cut your fingers off." is kind of beeyond me - lol. Leave it to kids. So now we have the "word" spindle solved. Go read the enjoyable post over at Diplo_Dad's blog and enjoy the entertainment. Mrs. E :)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Unanswered Questions, part 2 - Saturday Centus

It's Saturday again and we are visiting with Ms. Jenny Matlock for the Saturday Centus meme. The rules are simply: pen a short story, 100 words or less excluding the prompt and post to your blog; link back to Ms. Jenny's blog for the Saturday Centus and post your blog posting's link on the McLinky portion of her blog. Don't forget to visit the others who have posted and leave comments. Oh yeah, keep it PG or lower rating, no pictures. Happy writing - E :)

Today I decided to take the prompt, which is provided by Ms. Ames of Girl Raised in the South. I wasn't really sure I was going to participate this week as I have a lot to do on the JGDS series and need to do my taxes and all kinds of other things. After reading the already posted writings, I came up with a continuation of the first part I started last week. This story will fully develop (I hope) and take me in a new direction. For the first part of the story, click here. My total word count for part 1 was 100 (including the prompt of She lifted the letters from the ancient chest). I hope this story develops deeper but only when I can really let the character develop in my mind and the story really get a footing. I know it is a past life story but not sure where it is leading me.

Unanswered Questions, Part 2

The letters had transported Geri to another time. As she peered in the newly acquired chest, it grew bigger by the minute. She rubbed her eyes. She wasn't believing what she saw. The stark emptiness of the chest. No letters filling the chest. But then she remembered, she had to put the letters in before the emptiness would shrink. She started penning the first of many letters that would fill the void. (total word count 72)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Spindle - what is it in Britain?

I've been following a stay-at-home father's blog, Diplo_Dad, who is living in the United Kingdom. He posted an interesting thing about something his 5-year-old son repeated from what the teacher said. Now when I saw the word, my mind went directly to this image (which by the definitions he found in a wikipedia article, this is what he is associating the word with):

So if a teacher says, “Don’t stick your fingers in the spindle, or they will be cut off,” one would not expect the image of this to be what a spindle is.

So I ask you all - what would you think a spindle is in British terms? What is the American version of said spindle? Something that could cut your fingers off if you so happened to get them caught in in it? If anyone finds out what the equivalent of a spindle is, please let me know, or pop over to Diplo_Dad's blog and let him know - E :)