Tag Archives: inspiration

Random Update

No featured blog this week, but I will let you all in on some nonsense.

The blogging tribe idea has gotten a very slow start.  We’re all trying to hold onto our enthusiasm, I think.  My work schedule has included far too many 10-our shifts for my liking, so it’s been hard to really kick things into high gear on my end.  In all straight up honesty, I can’t wait to move back to MA.  Firehouse is draining me of anything that brings me even the faintest bit of joy.

On the up side, I plan to be back in Massachusetts by March.  I’m either taking up bartending or hairdressing, I haven’t decided which, but both look like some measure of fun, even if it’s only to find out I’m terrible at one or both.  I need to keep writing, and that’s been a bit of an issue lately.  I’ve been working at some flash fiction pieces that I’ll share soon, as well as some character creation.  In another realm of things, I’m getting myself situated with making candles and beauty products.  My new shop, The Midnight Magpie, will be open online hopefully within the month.

I know, I’ve got my hands in a lot of different pots right now, but I really need to find some measure of happiness in my life before I go completely insane.

On that note, expect a Flash Fiction piece on Wednesday, featuring a new character.  In fact, the next two weeks will feature brand new characters!    Yay!

Okay, enjoy your Monday.

–KM

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A Paige Full of Words

I’ve decided to rekindle Featured Blogs on G&L!

First Featured Blog of 2013 is actually a brand new blog itself.  A Paige Full of Words is written by a girl who, judging by her handful of posts, I can identify with completely.  When she has an idea she’s passionate about, it consumes her.  She supports an organization that encourages writing love letters to strangers (not unlike Operation: Beautiful that I’ve been plugging for ages now).  She’s honest and soul-bearing and full of life.  There have been few posts to her blog so far, but the second I started to read it, I knew that this was a blog I would happily subscribe to.

Oh, what ties this into G&L is that she’s also a writer.  =P

I look forward to more of your musings, Paige.  Thank you for sharing yourself with the world.  =]

~KM

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January 13, 2013 · 8:31 PM

Writing Life: “This Sucks, I Suck, Why-the-Eff-am-I-Bothering-Itus”

Today’s Writing Life post topic is courtesy my friend Rei.  HI, REI!

We all get there.  We get to that point, especially during the revision process, where we look over our manuscript and think “What the hell is this?”  We sigh and put it down, and some of us don’t come back to it for months.  We feel weighed down, helpless, listless… We don’t know what to change and we don’t know what to keep, because, let’s face it, it’s all freaking terrible and we never want to look at it again.

You’re just overwhelmed!  I’ve made the mistake of deleting and destroying every copy of a manuscript I have in my possession, and, believe me, the regret is twice as overwhelming as the listlessness.  You try to rewrite and recapture all that you loved about the story, but it’s just gone.  It’s not the same.  The characters have moved on to other stories and mystical events that only imaginary people can take part in.  (Those characters may want to revisit the story with you about five years later, I should note.  Frost Moon punched me in the face again about six months ago, as if my main character was saying “You couldn’t do it right the first time, so let’s try this again.  Now pay attention.”)

First off?

Your story does not suck.  You fell in love with the journey and the characters for a reason.  You just need to recapture that reason.   What about the story struck you to begin with?  What songs remind you of your characters?  Take a walk.  Enjoy a few deep breaths.  Think about your characters the way you did when they started begging for their story to be penned.  Don’t touch you manuscript for a few days to a week, and let the romance with your story rekindle itself.

You do not suck.  Everyone needs a breather now and then.  That does not make you less of a writer or less of a person.  Even the strongest people need a few minutes now and again to just breathe.  You are a writer.  You are a story teller.  The stories inside you won’t die while you’re taking a vacation.  I promise, in this case, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and before long, your characters will be screaming to get out again.  Just breathe.

Why the eff are you bothering?  Because you love what you do.  Because you’re filled with more than just the base need to exist.  Your purpose is to pen a story that people will fall in love with, that they’ll learn from, that will change them.  You create souls from nothing and put them on a page, parts of yourself, and you let people share in that with you.

Why are you bothering?  Because what you do is important.  It’s important to you, and it’s important to someone else out there, maybe hundreds of someones.  Thousands.  People who need a story to relate to.

Don’t sell yourself short, and always remember to breathe.

If there is anything you’d like to see covered in Writing Life, please feel free to message me.  My information is in the contact page, and my Tumblr is located in the sidebar.  Don’t be shy!

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How to Survive the First Week of Camp

If you’re a NaNoWriMo fan, you probably know that Camp NaNoWriMo is nearly upon us.  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Well, NaNoWriMo is an event held every November, in which crazy writers like me (and maybe you) endeavor to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Camp NaNoWriMo is the same event, only minus the in-person events, forums, and hype.  You could call it NaNo-Lite.

So, Camp.  50k in the 30 days of June (and also August, if you into that kind of thing).

Summer is a busy time for most people.  For students, you’re busy making the most of your summer vacation.  For the rest of us, we still have to work to pay the bills, and if we’re lucky enough to get a vacation from that work, we’re spending much needed time with family.  So, the question remains: how do you make it through your first week of Camp?

The answer is “magic.”

No, I’m just kidding.  It’s time management.  1667 words per day is entirely manageable, I promise.  Seriously.   You’re going to be super excited and gung-ho your first week, yeah?  I mean, you’re all flipping out about getting started, aren’t you?

Harness that enthusiasm.  Write what you can, when you can.  As much as you can manage in any free time block you’ve got.  Love your story.  Make it come to life.  Plow through!  Met your daily quota, but still feel like you can write?  WRITE!  Don’t save it for the next day; it’ll give you a nice word count cushion.

Don’t burn yourself out.  If you’re not feeling like writing more after you’ve met quota, don’t push it.  I know this contradicts my last note, but seriously.  Burn out in week one means failure on day 30.  Make quota, but take it easy.

Don’t procrastinate.  Find the balance!  If you could write, but keep putting it off, find someone to war with.  A little competition always lights a fire under me!  Don’t have anyone to war with?  Check your Camp NaNoWriMo Cabinmates.  Cabin silent?  Come over to the WriteWriteandWrite chat!  I’m usually in there, and there are a bunch of fantastic folks who are always willing to war.  We’d love to see you.

Caffeine.  That is all.

Talk your novel up to people you know.  It’ll help you keep up that enthusiasm going into Week 2!

How do you get through the first week of events like Camp NaNoWriMo?  Veterans: have any tips for novices?

The idea for this post is courtesy of Jade Bennett.  Check out her blog!

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Writing Life: Owning Your Writing

Never apologize.

Every great writer had to start somewhere.  Every brilliant mind had a beginning, and every block of stunning prose has met its share of criticism.  We, as writers, feel the need to defend every word, comma, and turn of phrase.  When someone comments on our writing, our use of “yes, but” can make us seem defensive.

Criticism is important.

Don’t underestimate a good bout of criticism; accepting and employing changes that improve our fiction also improves us as writers.  Its important, vital, even.

What I’m telling you, though, is that you should never apologize for your writing.  If someone doesn’t like it, and can’t give you a reason, you shouldn’t apologize for that.  Not everyone will love your work, and its something we all have to come to terms with.  Life goes on.

Also, never hand your work to someone and say “I’m sorry for the quality,” or “it’s not as polished as I want it to be.”  It sets people up to either expect it to be terrible or feed you useless compliments at the end to make you feel more confident.  Trust me, I’m guilty of doing this as well.  I’m trying to get out of the habit of apologizing for my work before it’s ever read, but it’s a bit hurdle for some of us.  Confidence in letting others read your work, especially people who are close to us, whose opinions mean the most to us, is something that develops over time.  And if it doesn’t, you really just need to rein in the apologies.  =P

Moral of the story?

Your writing is important.  It means something.  Don’t make out sound like less than it is just because you’re afraid someone won’t like it.  Accept criticism with grace, employ it where necessary, but don’t apologize for your writing!

Do you ever apologize for your writing?  What’s the hardest part of accepting the opinions of others?

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Writing Life: What’s in Your Author Bag?

Image © udt007us

I’m curious.  Every writer has their list of “Essentials” that they take everywhere with them.  It’s important to give yourself the opportunity to record those brilliant ideas that come barreling at you out of nowhere, in the most inconvenient of situations.  (We all have our “brilliant idea in the shower” moments.  I hear they have waterproof whiteboards for that, by the way.)

Let me give you a run down of the things I carry around with me on the daily.  You’ll probably laugh, it’s a little out of control, but here goes.

If it’s my purse:

  • Full-sized notebook for plotting.
  • Smaller notebook for jotting.
  • A handful of pens in black, red, and blue.
  • 3 highlighters; pink, orange, and yellow.
  • A flash drive on my key chain.
  • A flash drive in my wallet pocket.
  • Daily planner, complete with writing “to do” list.
  • Kindle.

If it’s my backpack (which is really more often than not):

  • All of the above.
  • Netbook.
  • 2 more full sized notebooks.
  • A travel cup filled with a caffeinated drink of the day.
  • Sketchbook.
  • Several mechanical pencils and a pink eraser.
  • The kitchen sink.

I go a little overboard, especially when I’m going somewhere for the purpose of writing.

Anyway, the point is, it’s okay to go a little overboard, in my opinion.  I like to have everything so that I know I’m not missing anything if I need it.

So, what’s in your author bag, and how does it work for you?

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Writing Life: Making Time and Motivation

Image © Simon Clayson

The biggest obstacle I face as a writer is overcoming the tendency to put writing on the back burner.  Writing is my life, my love, and my means of staying sane; I’ve put writing before friends, jobs, and relationships—

So why can’t I put more importance on setting aside time to write?

My excuses:

  • There’s a show that I want to watch.  (I have a DVR.  This shouldn’t even be an excuse.)
  • Facebook.  (Life-destroying social network paired with my apparent lack of willpower.)
  • There’s always a fresh idea beyond the one I’m working on.  (Attention span fail.)

Are any of them valid?  No.  Not really.  They waste time, make me homesick, show just how lazy I am.  And when I schedule time to write, I usually foul it up somehow: procrastinate, self-sabotage, just plain fail.  Being a “work in progress” as a person and as a writer must yield some progress if it’s going to continue to be an excuse for my shortcomings.

This post isn’t going to offer you a definite solution.  I can offer some suggestions that I should probably try myself. I suppose what people like me—people like us—need most is a support group to keep one another accountable.  I’m not sure how to go about this yet, but if I come up with anything, I’ll let you lovely people know.

So, suggestions?

  • Write it on your calendar.  Seeing “Write: 8a-3p” in your face makes it more tangible a goal than defining it vaguely in your head where you can’t physically see it.
  • Tacking/Taping sheets of inspiration, work, or development material around your work station.  It keeps your project real. I  look at it and remember little things I love about my project.  It makes me want to work on it.
  • Get other writers who need to get their work done to write with you.  Online or in a coffee shop.  Have word wars and share favorite sentences or bits of dialog.  Swap paragraphs and get opinions.  Never underestimate the support of writing with others.

Just remember that you don’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe writing to be a writer, but do make time for it.

How do you overcome procrastination and laziness?

Do you have a support network?  How deeply is your writing impacted by that network?

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Writing Prompt: Between Genius & Insanity

Steampunk Demotivational

Writing Prompt Friday lives on!  This week, you’re an inventor.  Give me some insight into your current big project.  Not working on anything, O great inventor?  Tell me how you’re making ends meet, being an inventor with no commissions.  Don’t want to air your dirty laundry?  Give me a typical day in your lab, introduce me to your staff, your favorite materials to work with.

Remember, the world may not see your genius, but that shouldn’t stop you from showcasing it!

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Writing Life: Clustering

How many of my loves use clustering as an initial plotting technique?  Anyone?  Well, I’m here to give you as many reasons as I can why you should.

Let’s start with this: clustering empties your brain.  The rules of clustering state that you need to write down ANYTHING that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t connect to anything else.  Write it down, no matter how ridiculous, because you never know when you’ll find that gem that connects points A and C with the ever-elusive B.  It’s like really messy, bullet-point free-writing.

My good friend Coffee over at The Land of Man-Eating Pixies recently posted about something her shop teacher said, and it’s really brilliant.  It’s the ENTIRE reason I swear by clustering (even if he wasn’t talking about clustering =P).

“Your brain is filled with stupid. There’s layers and layers and layers of stupid in your brain. So you have to give yourself fifteen minutes and a couple sheets of paper, and you have to write down every idea that pops into your mind. Even the ones that suck. Because you have to empty out all that stupid and maybe something halfway decent will trickle out. And you’ll be like, ‘WHOA WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? THAT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF GOOD.’ And the only reason you’ll have that halfway decent idea is because you emptied out all the stupid.”

I adore her for sharing this.  You guys need to visit her blog.  MOVING ON.  Yes, you need to empty out all the crappy ideas, because you never know when one crappy idea winds up as an integral part of your hook.

What is clustering?  Let me illustrate.

Messy photography, I apologize.

1.  Color-coded legend!  You don’t have to use highlighter, but I do.  Yellow for settings and locations, pink for characters and character relationships, and orange for groups and organizations.

2.  The actual cluster.  You start by writing a name, an event, a setting, plot point, etc. in the center.  From that center point, you write any connection you can make to it, then you branch off by making connections to the connections.  On the lines that connect them, you can write why their connected, catalysts, necessary information, etc.  Seriously, write ANYTHING that comes to mind.  If it doesn’t connect, don’t connect it.  If you don’t like it later, take it out.  In this way, clustering functions like free-writing; removing any mental blocks you may have between A and B and giving you deeper insight into the connections between characters and events in your story.

3.  Bullet points that detail this and that within the cluster.  If I hit on a point I like, I toss it up in the bullet points.  Sometimes it even turns into a faint starter outline.  It’s handy.

4.  Believe it or not, this is actually part of the original cluster.  It erupted into a detailed plan and layout of the city in which this all takes place.  All I’m missing is the drawing.  It’s easy to get carried away in clustering, after all, and that’s encouraged!  Anything that propels you forward.

Need a better view on each point?  I’m going to leave out number 1, since I think I can assume we all know how to work a legend.  I’ll also add another apology for the poor photography.

2.

3.  (Don’t you love my handwriting?  It’s like someone blindfolded a toddler and handed him a Bic pen.)

4. 

Whew.  There we go.  See in 4?  Above the mess of setting details, it’s linked to my cluster.  It all connects somehow or other.  I’m sort of grateful for my crappy photography in the first two pictures.  It keeps some of my details super-secret.  =P

In any case, that’s clustering!

Do you use clustering?  Are there other pre-outline development techniques you prefer?  How do you handle your initial ideas?

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Writing Life: On Muses and Writing

Salut, all!  Today’s Writing Life post comes from my fellow writer-friend, Jessi, over at A BA in BS.  We’ve been through a lot together, me and this chick!  We’ve been friends for 13 years, created, hosted, and nurtured a writing group together, and even served as Municipal Liaisons in Massachusetts for NaNoWriMo 2010!  So, enjoy!

+*+*+*+

Inspiration. The ever illusive and always floating around us phantom that seems to slip through our fingers whenever we’re searching for it in earnest. I’m not sure about you, but my muse is a bit of a nudge. She shows herself when she feels it’s appropriate and no other time. I’ve tried coaxing her out. Leave some cookies and a mug of coffee by her door and hope she’ll want to play. I even made the cookies myself… No dice. ‘Fine. I’ll write this without her’, I convince myself and crack my knuckles to sit back and write.

It was a dark and stereotypical night when our hero found himself caught in a rain storm

“Really?” I sigh, delete and try again for the perfect first set of sentences. The truth of the matter is however, it’s not happening. Whether it’s a lack of inspiration or the lack of perfect, non-cliched writing ; the truth is, no quality writing is happening. So what do you or I do in that case?

Take a break

Maybe you’ve been starring at the computer screen for just about as long as you can remember. The hours have ticked by and your poor eyes are weary, dry and less than welcoming to the bright white of the empty page of text. Time to get up. Let the dog out, get a fresh cup of coffee, or go outside to smoke a cigarette. Whatever it is that you do to take your mind and eyes off the computer screen for a five minute break, do it. Sometimes all it takes is a momentary change of environment.

Try a writing exercise

It sounds silly. You’re working on your masterpiece, why would you stray from that? Well for starters, it may give you a new perspective on your hero/heroines current predicament. Also it could give you a new idea for a setting or character design. The point is to get your mind working on something else, and potentially, allowing it to then tangent back to your original, with something completely unexpected in tow.

Music

Ok. I’ll admit. This sounds a little stereotypical but at the same time, stop and give it a thought. How is your character reacting in the scene you’re imagining. Is it high stress? Are they about to valiantly save the love of their life? Are they relaxing by a stream? Where are they located?

Having some sort of soundtrack to your writing can save you in more than one instance. Sometimes listening to your characters theme song (assuming they have one) can trigger memories that you haven’t yet created for them, giving them purpose for being in the scene. Give it a shot, worse comes to worse, it doesn’t work and you’re still here.

Your inspiration comes from…

So where does your inspiration come from? Did you get the idea for the novel through a conversation? A walk in the park? Or did it pop up and become a pile of notes at a coffee shop, scribbled all over napkins? It may sound simple, but revisit that moment. Have a conversation with someone that understands the writing process and it’s inherent quirks. We all have writer friends that see how our brains work even if they don’t quite see through all our gauzy thought processes. Try to relive that moment, or go back through those piles of notes, seeing if something comes back to you, or even spurs on your muse.

So your muse is back or at least on speaking terms with you. Huzzah! The point however, of all of this is to try to gather on the inspiring moments in your life. Try something different and see what happens. I’ve always been a fan of writing to write, even when you’re in the middle of a project. Sometimes those bits of tangent lead you in a direction you never imagined and bring you to brand new conclusions. Even if it’s something you don’t want to use, you’re thinking and bringing your storyline forward.

And then again… there’s always the backspace and delete keys. Nothing is forever, and you can change it all as much as you want. You are all my biggest inspiration. You who keep writing, even knowing that this may all lead to nothing.

Keep it up and tell your muse to stop being such a pain in the tush.

+*+*+*+

Jessica is a tenacious, twenty something with big dreams of becoming a published novelist. She enjoys sitting in between the stacks at libraries, pulling inspiration from texts there in. She is a Municipal Liason for National Novel Writing Month (Worcester, MA) and the co-founder of Inkwell Imaginings, a writing group settled in Southbridge,MA at the Jacob Edwards Library.  Visit A BA in BS.

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