Tag Archives: writing tips

Writing Life: A Writer’s Impact/Role in the Community

Since this topic was suggested a couple of years ago, I struggled in defining the role of a writer in both society and community.  I’ve read and researched and worked to narrow down the title of “writer” in a sea of professions.  It occurred to me recently that, maybe, it wasn’t a “profession.”  Writing is something people do from the heart, and lumping it in with “making a living” completely defaces the point.  So,  I tried again, this time without books or search engines trying to define the role of “a person who writes” on “people who don’t write.”

There are different types of writers with different end-goals in mind when they put pen to paper.  Some of us want to change the world, make it better.  Some of us want to turn a profit.  Some of us just want the experience of writing.   The options are endless and no two writers will give you exactly the same answer.  The role of a writer, as a writer, in his community and in society will ultimately be defined by the role of writing in the life of the writer.  This is a blog that centers around fiction, so, for the sake of consistency, let’s stick to the topic in terms of writers of fiction.  Also, I can’t tell you how or if a writer may choose to impact their community, I can only tell you how I hope to impact my community in terms of my writing.

  1. I want to empower women and girls.  I strive to write strong women, or girls who grow into their strength, in the hopes that someone, somewhere may read it and identify.  I want that strength to be transferable.
  2. I want to help other writers.  The road to publication and a strong reader base is not a competition for me.  Everyone needs a hand up now and then.  By reading the work of my favorite authors, my life has been greatly impacted, my outlooks changed, and my skills as a writer developed.  If there is anything I can do to pay that incredibly valuable service forward, I will put myself out there to make it happen.
  3. I want to encourage literacy, and even just the basic picking up of a book.  So many people consider reading boring, and it breaks my heart.  If I can be the one to suggest the book that draws a person into the world of reading and learning, I would consider that an amazing accomplishment.

The list isn’t long, but those three points are very important to me.  So, instead of telling you what your role as a writer should be in your community, I want you to tell  me what you feel your role is.

What parts of you, as a writer, do you feel are valuable in your community, locally and globally?  How do you translate your love of writing into helping others?

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Plot Development: Ending Your Novel

Plot Development: How to write the climax and ending of your novel.

If you’re at all like me, you have trouble writing endings.  I don’t want to make this a lengthy post.  I only wanted to share the above link, and encourage you all to have a look at it.  =]

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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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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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Prompt: Fob Watch

Prompt Fridays are back!  And here’s your new one:

You’ve come into possession of a fob watch, mysteriously or otherwise, and I want you to write about it.  Tell me its significance to you.  If it has supernatural qualities, tell me about them.  Or, give me a character-perspective of this fancy new accessory and how your character came into its possession.  Go!

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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 Prompt: The First Lie

Salut!  So, some of you must be wondering what happened to my posts for the last week and a half.  WordPress decided that it won’t post my scheduled posts in full.  The post text is deleted and replaced with my initial draft line, like the post was never saved.  So, I apologize for any emails that didn’t link to posts.  I think I have it under control.  To rectify the situation, both of the last two Writing Life posts will be posted this weekend.

LfBH will now be posted bi-weekly.  I can’t keep up with the volume and quality, and if I want to have less editing work later, I need to put the time in to make sure each post is up to standard.  The next LfBH installment will go up on Monday, October 24.  I know, it’s a long time from now, but I’m plotting a NaNo novel, and editing the hell out of the first 13 chapters of LfBH.  So, wish me luck.  =]

Now, for the writing prompt!

Write a scene in which a lie lands yourself or your character into a pot of hot water!

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Prompt: Familiar

Gwin © Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

This is vague.  I want you to really reach here, because this concept has been done a thousand times five times over.  I want you to… *drumroll*  ….. tell me about your animal companion/familiar!  Or a character’s animal companion/familiar.  How did you/they come to be together?  How do you/they communicate?   Tell me the story. <3

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Writing Life: AFK, the benefits to writing away from home

Image © Simply Bike

Do you ever sit down at your desk and open your project of the moment, and think “I can’t do this here”?  Like there’s just some massive weight pressing down on you, refusing to let your imagination take you where you need to go?  Like being at home is ruining your creative flow?

Leave.  No, seriously.  Just leave.

I know, I know “I have kids, Kit, I can’t just leave.”  I’m not a parent, so I sometimes have a hard time relating to this point.  Honestly, though, if you have kids and you can’t get away, try a different room in your house.  Usually write in the office?  Try sitting in the living room.  Have a yard?  Take a notebook or your laptop outdoors and let the kids do what kids do.  Middle of the day?  Go to a playground, let the kids romp about while you sit at a nearby picnic table.  (I’d advise using a notebook and pen at a playground.  Much less likely to get destroyed, and if there’s wifi available–well, I know I can get distracted easily if I have an internet connection–from your kids, not your writing.  Seriously.  Kids are born troublemakers.  Gotta keep an eye out.  =P)

Don’t have kids?  Free to roam?  Use your writing time to discover a diner or coffee shop you’ve never been to before!  (And then, obviously, write there.)  The best part of changing up your routine?  Options.

There are chains like Panera Bread, McDonalds, Crispers, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble that have free wifi, ample seating and outlets, and a staff that, as long as they’re open and you have a drink cup (full or empty) in front of you, don’t care how long you stay.

Then there are the hidden gems.  The mom & pops, the cute little corner shops without a ton of seating, but a bitchin’ menu with those few items that the regulars rave about.  They don’t usually have wifi (though, if you’re in a pinch, you can sometimes siphon off of a chain nearby), their outlets are either limited or nonexistent, and they usually only have one bathroom stall.  But these are the places that are writing gold.  The upsides?  No wifi = No “I’ll only check Facebook once” every five minutes.  No outlets = allowing yourself to doodle and scribble on an actual notebook for once. (There’s an old world romance to it, damn it!)  The best part?  If you go there often enough, the staff and owners are the people who will encourage you in what you’re doing while you spend your time there.  They’re usually a personable staff who connect with their regulars, and we all know how far a smile and a little encouragement goes!

I don’t want you all to think that a writer writes at his desk and toils long into the night.  You don’t have to be a shut-in to get some writing done.  There’s a place where every writer can feel at home away from home; you just have to find it.

What is your writing-home away from home?  Are you comfortable writing outside of your personal writing station?  What do you prefer: wifi or no wifi?

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Writing Prompt: Burnt Offerings

Image © Fernando X. Sanchez

This can be a fiction or nonfiction exercise.  I want you to think of someone burning parts of their past; objects, memories, etc.  Why are they burning those things?  If you’re pulling from your life, what have you burned deliberately, literally or figuratively, and why?

Don’t forget to share the result of the exercise in a link in the comments!  I’d love to see what this yields.

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