Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5 Steps Back to Writing

Once, I allowed myself to do the worst thing possible for cultivating my dream of becoming a published fiction author.

I quit.

After journaling my way through adolescence and falling in love with telling stories on paper, writing became a part of my being. But when I became an adult and joined the real world, I wasn’t prepared for the new level of responsibilities that I would face, eventually slipping into a mild period of depression where I just didn’t care very much about anything.

I stopped writing, reading, playing piano, drawing, and basically every other endeavor I’d ever used to foster my creativity. I threw my whole being into the frenzy of my paid profession. At first I had a hard time shutting off the fiction and creativity, but I told myself that I’d get back to it someday when I had more time.

Then I realized that I never would have more time. 
I felt like my dreams were just out of reach.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

4 Simple Truths to Balance Life and Writing

I’m a busy person. I’m sure you are too, but I mean, I’m a really, really busy person. The only thing I can think of that could make my life more hectic right now is having kids.

Not right now, thank you.

Because I’m so busy, I know I’ve got to make the most of the time that I do have, which seems like so little. There are a few things I’ve figured out to try to stretch those precious moments as far as I can and to get more words per minute out of my keyboard.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Lucky 7 Meme Challenge

I was tagged by Christopher Waltz (He blogs here) to participate in the Lucky 7 Meme challenge.

I am so happy I could burst!

Let me start out by saying that I had seen something similar to this on another blog a while back and had decided that I would participate at some point. I was prepared to create my own thread but can’t even tell you how excited I am that someone actually tagged me first…I am elated!

Okay, so the idea behind the Lucky 7 Meme is for writers to get their work exposed to more readers. Each person that is nominated is supposed to chose seven words, seven sentences, paragraphs, pages, etc. from their work and post it to their blog. Then, they’re to link back to their blog and nominate seven more people to do the same.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shift the Balance in Your Direction

Sometimes I feel like Clark Kent with his secret identity thing going on. I’m the type of person who gets carried away with the whole superhero idea, thinking that I can take on the world while doing this balancing act of having a full-time job, being an active church member, daughter, sister, outdoorswoman, blogger, book reader, pianist and novelist too. 

You see, by day, I’m a staff reporter and journalist, writing the news for my hometown newspaper. My secret life begins when I leave the office for the day. I become a fiction writer, pulling fantasy worlds from my head and living vicariously through the characters that inhabit them. 

Fiction is my first love, it’s my passion. I love being a story teller, sharing adventures of made-up people who live in made-up places through the written word. Someday I hope to be able to write fiction full-time. But there’s tons of other stuff that holds my interest as well and, in the meantime, I have to hold down a day job to make a living.

Sometimes, a full-time job can be a real drain, creatively speaking. But the newspaper I work at is understaffed and I wear more than my share of hats – as does everyone who works there. It’s common to work over 40 hours each week. And then there seems like there are so few hours left over by the time I get off work to do much of anything else.

I’ve been told that I’m one of the lucky ones. I get paid for crafting words, day-in and day-out. At my little newspaper, I already have readers. And the thing is, I enjoy my work and am fairly good at writing the news.

Because of this, I sometimes feel like I get a complex and have a hard time deciding how to balance everything. When I first started my newspapering job, it was difficult to get my brain to switch back and forth between the two styles. Even now it seems that I’m constantly struggling to find the balance.

But it’s not entirely impossible.

I’ve got two tips for today about figuring out how to accomplish your writing goals.

The first one is: Write. Don’t quit.

There really is no secret to writing, no magic trick or anything. It’s simply a lot of work. You’ve got to put your head down and keep on keeping on.

The second tip is this: schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule.

I feel that there is always something you can do to make time for your writing, whether that’s cutting back on the amount of television you watch or getting up earlier and going to bed later to squeeze in a few extra hours at the key board.*

*But be sure to know your limits and don’t push yourself too far. I’ll cover this top in an upcoming post.

Whatever you do, you’ve got to figure out how to shift the balance of life in your favor.

Erica Jong says, “Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.”

Although I’ve been writing since grade school, I feel like my journey is just beginning. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes and am finding that defining what those mistakes are is sometimes the hardest thing.

It can be scary to follow your talent, but oh-so rewarding too.

What struggles do you face daily with writing creatively? Do you know where your talent is leading you right now? Are you brave enough to follow it to that place of possibilities?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wave Your Writer’s Flag

Little over a month ago, I decided that I wanted to take my blog to the next level while beginning the process of building my author platform. So, I picked a date out of the air and got down to the business of figuring out exactly what steps I needed to take to make that happen.

Right away, I put together a blogging schedule and put some serious thought into what I would post about. Then I got down to the work of creating a surplus of posts and redesigning the look of my blog.

I spent some time connecting with other writers I met on Twitter and studying their websites and blogs and just basically trying to take in as much as I could. I read advice and asked questions. I was pleased to learn that I was mostly on the right track with preparing my new blog, according to others more experienced. I made a few tweaks to my plan and kept going.
Let's join these guys in waving our flag!

There were so many trepidations that I faced and things that I’m still dealing with. Up until this point, my main readers have been family and close friends.

Now I’m standing here, waving my little flag, trying to catch the whole world’s attention.

The butterflies in my stomach feel sort of like when I had a piano recital as a little girl. Only, this concert hall is much larger.

One of the toughest decisions was figuring out what to rename my blog. The previous name I had blogged under was Where I Don’t Go Crazy, a name that I had outgrown. I figured that if my long-term goal was to build an author’s platform, it was only obvious to go with my own name. 

I’m sure my journey will be riddled with mistakes, but I’ve discovered that is the beauty of blogging. It’s a writing journey, something you are continually learning about and adjusting. It’s something that you’re constantly working to improve and that’s never really finished – sort of like life. 

Some of the greatest advice I ever received was from my grandfather when he said: “Pay attention to what I’m telling you. I’ve already made these kinds of mistakes. Learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make the same ones.” 

While he was talking about something completely unrelated to writing, I cling to that advice. I like to think that he was telling me to build on the foundation that he’d already established in life. He wasn’t telling me not to mess up, but he was telling me not to repeat his, or my own, mistakes.

I know that I’ve made a lot of mistakes along my writing journey. It’s part of being a writer – heck, it’s part of being a human being! – but I have learned from those mistakes so far. I’ve been able to pick myself up again and keep going. That’s what really matters.

I hope that you’ll follow me here and benefit from the stories of my mistakes and be willing to share some of your own.

Together, let’s wave our writer’s flag to the world. 

What are you doing to wave your writer’s flag right now? What are some mistakes you’ve made since starting on this journey and what have you learned from those mistakes?