Wisher’s World Goes Live

Wishers World Cover

 

My fantasy series on Kindle has emerged in the first volume. Today Wisher’s World, Vol. 1 Composing an Apprentice launched successfully and is available to readers everywhere.

Satisfaction fills me right now. It’s taken many months to get this novel ready for public display. The final hurdle came along when my computer system corrupted my final revision copy and I had to start all over again from a beta reader’s copy. The debacle added more than a month to its writing time.

But that’s all behind me. Here’s a brief excerpt from the book.

Wisher’s World, Vol. 1 Composing an Apprentice

“Strap in, Reibe.” He complied without comment. “Get your gloves on. You’re going to need them. And wrap your scarf around your mouth and nose.” Again he did as he was told. More cheers went up.

Waiting for their turn nearly undid him. And then, before he was ready, Cleone pulled the line to bring the sail taut, as she jerked another line to swing it slightly to the left. The wind caught it.

The boat leaped forward like a wild thing with a wolf on its trail. It picked up speed with every yard gained. The faces of cheering villagers passed in a blur. Reibe kept his eyes closed for a while as they left the compound. The swift turn onto the main road caused his eyes to pop open and, as swiftly, close again, against the swirling landscape of the maneuver. The three leagues to Reston had always seemed to him a lengthy distance. Now, he wasn’t sure.

Cleone held a line in each gloved hand, constantly pulling or slackening on one or the other. He’d finally resolved his trepidation to traveling like this when he heard Cleone’s muffled voice. “Macai’s family farm is coming up on your right.”

By the time he opened his eyes and focused, they’d already passed it. He raised a hand to wave just as Cleone swung the sail to make the gentle curve in the road a few yards beyond the farmstead. He grabbed for the right-hand rail. The tracks made by previous land-boats drew them too far to the left, but their speed didn’t slow.

“Hang on.”

Cleone yanked on a line, forcing them to make a quick turn back to the right. In the process, the boat’s left runner lifted from the snow. They hung suspended and listing to the right at a steep angle and raced forward.

Reibe tried to swallow the gulp he felt as his stomach lurched. His eyes lost focus on the rushing ground. He couldn’t swallow. His tongue got in the way.

Clamping his eyes shut again, Reibe missed seeing the finale. The boat suddenly righted itself with a jar; all three runners on the ground, snow flying in every direction. He peeked to see if they were still on the road. They were.

The eye protectors did their job. They caked with flying snow on occasion, but they kept his eyes safe and intact. His fingers were warm and his feet remained on the ends of his legs. If he could get his heart under control, he might be able to count this as an adventure. …

I hope all of you will get a Kindle copy. The paperback won’t be out for a few months yet. When you finish reading the book, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other review site of your choice and send a copy to me, if you’d like. I’m always interested in what you think and how well my writing suited the reader.

Also, be sure to stop in my author’s page on Facebook and say hello. Click the like button while you’re there, too. Would love to see you more often.

Thanks again for stopping in. I hope to see you again in a couple of days with a regular post.

3 Steps Fiction Writers Should Take

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Worker

Always take time to check these 3 steps before declaring a project ready for edit. They save so much time for the fiction writer.

  1. Whether you’re an outliner or not, create a list of all the major plot points which must be in place before the conclusion.
  2. Each time you finish a revision session, save the manuscript in at least two places.
  3. Always run your final copy through beta readers.

Let’s look at the logic behind each of these steps individually.

Plot Points

Outlines consist only of a story’s signposts; a series of events which must occur between the opening sentence and the last words of the story. It really is that simple. You don’t need details of how, where, why, etc. You need only those signposts in your outline. The list helps keep your story train on its timeline track.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OFor instance, the movie Ghostbusters was very simple from an outline perspective. Premise: scientists/researchers come together because of a flurry of apparition sightings in New York City.

Outline:

  • Researchers create special equipment for use at sightings if needed.
  • Scientists verify a sighting in a public library.
  • More sightings occur.
  • They hang out their shingle and go to work as independent contractors in ghostbusting
  • EPA steps in to control researchers’ activity
  • Situation with EPA devolves until the city’s government is involved
  • Researcher’s love interest is taken over by evil entity, along with another person
  • Researchers must discover identity of evil entity and devise way to dispel evil’s control
  • Researchers fight entity and entity’s minions in the Empire State Building, climaxing with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and win.
  • Possessed humans are released and rescued
  • Boy and girl declare their love
  • Everyone prospers

An outline can get even simpler, but doesn’t have to. You only need an intro, an middle with action development and a climax/conclusion. The twelve outline points above don’t take up much space on paper, but getting from the first point to the last gets filled with tiny details that take up two hours of viewing time.

Revising for Results

Once your rough draft is done, the fun begins. Mistakes photoRevising allows the writer to catch and fill in all of those amorphous details that color the story with rainbows and leave the scent of fresh-baked bread behind. And that’s what many readers look for. Unless, of course, you’re dealing in horror.

Before beginning your revision, make a copy of that rough draft, with a new title, to work from. Then, each time you finish a revision session, be it an hour’s worth or a day’s, save that baby in at least two places. Try on your hard drive and a flash drive, or the cloud and a flash drive. Whichever method you use, do it. Don’t forget.

It only takes one glitch to leave you with nothing but sunshine and a rough draft. It happens all the time to writers everywhere. You don’t want to have to begin a revision from scratch from the rough draft again. The frustration and lost hours aren’t worth the risk.

Use Beta Readers

Book and knowledge conceptUnless your story is flash fiction, send your baby to a solid list of beta readers for review. Try to get a mix of “strictly” readers and a few actual writers. You get something special from each side of the house.

The beta reader can find all those flaws that the writer misses during revision and edit. You can guess the ones; continuity errors, name changes, characters’ unexplained dialect shifts, timeline anomalies, word misuse, the dreaded word-of-the-day, and more. (Word-of-the-day refers to those common words we end to use unconsciously far more often than necessary.)

Once you get those copies back with comments, corrections, and suggestions, you’re ready to tackle the final edit and spell check. You editing task will take less time and be more accurate after having so many sets of eyes on it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The writer who takes these three steps to do each of these steps eliminates greater timewasters and frustration in the long run. A brief but pointed outline is your train’s engineer and keeps you on your time table. The revision conductor makes sure you always have a second secured, current revision copy to safeguard your work. Beta readers act as brakemen to keep you accountable for the quality of your work. Your manuscript is better for the steps taken throughout the process.

Launches, Dockets, and Lingering Projects

Happy little girl

Once upon a time there was a raw writer who dreamed of having a marvelously exciting and successful career. She took advantage of each lesson in the craft that passed her way (assuming she could afford it.) She toiled into the night writing stories, tales that would probably go nowhere.

In the daylight hours, she toiled at whichever job she happened to inhabit at the time. There was the ranch hand, the data entry specialist, receptionist, inventory controller and shipping supervisor, executive secretary and owner of a cleaning service. And all before the age of thirty.

Serious learning erupted later, interrupted by daily reality and financial requirements. Writing dreams found a surface vent only when circumstances forced a severe re-examination of a life destination. The result was a monolithic story book in two volumes. The publishing knowledge, however, didn’t exist for her.

As for all people, circumstances and situations are fluid in life. The writer learned through trial, error and networking with all levels of other writers. She became a researcher of her own future.

Book Cover 03Now, this emerging writer has a few small volumes published. She has articles on different aspects of writing published in several arenas, both online and in print. She also has her first novel nearly ready to launch; and not just any novel but the first in a fantasy series.

This handful of paragraphs describes my journey toward becoming a “real” writer. Along the way, my experiences created characters for later use. Scenery, rich and varied, was laid into a mental photo album to create settings that were vibrant and alive. Not until I looked back, could I see the many lessons and tools I’d squirreled away for my current time at the keyboard.

I believe that each of us carries within us a collage scrapbook of images and characters, scenarios and plots that spring from out past like daisies adorning a fallow field. We each carry the buds of ideas. I believe we each have a tale to tell; one as unique as our fingerprints and just as valuable.

Launches

Wisher's World Vol. 1In the next month, I will have two launches.  Wisher’s World, Vol. 1: Composing an Apprentice will be the first. It’s been a long road. I first outlined the original plotline in 2008. I began serious work on it in 2014. In between, I’d fiddled with story line, characters and little things. I was working on the rough draft of Dreamie’s Box, at the time.

Last year, I began working through Holly Lisle’s How To Write A Series: Master the Art of Sequential Fiction. Suddenly, Wisher’s World had far more potential than I’d ever realized. Only then was the first volume born.

As a result of this course, the original story line and plot has expanded into at least ten volumes. Some are novel length, like Composing an Apprentice, while others are novelette/novella length. All will operate in a sequential world or on lateral timelines. The whole experience is exciting and a great deal of work.

Another chapbook of flash fiction is also slated for release before mid-October. The next Short Tales book is ready for revision now and waiting for a few hours of dedicated work.

The Docket

In the meantime, other work goes on. There are small chapbooks of flash fiction, poetry, and memoirs to go out on Kindle. There are articles and short stories to be published in magazines, journals, and online news feeds. So much to write and, seemingly, so little time.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OThe daily docket is constantly full of projects coming in, going out and being developed. There are writing courses, marketing courses, webinars to attend to keep up with trends and all manner of new tools to learn and try out.

Lingering Projects

Dreamie Memior Cover (1)As for lingering projects, Dreamie’s Box takes center stage as soon as Wisher’s World is launched. The short memoirs are already out. Now, Dreamie will finally get her complete rewrite and edit so that her tale can go out into the world, full blown and ready to read. Scarred Love is another novel in rough draft now and going through a critique group. Three books—three different genres.

Behind those projects are ten to fifteen more, most of them already written.

I intended to use 2015 to revamp and submit much of my work already on the hard drive. I’ve discovered that it will take at least another year to pull off that miracle. But, I believe in miracles. My docket got expanded indefinitely, until I can clear all the present material from my files.

The only exception is November’s NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Web-Banner (1)project. It’ll be a master stroke if I can pull it off, but I have to try—more on that later in October.

Until then, I’m winding up as much summer work as possible with Wisher’s World, and two chapbooks and scheduled articles for publication. October is already full. What is my plan of attack, you ask? Why, one bite and bit at a time, I say.

So tell me, what are you ready to launch? What remains on your docket for the rest of the year? And do you have lingering projects for which planning awaits? Tell us all about your work. I know I’m interested. Drop something in the comments and thrill us all with your coming fireworks.

A Quick Update for Freelance Writers

These last few days have been a bit hectic, but then, the month just began.

I thought some of you might be able to use some of the information contained in my latest article–this one for freelance writers from Working Writer’s Club.

It has some helpful tips for those looking to enter the non-fiction arena, as well as resources that some of the pros might not know about or haven’t explored.

Take a few minutes to see if any of it can help you to get a new perspective or a new market.

I’ll be back later in the week with something else from the cooker.

Enjoy.

WWW Article

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Writer Rebecca Barray: An Interview

Writer/Photographer Rebecca Barray

Writer/Photographer Rebecca Barray

Today, I have the pleasure to introduce you to Rebecca Barray, writer/photographer, blogger and active “groupie”. I first met this lovely and talented lady several years ago. Since then, I’ve remained amazed at her creativity, persistence, and support to fellow writers.

Please join me in welcoming Rebecca to our Working Writer’s gallery of inspiring individuals.

Claudette: You’ve got a lot going on in your life, Rebecca. You’re a mother and wife, a working photographer and writer, and actively involved with writers groups. And those are just pursuits that are obvious on the public side of your side of your life. How do you manage to juggle so many demands on your 24 hour day?

Rebeca: Honestly, it’s really tough. I almost never get through everything I want to do each day. I just have to prioritize. Some days, I’m running the kids around nonstop. I have a teenager in a high school marching band. It’s a huge time commitment. Then, I have two kids in elementary school.  One does dance all through the school year and both play t-ball in the spring.

I have to squeeze writing, reading, and photography into the cracks, along with laundry, cooking, gardening, and any other chores that need done. Some days, I have made tough choices, like which pair of dirty jeans are the least dirty so my kids don’t have to go to school naked. 😉

Claudette: <<chuckles>> I can relate to that, and I haven’t had kids. So tell me, how long had you been writing when you became a founding member of Wordsmith Studio; and also, how involved have you been in the group since you became a founding member?

Rebecca: I’ve been writing my whole life. I have a folder of poems and short stories I wrote for school, as early as 7th grade. It’s actually funny to look at them. When we first created the group that would later become Wordsmith Studio, I think I’d been professionally writing only a year or so.

wsfounder2I’ve always been very involved in the group; I was actually the one who created the group in the first place. A few of us doing Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge on his blog My Name Is Not Bob, discussed in the comments how creating a Facebook group might make it easier to support each other, ask questions, and just be fun. And since I had known how to do it…I did. 😉

Claudette:  We certainly all had plenty to say back then about our trials with platforms, didn’t we? Could you explain how did you come to publish what amounts to a weekly newspaper for the group? Do you know how many subscribers it has now?

Rebecca: We have the public WS page for members to post/link to anything they want to share, but it’s easy to forget to do that when you’re sharing a blog post across various social media sites. So the WAG wanted to create a newsletter that contained what the various members were up to. We explored a few options and found that the free version of Paper.li best suited our needs.

We only have 18 subscribers that get the newsletter delivered to their email every week, but I consistently have people sharing the link across social media and get around a 100 views a week.

Claudette: That’s really pretty good since it gets so little promotion. Could you tell us how you developed the Wordsmith Studio publication and how it publishes itself? That was certainly news to me and I’m a member.

Rebecca: I looked at a few different free online newspapers. Paper.li was the one that best fit our needs. The setup was pretty simple; I just had to define the sources of relevant news and how often I wanted the paper to be published. Sources can be Twitter feeds, Google+ feeds, rss feeds, and YouTube channel feeds.

If you find feeds confusing, you can add sources by searching keywords and there’s even a bookmarklet you can add to your favorites list. When you are on a website that you think has valuable content you’d like to add to your newsletter, you click on the bookmarklet and a little menu pops up that list all the feeds available on that page and you can choose which one you want to add to your paper.

For the Wordsmith Studio paper sources, I added the blog feeds of our members that have blogs and the feed for a twitter list of all of our members’ Twitter accounts. After that, paper.li is fully automatic. It collects new information (posts and links) from the sources every week and publishes it in the newspaper every Monday morning.

Claudette: Did you get help from other writers or experienced publishers as you were feeling your way through the initial stages? In other words, who did you go to for answers to your questions?

Rebecca: The process was pretty easy on the Paper.li site. There are tutorials and step by step instructions.

Claudette: That would make it an option for anyone who wanted to do something for their website to help keep their subscribers coming back for more. Hmm, I may have to think about that one myself. Away from the group, and back in your real life, tell us about what are you working on now.

Rebecca: This past spring, I formed a writing partnership with a very good friend, Tobi Doyle Macbrayne, and in June, we signed a contract to publish our first team-written book with Boroughs Publishing Group! We are both very excited. It’s tentatively scheduled for publication in December.

Claudette: That’s fantastic. Congratulations. You’ve won an award for your flash fiction, and your photography is published in many venues, including newspapers. You have plenty to say about both. Do these two loves of yours aid each other or compete for your time?

      Rebecca: Probably both, lol. Some of my flash fiction was actually inspired by pictures I’d taken. And I love coming up with images for all my stories, as well. Unfortunately, I can’t write and take pictures at the same time …

Claudette: Taking stories and poems from images is its own reward, I think. Now, I know you read fantasy and romance. You like YA and adult books. Have you ever thought of using your writing/photography to create a newsletter centered on those two categories to add to your blog? And if you chose to do that, would you approach it the same way as with the one for Wordsmith Studio or develop a different format?

Rebecca: I never really considered making a newspaper for my blog. It sounds like a great idea though. I’d probably use the same strategy of hand-picking my favorite sources of relevant information. If I could only find the time to do it …

Claudette: I’ll bet you make the time, Rebecca. You have talents that many would envy, internet savvy gal that you are. Have you ever thought of offering classes or workshops to people who want to learn how to use their hobbies or working experience to connect with others with similar interests?

Rebecca: My original profession (before becoming a mother for the second time and rediscovering my love of writing) was teaching. I’ve always loved teaching, and I actually taught an online class on setting up a free WordPress blog a few times last year. Being a terminal introvert, I’m not so great at self-promotion, and interest in the class fizzled out. I’ve thought a lot about putting together a short introduction to photography course, and I’d really love to do it. But my social anxiety has kept me from actually doing it. Maybe someday …

Claudette: You’ve given us some terrific insights into your life, Rebecca. Only one last query. What are your dreams for your future now? What horizons do you have in your sights?

 Rebecca: Right now, I’m staying busy writing with Tobi. Besides the book under contract with Boroughs, we have a novel in the final stages of editing, one that we’re about halfway through writing and a novella for a Christmas anthology about halfway through the editing process. And after those are finished, we have three or four ideas for novels lined up.

So I guess the horizon in my sights right now is my name on the cover of that book in December. And my dreams for the future would be to line up a few of those on my shelf. :)

Claudette: Thank you, Rebecca, for gracing us with your time and your thoughts about your personal journey down the writer’s path.  You’ve given us all a few things to think about, not least of which is the fact that a busy life doesn’t have to mean an unbalanced one. I’m looking forward to seeing your first novel come out and getting my hands on it. Keep me posted on its progress, please.

For those who’d like to keep tabs on Rebecca’s journey on a regular basis, go to her website, Rebecca Barray, Writer/Photographer. For books by Rebecca Barray, go to her Amazon page.

WSS-logo-260x260For those who’d like to explore Wordsmith Studio, please do so. The Studio is always open to new members and interested spectators. Members also have weekly tweet chats to keep abreast of member doings, industry changes/issues, and other writerly subjects.

Shifting Mental Gears

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Sometimes, a writer has to take stock of a situation and begin shifting mental gears.

Now, I’ll give you the skinny on why things have slowed down on my Wisher’s World Series. I tried to pull up the completed final revision of Volume One last Sunday. The only thing available was a corrupted copy in a temp file on my hard drive. The Digital Gods had decreed that I should begin a totally new revision of the novel.

Wisher's World Vol. 1

Prelim Cover

The space beside me was occupied by my clone, who was freaking out about the situation. The anger, frustration, and normal emotional responses were being handled by the clone. The rest of me went through every retrieval procedure possible in an attempt to find the good copy.

No such luck.

What I did have was a beta reader copy that had been sent back to me with corrections, suggestions, and questions embedded in it. And another full beta reader assessment on file that I could add to the first one. Also, there was a hard copy I’d used to transfer all of those proposed changes, suggestions, etc.

I pulled up the corrected beta file and began again. I should have a new revision finished—barring more trouble—within a couple of weeks. Even though an anticipated edit should have begun this week, the delay isn’t too great. At least, not yet.

abstract_2008012903-1113int.epsMy clone still resents the interruption in the writing process. The rest of me came to a refined conclusion about the incident. Being forced to return to the beginning with fresh memories of the changes already made once, creates an opportunity to make the story better, fuller, richer. Maybe that  shifting of mental gears is a sign of writing maturity.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Anyway, that’s how things stand with that series right now. Believe me, I have new copies of each chunk of revision done on a flash drive as well. Two other short projects wait in the wings for their time in the spotlight—a short tales chapbook of flash fiction, and an updated edition of my Writer’s Dragon book. With luck I can get all three projects out within the next month, plus a few others to outside markets.

Writer-Photographer Rebecca BarrayOh, and I’ll have another article for you on Sunday/Monday. It will be an interview with writer/photographer Rebecca Barray. We’ll be discussing her handling of the Wordsmith Studio Newsletter and what it takes to put a good newsletter together on a regular basis.

I hope you’ll stop in to learn how Rebecca does it. Until then, take time to breathe, look over your own writing process, and how you intend to work for the rest of the year. Have you looked at your goals lately?

Related Articles:

How To Develop an Editorial Calendar

Photo/link by A Grande Life http://agrandelife.net/how-to-make-an-editorial-calendar-free-template/

Photo/link by A Grande Life http://agrandelife.net/how-to-make-an-editorial-calendar-free-template/

Every working writer should know how to create an editorial calendar. Several different types of calendars exist. Each helps the writer track her time and efforts throughout a given working period.

Some types of calendars for use are:

  1. Spec calendar for fiction/non-fiction, requiring queries/cover letters (No assignment contract involved)
  2. Social media calendar to track time and effort spent on social media sites and the types of status updates used on each. (Hootesuite is an example for those who need to promote a product, book, blog, or event or who have little time to use for social media attention.)
  3. Assignment calendars for articles/stories to be written and submitted to specific editor for magazines/journals/news media. (Work related to editor assigned/contracted work with specific deadlines)
  4. Writing calendars covering deadlines for rough drafts, revisions, edits, and formatting for screenwriting/self-publishing/traditional publishing (For those who concentrate on novella/novel-length fiction and need to keep their work moving at a specific pace)
  5. Professional blogger/content marketer calendar to organize and deliver specific topics and formats in regular blog posts/newsletters (For bloggers who make at least a partial living from their blogs, who need to manage their posts and their time effectively)

As you can see, each type of calendar has a specific kind of user. There are also other types (i.e. speaker’s calendar)

One of the hardest decisions to make is whether you need a calendar.

Analysis

Analysis

I finally came to that conclusion three years ago when I was overwhelmed by blog posts, spec work, course work, and assigned work. Organizing what needed to be accomplished in a given week helped sanity reign.

If you fall into any of these categories, you might need a calendar.

Health Work Career Friends Signpost Shows Life And Lifestyle Balance

Health Work Career Friends Signpost Shows Life And Lifestyle Balance

  1. You have a busy life with few short breaks in which to do writing.
  2. You have too many projects sitting on heaped back burners waiting for your attention.
  3. You get distracted easily and waste your writing time.

Don’t kid yourself. It takes time to set up a calendar and there are plenty of considerations to take into account. For this article, the assumption is that you’ve never created one and the steps are kept as simple and non-threatening as possible.

Here are 3 tools to help develop your calendar.

  1. Microsoft Excel—this spreadsheet tool is fairly easy to use and takes little time to learn the basics that you need for calendar use.
  2. A simple (often free) large-cell calendar to hang on your wall or desk calendar to fill in all those blank spaces with your writing projects.
  3. The ether zone—for WordPress users, several calendar types with instruction are available as plugins. Also Hootesuite for media work and status updates, with or without promotion.

One key element to consider is the time frame of your calendar.

Time is money concept with clock and coins

Time is money concept with clock and coins

Will it cover a week, a month, a year, or something in-between? This decision determines how to determine your scheduling, but also how much work you place within that time frame. For editors, illustrators, novelists, and others, a year-long calendar is often used. For writers, like me, who work on both short-term and longer projects, a multi-month calendar is preferred.

Pick your preference.

If you have little time to write but many chores and obligations to fill your day, you might only need a small calendar on your refrigerator/desk/nightstand as a reminder.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerIf you’re buried by writing projects and a couple of blogs, and use WordPress, take advantage of their plugins and save time and effort. Those calendars are saved in Cloud and available online anytime and via your mobile device.

On the other hand, if you prefer something tangible, you can tackle Excel and do a printout of your writing schedule. (NOTE: If you choose this route, keep things simple and on a single page of a short, vertical  calendar.)

I use both a material calendar and one on Excel, each with a specific purpose. A weekly overview of writing tasks goes onto Excel. Long-term projects, anything with a deadline, and writing-related seminars, conferences, readings, etc. all find a place on a large, print calendar, where I can look at an upcoming month and see what needs preparation.

Choosing what to put on your calendar is easy.

  1. Anything with a deadline/event date attached—assigned work, contests, submission guideline closures, etc.
  2. Scheduled blog posts with topic
  3. Any guest posts with topic
  4. Milestone projects—novels, novellas, etc. with revisions, edits, beta reader work, etc.
  5. Prospective short story/article/ebook projects
  6. Admin work—website maintenance, course studies, learning new software, marketing research, query development

Avoid burying yourself.

Girl Taking A Nap On Her Notebook Computer As Exhausted

Girl Taking A Nap On Her Notebook Computer As Exhausted

Calendars are marvelous tools and can help simplify your writing life. There can also be a danger attached to them. They have so many luscious empty spaces to fill. You can easily fill in too many of those blank spaces and find yourself slaving under the whip of WIPs that aren’t critical or necessary.

Save yourself pain, anguish, guilt and burnout by scheduling down time. Take a break every hour throughout the day. Get up, move around, talk to someone, or whatever gets you away from the computer. Your brain and body will thank you for it.

Also schedule at least one, but preferably two, days away from writing altogether. Writing is a job, just like any other and has its demands. With jobs comes weekends to get away and do other things. Burnout is a real danger for many people, and it’s not easy to recover from it. Having been there, I can attest to that reality.

With that cautionary note ringing across the land, here’s a recommendation.

Try a monthly calendar until you see if one will benefit you. Take it slow at first. Ease yourself into it, unless you’re accustomed to scheduling your day/week already.

Begin by organizing all of your prospective blog/website posts for one month. Then, add small projects and admin work—say a short story or article, with its rough draft, revision, edit, and submission. If you’re doing course work, schedule your study sessions. Don’t worry about anything else for your calendar.

After that month has passed, evaluate your work during the previous scheduled time.

Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Did you get more done and more effectively?
  2. Did you feel less stressed? Did you find spare time you could have used for writing or other activities?
  3. Did using the calendar help you each day to stay on track and feel prepared to tackle upcoming work?

At this point, you can decide whether using a calendar all the time is for you. You can also tweak those additions or subtractions that could be useful to you. Whatever you decide to do on a regular basis, you will have learned something important about your work life and your non-work life.

Giving yourself one month to experiment with schedules can teach you much about yourself. Take the time and chance to organize your work to produce for you. Most of all, don’t stress over it. Everyone has her own approach to what helps and what doesn’t. Find what works for you.

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Weekly Challenges in August

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Hey there, all,

August is full of challenges. August 1st saw writer,coach, and entrepreneur Suzanne Lieurance issue a challenge to all of those within her Working Writers Club.

Each week had a specific blog/site challenge to be completed, shared, and promoted throughout the club and to all of our readers.

004-stock-photo-oThe first week required a list article. These  articles are simple ones, which list a series of steps, resources, etc. that can be used by readers for research, problem-solving, and the like. Hence, my article titled “3 Tricks for Tapping Muse’s Goldmine.”

Last week ushered in the tips/tricks article. I posted “6 Tricks for Taming Writer’s Block.” I hope you try those. They work like a dream.

Close up of glasses on research concept

Close up of glasses on research concept

This week features a “How-To” article. This will  be a much longer article with clear, easy-to-follow steps to do a specific task or create a specific product.  We’re being encouraged to use video, if possible. I have to admit defeat in the video department.  With my vision as it is, that requirement is out of the question.

All of the participants are in the dark about next week’s entree. You’ll just have to wait and see what comes along.

In the meantime, I hope I’ve provided interesting, as well as helpful, articles for you all. I’ll see you in a few days with my challenge article. In the meantime, scroll back in case you’ve missed one or more offerings. Enjoy.

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6 Tricks for Taming Writer’s Block

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I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. Others, though, struggle with it on a regular basis. I thought I’d share  a few tricks with you that helped me  tame the beast. And I didn’t have to use a whip and a chair.

  1. Always have a list of writing prompts for all occasions—holidays, writing subjects for the blog, story ideas (fleshed out enough for clarity and in different genres), and questions to which you’d like answers. Think like a casting director and choose good performers.
  2. Create another short list of what I call Angle    Inspirations. These can be anything from proverbs or adages to old regional sayings. Even old tongue twisters will work. Try to select ones that spark a alternate meaning. Exp: I once used Little Suzie Down by the Seashore as the inspiration for a children’s poem with a twist.
  3. Play with the chosen list item. Tear it apart, give it a contemporary twist, and string it back together into a workable, marketable piece.
    Analysis

    Analysis

    HINT: This also works for non-fiction when you start asking pertinent questions about the list item, such as “tropical fish.” Ask this question; what’s the big deal about red lion fish in the Caribbean? That question and answer is good for an entire book.

  4. Always carry a small notebook with you. As you move around the world, jot down things you witness. Exp: peculiar-looking behaviors in stores, fender-benders on the highway or street, arguments between people, conversations overheard, etc. When you get home, transfer your notes to a file titled Bits of Business for Fiction, or something similar. When you get stuck in a scene or without a catalyst for a character, dip into your “Business” file and look for something to plug in. Oddly enough, this works well, regardless of genre, historical period or audience age.
  5. Drag out the photo album and begin a slow perusal of its contents. Each image has a story from your life. Memories, emotions,IMG_9027and occasionally old conversations, surface. Use those for flavor and color in your story. Alternatively, you can get a nostalgia piece of non-fiction to use for an article, a memoir story, or a blog post.
  6. And last, but certainly not least, if all else fails, pull out your stack of personal mail, including junk mail. Study each piece. What emotions surface from your electric bill—004-stock-photo-oespecially during those cold winter months? Did you laugh or groan at the price of new mattresses on the local furniture store flyer? How would someone who was struggling, just to eat, feel when looking at that mail? Each envelope can spark a different story idea, if you allow you mind to unfocus on you and refocus on someone else and alternate reactions.

And there you have it–six ways to stomp out writer’s block Take a chance. Build your own lists, files, and quirky sidesteps. Take these stock-photos-2-026tricks and gamble on yourself and on your abilities. Most importantly, never believe that you don’t have ideas. Ideas come from conscious thought, and if you’re awake, they’re running around loose in your head. Writer’s block need never be a problem again.

3 Tricks for Tapping Muse’s Goldmine

 

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Muse has a goldmine. Wordsmiths get writer’s block unnecessarily.

Every day, from the time we’re born until the day we die, our minds are bombarded with information, sensory stimulation, and our own associations created by incoming data.

What does this mean for the writer/artist? In a word, plenty. We experience this tsunami of ever-changing data. Our creative minds vacuum it in as fodder for whatever we do.

The danger lies in a lack of focus on specifics. News stories change every few minutes. A simple trip to the grocery store garners usable scenarios, characters, etc. Unless, of course, it only generates frustration, at which time some benefit is lost.

For Muse, this constant stream of information and impression is a goldmine. Like many goldmines, tapping Muse’s vein isn’t always the easiest of tasks. Ask any writer who’s been challenged on the battlefield by that nemesis of all contenders, WRITER’S BLOCK.

Here are 3 easy tricks to gain entrance to Muse’s gold mine:

  1. Never believe the mine is empty. If you do, you might as well hang up your hard hat. Instead, allow yourself to sit in that dark shaft of possibilities and listen. That’s all. Listen. What do you hear? Your heartbeat? A neighbor outside working in his yard? The cat in the litter box? A faint tune coming from somewhere far away?

abstract_2008012903-1113int.epsWhatever it is that you hear, or that impresses you the most, focus on it for a few minutes. With your eyes closed and your focus locked on, take up a pen and write everything that crosses your mind during the focus. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to impress. All it needs to do is find outlet. After a few minutes of writing, you will have something unique that can provide the core of a story, a poem, a painting, a song, or an article; all because you closed your eyes and listened.

  1. Think back to a memory from childhood. Pick a vivid one. Close your eyes. Allow yourself to sink back into it, to feel those moments. Are you with someone? Who and why? Where are you, where did you just come from, and where are you going? What’s the conversation about, if you’re speaking with someone else? Why is this memory important to you? Did that experience color your life in a way that led to the present, and how did it influence your life? Write it down as you’re watching it in your mind. It’s your personal movie.
  2. Give yourself permission to stare out a window and allow your mind to float wherever it wants. Take notes of mind’s journey.
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Each of these exercises asks the mind to play for a while. It’s asked to ignore the world outside your chosen parameters. Disconnecting in this way can free those impressions, personal memories, and extraneous gems of the outside world, leaving the writer/artist with a cache of usable plotting elements, characters, settings, etc.

The only limitations to these mining excavations are the ones you place on them. Play. Remember to take your hard hat.