Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Writer's Tool: Observation

For the April A-Z Challenge I've written about a writer's tool: observation. You can read it over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I'd love to see you over there.

Lately I haven't had the time to join many blogfests, but this blogfest caught my eye. Co-compiled by Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo, How I Found the Write Path is an exciting project aimed to help and encourage writers everywhere. The end result will be a collaborative eBook which will be free to download. 

Write a letter/note to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. Keep it under 800 words, including as many (or as few) of these elements as you like:
   - A lesson you learned the hard way
   - Something you didn’t expect about the industry (positive/negative)
   - A writing-related resource you could never do without now
   - One thing you’d change about your journey
   - One thing you’re glad you did
   - Your number one tip for pursuing publication
   - Anything else you feel is worth passing on 
Then post during the week of May 19th. For more information or to sign up, click HERE

And don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website

Please note, as mentioned in my last post, I won't be around as much for the next couple of weeks (at least) due to my Mystery Project. More on that later. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good habits of Successful Writers

For the April A-Z Challenge I've written a short list of the good habits of successful writers. You can read it over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Thanks: I recently won a kindle edition of Melting the Ice Queen's Heart. A big thanks to Amy Ruttan, the author, and to Nas Dean at Romance Book Haven. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Project update: As some of you know, I've taken on a huge non-writing project while I'm still writing. I'm not ready to say exactly what this project is until I have something to show for it. However, I'm still super excited, I'm learning heaps, and I'm re-learning heaps more. I'm sorry I haven't been around as much. I hope you'll all understand. I'm still popping around when I can, though.

What have you been up to recently? Has the A-Z challenge kept you busy? 

I hope to see you over at the IWSG to check out the good habits of successful writers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to be Patient with your Writing Career

One of the core triggers for a writer’s insecurity is impatience. There’s a certain desperation to become published. We catch the dream with visions of bestsellers lists, book signings and our book with a snappy cover and our names written across the jacket. This dream, when we let it bloat into the realm of unrealistic timings and overinflated goals, can become our downfall.

This writing dream is a distant location with a long and often arduous journey to get there. We forget the travel and decide all we want is the destination. We want to be a writer more than we want to write.

We forget the joy of writing, the pure pleasure of creating something from nothing, the magic of conjuring worlds and characters, evoking emotions in others, being able to touch people with a poignant scene, to make them laugh or cry and get involved in the story. We’re too busy wanting to get published, wanting to get noticed, wanting to quit our day jobs, or whatever else it is we want right this very instant. When it doesn’t happen fast enough, we start to think we aren’t good enough and will never be good enough. The doubts start to set in and bam, we’re insecure and unproductive. We may even toy with the idea of quitting.

Talent is not a factor when it comes to writing. Some might disagree with me, but I’ll stand by this. A person with a boatload of talent, but is easily swayed by their doubts, won’t go as far as someone with less talent, but a mountain-load of drive. Natural born talent might get you started and might gain you some early accolades, but it won’t help you cross the finish line.

There’s only one way I know to be patient and that’s to enjoy the writing and to just keep writing and doing everything you can to improve. The hike will always be easier when we love it. If we don’t, then we’ll drag our feet and everything along the way will become that much harder.

Daily ask yourself what you want. Daily fall in love with your manuscripts. Enjoy the storytelling process. Be a slave to your stories. Delight in the lack of sleep because you have to wake up in the middle of the night to write down an idea.

You are a writer. Rejoice.

How do you remain patient with where you want your writing to go?
This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month (I’m day early because of the A-Z Challenge). To join the group or find out more, click here.

I’ll be taking part on the A-Z Challenge via the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website. Today I’m kicking the challenge off with a short writing tip: A is for… Applying Yourself as a Writer.

You can also link your A-Z posts in the IWSG Facebook threads we will provide.

I’d also love to share the exciting news that one of my wonderful critique partners, and an amazing writer, Carol Riggs, has signed a contract with Angry Robot’s YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. Her book, The Body Institute, has gone to a brilliant home after a ‘competitive bidding situation’. You can read the announcement here on Publishers Weekly. Congratulations, Carol!

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Survive a Writer's Life

Today I'm over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group website, talking about ways to best survive the difficulties of a writer's life.

I'd love to see you over there.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Of Insanity and Creative Works #IWSG

It’s been my experience that insanity and creativity go hand-in-hand. I’ve taken on a number of extra projects this year, one of which is not writing. It’s an artistic endeavour. No surprises since it would be a rare thing to find me doing anything that’s not creative. It does require a steep learning curve, though. Eek.

Creatively speaking, the more insane things get, the more alive I feel and the more satisfied I am in the work I produce, whether it’s a story or a piece of art. Consequently, I shouldn’t be nervous about how much I’m taking on. I must confess, however, I am. Just a little.

Nervous and excited.

Can I do it all? Can I do it all well? Will I be able to find the time? Will I be able to achieve the result I have jumping about in my head?

Does it matter? Not really. Part of the fun is in the discovery and learning and pushing myself to improve. I’m having a wow of a time tip-toeing along the blade’s edge that is insanity and creativity. How about you? What keeps you dancing along that edge?

My writing tip for the week:
Writing (and anything creative) is hard. So what? You love it don’t you?

Photo: I took this photo a couple of weeks ago. I love the colours.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. On the first Wednesday of every month, we post about our insecurities or share encouragement. To join the group or find out more info, click here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Does a Tidy Desk Mean a Tidy Mind?

Warning: the images in this post may be disturbing--especially if you like a tidy work environment.

This photo clearly shows I've recently cleaned up
Today I thought I'd share the mess that is my office. I clean up my work area once every 4-6 months depending on whether the piles of papers and notes threaten to topple, or if I want to avoid writing, then I tell myself that cleaning my desk is justifiable. I'm still doing something toward my writing, right?

For a while I bought into the saying that an untidy desk reflects an untidy mind. So out of embarrassment, I'd clean up. Funny thing was any chaos I might've been harbouring didn't suddenly disappear. On seeing a clean desk, no clear skies came rolling in and no golden ta-da moment of inspiration struck. My mind is a chaotic soup of what-ifs, doubts, crazy worlds, and weird characters. No clean desk is going to change that. (Or maybe I'm just used to the mess so it's no longer a distraction).

After doing some reading, I discovered that an untidy desk often enables creative types. “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” according to Dr Vohs, a behavioural scientist at the University of Minnesota. I like the sound of that! But that's me. How about you?
This desk would be messier if I had more room
Does a clean desk or work area make a difference to the way you work or think?

I've continued the discussion in the IWSG Facebook group as well. Feel free to pop on over and post a pic of your area.

IWSG news: Today, Alex J Cavanaugh has a guest post at How to Write Shop, talking about the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Please pop on over and support our awesome group, or find out more about the group.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Writing Likeable Characters

I've often heard the advice that writers should strive to create likeable characters. Unfortunately the term 'likeable' is often misunderstood to mean someone you'd want to get to know in real life. As a result, writers turn their creations into sugar sweet confectionery that's neither likeable nor realistic.

I just finished reading The Diviners by Libba Bray. It's a young adult book set in the 1920's. It's a wonderful read, but I'm not sure I'd want to make the main character my best friend. She's far too selfish. Oddly enough, she's likeable nonetheless. Why? Because she's interesting. She's bold and open-minded and just a little bit sassy.

I also recently read Bloody Waters by Jason Franks. It's about a girl named Clarice and her rock band, Bloody Waters, as they rise to stardom with the aid of a deal done with the devil. Another fantastic read. I definitely would not want to know Clarice in real life, yet she's a fabulous character to journey with through the novel. She speaks her mind, is as rough as sandpaper, and will take out anyone who gets in her way.

Another great example of unlikeable likeable characters is to read pretty much any of the books written by Joe Abercrombie. The Blade Itself is his first novel. It's full of horrible people capable of doing horrible things, yet I was drawn to them anyway. He turned the sanitised fantasies into something new and engaging.

So when you hear the call for 'likeable' characters, think instead 'interesting'--characters with depth, inner conflicts and flaws. Realistic characters with no rainbows and unicorns in sight. It's the quirks that make the characters likeable and encourages readers to read more.

What stories have you read with unlikeable likeable characters? What do you think made those characters work?