Saturday, December 17, 2011

Horrible Poetry & Holiday Wishes

'Twas the week before Christmas
when all through the house
Electronics were humming
especially my mouse

The stockings were hung
by the chimney with care
Revisions were flowing
as I typed with flair

Lights were not hung
and cards were not sent
But my muse had returned
from wherever she went

My children, I heard them
and all of their chatter
I stopped my revisions
to show kids they matter

The work will still be here
when school brings displeasure
But holiday memories
are something we treaure

So I'm closing my laptop
and paying attention
To prayers and laughter
and food, might I mention

I wish you an abundance
of holiday cheer
When the new year arrives
I'll see you back here

Writer friends, this was my lame way of letting you know I'll be taking a short blogging break while my kids are home for Christmas vacation.

But I can't let this year end without telling you how thankful I am that we're in each other's lives. You're an amazing group of people, and it's so fun to share this crazy journey together.

I wish each of you a happy holiday season, and I'll see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Enthusiasm--Bring It!

First, I want to mention that I guest posted about flawed vs. unlikable characters over at Lisa Green's blog. If you haven't checked it out yet, come on over! Warning: Lisa's blog is highly addictive.

And now, on to enthusiasm!

When we're passionate and enthusiastic about our work, our manuscripts can shine. But if we're mired in a swamp full of rejections, revisions, or plotting obstacles, we writers can become discouraged.

So how can we retain or regain enthusiasm for our work? Here are some ideas:
  • Stay productive. Even when we're in a slump, if we remain productive and write through it, the good stuff will eventually flow.
  • Need a break? Take one. This sometimes contradicts the previous point, but when our creative brains are fried, we might just need a sweaty workout, a good movie, or an unhealthy dose of reality TV. And chocolate.
  • Revel in the success of others. Instead of feeling envious (I know, I've felt that way too) we should rejoice in the success of other writers. Heck, if they can do it, so can we!
  • Run your own race. A companion to the previous point. If we focus on our own road, our own journey, we're less likely to become discouraged. Eye on the prize, writer friends.
  • Consider no-pay/low-pay markets. These markets are hungry for submissions, and are a great opportunity to earn writing credits. Plus, receiving an acceptance from these markets can give writers a much needed boost of confidence. Funds for Writers is a great place to start, and if you write for kids, check out
  • Nurture your talent. When we read craft books, we're planting the seeds for success. Plus, successful authors of these books are quick to offer encouragement. Win/win.
  • Write with all your heart. If we try to fit ourselves into something that isn't a good match, we may lose our passion. But if we write what we love, something we'd like to read, our enthusiasm has a better chance of hanging on.
  • Daydream. Go ahead. It's one of our perks.
  • Remain thankful. Our skills, and the opportunity to improve them, are a gift.
Do you ever lose enthusiasm for your work? If so, how do you get it back? Please share!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Act Now! Cyber Deals for Writers!

'Tis the holiday season...time for peace, laughter, and shooting pepper spray into a crowd in order to snatch up an XBox. In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share some amazing cyber deals for writers:

Are your first drafts dreary?
Want to morph from Mediocre to Mama Mia?!
Look no further!
Buy our Better First Drafts software for the low price of $399
For an additional $699 you'll receive an upgrade to
Perfect First Drafts
(Perfect first drafts are not typical, and cannot be guaranteed)

Success in a Box!
Need an agent? No problem!
Want a book deal? Whatever!
Spot on the bestseller list? It's yours!
Movie deal? Do we look like amateurs?
All this for the low price of 12 easy payments of $999
Buy Success in a Box today, and your publishing dreams will come true!
(Happiness sold separately)

Anti-Rejection Pixie Dust
Never again cringe when you open an email
Never again hurl your laptop against the wall
Writers, you too could be rejection-free with just one sprinkle of our magic pixie dust
Only $299, plus shipping and handling
But wait, there's more!
Order within the next 15 minutes and receive a free sampling of
Great Grammar Goo
(Pixie dust and Grammar Goo cause damage to keyboards. Use at your own risk)

Feeling Generous?
Sign up your writer buddy for the "Good News of the Month Club"
On the first of each month, your wonderful writing friend can receive an acceptance letter, a call from a literary agent, or a contract from a publishing house!
Don't miss out on this limited offer! Order today!
(All calls are recorded, acceptance letters are fake, and contracts are non-binding)

So what do you say, writers? Are you ready to whip out that credit card and fill it up with these amazing cyber deals? Are there any other writerly wishes on your list? (These deals are not real, although credit card numbers are accepted...just kidding--not really--yes, I am)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Write With Authenticity

Au-then-tic: not false or copied; genuine

I heard an interview with Taylor Swift, and the questioner asked how she came up with ideas for her songs. Swift said, "I go to high school and write about it." And then she added, "And I try to write with authenticity."

Sounds so simple! Many of her songs chronicle high school angst, yet they resonate with people of all ages. It seems to me we could follow the breadcrumbs of her songs, and see what she was experiencing at the time it was written.

I don't have all the answers, but when I thought about what it meant to write with authenticity, here's what I came up with:

Be true to your writerly self
I'm amazed by the successes of fantasy and dystopian novels, but I doubt I'd ever write one. I marvel at the creativity involved in building a whole new world, and I'm impressed by those of you who write in those genres. I gravitate toward contemporary dramas, and know that that's where my authentic writerly self belongs. Not that I'd shy away from a different genre if I felt compelled to experiment with something new.

Your unique life experiences add value to your stories
I love the idea that only we can tell our stories. In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott tells how she handed out a writing assignment to each student, and even though the topic was the same, she received a different story from each student. We each view life differently and handle situations in ways that no one else can duplicate. I love how this transfers to our writing. No one else can authentically write exactly what we've written.

Tap in to genuine emotions
We've each felt love, fear, shame, happiness, pride, and embarrassment, and sometimes it's easier to bury the bad stuff and only remember the good. But if we dig deep, remember it all, and write about it, our work will shine with authenticity. At least that's what I'm hoping for.

David Morrell said, "You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, 'This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I'm doing the best I can--buy me or not--but this is who I am as a writer.'"

Tell me, what does writing with authenticity mean to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

3 Tips for Curing "Someday Syndrome"

Have you ever suffered from Someday Syndrome? It's a pesky condition that can attack writers who haven't built up immunity. We may say to ourselves...

Someday I'll perfect my skills
Someday I'll finish a project
Someday I'll submit my work

When I was younger (ahem), I used to say Some day I'll go on a fancy vacation and Some day I'll take my writing seriously. The fancy vacation part hasn't happened yet, but circumstances changed and I had the opportunity and determination to attack my writing goals with gusto. My Someday had arrived.

Oftentimes "someday" seems more reasonable, as if things will get easier in the future. The kids will be grown, we'll have more time, or we'll strike it rich and be able to write while lounging on a Caribbean beach.

But unless we take action, "Someday Syndrome" will weaken us, and leave behind a trail of regret. Our "someday" is now, and here are three ways to put Someday Syndrome in its place:
  1. Surround yourself with writers who are just as, or more, motivated than you are. My writing buddies *waves to Lisa Green and Leslie Rose* are super motivated, and we challenge each other and help push each other toward our goals. If not for these two lovely ladies, I might be cowering under my kitchen table, afraid to chase the dream.
  2. Embrace mistakes. With each project I start, I keep thinking "this will be the one where I stop making mistakes." (Stop laughing! I seriously think this) Sure, I'm making less mistakes, but I've learned to embrace these errors, knowing they can be fixed. Fear of mistakes cannot hold us back.
  3. Dive in and just do it! Having a "what's the worst that can happen?" attitude helps because really, what's the worst that can happen? If a piece is horrible, and we can't salvage it, we can consider it a learning experience. Not bad for a worst case scenario.
Are you still thinking "someday," or have you kicked Someday Syndrome to the curb? Do you have a cure you'd like to add to the list?