I know what you’re thinking. Christine, what does clutter have to do with my writing? Well, whether we like it or not…many outside factors impact our writing habits. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I realized just how true that was. Thankfully, over the last year, I have taken time to declutter much of what prevents or hinders my writing.
Hey, I’m not perfect. I’ve had some major lulls in the past year too, but the point is always to return. The more we keep to organizing and/or cleansing our writing lives, the easier it will be to keep to a healthier routine. Sometimes the clutter isn’t physical clutter on our desks or working surfaces of choice, but in our minds. Here are four ways to declutter your writing life:
One: Clear that space. So, what I really wanted to say here was, clean that desk. However, I’m more realistic than that. In fact, I know there are people who enjoy a less organized home. However, there is something about approaching a space to create and having the room to do it. What I mean is, even if your living room is covered in unfolded laundry and/or kids toys, make a spot for you and your work.
Even if it’s just for an hour or two, clear a corner, a coffee table, etc. for your writing tools of choice. I always find that when I approach my clean coffee table, light a candle, and open my laptop…all of that clutter in my mind moves aside for some writing time.
Two: Make the time. Yesterday, I attended a small tribute to the late poet, Mary Oliver. Ten or so of us gathered, reading bits of her work. In her book, A Poetry Handbook,Oliver spoke about how important it is to show up for your writing.
She wrote, “If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself–soon it begins to arrive when you do.”
Isn’t it the truth? For me, making the time often means getting up for #5amWritersClub. I’ve only been back in the club for a week now after being out for two months, but gosh what a difference it has made.
Three: Keep a clear inbox. Recently, I found myself scrolling through a full inbox. Tons and tons of emails, piled on top of each other. It dawned on me just how out of sorts it all was. I think we sometimes forget just how overwhelming something so simple can be.
Remember, everything can be sorted into folders. What a difference it makes! Drafts, query letters to agents, rejections letters, you name it! If you’re going to keep it all, you might as well organize it.
Four: Protect Your Plan. Whatever it may be, an hour in the morning, a fifteen minute break at work, or some late night time, protect it. There will always be a text message, phone calls, new episodes of This is Us, well…you get the picture. Temptation is there, waving at us in the corner of our homes. It’s important that we take that type of clutter and press a big metaphorical pause button. Texts, calls, TV, etc. will be there after we dedicate an hour to our writing.
So, there you have it. Cleanse. Write. Repeat.
Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Thursday.
If you’re a writer of any kind, at some point you’re going to reach a point in your career where you will find yourself in need of a critique or have to give one yourself.
I have been part of intense writing workshops and consistent monthly writer groups for many years. Each experience has had its positives and negatives, but one thing remains true. As writers, we need constructive criticism to grow.
Lately, I have been pondering what makes a good critique partner. What can we do as writers to lift each other up while also giving constructive feedback? I’ve come up with three key points that I try to focus on when giving critiques.
First and foremost, you have to be honest about the work you are reading. Sure, that might sound simple, but sometimes things get in the way of telling the truth.
For many of us, we pair up with our friends as critique partners. This can be complicated. If you happen to come across work that you don’t think is all that good, it can be hard to be honest to a friend. In my experience, I have always made sure to make it clear that I was honest feedback. As previously stated, writers need constructive feedback to grow, therefore, you’re really doing your friend a favor by being honest. If we just sat around stroking each others egos all say, we wouldn’t get very far.
In my personal experience, I will never forget the time I went to a week long workshop. I was 100% torn apart. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it make me grow? More than any other workshop or group I have been a part of.
With that said, don’t feel like you can’t praise each other! I have read work before that was practically perfect in every way and I proudly told them so! For every two things you say that might be a little difficult to swallow, try to throw a positive in the mix. As in most cases, balance is key.
I have been part of groups before when people go in too hard. They ignore positive feedback and find it to be useless. In reality, it’s just as important to give some positive feedback as it is to be honest. We aren’t trying to beat each other into the ground here.
Remember the workshop I mentioned earlier? They had some strict rules about balancing negative feedback with positive. It helped to balance the process. After about three days of adjusting to a real critique environment, I saw the light. Once my group noticed I was trying to improve and letting my ego go, that’s when the real magic started to happen. Which leads me to my next point…
All in all, the previous two points don’t mean anything if you aren’t open to it all. I’m not telling you to believe every single critique you get, because there will be times you disagree. The beauty of feedback is you can take what you need. You are still in control of your writing. Try and take the time to be open and to thoughtfully digest your critiques. On the other side, be open and thoughtful when you are giving them too.
We are all in this together. Creative souls unite!
Tell me, what do you think makes a good critique partner? Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Thursday.
Tis the season for hot chocolate, Christmas music, and writing sessions. The past two months have been quite intense as I juggled my day job and a hefty list of writing goals.
However, I am happy to report that I am right on track to finish my second draft this coming Friday! I don’t know about you, but I think the Christmas season kept the pep in my step! That, and a ton of coffee.
After that, my draft will be sent to a few trusted writing partners for critique! All in all, I’m feeling quite positive about the journey ahead. 2019 will be filled with writing pitches, query letters, and hopefully some MAGIC will happen.
I wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season! I’ll be back in the New Year with some awesome new blog posts (on a regular blog schedule because ya know…that’s one of my goals for the new year!) See you in 2019!
We have officially crossed the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo 2018. A few weeks ago, I proclaimed myself a NaNo Rebel, armed with a set of goals that were customized to my writing needs. I’m here today to give you an update on how that’s been going…
…now maybe that gif is a little over dramatic, but here’s the thing I’ve learned about writing: No matter how much you plan, you will always have to adapt. Maybe that’s what I’ve learned about life and it has just spilled over into my writing life too.
As I began working on Draft #2 of my novel, I quickly realized that the first half of my book is where most of the work needed to be done. Therefore, I have had to slightly adjust my goals due to things taking longer than originally planned. Even though I’ve had to do that, I haven’t lost hope.
Things are coming together slowly, but surely. To spread some positivity…here are three things I’m loving about NaNoWriMo 2018:
I’m seeing my novel in a brighter light. Things are clearer and the changes I am making are definitely improving the quality of my plot.
My “accountabilibuddies” (translation: accountability buddies) are keeping me going. Having that support is making all the difference.
I am making more progress than I ever would have made had I not set goals!
Cheers to the next half of NaNoWriMo and writing goals beyond!
This week’s post is meant to declare my writing goals for the next two months along with talking about a very interesting topic that came up the other day over lunch with my writer friends. Here’s how it happened:
We gathered among mac & cheese and made vows to be the very best “accountabilibuddies” (translation: accountability buddies) we could be over the course of the next two months. (Yes, we extended our NaNoRebel goals all the way until the end of December) We reviewed what our goals would be and how we hope to achieve them.
With the looming first week deadline fast approaching, inspiration came up, and the idea of sparking the right kind of feeling to sit down and write. This expanded into the topic of travel plans. My good friend leaned over and said, “I should just go there, right? No big deal!” We all laughed together, because while it would be wonderful to hop on a plane and travel to a different country, it’s not always doable.
So, I posed the question…”How can we get you there without getting you there?”
That is the challenge, right? For many of us, our inspiration comes from far off lands. Even if we are writing about a fantasy world, chances are we gathered inspiration from some real life location. So, what do we do when we can’t abandon the ship of our real life to set sail for unexplored territory? After all, we can’t all be Sasha Alsberg…
IM GOING TO SCOTLAND IN DECEMBER AND IM SO HYPED! Christmas + Scotland + #Projectred research = heaven 😍
…even though sometimes I would really like to be! Have you seen her awesome hair? Her color-coded bookshelves?
So, I got to thinking. What could we do to get there without getting there? In times where I want to feel my setting, I mean really try to FEEL it, I try to turn to the five senses. Maybe all of these aren’t achievable, but here is what I have been mulling over these past few days…
Start with a character if you can. I really like to put myself in the shoes of characters when possible. Then try some of the following:
Taste: What would the people in your setting eat and drink? They’ve come home after a long day and it’s time for dinner. What would be on the table?
Touch: Is it hot where they are? Maybe it’s time for a trip to the sauna… Is it super cold? Well, we have been getting down to the low 30s in NJ lately. Perhaps it’s time for a late night stroll.
Smell: I am a candle addict. Chances are, it doesn’t smell like “Puurfect Pumpkin” in the setting of my book, but somehow it still fuels the inspiration.
Sound: This is one I absolutely swear by. I have soundtracks for every character in my story, along with many soundtracks for different types of scenes. The thing is, there are soundscapes for everything these days. Head on over to youtube and type in “Busy street sound effect.” You’ll get a ton of results. The possibilities are endless. Oh, and don’t forget to crank it up! Immerse yourself! (Forget about the neighbors.)
Sight: This is kind of self-explanatory. This is where we stare at pictures of the places we want to travel to. I like to change my desktop to a certain location that I’m working on. Every time I see it, it reminds me of certain details I’d like to include. I also highly recommend vision boards! Just because you’re not going there today or next week, you might still go some day! Make a beautiful collage of what you want to see when you’re there one day.
I guess we could all chip in on a magic carpet if this doesn’t work…
…and last but not least…my NaNoRebelRevisionGoals!
November 1-4: Chapters 1-3
November 5-11: Chapters 4-6
November 12-18: Chapters 7-9
November 19-25: Chapters 10-12
November 26-December 2: Chapters 13-15
December 3-9: Chapters 16-18
December 10-16: Chapters 19-20
December 17-23: Chapters 21-22
Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. You can look for a progress update next Thursday!