What happened to pen and paper?

Karalee’s Post #130

Jot it downLast week I had one of those aha moments, the kind that’s hard to admit because it is so obvious. The kind that the young these days call a brain fart.

It happened while I was driving around doing my daily work, fitness, errands and chores. A typical day until I actually noted and listened to that little voice in my head that kept whispering like a mantra of sorts.

“I can’t write right now. My computer is at home.”

It became painfully obvious that I’ve been using this as my excuse to NOT get my writing done. Throughout every day, and I mean every day, I have a few minutes here and there that I could be jotting ideas down. Heck, many of my “great” ideas come while I’m driving and my subconscious is diverted. It’s the equivalent to other people singing in the shower and the idea bulb suddenly lighting up in the mind like a movie set.

The thought can be so strong that it makes you rush naked and dripping out of the shower to write it down before it slips away down the drain along with your soaped up water.

Wait!

Did I say you rush to write it down? On what?

Do you risk dripping water on your computer? Maybe you grab a pen and write that brilliant thought down on good old-fashioned PAPER?

Aha! I  could do that in my vehicle.

I could stop at the curb, pull out pen and paper and jot my ideas down. Easy peasy and as obvious as a pimple on one’s nose.

Joe’s post this week If Writers Had Drill Sergeants was meant to be if you believe in Karma. Imagine what I can accomplish in a 45 minute burst with my ideas already written down and saved on paper, real paper, and not buried back in my subconscious. My pages could be pounded out so fast and furious that I’d burn my fingertips from the keyboard friction. I’d feel so euphoric that I would be Battling the Monster; writers and mental health like in Paula’s last post and I’d be cured of depression and self-doubts, and, and, and….

Can all this be because of pen and paper and simply saving my ideas? Intuitively I feel like a weight has been lifted and unhealthy ties severed between myself and having to have my computer handy in order to write at all. I don’t need to isolate myself in my office.

Also, I don’t need to take my computer everywhere with me, and find an outlet, and WiFi.

I could even go away for a weekend without it! My computer doesn’t rule all.

When I outline a novel idea I do it on a big roll of children’s drawing paper from Ikea. I use pencil. I draw circles and lines and write on the sides. I put in my timelines and dates and use different colors. I drink coffee and pace the floor. I walk outside to clear my head. I have FUN and it’s always with good old paper and pen ( or pencils).

It’s after this initial burst of creativity that I start to rely on the computer. I organize my chapters and research and character development using Scrivener. It’s a great tool and I love using it. I could also make Scrivener work for me when I’m not home and the ideas rolling around in my head start to surface. It’s easy to print out the last chapter I’m on, or a scene I’m fiddling with, or even the character development folder. I could take paper with me. I could jot stuff down on it. I could let my imagination go wild.

Then when I take those ideas and enter them into the computer it’s almost like the second draft. At this point Joe’s Drill Sergeant can take over.

Do other writers out there feel completely reliant on their computers to get any and all of their writing done? I think this is a mindset that many of us have fallen into.

I’m going to let go of my computer umbilical cord for a few minutes here and there every day and get back to keeping a notebook with me. And a pen. I know my creativity flows all day. I will jot it all down.

I will write on paper.

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Productivity: I’m at the midpoint of my third short story. I will print it out and take my pen and some more paper with me from the house. I will let you know next week how it works for me.

Motivation:  I’m following The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is on my bedside table along with Dalai Lama’s book The Art of Happiness.

Happy Moments:

  • walking on the powdery snow-like beaches around Tampa Bay, Florida last week with my hubby and friends.
  • the heat in the sun in Florida
  • visiting the Chihuly Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida
  • my daughter dropping by with a list of recipes for us to bake for Christmas goodies. She has great taste.

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Perspective Photos:

 

chihuly glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chihuly boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

 

 

Synopsis struggles

writingJoe’s Post #155 — Okay, everyone seems to agree: writing a synopsis-thingee is hard. It’s harder than writing a novel in many ways.

I learned this first by trying to write one, then by looking up how to write ‘a damn synopsis’ on the internet. The internet wouldn’t lie and the general consensus is it’s difficult to distill a 400-1000 page novel into a few paragraphs.

So, why am I doing one?

I’ve decided to get a few more of my stories out there. And while some agents or editors just want a query and a few pages or a query and a ton of pages, every so often you’ll find one that challenges you with the words “and include a 1 page synopsis.”

They may as well have written “and stick your head in a blender and send me the results”. It can be as messy.

So, for some, if you can’t do one, you will get rejected. Bang. Just like that.

How’s that for stakes?

Well, that just made me all the more determined to make sure I sent out my best synopsis, so I wanted to see what advice there might be.

Jane Friedman had a great blog about it, and my take-away was that we have to make readers care. I have a hard time making my dog care, so making my readers care may be something beyond my reach.

How to Write A Synopsis on Pub Crawl had some great worksheet stuff that might help you organize your thoughts. Me, I love worksheets. They give you step-by-step direction to what goes where. Like an Ikea manual.

Chuck Sambuchino had some great advice for queries, synopsisesess and first pages. My take-away from him, expand your query rather than trying to contract your novel.

So, armed with lots of information, I went back to write the damn thing.

And failed.

I knew it the moment I’d finished.

Despite my best intentions and all the warnings, I wrote out a ton of “and this happens, then this happens”. Then the book ends.

Sigh.

Now what?

Now you phone a friend.

It took a bit of doing, but we worked through the problems. Or at least both agreed that my first attempt sucked hairy monkey balls.

In the end, I produced something that I hope grabs the attention of an agent or an editor. Who knows if it’s awesome, all I can tell you is it doesn’t completely blow.

******

Page count:  90ish still

5/5/5 Word count. I don’t think I got past 22,000

Words that will get thrown out: The way I feel today, all of them

Blogs Written Since Last Post: 6 (a burst of 5 at Just A Stepdad.)

Exercise days: Did my very first one today. At a gym. With gym equipment. I’m sore. A 90 year old granny kicked my ass on the rowing machine. I think she told me to man up, and stop crying.

Movies Seen: None, but first two Walking Dead episodes were the best TV I’ve seen in a while.

Book I’m Reading: None at the moment. Kinda sad, I know.

Rejections: 1 – it came fast.

To go or not to go

Joe’s Post #153 —

headerThat is the question.

I’m talking about the Surrey Writer’s Conference. Oct 23rd -24th.

It’s a toss-up this year. Pros and cons.

So I did what I do when I can’t decide.

I make a list. And drink. Here’s the list.

the authors

My best writing buddies, The Five

Top 6 Reasons to Go

  1. I could pitch 2 books to an editor who’s interested in my genre.
  2. There are 3 agents there I could take to about my books.
  3. 9/10 times I get inspired.
  4. The food’s pretty good.
  5. I love to learn and there’s always something to learn.
  6. My best writing buddies are there.

 

Top 5 Reasons Not To Go

  1. don maassDon Maass is NOT there. See #3. He is my biggest inspirer.
  2. No Chuck Wendig, so that means I won’t spend 2 hours laughing my ass off and I do love to laugh my ass off.
  3. It costs a lot of money at a time that I don’t have that money.
  4. Most of the agents showing up don’t want to look at the books I write, or I’ve pitched to them and they’ve rejected my brilliant stories.
  5. I can’t find a full day of things I want to do. There’s a bit Friday and Saturday, but that’s a huge cost for basically 2 half days.
  6. My best writing buddies will not be there. Joe sad.

I tell ya, it’s a tough call. Not that there aren’t some great people there, not that there aren’t a few good workshops, and it’s always amazingly well organized, but this year, I may choose not to go. The weight of the list is clearly on the No side, but then there’s #1 on the Go side.

Is it worth it?

Thoughts?

 

Commit to finish

Karalee’s Post #122

Well, Paula threw down the gauntlet to challenge her group and the world at large to write a first draft in five months starting September 5th. The date was chosen three years ago to signify the five of us in our writing group with September being the month for new beginnings. For many of us September coincides with the end of summer holidays and the beginning of a new school year when we were children. As adults, September is often the beginning of new projects or a new set point after holidays.

September is for renewal.

A new commitment makes sense and is imperative really. So why not choose something you love to do? It doesn’t have to be painful like needles and a full sleeve tattoo, or piercing parts that were never meant to be pierced. Or running up hills or spinning in spin class until you throw up all in the name of getting into shape.

Choose something challenging and satisfying. Then do it!

That’s the reason I’ve titled my blog post ‘Commit to finish’ as opposed to ‘Commit to start.’

Why?

I find that myself and many of us in the western world are good to go at the starting gate. Take New Year’s Resolutions and the thousands of people that start in the gym and go whole hog for a couple of weeks only to peter off. The same can be said for diets, or keeping the house clean, gardening, sorting old photographs, purging your closets, and on and on.

And of course, writing the book you always said you would.

I can bet that most of us have many starts to many books. We have an idea of what happens in the middle and maybe a good feel for what will happen at the end or what needs to happen. The beginning though, is my nemesis.

All of my stories have taken an extraordinary amount of time to perfect the start. My beginnings have sucked up too much energy, causing an overload of angst, cursing, emotional highs and lows, and so many rewrites that it seems impossible to even get to the muddled middle, not to mention nowhere near the exciting slide to the finish.

My beginning often takes away from my end.

It can be extraordinarily difficult to reach the finish gate, so if you are like me, put blinders on and get past the first two to three chapters. Accept they are far from perfect. In all likelihood, you aren’t even starting at the right point anyway, so don’t waste time on it. Keep going.

Keep going ……… and going ……. and going ….. until ……… the …….. VERY …… end.

Siwash RockI refuse to get stuck at the beginning, so like my fellow 5Writers, I’m throwing in my gauntlet too and making a commitment to write. I’m choosing differently though. That is, I’m choosing a story type that I can manage with my new business where much of my energy is focused at the moment. I’m choosing to write short stories.

Five short stories in five months! 1writer5shortstories5months

 

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Perspective Photos

Siwash Rock

The Nest UBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Writing!

Writers cannot hide in a room

Joe’s Post #145

Taking the Blindfold Off

homers headAs writers, we live in our heads a lot. I think I may have said this once or twice. We often sit in dark rooms, alone, gulping cold coffee and creating worlds filled with all manner of characters or monsters or fluffy bunnies.

But every so often, writers are forced into the real world. Into the big city.

It’s a scary place. There’s light and the smell of hot dogs and lots of people. There’s the ear-splitting sound of jackhammers, gritty air that makes your eyelids feel like sandpaper and even more people … everywhere … in cars, on the sidewalk, in malls, wandering into traffic, or shouting at imaginary demons …

In such a chaotic environment, though, is writing gold.

If you’re willing to observe it.

I watched an old Chinese couple navigate the Skytrain with only nods to each other. An unspoken language that only they understood, but understood completely.

I sat a seat away from an Aboriginal man who bobbed with the rhythm of the train, reading his bible and mouthing the words to himself.

I laughed as three young men, not even 20, gave each other advice on how to attract women. Apparently the secret is the right cologne.

And that’s just from a Skytrain run.

In the real world, there are more details, more ideas for characters, and more character traits to be mined than being in a room by yourself.

A balding man with a ring of hair, all well-combed, well maintained, except for the very back which stood up as if he’d been electrocuted. But it was the one place he couldn’t see, or had no one else at home who’d tell him.

A woman changes out of her high heels to ride the Seabus, wearing simple flipflops with her expensive suit until the Seabus had landed on the other side.

A gruff construction worker complains to his friend about aspheticides that killed pests with a lethal combination containing lead and arse-ianic. Personally, I think he’d sniffed a bit too much of that arse-ianic.

But there’s so much to see. To smell. To hear, taste or touch.

Or to imagine.

Opening line – “22 people sat beside the dead man and before someone noticed the blood.”

Or – “When Rebecca arrived at the airport, she realized she’d forgotten three things: the book she’d almost finished reading, her lucky jogging socks and her boyfriend. Well, she would miss two of those things.”

I honestly wished I’d brought a pen and paper to make notes, but I was on a different mission. Fun with the family. So I didn’t record all that I should have recorded, but the whole adventure did remind me that, to be good writer, you can’t just sit in the dark and make shit up.

Unless you’re Stephen King.

all work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One word at a time

Karalee’s Post #114

Paula's 7Imagine life with no responsibilities except to write! Sleep, write, eat, write, eat, write, sleep….. You get the idea.

 

One word at a time. Before you know it, a whole scene has been written! And scenes lead to chapters…

There’s breaks for a bit of dog walking to keep the circulation going, a bit of standing to prepare meals, and the occasional stretching of one’s arms.

The rest of the time is for – writing.

I admit it’s a bit weird to have our group together so quietly, at times all in the same room. There’s an occasional laugh or gesturing as one of us reacts to something going on in our imagination that seems “real” and “is happening” in our story. It’s fun to watch really. It’s also enlightening that others do it too, that I’m not crazy after all. My fellow writers are normal too!

It’s also odd that we are together and not critiquing. Not even 30 pages each, nonetheless a whole 250 or so page book, a book a day for 5 days like we pushed to do at our Whistler retreat! Now that was WORK!!

Oh, we’re spending a few minutes talking about our openings, how we are outlining with purpose, discussing how we mind map, or how we are working on character development through backstory to understand at a visceral level how a main character thinks and reacts. But on the whole we are, well, writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paula's 3

Paula's 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dog may be bored. But hey, a dog can’t write!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Goals: study mind map in detail again, write 2 scenes a day (or rewrite)

Keep in mind: 

  • One word at a time will become a scene, then a chapter, and eventually a completed book. Stick to the Slight Edge philosophy.
  • daily meditation and exercise keeps me centered and healthy.
  • our retreat is amazing, our group is amazing.
  • a positive attitude leads to more happiness.

Perspective Photos:

 

r2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I am happily writing! Are you?

 

The time has come to write

Joe’s Post #141

retreatA writing retreat, you say? How can we 5/5/5 make this a success?

Silk outlined her research. Paula has her hosting planned out. We have pets to keep us company. We even have an agenda of sorts. Our agenda even has some writing planned.

But the real question is can we capture the magic of writing, again.

Or is that impossible?

I think it is. I won’t lie. However, do you need writing magic to write or can you replace it with something else? Like replacing coffee with green tea? Or the Coke with New Coke?

My solution… replace the magic with routine. I managed to get a novella of 37,000 words written in a month by simply putting my somewhat large butt in my somewhat comfy chair and pounding out the words. I know in the grand scheme of things, that’s not super impressive, but that’s more writing than I’ve done in a long time.

So on this retreat, I’m going to go with what worked. Get up about 7. Get coffee. Start writing. Stop for lunch. Maybe stop before that to pee. Go for walk. Write. Look at the pretty world for a bit. Write. Stop for supper. Eat something vaguely healthy. Read. Go to bed at a decent time. (If I write past about 7, then I get all writer-ie in my head and I can’t shut off my brain enough to sleep.)

In the meantime, 9 things to avoid while on a writer’s retreat. (Cuz I couldn’t think of 10 due to a lack of conviction on following through with #3.)

Avoid….. negative calvin and hobbs

  1. Negative people. We all have enough negative voices in our heads, we don’t need them personified in our writing space.
  2. Watching TV. The opiate of the masses. Aka my favorite thing to do. When time is precious and writing time scarce, there’s simply no time for the Simpsons.
  3. Drinking (a lot). Why? Once upon a time, I could drink and still be a functioning adult (though candid pictures of me may show otherwise). It’s not like I get all Hemingway-ish and suddenly find my muse after one drink. No. I find a pillow and start to snore – and I’ve found I cannot write in my sleep.
  4. Gaming. No Clash of Clans. No Candy Crush. No FIFA 2015. Sacking someone’s town hall in CoC will not get me published and I may even be sacking the town hall or an agent or editor. Luckily, though, I go by the name of SeanSommerville69, so I’m tanking someone else’s career.
  5. Eating too much food. Very similar to too much alcohol, minus the dancing on the table and singing My Sharona until the bouncers throw me out. Too much food makes we want to do #2.
  6. Shopping. No heading out for new shoes, new iPhones or new appliances. No buying dog toys, waterguns or new, non-stick pans. No looking at cars, dresses or houses. Just say no to shopping until you get back.
  7. Spaghetti sauce and white shirts. Trust me on this. Either don’t bring a white shirt, or don’t eat spaghetti with sauce. If you do, you’ll run out of clean shirts and that leads to either having to go shopping, spending time cleaning the damn shirts or having to eat your oatmeal topless.
  8. Facebook. It’s the work of the devil, anyway. If you can’t give it up, then limit it.
  9. Fear. Fear feds doubt. Makes it fat. Doubt then sits on your shoulder and poops all over you. Just let the fear go, have some fun. Write.

Will we be able to find a way back to writing? I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you at 8pm, we’re sitting with our laptops open, some of us are muttering to ourselves, but all of us are pounding away on our keyboards.

Stories are being created. Characters developed. Worlds built.

What better way to start?

How do you get back to writing?

Joe’s Post #140

kris booksI know it’s going to be different for everyone. Like our group. We’re getting ready to have us a writing shin-dig. A bootcamp for getting back to writing. We’ve set aside 3 days, we’ll be taking over Paula’s house, and we’ll be putting our collective butts in chairs and writing.

For me, though, I got the not-writing bugbear off my back in early May.

How did I do it? Well, it was a bunch of factors.

  1. I had a very supportive spouse who made sure I had time each day to actually write. Without her, none of this would have been possible.
  2. I had a deadline. Deadlines work for me. TOR had an open call for a novella so I thought, what the hell. Three weeks later, I have 40,000 words, 200 pages and the rough draft of a story
  3. torI got out of my head a bit (not completely, mind you, but enough to put aside all the negativity and just write.
  4. I’d get up, get a Timmies. Sit down in my chair. Write. Day in, day out. It’s the only way that works for me. For writing. For exercise. For chores. Whatever. I need order in my chaotic world.
  5. I had a story I wanted to tell. It didn’t matter that the odds were stacked against me. It didn’t matter that I began without an outline or deep character backstories. I just wanted to get it out.

The truth is, though, all those factors existed before. Well, maybe not the TOR open call, but other open calls, other agents looking for writers, other contests opened to anyone.

So what was different this time?

Which one of those 5 made the difference?

For me, this time, it was all 5 coming into play at once. I’d done #4 and written about 50 pages. It was a struggle. #3 got in my way a lot. I’ve had #1 all along and deadlines, hell, we used to have a lot of them in the writers group.

But when all 5 come together, watch out. Especially if you can somehow work through #3. Get past all the rejection slips. All the people who tell you you can’t write or write about THAT. Get rid of that negative voice that says you can’t start a sentence with ‘the’ because you heard it in some workshop. Forget what you read in a book about books. Get past past failures.

The key to writing may be different for everyone, but for me it became a matter of all the right things falling into place at the right time. I hope that after our bootcamp, everyone else will catch fire as well.

Finding time to write: Guest post by Alison and Don

I am very excited to have another guest post, this time from Alison and Don who may have created the perfect life. They have an incredible blog I’d recommend to everyone. — 5writer Joe 

Something’s gotta give: finding time to write


Alsion and Don
I am delighted that the 5writers have invited me to write a guest post. They are all wonderful writers, and I’m honoured that they want me to contribute to their blog. Thank you so much for this opportunity.

I’m not sure I actually regard myself as a writer. It still hasn’t quite sunk in. I suppose I think of writers as people who write books rather than travel articles or blog posts, and yet, if I gather all I’ve written over the past several years, I have enough material for two or three books. No matter how busy I get, and there are times when I get incredibly busy, I always make time for writing, for recording the story of our journey.

I always begin blog posts by working on photographs because I find it’s generally easier and more fun than writing. For a long while I viewed writing as a chore, and still do to some extent, yet when I am out travelling and sightseeing I write in my mind almost all the time. I have finally learned to actually write down my thoughts in a notebook as they happen, or at least write notes at the end of the day. It took years for me to learn to do this. Many good articles have been lost because I wouldn’t make the time to write when I felt inspired.

Writing can really be hard work, but I made a promise to myself not to quit, and that keeps me going. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth; sometimes I have nothing to say. When that happens I just leave it alone and trust that the words will come later. And they do. Then there are the days when the story writes itself in my mind as I am out and about, and I come home and the first thing I do is write it down. I love when this happens – this easy inspiration that is the most authentic writing, the most genuine description of how it was at the time.

The blog is my great love that nourishes my soul. It is my creative child that I give birth to over and over again. And it doesn’t matter that the writing is sometimes a chore, or difficult, because there’s always a way through by persevering.

I have a passion for the blog. I can’t imagine not writing it, not producing it. Because of it I want to be a better writer, and I feel that more I write the better I get at it. The commitment is so deep that it will always take priority over other activities such as travel research, social activities, even sleep. Even before I publish a new post I’ve already begun thinking about the next one. It never leaves me. It’s not that I make time to write every day, but I do put some thought, some energy into it every day, whether it’s editing photos, making notes, writing down paragraphs that have sprung to mind during the day, or keeping alive the connection with other writers.

No writing lives without readers. No blog is alive without people who are interested in it, and absorbed enough to comment. Whether writing a book or a travel blog, I understand that I must reach out to others, either online or in person, and make real connections. These are the people that become involved in our journey and in the ongoing stories of our travels. It’s the personal relationship that’s important.

A big part of maintaining my online friendships is done through reading and commenting on other blogs. I’ve lost track of how many blogs I follow, but I follow them because the writing, the photography, the intelligence and the resonance impress me. I am frequently moved and inspired by what others write. I do think I’ve become a better writer because of reading the writings of others. There are some brilliant writers in the blogging world. But here’s the thing: I get well over one hundred emails every day because I choose to read and comment on many other blogs. How do I find time for all this and travel planning, travelling, sightseeing, photography, photo editing, and making time to do my own writing? Well ‘something’s gotta give’, and sometimes it’s reading and commenting on other blogs.

The other thing that ‘gives’ is travel research, which can mean we miss things that we learn about afterwards. There have definitely been several brief moments of regret over the years. Don does all the travel bookings. We plan together, we rough out itineraries, we discuss places of interest, then while I’m writing or photo editing he delves deeper into what there is to do and see in each place we go to, and begins the process of searching for accommodation and transport. Until you have actually planned an overseas trip yourself, covering all the details of creating a viable itinerary, transport, accommodation, activities, transfers, and the best time to be in any particular place, you cannot imagine how time consuming it is. This post about planning just three weeks of our six-month journey in South America will give you some idea. It would be easier for Don if I could help more with this, and from time to time I do discover things that he has missed, but again, something’s gotta give. My priority is writing, and Don supports me in this by doing most of the travel planning.

I do find I need to discipline myself to write. There are times when the only Internet service available must be bought from the hotel or hostel where we are staying. I know that if I buy it I’ll spend the evening online playing. Occasionally I deliberately choose not to buy Internet time because without it I’ll then get some writing done. I have to set priorities. If I don’t I can procrastinate with the best. I also prioritize on flights. Flights are usually when I can catch up on movies but sometimes I choose to write instead. That’s always a difficult choice.

There have been times I’ve felt completely overwhelmed by the amount of work there is to do to keep up with all that is involved in maintaining a successful travel blog, while travelling. There have been times I wanted to stop travelling so I’d have time to write about travelling! I tell our story chronologically, and I’m constantly two to four months behind. On top of this there’s always some internal pressure to go out and do things. Having paid so much money to travel to a new place it makes no sense to sit in a hotel room writing about our activities of two months ago. And yet I do that quite frequently. Somehow I’ve managed to find a balance between keeping the blog going and actually experiencing the places we’re visiting.

Almost all the other travel writers I know write when they get home. Which is somewhat how it is with us because every place we stay is home. Since we’re on the road more or less continually we don’t have a busy social life. Our evenings are pretty quiet. That’s usually when I catch up on emails, edit photographs, read and comment on other blogs, and write. I also find time to write while waiting in airports, and on long bus and train journeys. I like these times the best as there’s rarely anything else I could or should be doing. I mostly live in two worlds: the travelling sightseeing hiking adventuring world and the writing blogging world.

Occasionally I think of my life without writing, without the commitment to the blog, and get a great feeling of freedom and spaciousness. Of time: time to just be. Time to seek out more social interaction with both the people of the country we are visiting and with fellow travellers. Time to wander off the beaten path more, and more often. Time to really get present with a sunset, to become so present with the sunset that I melt into it. The endless eternal time of being, when there is nothing pressing on me to be done. Most travellers seem to have plenty of this kind of time. I certainly get that impression from reading the blogs of other travel writers. And yet I know I will not stop writing, will not stop producing the blog. Writers know this: it doesn’t matter what it takes, you have to write. This is how it is for me – the writing, the photography, the chronicling of our journey. My passion for it, my commitment to it is unshakeable, and so I do my best to keep that fragile balance, and make some compromises about how much time goes into the actual travelling and adventuring part and how much time goes into the writing and blogging part. It really comes down to a ‘grass is greener’ thing. I think maybe I’m missing out, but the alternative is that I’d miss out on the creative joy that comes from writing and photography and producing the blog.

Some things in life must be done. It’s unlikely anyone can take time from parenting, or working a full time job, or eating, or sleeping, or taking care of the day-to-day business of keeping a life functioning. But all the frills can go. All the frills will go, will just fall away, if your commitment is deep enough, and if your heart wants it enough. I rarely read books although I used to be an avid reader, and I only very occasionally watch TV. I’m a devoted fan of competitive figure skating, but the time I spend following that sport has greatly diminished.

We just recently spent nearly three days in Fiji. After five weeks on a road trip around New Zealand, followed by a ten-day road trip from Canberra to Byron Bay in Australia, followed by a two-week road trip around Australia’s “Top End” we landed in Fiji travelled out. Very near where we stayed are a group of idyllic tropical islands known as the Yasawas. We could have done a day trip to the Yasawas, but we were saturated. Full to the brim. I still have a smidgen of regret that I didn’t make the effort to go, but there’s a rhythm to travel. It was time to just stop and begin to absorb all we’d experienced during our travels in Australia and New Zealand. For those two and a half days in Fiji we did nothing but laze by the beach. Which also meant I had time to write. I polished my latest post on Christchurch and I re-wrote this piece. And walked on the beach. And slept in. And for the first time in twelve months I actually read a book: a trashy novel that suited my mood just fine.

In the end writing is not something I have a choice about. It leads me, and so there’s never a question of making time for it. The time makes itself. There’s an ongoing inner insistence that must be heeded. Although it is usually attributed to Goethe, it was actually W.H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition who wrote: Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

If you want to make time for writing you need to find your passion, your commitment. Find the place inside you where the words that need to be written are leading you, not the other way around. Find the place where your soul will be bereft without it. Then you will make time for writing no matter what.

To write, to be a writer, you need passion, discipline, perseverance, love, and inspiration, but I think even more important is an unshakeable promise to yourself. With this promise everything else follows. For me, commitment, combined with creative love and joy, is the bedrock of producing the blog. This combination means I will always make time for writing.

Writing this guest post has helped me begin to define myself as a writer. I’ve been an artist and have painted on and off all my life, at times seriously. At one point in my forties I suddenly had the clarity that I had an unconscious belief that painting is hard work. It was an incredibly freeing revelation, and my art improved significantly because of becoming aware, and letting go of, that belief.

I have never regarded myself as a writer, although I do remember a high school teacher predicting I would grow up to be one. Writers write right?! I never did, except for long letters home when I was travelling in the days before the Internet. Writing this piece has had the same effect as that revelation about my painting. Suddenly I am a writer and it is inspirational and very freeing.

So once again I’d like to thank the 5writers for inviting me to write this post. It has been a very valuable exercise. It has helped me come to a deeper understanding of myself as a writer, and it has helped me get greater clarity about the internal forces that propel my writing. I’ve been inspired by it. I hope others are too.

*****

Awesome post, right? Again, please check out their blog.

They inspire me.

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To write or not to write everyday

Joe’s Post #139

Is there a right answer?

it hardcover_prop_embedStephen King believes in writing 1000 words a day, 6 days a week. Hard to argue with the guy who wrote about killer clowns and domes and sold a zillion books  There’s also a 750 word/day club. I even suspect there’s a 12 step writing-every-day program.

On the other side, people like Paula or Cal Newport argues that such a regime is for full-time writers, only, that we doom ourselves to failure by setting such an artificial deadline.

So let me present another POV.

I doesn’t matter.

Write every day if that motivates you. Personally, I find that such a goal is good enough to keep me going in the short term, but not good enough for a long term project like a novel. For that, I need to be in love with the idea or the characters or a really comfy chair.

If writing once a week for a good 5 hour stretch works, that’s ok, too. Or writing a novel in month. Whatever.

I think it all comes down to motivation. What makes you want to sit alone in a room, stare at a blank screen and try to knit a story from the cobwebs in your brain? What makes you commit hours and hours and hours to something only your cat or critique group may read? What makes you put aside family, the latest Bachelor episode or a golf game so you can put words on a page?

torFor me, it was a deadline that motivated me to write. A deadline from an open call by one of my favorite publishers. TOR. They were looking for novellas. 30,000-40,000 word length.

I had a short story that I loved and thought, hey, why not turn it into a novella? I loved the setting – NY in a slightly altered universe, one where magic is creeping into the world little by little. I loved my character – a creature of the old world, a Fey, who means to misbehave like Malcom Reynolds in Firefly, and uses his magical talents to solve crime. I loved the plot, but I knew I’d have to create a new one for the novella.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t quite what they’re looking for. It didn’t matter that I’d never written a novella. I didn’t even matter that we were out of motivational wine and chocolates.

I just decided to write.

In 10 days, I’ve got 80 pages done. Oh, I know, it could be better, but that’s 80 pages on a brand new story. I was writing again. About 15,000 words worth.

Due to commitments, I couldn’t write every day, but if writing every day gets you back to writing, then I’m all for it. I didn’t write one day for 5 hours, but if writing once a week for 5 hours gets you back to writing, then I’m all for it.

In the end, whether you’re inspired by a deadline, a daily goal, by a trip you took, an adventure you had or something you just need to get off your chest, writers write.

So, as Silk said, this day we write, but I have to ask…

What process to you use for writing? 

*****

Best show last week – Game of Thrones. Without a doubt, though I hear good things about Outlander.

Book that I’m reading at the moment –  Reading Sean Sommerville’s latest book. The Unforgiven. Man that guy can write.

Pages written on new book  80 pages on the new novella.

Social media update – If you like this blog, please follow us or share us on facebook

Best thing last week  Back to writing, again. 80 pages is not bad.

Worst thing  Finally over my cold, but it’s left me with diminished hearing. Dammit. I may need to get a hearing aid. I greatly feel this is the beginning of the slow slide that will eventually see me in adult diapers and a hover-walker.

For anyone interested in the TOR open call, see this link.