Is writing a lonely occupation?

Karalee’s Post #116

I have been known to say that writing can be lonely. I’ve even changed my life this year  by joining a business in direct marketing to augment my retirement AND meet up with friends and talk to strangers. Lots of strangers. And many of those strangers have become friends.

My life has changed. I’m happier being more social. I’m more at peace and moving in a direction that I’m enjoying. Now, did I make this change in my life to get out of the house more because writing is lonely?

 

My answer is a resounding NO!

No that is, that writing is lonely. It isn’t. Not ever. When I think about it, I was wrong when I said that writing can be lonely. How can it be when my mind is filled with characters and places and relationships and mysteries and, and, and…. There’s so much happening when I write that there is NO ROOM for loneliness!

So where does this sense of loneliness come from?

I had to laugh when the truth hit me. I realized that the only time I feel lonely “writing” is when I’m not actually writing. It’s when I stop writing and sit there, just me and my computer, and I feel that I’m the only “real” person in the room or the house. It’s when the sun is shining outside and I think I’d rather be in the garden, or when I “should” be doing the millions of other chores in my life that suddenly become important.

It’s when my writing isn’t flowing that I can feel lonely. It’s when I have hours in my day to write and I continue to have difficulty staying focused that loneliness creeps in.

This was happening to me and I needed a change. I had to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. My family no longer required my full attention and I had energy to burn.

AND, I have come to realize that I am more social than I ever thought I was. I want more social interaction and if I can achieve this and do business at the same time, it’s a win-win for me. I used to own a large physiotherapy practice and I’m enjoying the challenge of being in business again.

I’m not throwing in the towel regarding writing. Not at all! With fewer hours to sit in my office chair, there’s more push to stay focused and be more productive. My “not writing” hours will be fewer and therefore not as lonely.

A change is good for my writing!

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Achievements this week:

  • my garden is all planted and set to grow!
  • I’m the sole caretaker of the neighborhood traffic circle garden. I also got this area planted/weeded for the season.
  • reorganize my office/writing area. I’ve moved twice in the last three months to accommodate others in the house. Back to normal in September!
  • 1 hr/day writing. Need to get 30 pages done for July 5th!

 

Keeping balance in my life: 

  •  Sticking to the Slight Edge philosophy to achieve success in my new business and in my writing.
  • Daily meditation and exercise. I am healthy, have good energy and am staying more centered.
  • Staying in touch with fellow 5Writers every Monday (or Tuesday) keeps our group strong and supporting one another!
  • A positive attitude leads to more happiness, and more writing!

Perspective Photos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

 

Writing blog post 101

Karalee’s Post #101

I thought I’d have a bit of fun with the number 101.

In Wikipedia there’s a heading under 101 for both books and education:

Books:

  • According to Books in Print, more books are now published with a title that begins with ‘101’ than ‘100’. They usually describe or discuss a list of items, such as 101 Ways to… or101 Questions and Answers About… . This marketing tool is used to imply that the customer is given a little extra information beyond books that include only 100 items. Some books have taken this marketing scheme even further with titles that begin with ‘102’, ‘103’, or ‘1001’. The number is used in this context as a slang term when referring to “a 101 document” what is usually referred to as a statistical survey or overview of some topic.
  • Room 101 is a torture chamber in the novel Nineteen Eighty-four  by George Orwell.
  • Creative Writing 101 by Raymond Carver, “A writer’s values and craft. This was what the man (John Gardner) taught and what he stood for.

Education:

  • In American university course numbering systems, the number 101 is often used for an introductory course at a beginner’s level in a department’s subject area. This common numbering system was designed to make transfer between colleges easier. In theory, any numbered course in one academic institution should bring a student to the same standard as a similarly numbered course at other institutions.
  • Based on this usage, the term “101” has been extended to mean an introductory level of learning or a collection of introductory materials to a topic.

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Most of us are familiar with the number 101 being used as a serious marketing tool to catch a reader’s eye and promise that a book has ‘101 somethings’ important to tell us about. The number is also thrown around a lot as slang, often in humorous or sarcastic ways. Even I can make stuff up and you would understand it’s intent:

  • 101 ways to catch flies while sleeping
  • How to drive your mother crazy 101
  • The last 101 roads to Rome
  • 101 T-shirts not to wear before you die
  • How to survive 101 days with your dog on holidays
  • 101 songs your grandma taught you and you forgot
  • 101 ways to tie your shoelaces
  • Eat chocolate anonymously 101

I must admit that the number 101 sings to me a bit. I’ve taken many 101 level courses at university. So have my children and their significant others. To me the number 101 is synonymous to learning something new; the beginning of understanding a topic. This got me thinking about how I can use this number to help me in my writing.

What can I try that is new and will add to my growing knowledge of ‘How to Write A Great Story?’

In my last post (#100) I said that writers are counters, they are organized, creative and driven. So, taking all of these into account, what I’ve decided to challenge myself with 101 times this year, is to look at the world from different perspectives through picture taking. I don’t have a GoPro (which gives an awesome perspective!) so my pictures will be mostly on my iPhone as I’m out and about.

I’m excited that this simple task, this ‘Looking at Perspective 101’ will encourage me to be mindful of the world as I walk, run, bike, hike, drive and sail through it!

Of course, I need to remember to take my iPhone wherever I go so I don’t miss the moments.

Here are a couple so far:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Writing!

Déja vu all over again

fresh-perspective

Silk’s Post #103 — I love new beginnings. For some people, the year begins on January 1. Others are in tune with Spring as a time of rebirth. I was a Halloween baby, so for me the year has always started with autumn. It’s a new cycle and we’re on the start line once again.

Our 5Writers mini-retreat in Vancouver last week was a perfectly timed re-start for me. If you’ve ever belonged to a writers group – or any kind of small-scale, informal professional circle – you’ll know how this kind of support and encouragement kindles new enthusiasm for your work and kicks your energy up a notch.

And there’s nothing like a new challenge to wake up the competitive spirit. As a group, we have just embraced an ambitious common goal to write and self-publish five new books. If “competitive” seems like an inapt word to describe our cooperative efforts, it’s used deliberately. As unpublished authors, we’re a bit like a team that’s training together. We egg each other on. Put any five people on the same track – whether they’re running or writing – and the natural competitive human spirit turns it into a race. At the same time, we have an unwritten rule, born of our mutual respect and loyalty: Leave No Writer Behind. So it’s a genteel “race” of 5 cooperative competitors designed to produce 5 winners.

Over the next months, this blog will be sharing our brave new journey. It’s less brash than our original 5Writers challenge to write 5 novels in 5 months two years ago. In 2012 we set out at a furious gallop, hell bent for leather. Yee-haw! It was a terrific exercise and we learned a lot from it – about writing, and about ourselves.

I’m one of the two who didn’t finish the novel I started for that challenge. I may finish it one day because I love the characters and I think it has potential, but it’s a book that was conceived to fit that 5Writers challenge. It’s not the book I absolutely must write – at least not right now.

This new challenge is different. I like to think we’ve matured together as writers. Life has thrown us all many changes over the past couple of years. Our nice comfy schedule of meeting once a month or so for critiques is out the window, with two of the five now spending winters in the desert, three going through house moves in the last year, and one taking up Dad duties with his wonderful new family.

We’re all very aware of life’s ticking clock. It’s time to get more serious about writing – and publishing. Even if that means doing it for ourselves. No Cinderella stories have been forthcoming – what a surprise! So we’re not waiting for someone to knock on the door with a glass slipper in hand. But I think we’ve become realists about what we can accomplish as indie writers, and how much work and time we will need to (and are able to) put into it.

Here’s the box score from our lively review last Friday of our 5 book concepts:

  • 5Writers who had completed a full synopsis for review: 1
  • 5Writers who completely switched what book they’re planning to write after review: 2
  • 5Writers who are contemplating major changes to characters after review: 1
  • 5Writers who are now at work on new synopses: 4
  • Fabulous Thai dinners consumed during retreat: 1
  • Fabulous fellow bloggers who joined us for said dinner: 2 (Alison and Don of Adventures in Wonderland, the first time most of us had met these superstars in person!)

Onward!

Helga and super supportive husband Emil

Helga and husband Emil

Don and Joe

Don and Joe

Paula and Silk

Paula and Silk

Karalee and Alison

Karalee and Alison

Alison and Don

Alison and Don

 

Why a critique group

Joe’s Blog #25

How many of us are part of a critique group?

critEver since I started getting serious about my writing, I’ve been a part of a critique group. Why? It’s made me a better writer. It’s that simple. So here’s why anyone not in one might want to consider being in one. A good one.

1) It’s way cheaper than paying a book doctor or so-called editor to look over your manuscript. For the cost of a few coffees for everyone, maybe a donut or two, you can get great feedback on what works and what doesn’t. (Though, in my group, we get to eat all sorts of amazing food and drink, but this may not be the norm.)

2) They can help spot things you’ll never see. “Joe, did you realize you just used the word ‘nipple’ 32 times on page 212?”

3) They ensure your characters don’t go off script. “So how, for the love of God, could Lou, who has just found love again, who is in the process of rebuilding his life, who clearly is moving forward, suddenly up and decide to go on a suicide mission? Why? Tell me, why, dammit?” (The cool thing here is that I created a character they loved, the bad thing was I made him do something out of character without a better explanation.)

vision-try-to-look-at-things-from-a-different-perspective4) They can give you a perspective you just don’t have. “Ok, you used ‘totally’ way too much in you YA novel. No one talks like that anymore.” Hello!

5) They can give you great ideas. “What if you made the woman at the airfield younger, prettier? What if she secretly loves him?”

6) They can help you fine tune the technical aspects of your writing. “You need a hook out of this chapter.” “You’re using passive language.” “You should stop writing in crayon.”

7) They can help with spelling and grammar. The kind of mistakes you feel silly making. “It’s H-A-N-G-A-R, not hanger!!!”

8) They can point out the things that work. And here’s one of the things that makes a good group, in my opinion. It’s all too easy to tear something down, to rip a writer to shreds. I’ve had it done. It’s like having your baby mauled by a zombie. But if you get a group that can also focus on the positive, that’s gold. “The details are fantastic, it’s like I’m there in Hawaii in the 1930’s.”  “Who knew lighted intersections were not the norm. So cool.”

9) They force you to write. Trust me, no one wants to show up at a session without writing.

10) Last, but not (as they say) least, they provide support. Hey, every one of the writers is going through the same thing, battling the same demons, struggling with the same problems. It’s nice to be able to meet with people who understand what it’s like to agonize over a name or spend hours trying to fix a problem with an imaginary character.

Me? I’m glad to have had some great groups. Each one has helped me become a better writer and, one day, when I finally get published, they can all take a little credit.

I can’t wait to meet back up with my current group.

For other perspectives, check out these links. 10 Benefits of Joining a Writing Group. Benefits of Writing Groups. The Benefits of Joining a Writer’s Group.

Queries Sent: 0 (Ok, somebody shoot me.)

Rejections: 1 (grand total, not this week)

People Currently Critiquing My YA Book: 2