IWSG: Constructive Writing

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2It’s once again the first Wednesday of the month, and that means IWSG Day in the Spookiest Month of All – October!  Every first Wednesday, members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group get together to discuss our fear, hopes, and accomplishments.

This month I’m taking on the (optional) question of the month: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Short answer: yes! Of course it has. Longer answer: Here are three kinds of writing I use to help deal with serious situations and how they’re different.

1. Journaling (aka aimless ranting). The first way that I use writing to move past something major, whether for good or ill, is to journal about it. I’ve found journaling is a great way for me to get that excess energy out and maybe eventually turn all of that stuff in my head into something that I might want to share with someone else someday.

2. Outlining/Pro-con lists. Another way I use writing is to outline a problem or question.  For example, when deciding to buy a house, I used a side-by-side list for the two locations I had in mind, so I could really weigh the pros and cons of each. Outlining like this is really good practice for streamlining my writing, too.

3. Narrative Fiction. Last but not least, for big problems I often use narrative fiction to  roleplay. What if this or that were true? What would that look like? In fiction, I can write about being someone or something (say a unicorn or a dragon) that I’m not. I can also let seriously messed-up hypothetical situations play out without anyone actually being hurt. What if I  went crazy and said all the things I wanted to say? Nothing good, which is terrible for real life but excellent for drama.

Those are the three kinds of writing I write in response to major life events. What about you? Has writing ever helped you through something? If so, how?

IWSG: September Is Here!

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So it’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means IWSG Day and I completely forgot due to … I really don’t have a good excuse, except I’ve been busy. Writing-wise, I’ve been doing a lot of editing and backstory. Among other hopefully more productive things, I dug the first novel I ever wrote out of the trashbin of history and have been giving it a look over.

One of the things that strikes me is that when I first started writing I had much less skill but a lot more energy. I spent a lot of time working on details and a lot of energy taking chances, writing the kind of story I know better(?) than to take on now. It’s been an interesting experience.

So that’s what I have to say this month. Have you ever dug an old piece of writing out of the past? Has it ever made you see how you’ve grown (or at least changed…) as a writer?

Hope everyone has a great September!

IWSG: Stories Are Great!

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Due to a family emergency, this past month has been kind of crazy. While we were out at lunch at a place I normally don’t go to, after leaving the hospital – again – me and my family member both got cute story cubes as part of our Kid’s Meals.

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Then, an adorable little girl came up to us and explained how it works in this way kids have of wanting to make sure everyone in the world gets to share their fun. Basically, you roll the cube and whatever side lands up, you make up a story based on the picture. Then another person (or yourself if you’re alone!) rolls and adds to the story.

So we took turns and built a really lame, really funny story.

It made me think about all of these inspiration games I sometimes play as a writer – like using prompts for inspiration. It isn’t just writers either, apparently. People love telling stories. Stories are awesome. They can bring some light into a dark time, and they can bring people together. And that’s all I have to say right now. Emotionally and in all ways I’m totally wrung out, but I do want to say that Stories Are Great!

What do you think?

IWSG: Titles Are Hard

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means <drum roll> IWSG Day!

This month’s optional question is: which is harder to come up with, a book title or the name of a character? To me, the obvious answer is

Title of course.

Don’t get me wrong. Character names can be tricky. I once changed a character name to be more authentic, despite feeling as if “she” wanted to be called another name. I firmly believe in accepting what my characters say to me, except when I don’t.

Titles on the other hand…. Yikes. One thing I learned from non-fiction copywriting: sometimes you need to start at the end. Sometimes, it’s best to put off the title or intro paragraph until you know what the story is “really all about.” I don’t always know what I’m going to say until I’m done saying it.

Titles are tricky. Characters can change, and characters don’t always have to match their names. But titles are forever.

What do you think, fellow writers? Which is harder to write? Do names just come naturally to you? I wish they just came naturally for me!

IWSG: Springspiration!

It’s the first Wednesday in May and so far what a month it is. Due to the weird weather we’ve been having in the Northeastern United States, I keep having these dreams lately that we have snow in May – and I mean a lot of snow. Last night, I dreamed we were having a blizzard and I had to cancel plans because of it. That said, in reality, the weather has been great, finally getting a warm. For now….

This month’s optional IWSG question asks whether we write better in springtime. And absolutely! Actually, I do a lot of things a lot better in springtime, like spring cleaning, long leisurely walks, occasionally yard work. This year feels different though. Trees are finally starting to grow leaves but it’s taking them a while.

This spring feels, in a way, more so – because it’s been such a long time coming, and now I’m so glad it’s finally here. I hope. For real this time. (It may still start snowing again….)

How about you? Is it spring where you are? Does spring make you feel inspired?

 

IWSG: Breaking Writers Blocks!

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It’s April already, the first Wednesday in April, and that means <drum roll> IWSG Day!

This month’s optional question is: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

I have three tricks I use in those down moments, and I’d like to share them today.

1. Write Something Every Day.

I don’t believe in writer’s block! When you’re writing for money, there’s no such thing as “I don’t feel inspired.” (I also don’t entirely trust the high of “feeling inspired,” because I’m not always as brilliant as I think am.)  Every day, I write *something*. Even if that means taking ten seconds to write something like, “I am totally uninspired today and why am I even bothering to write this down?” I occasionally vent to my journal. A lot.

In my copywriting life, when I’m feeling really down I’ll sometimes take super easy, super low-paying jobs just to do something with Minimal Pressure. Better to get a few bucks for a few minutes of my time than zero for nothing right? I find that those tiny gestures are often all I need to get myself out of that slump.

2. Read Something Every Day.

I firmly believe in reading different kinds of books to get inspired and keep my brain limber. You never know what ideas you’ll discover in unexpected places. I recently discovered the Jaine Austen series, which I picked up on a whim because of the name. This series follows a freelance writer who is also a sometime amateur detective and reading along has helped me to laugh at some of my own silliness! I also recently read Stephen Hawking’s Illustrated Brief History of Time. The world has lost a great light with his death. If authors like Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson can make theoretical physics sound interesting, then (almost) anything is possible. Maybe even time travel?

3. Have a Support Network.

Last but not least, I think we all need people (like the awesome peeps in IWSG!) we can talk to and who can keep us accountable. We’ve all hit that slump where you realize you haven’t written anything, not even a sad little note to yourself in weeks. We’re all human. We get it. Right?

What about you? How do you deal with writer’s block?

Happy IWSG Day and Happy April!

IWSG: Good Question….

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It’s IWSG Day again and the (optional) question of the month is: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

True confessions: I don’t always, because of the little voice inside my head that says don’t reward  yourself for doing something of dubious usefulness. Do you reward yourself for indulging in cheesecake? I usually have to force myself to do the rest and reward thing, because it’s important for … reasons.

I’m *supposed* to take a day off and go somewhere nice to cleanse after finishing a big project. After a shorter one, I (should) take a least an hour or so. In reality, I don’t always and when I don’t, the stress builds. This is probably a good time to remind myself why breaks are important.

1) Because writing is hard and it’s not all fun and easy like eating cheesecake.

2) Because even after you eat cheesecake, you should take time to burn off those calories.

3) Because writing is hard and it’s important, and you should treat your accomplishments like accomplishments and honor them. That way you can reprogram your brain to write better and not just because you have to.

All of this is true. I know this. Sort of. Good question!

What about you? How do you reward yourself for finishing a project? (Do you reward yourself?)