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?)

IWSG: I Heart Fantasy

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Hard to believe it’s February already, but it is. That means today is IWSG Day and a week before Valentine’s Day, which makes it the perfect time for this optional question of the month.

February 7 question – What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

Okay, I may not write fantasy most often, but it’s the genre I love most, because I love creating new worlds. I love exploring new worlds when I read, too.

Every genre can and should have interesting characters. But in fantasy you get interesting worlds built on nightmares and dreams. Some of my favorite world-builders are authors like George R.R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Octavia E. Butler. One of the things I love about these authors is that the world is a major plot point, like another character with motivations and secrets to uncover. At times, I find the world more interesting than the characters.

For example, in the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien uses the idea of the Undying Lands to navigate our fears and hopes about life and death. We hope those we love are in a “better place” maybe even the place they were always meant to be. At the same time, we want to think the are still with us. I love the tension between this place and wherever mortals actually go when they die. It’s just one of many ways he uses setting and world-building in a way that wouldn’t be possible in another genre.

I don’t write fantasy most often, because it’s hard. Creating a world is hard work. Salutations to all the writers who have gone before and pulled it off.

What about you? What’s your favorite genre to write and read? Is it also the one you write most often? Do you love fantasy too?

Happy IWSG Day and Happy February!

IWSG: New Improved Resolutions

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Happy New Year and Happy IWSG Day!

Hard to believe 2018 is here. Not sure about everyone else but here in the Northeast U.S. it’s been super cold and now they’re throwing out scary words like “bomb” to describe the weather. Fortunately, I’m not on the coast but the cold has made getting out of bed and working more difficult.

Not that I really need an excuse.

My main resolution this year is to treat writing like a real job with real hours. I got this idea from a Great Courses lecture I listened to called How to Read and Write About Any Subject. I feel like I’ve made a habit of setting unreasonable goals in terms of deadlines I know I can’t possibly meet, so – for now – more attainable goals in terms of hours a day seem better. That way I force myself to do something while (hopefully) setting up a pattern of success.

Another resolution I’m making now is to more regularly blog. I’m going to say once a week and not just on IWSG Day. Maybe one flash fiction a week. I’ll have to think about that – but I will resolve to do it. Because I have so been neglecting this blog. Okay and true confession I had to take a long break away from social media following a certain presidential election. Because there’s still a part of me that feels like – if not for Facebook and Twitter…. But I need to bounce back. The Internet needs positive voices more now than ever. If not mine, then definitely others. Fight the power and all that.

For now, I’ve been doing a lot of ghost copywriting and also writing romance under Not My Real Name. The idea of putting myself out there is scary. I guess, because I am an Insecure Writer!

How is 2018 going so far? Any resolutions? Any assessment and re-assessment of prior resolutions?

HAPPY 2018!!!

 

ISWG: No Regrets

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Here it is, the first Wednesday in December. That means that it is 1) IWSG Day and 2) December. IWSG Day is the day when us members of the Insecure Writers Support Group get together and share updates and support and praise along the writers journey. And December means that 2017 will soon be over. When did that happen?

The optional question of the month is: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I don’t really do regrets. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting older, but regrets seem like a waste of time. Who has time for regrets? Lessons learned, maybe, and even then let’s not dwell on it for too long.

That said, as I’m writing this I’m literally doing so in between “ghost-writing” / ghost-copywriting for a content mill, one of several I’m using to actually make money, because fiction doesn’t pay, not well, not yet. Also, having finally finished my NaNo novel yesterday, I have set myself a goal to edit and self-publish a nearly-finished quick and steamy romance novella which has been nearly-finished for a year now. But I’m terrified. I am seriously terrified. Like, irrational fear and panic attack territory.

Last night, I forced myself to go to a social event for library volunteers in large part because I knew being around strangers would be 1) terrifying (social anxiety disorder here) and 2) if I could do that, I can do anything. As I type this, it sounds crazy, but in my mind it makes total sense. Not avoiding strange and unknown people leads to fun, and it trains my brain to say, look, good things often happen when you reach out. I received a Toblerone and butter cookies for knowing famous book quotes – and a yummy meal – and not-scary conversation. It was a great night.

I think I’ve made the right decision, to still write fiction but also do more attainable goals like writing product descriptions for people I know will pay me – and pay me enough to let me pay my bills. This kind of writing still leads to the occasional panic attack, but without the long, drawn-out wait times of writing long fiction. I’m starting to think I need that regular feedback to keep me going. Wish I’d done more of this sooner. But I also need to respect my own inner boundaries and timing.

I guess that’s what I mean by no regrets. My fears can be crippling, but there’s no use saying to myself – you coward. That just leads to the whole cycle of shame thing, and who needs that. The past is behind, the present is here, and only the future lies ahead.

What do you think? Do you have any lessons learned? Are there things you regret?