I’ve been sorting through half-finished manuscripts stored on my laptop. And as many of you know, I’ve also been revamping stories whose rights have been returned to me.
These are older stories I wrote 5 or more years ago and revisiting them is teaching me a lot and hopefully making me a better writer too.
I’m learning that your older writing can make you cringe. It can force you to put your hand over your eyes and say did I really write like that and what possessed me to write a scene like that? I should have done this, and I should have done that.
Cringing aside, what it’s showing me is I’ve grown as a writer. I can be self critical. I can strive to do even better.
I can use older writing as an exercise to create stronger more vivid scenes, bring characters to life, and create more authentic sounding dialogue.
I can promise myself that I’ll do better on the next story I write.
So moral of this story, and the purpose of me sharing this with you is to encourage you to check out your older stories and use them as a way to gauge how far you’ve come and how much farther you still have to go to become the best writer you can possibly be.
Try it sometime and I think it will make you a stronger more confident writer.
In my last Ramblings I mentioned that I wanted to pen a post about writing through painful events in your life so here it is.
If you didn’t see last Friday’s Ramblings you won’t know that I recently learned that someone who was(and I should say, still is), very special to me, had passed away from cancer. It’s a man I had a long term relationship with and besides my dad, he’s been the most influential person in my life.
The news of his death shocked me and not just because he was still fairly young but it’s brought up lots of memories and feelings I hadn’t thought about or dealt with for a long time.
It’s sort of thrown me off track and my writing has been pushed to the back burner for a bit. I’m hoping it’s not going to be another long stretch of writer’s block so I’m trying all sorts of ways to avoid it.
That’s what made me think about writing this post. These kinds of events in life are unavoidable. We lose loved ones, we go through illness, and we face bumps in the road. So how can you handle it?
I’ve been trying a couple of things. First one is music. Not so long ago, I always wrote with music playing in the background but slowly got out of the habit but now I’m back with it. Headphones on listening to a selection of music I have stored through my Amazon account. The music seems to help me focus my attention away from the loss I’m feeling.
Journal…I have to admit I’ve never been one for keeping a journal but now it’s helping me write down my feelings, memories, and whatever my emotions are when I have the book open.
Turn the memories into stories. This is sort of related to the journal part. I’ve been taking out snippets of thoughts and figuring out how I can use them in future stories. One of the first books I read about writing was that being an author is a bit like opening a vein where you let all your experiences, secrets, whatever’s within you, out on the page. Some future character I create might have a thought about what I’m going through right now. I might even write a book where a character deals with a similar loss.
Bottom line is life isn’t all plain sailing so as authors let’s use our writing to heal and recover from whatever it throws at us.
A heart shape made out of paint splatters
Almost at the mid-way point and how are things going?
My tip today is food centric. I’ve found that if I write while I’m hungry I’m not as productive. They say our brains need fuel like the rest of our bodies so maybe that’s got something to do with it.
Even if you don’t have time for a meal, stop and get a snack.
I didn’t get time to post anything yesterday because I was busy throughout the day and then ended up writing until about 10 p.m.
How are things going for you? We’re a week into the challenge and is it easier or harder than you thought?
My tip is don’t worry if you feel you want to take a day off from writing because you can always write more the next day.
I’m currently taking a break from today’s writing sprint which is also my tip of the day.
Some people don’t like to quit writing until they’re done with their word count but I like to stop every fifteen minutes or so and take a break and stretch my legs or even grab of cup of tea.
I’m teaching a two week synopsis writing boot camp starting on July 1st. There are just three spots left so if you or anyone you know what’s to learn the art of writing a synopsis, here’s a link for more details and how to sign up-
The dreaded rejection letter. The writer’s equivalent of a dear john letter.
They’re a necessary evil that goes hand in hand with being an author who’s continually writing and submitting their work.
I’ve had my share of them and once I even received two in one day. Ouch! Another time I received someone else’s rejection.
Then you get published and you think they’ll stop, but they don’t. Even when you’ve got a couple of published books under your belt, you get rejected again.
The thing I hatedmost about opening up an envelope and seeing dear author, this story isn’t right for us, blah, blah, blah, was not knowing what was wrong with it. Was it the plot, the characters, and was I repeating the same mistakes with each story I wrote?
When I was asked to come up with some new workshop ideas I thought back to these times. I remembered my frustration and how I wanted to know what I could do to make my story better so that rejection letters didn’t come sailing through the letterbox again.
I came up with an idea for a boot camp style workshop with a limited number of students so I can give each of them more of my time and we’ll work one on one rather than in a group setting. The My Story’s Been Rejected Now What? was born. It launches next month and the kind people at Outreach Chapter made this flyer for me to share with everyone.
If you’ve had a story recently rejected and what some help to rework it and figure out what’s wrong, this is the workshop for you.
Hope to see you in class.
Feel free to pass this along to other writers and groups!
I’m teaching two workshops that both begin tomorrow-
The first one is Writing the Continuing Story and Trilogy which is offered through the Outreach Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Here’s the link with all the details-
And Crafting the Short Story is my first time teaching for the Maryland Romance Writers and here’s the link and details
Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested in either of these topics.
I didn’t plan to publish the second book in my Writing Genre Fiction until next month, but I got ahead of schedule and published it through Amazon KDP Direct yesterday. Once again it’s just 99 cents and here’s the link if you want to pick up a copy-
This year’s NaWriNoMo challenge is history. I took part for the second year and here are a few things I discovered about writing and also myself as a writer-
Some Days Are Tough
There were a few days where my fingers flew across the keys. Sometimes they found it hard to keep up with my mind. Other days weren’t so productive. I think that’s true of non-challenge days too. Learn to accept it as a fact and stay the course.
If You Get Stuck Move On
I followed the same strategy as last year. When I got stuck on a scene or even my WIP I switched to another story.
Try and Finish the Day In the Middle of Something Important in Your Story
I’ve found if I stopped in the middle of a vital scene or a turning point getting back to the story the following day made the writing that much faster and smoother.
Know There’s Always Tomorrow
Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t reach your goal. Tomorrow’s another writing day.
Learn to Figure Out What’s The Problem
On some days it wasn’t that I couldn’t figure out what to write next but I was tired from other work and under regular conditions would have called it a day. Maybe it’s not the writing that’s wrong, but you need a nap or a snack etc.
Give Yourself Full Permission
I’m at the point where I’ve come to accept that first drafts aren’t perfect and I shouldn’t keep going back over what I’ve written the previous day to make them that way…that’s what the second draft’s all about.