Writers, we need to stop saying this

Usually I limit myself to one writing-related post per month. But something has been irritating the living hell out of me for years, and the more time that passes, the angrier I get. So, lest I morph into some female version of The Incredible Hulk, I’ll expel that rage here, as a semi-productive rant. Because if …

Source: Writers, we need to stop saying this

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The writing pit bull …

Many moons ago, during a work performance appraisal, a former manager of mine referred to me as a “pit bull with a bone.”

Of course, my first reaction was one of disbelief.  And then I wanted to punch her. 🙂  Good thing she explained rather quickly why she made such a reference, because I probably would have been out of a job.

She described me as a person who never gave up.  She went on to say that when I had a project to do, I’d take the assignment and run with it.  And no matter what, I refused to let it go until it was completed.

I thought about her comment and although I was still relatively pissed, I took what she had to say as a compliment.

And then I took what she had to say as fact.  And then the truth.

I don’t like leaving things undone, especially my writing.

It’s been a little over a year, since I’ve looked at my WIP. Except for my critiquing group, I did nothing remotely literary, including reading. And that pained me.  But life became overwhelming and my writing took a back seat.  Dare I mention my previous surroundings (home/office) weren’t conducive to writing or reading?

However, I’m happy to say that that sorry book is closed and for the first time in many months, I’m grabbing on to that bone and not letting go. I’ve been able to REALLY look at my WIP with interest. It’s fantastic to be able focus on a manuscript I started years ago.

I even managedstop-writing to finish a book by one of my favorite authors, Maya Banks. It felt so good to read again!

I’ve said it before; no man (or writer) is not an island. As writers, we need feedback, encouragement and collaboration, which is why I’m so thankful for my critiquing group—three fabulous writers, Leigh Raffaele, Beth-Ann Gutsick Kerber and Kathleen Pacheco. They allowed me to vent when necessary and the time to get over a major hurdle.

I’m also thankful for my critiquing partner, writer Jaye Gavin Allan, for checking in on me every once and awhile to make sure I was still breathing!

Writing is my best friend and I couldn’t go another day without it.  To do what we love doing, requires a place that is conducive to writing and one that nurtures to our creativity.

This pit bull is lucky to have found it again because I refuse to fail.

As an artist, how do you get back/stay on track?

When in doubt …consult your crystal ball or (critiquing partner!)

As you may recall from a previous post, there are a few ways that I try to get over “writer’s block.”

Another way to get over the “non-writing hurdle” is to talk to your critiquing partner. If you don’t have one, I strongly recommend getting one. My critiquing partner suggested going back to a story that I wrote a few years ago, and see if it will work as a novella or short story.

Brilliant idea!

Sometimes, when we’re writing a full-length novel, and particularly the sequel of another book, it’s hard to get the thoughts to flow properly. It probably doesn’t help if you’re still trying to publish the first one. (I know it is with me as of late.)

We’re usually so close to our projects, we tend to miss what someone from the outside, looking in, might see. Your critiquing partner is the best person to offer advice, because they may be going through the exact same problem.

However, working on an unrelated project, can get your creative juices flowing and you may actually be able to finish with a minimal amount of angst.

I will go back to my second book, a sequel. But for now, my novella, which takes place in Puerto Rico …yum!) will keep me moving forward and keep writing top of mind.

Today is August 17 and the premiere of “The Expendables 2.” I’m psyched because I as mentioned, I will be taking mental notes of all the bad ass characters. Hey, you never know what might work in a WIP!

Have a good weekend. See you Monday.

Whining doesn’t drive success; it steers you right off the cliff

Too often I’ve seen people, in particular we creative types, complain that things aren’t going their way. (they can’t get an agent, they received their 1000th rejection, their painting didn’t sell for the price they wanted, etc.)

Sometimes, the energy expended complaining, could be used more positively by trying to figure out why things aren’t panning out. If whining were so effective, we’d all be successful. You think?

Whether we’re writing, acting, singing, playing golf or doing our day-to-day activities, we should give it our all, and expect that the fruits of our labor will grow.

There is no magical wand or free ride. And it may sound cliché, but the truth is, there’s only guts, sweat and tears. And at the end, success.

I look at it this way, if everything came easily to me, I’d be bored stiff.

Thank you, Maya Angelou for the constant reminder, to steer clear of the cliff.

In the nick of time …

James Scott Bell has been very influential in my writing life. His series of craft books, “Plot and Structure, Revision & Self-Editing, and “The Art of War for Writers,” are my collective bibles. I refer to them whenever I get stuck on a scene or think about giving up.

It’s only right that I share his insight from his latest blog: The Most Important Characteristic Every Writer Needs.

James said what I needed to hear, and did so in the nick of time!

Creating a Better Writing Workspace

200534932-001My best place to write is on my bed with my laptop on my legs. I usually have the TV on low or mute, so I have a visual. Just in case, anything catches my eye.

My headset is glued to my ears, and I’m writing to a host of musical selections depending on the scene or a mood. On the average, this works for me.

However, I have an opportunity to create a true workspace. The eldest of my little birdies is flying away to build her own nest, and leaving me with a little extra space in mine.

Hot damn. An office! So much to do. So much to buy. Where do I start?

My first chore is to add to my collection of overstuffed bookshelves. I have two screaming for relief. Tell me fellow readers: HOW many bookcases do you have filled with your favorite authors? And if you’re a writer as well, please …. Your shelves probably look like mine!

My second chore is to situate my office so that I can get the most benefit. To stay organized and creative, I’m going to adopt Feng Shui techniques, with a touch of sizzle.

This is going to be interesting and challenging. 🙂

To step up to this challenge, I plan to follow a few tips I ran across on a cool Web site, Care2 .

1. DON’T sit in line with the door, as you will be in the path of negative energy.
2. DON’T face away from the door if you are conducting business from home. Business will symbolically come to you through the door, so don’t turn your back on it.
3. DON’T arrange your workspace so that you look straight out into a corridor or see the stairs, storage rooms, closets, elevators, escalators, or toilets.
4. DO put your computer in the North or West area of your office to enhance your creativity. Place the computer in the Southeast if you use it to generate income.
5. DO place an aquarium or tabletop fountain in the East, North, or Southeast. A small aquarium with black or blue fish in the North area of your desk or office will activate your business and career success. Guppies or a single arrowana are ideal for an aquarium made of glass and metal.
6. DO place a safe, which is usually constructed of metal, in either West or Northwest, which both represent the metal element. The safe symbolizes the prosperity and financial security of a business.
7. DO have a good balance of yin and yang when decorating your workspace. Balance light and dark colors, soft and hard surfaces, and smooth and rough textures in your choice of window treatments, furniture, and flooring.
8. DON’T have any mirrors in your office, as they can reflect negative energy from clients to other people in the room. You should always maintain control over the energy in your office.

The full excerpted list is on the Care2 Web site and you can buy the actual book Feng Shui Dos & Taboos,by Angi Ma Wong, on Amazon.

I’m going to use as many tips as I can. Well, maybe I won’t get the aquarium because that means cleaning the tank. My middle birdie, who had an aquarium, is no longer living at home. So I can’t bribe her to clean mine. (Did I say bribe? I meant ask.)

The sizzle in my workspace may include a red bulb for when my characters need a romantic rendezvous, or chocolate covered cherries, strawberries or good old M&Ms stashed in my desk drawer when an aphrodisiac is required. I’m quite sure I’ll add more things as I go along.

If you have tips on making your office or writing space work for you, let me know. I’m open to all ideas. I’ll let you know how my office turns out.

Knowing me, I’ll wind up back on my bed, in the Northeast corner, facing the door, with an aquarium to my right.