Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Freewriting Fridays 6/21

21 Jun
This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 51st week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone remember this long ago freewriting exercise?  Or maybe this one? The idea of freewriting is simple; just write.

I like to use 750 words. You can do whatever you like. There is only one rule: WRITE!

Prompt: “Creatures Kissing In the Rain”

Sinewy.

Is that the right word? It sounds like what I think I mean to say but dictionaries and writing teachers would probably argue the word choice.

It is impossible to think of the right word with him standing there in front of me. His lank torso bare in front of me and his lengthy nest of dun brown hair hanging limply to his cheeks. There is a segment of it caught on his lower lip. His lips are thin and wet. The rain has soaked his face. His glasses are covered in spots and drops. His smile is unmistakable as he takes the thick frames off and catches my glance.

It wasn’t the first time that he and I had skipped class together. We had almost made a a habit of it the last year. He was the artist and I was the writer. He was actually talented and I was just barely good enough to get in the school magazine.

There was a few mile stretch of woods behind our school. We weren’t the first delinquints to use it to hide from teachers. There had even been a fire or two from reckless teenagers throwing their butts into litterpiles of red leaves and wrinkled copies of the student literary magazine. My writing makes excellent kindling.

Most kids would stay to the border of the woods and just smoke or drink or even screw beneath the low creeping bushes. Not him. He had found a cave way out across the creek. It was nothing more than a hole in the ground to look at from outside but inside was enough room to sit comfortably the two of us.

He had moved a tape deck inside and had a great collection of old casettes. They were things he had gotten from his older brother. Thin white dukes and odd creatures with high hair and make-up eyes that crooned creepy little tunes of death, sex, and the other things that captured the imagination of humankind especially moody, melancholy teenage boys.

He was shirtless now. Sitting cross legged. We had walked here in a pouring rain under massive thunderheads with flashes of deep purple lightning across the sky. Shut up! I am the narrator so it was purple lightning. It did smell of the sort of moist black dirt that earthworms wriggle free of. Since I am the narrator, there was nothing uncomfortable at all about sitting in a hole in the ground scrawling in a notebook with my clothes clinging to my wet body that was anything but lank or sinewy.

He was thin and beautiful but I was the sort who got nicknames inspired by farm animals. Somehow he seemed not to notice how largely uncomfortable I was.

“Take off your shirt”.

Was that phrase really passing his lips and tumbling into the small space between us or was I hearing my own thoughts. It was projection. It was desire,right?

“I’m not a perve. I’m seventeen and I have seen it all before. We are going to build a small fire. We can let our clothes dry over that.”, he spoke from his years of experience. I mean I was only fifteen and I was sure he had more than just a few years on me. He must have been a boy scout because with almost no real tinder, he had a small fire burning.

He took off his shorts too. Now there he was almost naked. A small fire licking the top of our makeshift makeout den. We hadn’t actually ever made out.

Except in my imagination.

I listened to him and had my top off in seconds.I was a little hesitant but my underclothes disappeared as well. I reluctantly also kicked aside my soaked jeans. Now we were both sitting there in the near buff.

“Boxers?”, he said.

I turned a little pink in my cheeks. My heart was a steady patter in my chest.

“No, that’s cool.”, he shrugged. “To each their own.”

He pulled his sketchbook out of his backpack and began to stare in that way where he made you (okay, me!) feel like he was looking not just at you but sort of into you.

Holy crap! This is such horrible hormone induced writing. I was scribbling away too. It was words just wordswordswords. They were all about him but he wouldn’t know it to read it. It was the same terrible teenage poetry that girls in my creative writing class wrote about the teacher.

I was careful not to use too many revealing terms. I could talk about this feeling forever but I couldn’t express it fully. I mean what if one of those footballers found my notebook and knew how bad I wanted to kiss my best friend.

Boys don’t kiss boys. That’s what father says.

Who dares me to do another “Freewriting Friday”? No edits, just wordswordswords…I need a topic. Please comment with a short story topic. I’ll use the ones I don’t choose on future fridays.

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The Inertia of Not Doing.

20 Mar
Just Do It | Nike x Lau

Just Do It | Nike x Lau (Photo credit: achimh)

For writers, it is not uncommon to look at the blinking  prompt at the beginning of  your line and all the white space underneath and feel overwhelmed. I am sure that is something that all writers and bloggers have had to deal with at one point or another. It might not even be the dreaded “block” as much as just the inertia of not doing. When you spend a lot of time away from the keyboard, it can feel impossible to return. You become very aware of how long it has been since you last tapped the keys. The molehill of inconvience becomes the mountain of insecurity, doubt and real anxiety.  You start to think that it is just too hard to get back at it and doubt your ability to return to the routine.

 

English: QWERTY keyboard, on 2007 Sony Vaio la...

English: QWERTY keyboard, on 2007 Sony Vaio laptop computer. Français : Le clavier QWERTY d’un ordinateur portable Sony Vaio de 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)So what do you do to get writing again?

Nike was on to something when they offered the veritable and incredibly simple advice, Just Do It,

It can be as simple as that. Sit down and write the first 250 Words that come to mind. Do some freewriting. The best way to get back on to the horse is with a leap and wrap both legs around the belly and ride. It can be as simple as that. Once, you are back in the practice of dumping 250 words in the morning then the page won’t seem quite as intimidating when you want to do some real writing.  If you can’t do 250 words then do any amount that you can but once you start you will find that 250 words are hardly any at all. Look at this entry so far and I am just barely over 250. Two short paragraphs will get you there. Take a shot you have nothing to lose and your writing habit to gain. So, get back to it and remember the truest of truisms:

 

WRITERS WRITE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weirdsday

10 Oct
Portrait recadré de Lovecraft

Portrait recadré de Lovecraft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am thinking of starting some lucid dreaming experimentation. I am inspired to keep a dream log and I am working out the details of a “weird fiction” that I am writing in homage to H.P. Lovecraft and his The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Good idea or nightmare waiting to happen? I will tell you tomorrow if I am not thrown into the far reaching depths of the mental canyons of madness and the echoing unreality of eternal insanity.

Wish me luck.

 

Tuesday is Tricky: Writer’s Block

9 Oct

Mondays are “Meet My Guest Blogger Monday” like this so Tuesday? Tuesday is tricky. No really, “Tuesday is Tricky: Tips and Tricks” is the second theme day of the week.  It will be some form of tips or tricks about writing. Today, let’s take a look at…

Tips and Tricks to Beat Writer’s Block

1. Make a date with your writing desk. Nothing ever gets done unless we plan it. Plan to take a certain time of the day and make it yours for writing. I know..I know…you don’t have time! No one does. Yet we manage to watch TV, play online, and make it to the gym. If you are a writer then shouldn’t writing time be a priority to TV and the internet and at least as important for your health as time at the gym? Say yes and make a plan to devote a part of the day to writing.

2. Write words. Lots of them. It isn’t enough to just block off time for writing if you are not actually spending those hours writing. Set a small word goal for day one and then aim to increase it by 100 every day until you get to a comfortable spot. Remember that writing badly is better than not writing at all. There is always revision later. 

3. Write first, Rewrite later. Writing and rewriting are distinctly different tasks. Focus on getting your work written before you begin the rewriting. These are tasks for different days. Stop rewriting the same page for a week and force yourself to write badly first and rewrite later. LATER!

4. Juggle. Have multiple projects going at once. Give one as much as you can until you are stuck and then start another. I usually have a blog post or two going at once. I have flash fiction challenges and the WIP (and some smaller short fiction things). If I can’t make one work with me at the moment, I don’t panic. I put it down and pick up another.

5. Write (when it isn’t writing time). Once in a while, forget you regular writing time and trade it with gym time or some other time of the day. Attack your enemy from another direction. Flank those freaky words and come in from a corner of the battlefield that they would never expect. It’s like a mental ambush!

6. Write it out of order. Nothing says that you have to write it in the order that you want it read. Write the middle first or the end then go to the beginning. Mix it up. Write the part that wants out first. Then use that to build the rest.

7. Regular FreewritingMake time to freewrite every day. Freewriting is like priming the mental pump. Read this or this. That’s forced one shot writing. Do it freely and forget the grammar rules or spelling. Forget anything but getting words on the page. There is also this.  Now read all of my opinions on Freewriting and I have a lot of them. Freewriting is a must have tool in a writer’s toolbox. You must be willing to write for the love of writing. Rewriting is for later.

8. Pick up on the hint! Did you get my #1 most important tip to beating writer’s block? I said it over and over in each tip. Rewriting is not the same as writing. You build the house before you paint it. You must have words on the page before you can revise them. Tattoo that on your hand (or just put a post it note on your screen): REWRITE LATER!

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As always your comments are appreciated.

Build a Better Brand Platform: 30 Day Challenge (Day 17)

17 Sep

I think I will diverge from the MNINB Day 17 challenge, in which Robert “Not Bob” Brewer suggests a #hashtag conversation on Twitter, as a way to engage in an online conversation. I want to recommend instead that you search the groups available on LinkedIn. Then join one (or three)! Participate


Join 3 groups today. Answer a topic question or start a topic of your own.

Writers as a whole tend to be a little bit introverted but be deliberate in coming out of your shell and spending time talking to other professionals involved in writing. It will help you make contacts and may also help you answer that list  of nagging questions that you have always wondered (ex. What is a good freelance rate for an article? What is the best company to work with to self-publish a book?). Depending on your temperament, this might be a harder challenge than previous weeks. Give it a go!

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If you haven’t yet, please connect with me on social media:

Please follow this blog by email or on your WordPress reader page (or both). If you found this information valuable then please feel free to share it with others. I provided the share buttons so you bring the shares.

As always your comments are appreciated.

Build a Better Brand Platform: 30 Day Challenge (Day 6)

6 Sep

Okay, pals!

If you look in the right sidebar then you will see a blogroll list. These are blogs by writers and for writers that I have been reading. I am sure you have your own list of “must follow” blogs.

Visit A Blog and Comment:

The mission should you choose to accept it is simple. So far the focus has been on you. Now it is time to look at another writer. Visit the blog of a writer that you admire (or one of my blogroll if you are stuck) and leave a comment. You can comment here but it doesn’t count for the challenge. Leave a comment that adds value. Relate the blog back to your own experience and share that in the comments. Be sure to add your own blog URL to the comment but make your comment more than just an invitation to read your blog, make the comment make your blog look inviting by adding the value of your own experiences and opinions.

Do this today but over time make it a habit that you do everyday. Read other writers/bloggers and examine what they write and relate it to yourself. Leave meaningful comments and invite them (and their readers) back to your blog. This builds a network and spreads that net just that much wider.

Remember if you haven’t yet to leave your twitter handle here and your blog URL here. I will be compiling these into lists that I will publish to help you expand your reach as much as I can help do that. Also please connect with me on FACEBOOK, Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you found value in this at all then please share with others.

Build a Better Brand Platform:30 Day Challenge (Day 2)

2 Sep

This is the second day of a 30 Day Challenge to build a better platform. If you have done my first challenge then you are well prepared for today’s challenge. If you haven’t done it yet then it isn’t too late. Go back now and finish the first step.  Okay, get on it then.

The rest of us are going on to Day 2.

We are not going to divert too far from Robert Brewer’s second day challenge. Today’s platform building task is to set goals. I want you to think about your goals both short-term and long-term plans. We are going to make three lists; the first list is things we need to accomplish this month, the second is goals you have expectations of finishing within 12 months, and the last is your “bucket list” or goals you would like to accomplish before you die. These are your goals so really think about them. It is important to set a purpose before you can set about accomplishing the purpose.

 

EXAMPLES FROM MY GOAL LISTS:

Very Short-Term (One Month)

Finish Very Novel’s 30 Day Brand Platform Building Challenge

Prepare and Write my Music Spotlight for Moore Monthly

Prepare and Write my Movie Review for Moore Monthly

Have my Novel Planned and Plot Outlined for Start Writing in November

Attend at least one Writer’s Group Meeting

Short-Term (One Year)

Move Hosting for Blog to Registered Personal Domain

Monetize Blog

Novel Writing Finished and Begin Publishing / Marketing

Be Active Member of Writing Group

Outline Second Novel to Start Process Over

Long-Term (Before I Die)

Be Successful Writer with Many Books Written

Successful Well-Followed Blog (that Makes Money as well)

Be Considered an Authority on Writing

Debt-free and Financially Independent

Be Able to Travel and Adventure with My Kids

See My Top 10 Favorite Musicians in Concert

Work on a Movie Script

Work with David Lynch and/ Or David Fincher

Make a Science Fiction Movie with Duncan Jones

Write a  Dr. Who Episode

Work on a Comic / Graphic Novel

See a Movie with Roger Ebert and Discuss It After

Have Tea with Neil Gaiman and a Beer with Stephen King

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so I got carried away with the last list (you should see the full list)!

What does all of this have to do with building a better platform?

Everything. Before you can broadcast who you are and what you are here to do, you must know it yourself. You must see your destination before you can plan the route there.

It’s another easy challenge,right?

Leave Comments. Ask Questions. Make Commitments.

 

 

Writer with a “Day Job”

29 Aug

Let’s face it, unless you have a book on the New York Times Best Seller‘s list, a healthy trust fund or a hardworking spouse that doesn’t mind supporting you until you are a household name then you probably need to work a “day job“.

My life so far has seen me try many occupations. I have worked in a mail room, cooked pizzas for a fast food delivery place, done door-to-door political canvassing, been a tutor at a junior college, bar bouncer and worked my way from the kid who dipped fish out of the aquarium tanks with a net to assistant manager of a big-box retail store.

Most recently, I did a short stint as an outdoor construction laborer. I tore down and installed seamless rain-guttering. I must not have been too good at it as I stopped getting called for jobs. Just yesterday, I was hired by a Christian-owned hobby supply store as a backroom stock man (stock “boy” is too pejorative I guess). It is hard physical work but the gig is temporary and seasonal as they only hired me to get through their busy holiday season. I am looking at picking up work as a substitute teacher and of course I am trying to pick up even more freelance writing work.

Freelance writing is sort of a hustle and you have to constantly be looking for and following up leads on new work. When the new work just isn’t there then you need the dreaded “day job”.  I’m a writer but to pay the bills I will do just about anything.

Nothing is sexier than saying, “Hey, I’m a writer”…right?

My needs are few. Food in the fridge and comfortable place to sit are really the only priorities. Give me an internet connection and a lap top to write on and I am happy. Still with these few needs, the bills need paid.

What did famous writers do to pay the bills? An article in Flavorwire revealed the Strange Day Jobs of Authors Before They Were Famous.  Writers struggling to get their first works published are often told “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” but just what kinds of crazy jobs do you imagine those writers had. I will make a column of famous writers and a column of possible employment and try to match them up. When you are done guessing then click on the article in Flavorwire to check your answers.

J.D. Salinger                                                        Singer

George Saunders                                               Floor Model at Bloomingdale’s

Franz Kafka                                                         School Janitor

Tom McCarthy                                                    Exterminator

John Steinbeck                                                   Managed a Saab Dealership

John D’Agata                                                       Garbageman (for one day!)

William Faulkner                                              Guinea Pig for CIA Psych Experiments

T.S. Eliot                                                                Busboy

Robert Frost                                                         Doctor with a Full-time Practice                                                      

Jack London                                                         Selling Dental Products By Phone

 Ken Kesey                                                              “Oyster Pirate” and Hobo

Langston Hughes                                                 Changing Light Bulb Filaments

William Carlos Williams                                  Lloyd’s Bank of London

Nicholas Sparks                                                    University Postmaster

Wells Tower                                                            Condom Shop (NOT sex shop)

Kurt Vonnegut                                                        Guided Tours of a Fish Hatchery

Siri Hustvedt                                                           Nude Model

Steven King                                                              Workmen’s Accident Insurance

William S. Burroughs .                                        Worked in a Slaughterhouse

James Joyce                                                             Worked on a Swedish Luxury Liner

Remember that the “day jobs” and authors are mixed up but see how many you can guess before you check the answers.

What “day jobs” do you work? What is the craziest “day job” that you have had to work? What is the “day job” for a writer? Is working a “day job” a help or a hindrance to a career as a professional writer? What do you think? Leave your answers in the comments.

Freewriting Friday

24 Aug
Freewriting

Freewriting (Photo credit: Eemah)

Writing is Communication. Effective Writing is Effective Communication.

One thing said to me often is that writing is hard. That is a lie. Writing is not hard. Writing is very easy. Most of us learned to write in grade school. Writing is communication. Effective writing is effective communication. Effective communication takes practice. Infants don’t begin learning to speak by orating like Winston Churchill. They make nonsense that sounds like the “coo” of pigeons. It takes practice to speak like a Churchill (or an Obama). So why would anyone expect to sit down and write like Hemingway (or Stephen King) the first time they place fingers to a keyboard? Writing isn’t hard. Writing takes practice. In the beginning, just like with an infant you might make nonsense but with time, you will find your voice.

Writing takes Practice.

As with any skill that you want to learn, you must be willing to practice. You must practice to improve your ability. You will not start out writing perfectly. You will start out making many mistakes. Making mistakes is the best part of learning. Every mistake is a teacher. There are times when we don’t even care about the mistakes. Mistakes make us better. Mistakes can make us more creative.

Neil Gaiman said this about mistakes in a keynote address at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia:

I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline looks like a real name…”

Neil Gaiman turned that mistake into a character, Coraline and wrote her into adventures worthy of a Hugo , Nebula, and Bram Stoker’s  awards. Our mistakes can make us better. Give yourself permission to make plenty of mistakes.

One time to explore the mistakes we will make is in freewriting. Freewriting is a form of brainstorming. I am a real fan of brainstorming and have suggested techniques before for brainstorming. I really encourage brainstorming. In fact, I equate brainstorming to creative thinking. I want you to become a “brain stormtrooper”.

Brainstorming = Creative Thinking

Freewriting is one of my favorite forms of brainstorming. Freewriting  can be done at any time of the day. Many writers make this a part of their morning routine. Julia Cameron suggests this with her idea of “Morning Pages”.

Click the link that says “Morning Pages”. If you follow no other link in this post, follow this one. Go ahead. I’ll wait here. Watch the video too. No,really…it’s okay. I’ll be right here.

See wasn’t that worth it?  I laugh when I watch her but she explains the importance of freewriting in a really easy way to relate to yourself.  I have not yet read The Artist’s Way. I do find the idea of “Morning Pages” to be a sound practice. I do freewriting any time that I am stuck in my writing but it has become a part of my morning routine. Freewriting can be a useful part of any writer’s routine and is really good for clearing out some of our mental clutter.

Not a single care was given this day

Freewriting Baby

What is Freewriting?

Freewriting is a pre-writing technique in which you write freely without a care for spelling,grammar or topic. Freewriting as a term was coined by Peter Elbow. Freewriting allows the writer to forget the rules and write without regard to how the writing looks on the page.  Freewriting is used to conquer blocks and to release negative energies. Does that sound to “New Age”? Do you expect me to follow it up with talk about cosmic vibrations. I won’t. I won’t go all Natalie Goldberg on you but think of writing as a meditation. Consider how releasing it will be to your writer’s blocks of apathy or fear of critique to allow yourself to just write. Write whatever comes to mind.

Joel Friedlander has an excellent post on freewriting called “Unleashing Your Creativity”.  That is another link that I give you full permission to follow now or later.  He talks about the idea of prompts. Let’s explore that.

Using a prompt.

A prompt is a suggestion to get your mind started. It is like priming  an engine with oil. It helps a cold engine get started. A prompt could be anything. Example prompts:

Write about:

  • the room you are in.
  • shoes..
  • a bird’s nest.
  • why they say cat’s have nine lives
  • that smell coming from the other room

Need more? 

Whether you use a prompt is totally up to you and you don’t have to. Remember freewriting is supposed to be freeing and if the prompts jam you up then dump them. You don’t need them.

Three handwritten pages is about 750 word. 750 Words is also the name of a great site for freewriting that I use daily. I encourage any writer of any level to try it if they are not currently freewriting in another way. I know that I am more comfortable freewriting at my keyboard than I am at writing three long scribbled pages in a notebook (although I do that when I am not near my computer).

Bloggers know we are all one click from being abandoned. However, I encourage you to follow the links I suggested especially on “Morning Pages”, “Unleashing Your Creativity”, and 750 Words.

So What is “Freewriting Friday”?

If you are not making freewriting part of your daily routine whether in the morning or any time that you get blocked up, then at least commit to yourself (and me) that you will join me here every Friday for “Freewriting Friday”. I will suggest a prompt and you will take it and blog it on your own blog. You do blog? Everybody blogs.

I will also share my freewriting from the week before. It will not be edited. It will likely contain many mistakes. It will be an example of what freewriting is like for anyone who is interested in taking this tool into their toolbox.

This week’s prompt for next week is write about:

“Writer’s Block as if it was something material and part of the physical world.”

If you are willing to take the freewriting challenge then follow this prompt and link in the comments. If you are going to take freewriting and make it part of your morning routine then just comment “I’m in!”

I dare you to take this challenge and make it a part of your daily (or weekly) routines as a writer.

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