Archive

Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

Eegaads! It's almost 2010.

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment

As we approach the new year, I see that I have made only baby steps in my writing attempts.  I’m embarrassed that I have not written an entry in this blog since September.  No excuses.  I got swept up in my old habits and let time slip through my fingers.

If you are in need of some serious motivation to break old habits, shake things up a bit because your answer to Dr.Phil’s “How is that working for you?” has you shaking your head, I recommend reading James Arthur Ray’s book Harmonic Wealth.  Yes, he is the same dude that is under investigation for deaths at his retreat in Sedona, AZ.  (I am not sure why people don’t use common sense when trying new things.  People, huddled in a sweat tent, must have known that they were subjecting their bodies to the same environment that animals face locked in a parked car for hours in the summer.)  Anyway, if we can surf past this event, and discover what Ray has to say, you might find that there is relevance in his life philosophy and message.

As I read Ray’s book, I liked the fact that the conversational tone wasn’t preachy.  He  tells you his take on life and what he has learned.  His message isn’t new.  What is new is his delivery.  He is able to explain and connect what happens in everyday life.  It is not as random as we might like to believe. 

For us busy people,  he outlines steps to help you realize what you want and how to get it.  As I said, this  nothing new.  For years business schools have touted the management by objective system, but Ray has broadened the scope to open the potential for success in all areas of life.

For the new year, this book/ CD, which is in libraries, might help you slug through and figure out how to achieve your wildest dreams.  So, I have read this book once, listened to the CD, and now look forward to 2010 with renewed enthusiasm for my writing. 

Julia Cameron in her book,  The Artist’s Way, says that if you do a timeline of goals, you will find when you look back 80% will have been realized.  So, join me in creating your timeline for 2010.  We’ll meet back here next year at this time and see how much has come to pass.

Emails: the time leech

July 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Technology, specifically email, has been a blessing and a curse.  Recently, my employer asked the us employees to refrain from hopping onto our email accounts so frequently.  She said that two or three times during the work day should be more than enough. 

Although I bristled at the thought of changing my behavior…an occasional “good” email, one that makes us smile or delivers good news, often breaks up the work day. 

Well, the first day of email access three times a day wasn’t as traumatic as I thought it would be.  I was more productive.  I was able to plan and organize better because I was more focused.  And the first week rolled into the second.  My work seemed less disjointed. 

Then, I started a project that required me to email out.  I was back to my old habit again like an alcoholic having a relapse.  However, I realize how emails can steal precious time, so I have cut back again at work.  I have cut back at home.  I would like to think that I am reclaiming time to write, but I can see that I may have to leave home to get any real writing done. 

Home is the biggest distraction.  Like exercising, you have to initiate discipline.  You have to ignore the calls to help find the favorite pair of socks or the ketchup.  You have to shed the pressure of preparing meals and focus on achieving even small goals toward a writing project.  This is my next step…leaving home or finding a 6 X 8 cell with a door.

But for right now, curbing the emails is a good thing,despite those beckoning words to peek.

Do you suffer an addiction to email reading as I do?   Share your thoughts, but time yourself…after all, your response may be helpful to others, but not helpful in advancing your writing project.

Thought Leaders

June 30, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the hot new terms in our lexicon these days is the concept of a thought leader.  Those of us who have a specialty can now share creative thoughts, views and opinions with the rest of the world through social media sites.

If you happen to specialize in romance writing, for example, you can visit any number of writing sites to post your expertise.  Recognition for your contribution comes in the form of e-networking opportunities, which may parlay into meeting an editor or a literary agent.

So be bold.  Share your thoughts.  Just a note though.  Remember that your information has a far reach and therefore, you need to always remember what the image you are trying to create for yourself and make sure that publication of your thoughts are aligned with your desired image.

Are You Satisfied With the Status Quo?

May 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Half- written stories, rejected submissions, and possible story lines found their way to my desk drawer graveyard through not understanding a couple of rules of the road in this craft.

The first rule is not to take a sabbatical while working on a project.  It is the kiss of death for many a project.  The obits of my characters read:  Died before I lived.  Everytime  I start writing a story and put it down for a few weeks, inertia takes over and I cannot resume. 

If I drop writing, even for as little as six weeks, I see more subtle changes in my characters as they adopt the influences or viewpoints that came into my life during that short time span.  The differences may be subtle, but nevertheless there.   Once changes are made, they, no doubt, alter other parts of the story line, and sometimes it means starting from scratch.

Consistency is the key.  It may take only a three day break to lose interest.  If you write everyday, even if it is for a short period, your interest will not wane, your momentum will not sag.  It takes a tremendous amount of discipline and perseverence to dust off an older piece of work and rework it.

Another observation I made about my writing is that if I don’t know my characters well enough at the onset, I lose interest.  I have to be emotionally engaged to keep the writing from being dull.   If I am not familiar with my characters, they never materialize on the page.  They aren’t bigger than life. Since they never seem involved in their own lives, they all appear to have self-esteem issues.  How boring is that! 

These characters maybe a stereotype without depth, without uniqueness.  They move through their lives aloof, controlling their space without connecting with anyone on or off the page.  Just like a marriage license doesn’t make a marriage, a character even though connected to another character may still have the reader  screaming into the page:  What about passion?  What about love?  What about sacrifice and honor?  Damn it.  Say something.  Do something.  This is exactly what results when your characters are not well established in your head.

So, if you find your characters a little lackluster, do your homework.  Etch out everything about this character.  Create a backstory to establish a reason for his/her behavior.  Add a quirk or two for interest and make it points of challenge in the character’s goal.

I posted a question on a www.LinkedIn.com  group asking whether established writers prefer to develop character over plot or vice versa when beginning a novel.  One respondent likened it to playing the piano.  You can play the melody with your right hand, the harmony and chords with your left, but eventually, you will want to play them together. Together the music is whole, rich and filled with texture.

If I was happy with the status quo, my writing could never get better.  Writing is one craft that you can be learning something new every day of your life.  This is why writers keep writing.

What did you learn last?  Care to share it?

Distractions

March 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m not MIA.  I found another distraction from my writing.  And the one thing that irks me is that I let it pull me  away from the things that matter.  I started messing around with the puzzlesocial media networks and like most people, it sucked me in.  I spent hours discovering how I could maximize its features to either promote Moore Wealth, where I work or eventually promote my work.

This distraction, albeit pleasurable, nevertheless took valuable time from other perhaps more important projects on my eternal list of things to do.  Even though I’m great at making lists, I never prioritized.   Big MISTAKE.  I would just pick out the project that was most expedient and felt great that I could cross it off.

The need to prioritize suddenly has new clarity.  My to-do list is unrealistic and disorganized.  I realize how I shamefully squander my time and I don’t even get enough sleep.  And yet the projects that are most important to me never bubble up to the top of the list.  Okay, that said.  I’m not going to do the social media networking today.  I’m going to hold down the phone calls and email and take that time to figure out what I can do to make my life work better for me.

What help propel me into this hard work of reshaping how I do things…and believe me, this is hard work to consciously refuse to do what comes so naturally is the Harmonic Wealth by James Arthur Ray.  It painfully pointed out my weaknesses.  Like going to your shrink, this review, re-evaluate, and rework of my behavior and the why of how things turn out requires much mental gymnastics because examining and critiquing your inner self is always difficult.  (And if you are finding this process easy, you aren’t digging deep enough.)  One strategy is to write 3 things down that you can reasonably can accomplish today that fits in your overall goals. 

If you are mother, no doubt the list is as long as your arm, but circle three things that you would like to see done today.  Focusing in a world full of distractions is hard.  My three things today are exercise, finish reading Harmonic Wealth and writing the first draft of a short story. 

To kick start this new plan, I need to go now.  You won’t want to miss my review of Harmonic Wealth, because unlike all the other self help books, this one has moved me enough to buy copies for my co-workers even before I even finished the book!

Manuscript Submission Tracking Template

February 12, 2009 1 comment

If you are like me, you will send out one inquiry or submission and think you will remember when you did it.  After all, it is only a handful.  How could you forget the details of something you are so passionate about?

It is easy.  Forgetting is easy.  So, to avoid having to perform agonizing mental gymnastics, I put together a template to track submissions or any other related task for that matter. 

It includes not only the date sent, but the response date.   Contact information comes in handy too.

I posted this as one of the pages on the right side of this blog, because I didn’t see a function that would permit me to link directly to the document…so, in order to view the manuscript submission template, look to the right of the screen under the category:  Template. 

Check it out. Hopefully, this will work for you.

Manuscript Submission Tracking Template

Happy New Year

January 1, 2009 Leave a comment

1123224_2009__52

Wishing all of you a safe and happy holiday! ~~~Cori

Self-Help for Writers

December 28, 2008 Leave a comment

This holiday season, my husband gave me “Embracing Your Inner Critic” by Hal and Sidra Stone.  I’d be insulted, but I found this book a wonderful journey into personal discovery. 

The Stones describe how our inner thoughts can be either a painful saboteur or the motivation to achieve what appears impossible.

They point out the irony of how our inner critic outwardly is our protector from being hurt or abused by others, but in actuality, the inner voice can cause much psychological damage, which exhibit symptoms of shame, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.  

Targeting writers, this self-help book strives to assist all writers to turn self-criticism into a creative outlet.

We can extrapolate the observations and behavior descriptions to other areas of our lives as well.  We are all wounded souls in one sense or another.  It only seems fair to say that our inner critic has words to say about all sectors of our life…

It is an easy read…and if you ever wondered why you always run late or why you keep dating the same type of guy/girl that makes you insane, the Stones may help shed some light and give you control over your idiosyncrasies.

This is not a particularly difficult book to read.  It could have been more succinct, but the content is sound.  It echoed many things that I’ve heard or read before and connected the dots for me.  For those who might deem this as psycho babble, you  might be right.  Some won’t ever see what the Stones are writing about.  Is it denial or just a lack of introspection?

And of course, what psychological cook book doesn’t come with recipes?Yes, this book comes with exercises to get you out of your psychological rut. 

Will I do the exercises?  Probably.  But maybe not all.

 Do I expect results?  Hope so.

When Life Gets in the Way

October 29, 2008 Leave a comment

My last post was weeks ago.  I could tell you about abandoning my car on the Pennsylvania turnpike because the head gaskets leaked coolant into the engine.  I could tell you about how the sucky economy has ramped up my workload at my day job (financial planning).  I could tell you that kids and house need attention.  But I have decided to bite the bullet and make no more excuses.  Life is testing me.  How much do I want to write? 

Like a yo-yo dieter, I have tried every time management tool out there.  I have tried MBO (management by objective), reward systems, and numerous strategies used by other writers and writing gurus.  I have been trying for years and something inside me won’t let me quit.  Why can’t I let myself off the hook?  What is the deep dark place that holds me back from living to my potential?

I write.  I write everyday, but it is not fiction.  My husband thinks I should write non-fiction, because I gravitate toward reading non-fiction material.  Maybe he is right.  I often think of going on a writer’s retreat to get that flow started.  I feel like an engine that needs an oil change.  The oil, viscous and dark, is like sludge gumming up the works. 

Here’s a site about writer’s retreats. If you ever thought about going, this is a good place to start.  http://www.writersretreat.com     (This is a hot link, even though it appears like plain text).

Hey, November is National Novel Writing Month and celebrating its tenth year.  Perhaps, you have already heard of it.  This is the opening content on the home page.  http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/whatisnano

Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  “It is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.  Participants begin writing November 1.  The goal is to write a 175 page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.”

Speed writing is one strategy I have not yet tried to crack my writing inertia. 

The Palin Story

October 2, 2008 Leave a comment

No doubt a writer out there sees Alaska’s governor Sarah Palin’s story as the core of a wonderful novel.  You can’t dream up stuff better than this.  Through in some humor, some twists and voila — America’s next bestseller. 

Tonight is the VP debate: Palin vs. Biden.  So novelists, join your political journalist counterparts and take notes.  I swear this is fertile territory for a good movie to boot.