writing exercise

Stephen King On Stephen King

Sorry I was off for a while. Wasn’t feeling too well. Better now and hoping to get back on schedule with everything.

The New York Times ran a great piece by Stephen King on prolific writers, which you might have already read. Like him, I think every writer has their own process and their own speed. I’ve found that I’ve gotten better at the craft as I go along, but I’ve also slowed down a lot because of that, both in reading and writing speed.

With reading, I have less patience for bad now and no burning desire to finish no matter what. Life’s too short now and I will put a book down if it isn’t working for me. I can find others that will, I reason. With writing, I think it’s mostly doubt about if it’s working. I get paralyzed all the time from doubt and from not knowing how to get from point A to B. I know where I’m going, but sometimes the path is shrouded in mist. And sometimes I’m just tired and lazy. Writing can become an exercise in pulling teeth that way, but I feel like a heel if I don’t write, which leads to paralysis, and thence begins a vicious cycle.

Thankfully, I can usually find my way back out.

King also had a Q & A session yesterday though, and it was really interesting. He’s the writer that inspired me most as a young person, and he some great wisdom and quirky answers here. His response to Jake from Wisconsin wasn’t what I expected, but he’s right. If someone’s made up their mind, why bother playing their game?

I have to try that pillow behind my back thing while I’m writing though. I can feel the relaxation now…

relax animated GIF

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Happy New Year! Time to Start Writing Now.

Yep. We had a great time eating the food and drinking the drink. Marathon watching TV shows on Netflix and going to the cinema to cheer for the final chapter of The Hobbit. So we are all refreshed now and should be ready for what comes next.

A year of great storytelling.

We will be writing until we are done, my friends. So get a good chair, crack your knuckles and be sure to check back here three times a week to see how you and I have done. Feel free to leave your word count, page count or sentence count when you visit. I’ll be happy to know I’m not the only one down in the salt mines. I’m giving you today off because it’s New Year’s Day and we know what you did last night. But no mercy tomorrow.

And weekends count for extra. Or you can just leave them for your family and fun, as I plan too. I have to recharge often, and weekends do that for me. I have too much to do in those two days, so I’d rather use my spare time to get ready for the rest of the week.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, lots of writing and plenty of online friends (me included!) to share your trials and tribulations, successes and achievements with.

Welcome to 2015!!

And just for fun, here’s how a writer’s mind works most of the times…

Defeating the Guilt Cycle

You know you’ve done it.

You’ve arrived at home after a hard day’s work, sometimes to screaming kids, or a tired husband, or just a quiet room with a waiting dog or cat, or a mess that needs cleaning up, and a dinner that needs making and laundry that needs doing and you’ve said to yourself, ‘I can’t write tonight. There’s too much to do.’ And you’ve felt guilty as you pass by your computer and avert your eyes. But not as guilty as you would have felt if you’d sat down to write.

Writers do this to themselves all the time, especially the ones that have yet to sell a story or a novel. We let the rest of the world convince us that writing is wasting time, that we need to get the chores done, or catch that new episode of ‘Game of Thrones’, or head out to the mall. If we’re not making money from it, the thinking goes, how do we justify abandoning our family and friends every day? After all, only about 200 people actually make a living at this, right?

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to your marriage, or your kids, or your house. I’m just saying that a lot of the time, it can actually fit into your day without you having to grow extra arms and legs. What makes it not fit, most of the time, is the guilt trip we take ourselves on. We talk ourselves out of doing what makes us happy, what makes us complete, so we can help others be happy and complete. As if we don’t matter. As if what we do doesn’t matter.

Well, even if you never make a dime off your writing, it matters. You matter. You’re putting a little bit of magic into the world, every day, and you shouldn’t let being busy, or anxious, or frustrated, or overwhelmed keep you from finding a little bit of peace in your art. ‘Cause most of us do this to get all these darn stories out of our head, and if we don’t let them out, we’ll probably explode from the pressure.
(And yes, you have my permission to use that as a legitimate excuse the next time your significant other raises the eyebrow at you while you write in a pile of dirty laundry. It’s either happy writing you, or splattered all over the walls you. Take it or leave it.)

Okay. Maybe you won’t exactly explode. But that doesn’t negate the fact that you shouldn’t ever feel guilty about putting yourself first, just for a little while.

So the next time you are about to make an excuse to yourself so you can avoid the guilt of actually writing–
(Which of course leads to the guilt the next day of knowing you haven’t written and there’s been no forward motion—which makes you feel worthless and like you don’t know what you’re doing, and like maybe it isn’t even worth it, and you should just forget about the whole thing and focus on getting a good job that can keep you in ham and eggs…you see what’s happening here? Yeah, I know. I’ve been there, trust me.)

–try this trick I just taught myself. Stop thinking, walk yourself over to your preferred writing instrument—laptop, typewriter, pen, whatever—sit down and write three lines. Just let yourself do three lines. If you have more, go for it. If not, stop. And if you find yourself steaming along, really getting into it and you know exactly what’s coming next…stop. Keep that bit of inspiration for tomorrow and your next three lines.

Do this, every day, whenever you have a few minutes (trust me, it takes me about 5 minutes to catch up where I am and then dash that out), no exceptions. You are allowed to schedule a day or two where you don’t write, if you like, but try to write at least 6 days a week. Do not worry if it’s not your best work. That’s what editing is for. You can go back and fix any mistakes, or erase the whole thing the next day because it doesn’t work for you anymore. The important thing is to add three new lines, every day. Try this for two weeks at least. At the end of the period, I guarantee not only will you have made forward motion, you will have cured any writer’s block that may have reared its ugly head.

(Most likely it was never writer’s block, just inertia breeding on itself because you were trapped in the guilt cycle.)

I tried this for Lent after someone suggested to me that I should try to do something positive, as well as give up something for the season. I gave myself no off days and no excuses and stifled every feeling of guilt by saying to myself ‘come on, it’s just five minutes to half an hour—you spend more time in the bathroom’. Now, several thousand words later, I can attest that it works. Sure, some people write several thousand words in a couple of hours (me included). However, this is not about being the most prolific writer ever. This is about putting one foot in front of the other, and not feeling guilty about it.

So end the cycle. I think you’ll be surprised what you can fit in if you opt out of the guilt and opt into doing the thing that you love.

7/7 Blog Challenge

Thanks for this, Marlene!

The 7/7 blog challenge means I open a current WIP, and post 7 lines beginning with the 7th line on page 7. Or page 77. Then I tag 7 other authors who get their turn. Good times for all.
Marlene’s post is here.

*Quick plug* Marlene is a wonderful person who has several great novels for sale, so feel free to check them out if you’re interested in things like alternate history involving the Titanic, the fey and urban fantasy. Someday, she might even combine them all!*End of Quick plug*

I have decided to go with the beginning of page 77 of my current work-in-progress, ‘The Nightward’. It’s a science fantasy, set in a matriarchal world modeled on a mixture of African, Indian and Caribbean society. Women possess ‘real’ magic, while men have only ‘illusion’ and this has led to women being the more powerful sex. However, there are things in the past of this world (no, it’s not Earth, but there are links), that will not stay dead. And the door to them has been opened in order to dethrone the rightful Queen of the High Court and the Hand of the Goddess Gaia herself.

Viyella is the heir to the High Throne. Today was hers and her twin brother’s sixth birthday. At the celebratory party to introduce the heirs to the other Queens of Gailand, Viyella’s mother is murdered in front of her. She manages to escape the ambush with the help of her new bodyguard, Dagen, a soldier or Daguard, whose future is now irrevocably tangled with hers. They seek shelter at the Seat of an ally, Lady Gretchen. There, they realise for the first time that they face more than betrayal…

“It is the Nightward.” The hand lifted away from Viyella’s forehead and a sudden draft chilled the skin there. “And it comes for her.”

“Comes for her?”

Viyella opened her eyes as the Lady rose to her feet, the wind snapping blue silk around her ankles. She knows.

“Daguard, the Queen must not stay here. In a matter of an hour, the darkness you see will reach Fairye. Once it arrives, it will seek out the Queen–and we will not be able to stop it.”

Hope you liked that peek :-). Below are the seven writers I’ve tagged. Feel free to go visit them and read their snippets too.

And to my friends…Tag! You’re it!

Elizabeth Hull
Drea
K.N.Lee
Anna Kashina
Cindy Lynn Speer
Walter Williams
Susan Curnow

Unblocking

write

I have recently come to realise something. If you decide you will write every day, no matter what, and you give yourself no excuses and no quarter, even a champion procrastinator like me can get at least three lines out per day.

Now, you might say three lines are nothing. But you’d be wrong. At least according to some famous author I read years ago who did the math and figured out that if you wrote three lines a day for a year, you’d have a 50,000 word novel at the end. Or a 60,000 novel. Doesn’t matter. What matters is, as my friend Bone says, there will have been PROGRESS.

This is actually a big deal for me, progress. Because I’ve been stopping and starting with long breaks between my writing for a couple of years now. Until I made this demand of myself last month, I had not written a word since late last year. Now I have two new scenes and I’m still going.

Yep, it was all just lack of will to follow through. I guess some authors are right. Maybe there is no such thing as writer’s block. Just writers who want to be blocked.

Either way, celebrate with me. I got a new scene finished and I edited my sequel a bit.

What have you accomplished lately that you’re really happy over?

discuss

Guardian – New Short Story

So, I have a new story up. This one arose from a writing exercise, although the idea had been in my head for years.

I won a prize of a year of short story writing mentorship from an established editor in a contest on my writing forum and the editor’s first challenge to me was to write a story with the word sacrifice.

Sometimes I need triggers to do things. I’m the worst procrastinator ever. Took me months to get around to those two stories. Thank God the editor was also a dear friend and willing to wait.

*Shameless Plug* That editor is CN Lesley, and her debut fantasy novel ‘Darkspire Reaches’ will be released shortly from Kristell Ink. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the beta manuscript and it was AMAZING! You can find out more and pre-order from her website, http://www.cnlesley.com.*End of Shameless Plug*

Back to your regularly scheduled programme.

I had been kicking around the idea of two star-crossed lovers meeting again after a long time, but they’re on opposite sides of the same war. This is what resulted. Not quite what I expected and I’m not sure I’ll ever publish it. It’s definitely in need of more polish.

But tell me what you think. Go read it and if you decide to vote or like it, thanks very much. It’s really appreciated.

Click right here to read Guardian  

or

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  check out the Trunk and read my other short stories too!