Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Acting Like a Writer

The way my head feels right now.  Photo by Freedigitalphoto

I totally forgot to do a blog post for today.  I remembered yesterday morning, when the power went out for two hours.  I remembered Sunday night when I was up until one o’clock, editing.  I just forgot yesterday, when I could enter a post.
Yes, it was the editing again.  I wanted to finish the third draft yesterday, and when the power went out, I fell behind.  Once the power came back on, all I thought about was getting the d%*n thing done.  Twelve o’clock rolled around, I finally finished editing (Yay!) and I realized I didn’t have a post to schedule. I also realized I needed to go to bed so I could get up at and go to work this morning.

All that backstory comes down to a desperate need to get something together.  I’m writing this at work.  Shhhh – don’t tell anyone.  Since editing has been the only thing on my mind for the last month and a half, I’ll talk a bit about it, and then let you go, if you’ve made it through my rambling beginning!
I’m not going to talk about the mechanics of editing, since so many of you have been there before and can run circles around me with your processes.  No, it’s the completion of my editing that I thought about yesterday.
I can not believe I have finished my second and third drafts in a month and a half.  For the last two years I have bemoaned the fact that I go to work, and have kids, and how the heck can I compete with people who write for a living.  I’ve complained that I am a slow writer, and it takes me forever to write even 500 words.  I’ve felt pleased when I write for half-an-hour without interruption.  I guess I’m pretty whiney, when it comes down to it.
And then I finished my second and third drafts in a month and a half.  I carved out two hours a day to write.  While I did the minimum on the rest of my goals and responsibilities, I disproved all my whininess.
I sat down, figured out what it took to get my stuff together, and then did it.  I acted like a writer.
Did I have support.  You bet – and I am so grateful to Kelley for double checking that I actually made sense in the manuscript, my husband for being wonderfully supportive, and my Mom for watching my kids an extra day on the weekends so I could focus on getting my manuscript finished.
Would I want to do this all the time?  No!  My house is a wreck.  My kids are celebrating that they’ll get their mom back tonight. (I still have some things to tweak, but I plan on doing it all after they go to bed.)  I’ve gained three pounds.  My husband is thrilled he can concentrate on his classwork again.  My social media time came to a standstill, and my comments and page views show it.  I’m excited I might get to go to bed at ten o’clock again.
But now I know.  I won’t be able to whine anymore.  I’m a writer. I just have to act like it.
Have you ever surprised yourself with your accomplishments?  What lessons have you learned that help you be a successful writer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Create Opportunity

Photo Courtesy klsmith77
In January I wrote a post about personal risks writers experience as a matter of being a writer called What Risks Are There in Writing?  The last quote in that post dealt with pushing limits, risking failure.  The relationship between risk and success has been heavily on my mind since I attended the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference.

"The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open."  ~ Chuck Palahniuk

At the conference, two authors (Linda Rohrbough and Kevin J. Anderson) influenced how I now perceive risk.

I attended two sessions by Linda Rohrbough. One session was how to write what is known as "the elevator pitch." It was a fabulous session, which did help my create a three sentence pitch for Finding Meara. So impressed by that session, I went to her workshop on plotting tools the next day.  Again, she delivered an excellent workshop, and gave me some ideas on how to keep my plotting straight.  She has some of the tools she showed us on her website, so you might want to check it out.

Kevin J. Anderson presented a workshop on the business side of writing with his wife, author Rebecca Moesta. Both have a long list of books, novels and screenplays they have written, edited or just plain have been involved with.  What thrilled me, though, was that they have written for Lucas Film, and Kevin Anderson wrote for the X-files and co-authored with Dean Koontz.

I attended Linda Rohrbough's pitch session first. In it she explained cognitive dissonance, which is when your brain tells you that you're nuts for doing what you're doing.  She said, and I believed her, that if your mind starts freaking out, you are most likely doing exactly what you should.

I liken it to the saying, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." If we don't shake ourselves up, and push the limits of safety (be that emotional, financial, professional) we don't have the opportunity to experience something different.  We limit the opportunities success has to find us.

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Then I attended the workshop by Kevin Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. What struck me most in that workshop was how Kevin Anderson's career worked out.  I can't remember everything, so I hope I don't misspeak. 

What I remember clearest is that, while he had to be in the right place at the right time for the opportunities to come knocking, he didn't back away once the opportunity knocked.  Several times during the workshop, he related being invited to join a project, and even if he was knee deep in the middle of current work, he agreed to take on the new project.

He didn't do so out of desperation or because he was afraid to let the opportunity pass.  When he related the stories, he said "I thought, 'I could do that.'"  He had confidence in his abilities and what he could accomplish.

Each of those opportunities put him in the position to be in the right place at the right time for more opportunities, which snowballed into more opportunities.

I don't think any of us should run out and start committing to things we can't accomplish.  Not following through on anything is a career-wrecker, no matter what career you have.

What I did take away from the conference was to look for the opportunities, and then push ourselves a little to accept the challenge.  Be confident in our abilities to "git-r-done."  Don't wait until everything looks perfect and ready and safe.  Sometimes we have to grab life, tell our collective heads to shut up, and give success a chance to find us.  We have to take a risk.

Have you taken a risk that paid off?  Have you ever regretted not taking a risk when the opportunity presented itself?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Funny Photo Friday VIII

Happy weekend to everyone!

Today is my day to post over at the Life List Club blog, so I invite you to come visit me over there, where I'm posting on creativity.  Also, you can catch David Walker's controversial Wednesday post of a man's point of view of PMS.  Pretty funny stuff, as long as you have a good sense of humor about it!

I also wanted to quickly say "Thanks, Mike Schulenberg!" for awarding me the Versatile Blogger award this week.  While I already have had the award bestowed upon me, I still love getting awards!

On to the photos.  It's getting harder to find funny pictures that don't have overtly sexual, or disgusting captions and/or overtones.  I'm working hard for you all!

Flying lessons?  I don't think so.

Ninja bird!

I have actually seen my boys do this, just not in public.

So cute, I had to share.

I want to see the next picture!

This one cracks me up! He looks like a cartoon!

I have a tie between Walking on Water and Ninja Bird for favorite.  Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Know the Difference Between Writing & Editing by Leigh Covington

We continue on with Guest Post May by welcoming Leigh Covington to Motivation for Creation.  Leigh is known to be one of the most supportive bloggers on the web by pretty much everyone who knows her.  She has a great sense of humor, which often finds its way into her blog posts.  She also is an inspiration and her blog, Leigh Covington, is one that I make sure to read every post.

I am so happy to have Leigh over to guest post, because I know we’re in for a treat!  Take it away, Leigh!

Hey Lara! Let me just begin by saying, “Thanks!” I’m so excited to be here today and I appreciate the opportunity to share on your blog! You’re awesome, girl!

For those of you who know me, you know that I like to keep my posts short and sweet. I will try to stick with that today!

At first I was so discouraged as to what to write about, but while I was at my latest conference, something hit me and I knew that’s what I wanted to post about. It’s simple really, but there are a few points I want you to think of.

(Bits of this are taken from Kevin J. Anderson’s talk on 11 Tips to Increase Your Writing Productivity.)

Know the Difference Between Writing & Editing

Or better said… Know when to write and when to edit! Okay, we all talk about wanting to shut off our inner editor, but guess what? It really does delay the process. Anderson has written over 50 books! I think he knows what he’s talking about so I think it’s important to listen to what he has to say.

Here are a few points that he made.

1.       You’re using different parts of your brain!
Yeah, we use one part to write and another to edit. Why complicate thing by switching back and forth?

2.      Use your writing momentum!
This totally makes sense, right? Don’t slow down when you’re on a roll. Don’t move back while you’re moving forward! Kevin J. Anderson

While he was talking about this… something from the movie, Finding Forrester came to mind. It’s short and awesome to watch, so take a second to check it out. I promise you won’t regret it!

This is one of my favorite parts of the whole movie! But listen…
“You write the first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head.”

Doesn’t that make sense to you? It does to me. I don’t think we should slow the momentum of our writing because that is what’s coming from our heart. Let your brain work out the details later.

I think you’ll find you like your stories better and you’re getting more accomplished!

Thanks again Lara! And thanks everyone for checking this out.
What is your opinion on this? Agree or disagree?

To get more of Leigh, hop on over to her blog, or follower her on twitter at @LeighCovington.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Oh, Those High School Dances Blog Hop

I have to start out with an apology!  I couldn't find my prom pictures.  I read the rules over again, and I don't have a funny dance story.  So, I probably shouldn't even be participating today, but I absolutely hate it when I blog hop, and the person who signed up doesn't follow through, so I'm going to just tell you my pathetic high school prom stories with words.

Please don't think I'm a big loser.

We're time travelling back to 1988.  A Junior at Chadron High School, I was so excited to get to finally go to prom.  Some of my classmates attended prom from the time they were a Freshman, but I didn't have the social skills to actually encourage anyone to pay attention to me.  I was like a mash up of Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club, and Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful, except I didn't play the drums as good as she did.

I needed a date.  No one in my school asked me out. Ever. Okay, that isn't exactly the truth.  I think I had two dates the whole four years of high school, though.  I decided to ask a guy I met at a church retreat.  Words can't describe how enamored I was with the guy.  I couldn't believe it when he said yes! Heaven!

The week before prom, he calls.  "I'm so sorry, but I can't take you to your prom.  I'm grounded."  Didn't tell me what for, just that he wasn't coming.  (His sister and I became friends later and she told me he had stolen a car off their parent's car lot.) I ate an entire half-gallon of cherry nut ice cream that night. Ice cream will soothe a broken heart.  Don't let anyone tell you it can't.

I still went to prom.  It wasn't so fun.  In fact, I can't honestly remember the dance at all.

Next year - Senior prom, 1989.  Did not plan on going, especially without a date.  My aunt pulls this college guy out of who knows where, who actually will go to a prom with a blind date.  What was I thinking.

Got a dress, and being the optimist I always have been, got excited for the evening.  I wish I could have found the pictures from this prom because the humor portion of this post could be from the dress.  Poufy white with black polka dot sleeves should never be allowed on anything, but especially a prom dress.  The pouf on these sleeves was astounding.

I go pick up the guy from the college (he was staying with a friend on campus).  We go to the dance.  He is too emotional too dance.  Yes, he actually told me he was thinking about his ex-girlfriend and just didn't feel like he wanted to dance.  I think we danced to three songs the whole night.

I dumped his you-know-what once the dance was over, and went to the skating party alone.  My friends were there, though, and it was more like a group activity, so it was all good.

There it is.  My teenage failure forever captured on the internet!  I'm happy to say that life improved significantly once I graduated.  I haven't looked back.

Today there is a new post at the Life List Club blog by the fabulous Sonia G. Medeiros.  If you're feeling the need for a little inspiration, click here.  Also, tomorrow you can read all about why I think my Mom is the best mom ever when I guest post at Karen S. Elliott's blog for her Mother's Day series. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Setting Aside Time for Your Muse by Sandra Ulbrich - Almazan

May is turning out to be guest-post month at Motivation for Creation.  This week I am happy to welcome Sandra Ulbrich-Almazan.  I met Sandra through the Great 100 Days Star Wars Blogathon.  She wrote a wonderful Star Wars haiku.  One day I visited her blog, Sandra Ulbrich-Almazan: Speculative Fiction Author to beg for points, and decided to just request a guest post instead.  Sandra graciously agreed, and now you get to read her thoughts on writing and the muse.

Setting Aside Time for Your Muse

As writers, we often feel the only way to measure our productivity is by how many words we get down on the page every day. The Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard approach is helpful if you’ve already planned out what you’re going to say. Sometimes forcing yourself to write something, anything when you’re not sure what to put down can help you get back on track. But then what happens during the revision process, when you have to rip out all of those words? Sure, removing unnecessary words and scenes will improve the story, but at the same time it can make you feel like you’re going backwards instead of forwards.

Furthermore, the time spent typing words is only part of the story-generating process. You need some time to get to know your character, the events of the story, and (depending on your genre), maybe even creating the setting. Sometimes this can be done in idle moments when you’re daydreaming while performing some mindless task. However, given the way technology makes us more accessible and allows us more access to others, idle moments can be hard to find. This is especially true if you have a day job and/or others to take care of. How do you find time to do your pre-writing then?

The answer is clear: you need to set aside time for your pre-writing, just as you have to set aside time for the actual writing. Sometimes that can mean instead of having a regular writing session, you have a brainstorming or outlining session.

I’m a panster. Usually I know the beginning, ending, and a few key middle points when I start a story, but the rest tends to be spontaneous. However, I’ve tried outlining drafts after I’ve written them, and that helps me identify scenes that are too similar to others I’ve written or ones that go nowhere. I’ve also sat down and wrote out all the worldbuilding or character details that I normally keep in my head. I’ve found even though I may have been writing about a particular world or character for years, formally writing things down will uncover aspects that I haven’t explored. The process generates questions and ideas I can later bring back to the work.

Does this mean I’m changing from a panster to a plotter? I have tried outlining before writing for a NaNoWriMo project. It helped for a while, but when I veered away from the outline, the novel stalled. (I have made some slight progress since then, but other projects are currently a priority.) I’ll have to try it again to see if this method will work consistently for me. I think instead what I’m doing is finding another way to accomplish my pre-writing. What I would like to do is set aside one or two blocks of time each week to focus on pre-writing instead of writing. It may sound odd to schedule inspiration and imagination, but the muse is more likely to show up if you’re ready—or at the least not distracted by your child, your job, or your never-ending To Do list. And if scheduling pre-writing can help me get to a final draft sooner, then it’s worth doing.

About the Author

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. She is a founding member of BroadUniverse and a long-time member of the Online Writing Workshop for Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her current day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.

Sandra can be found online at her website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook. Upcoming projects from Sandra include a standalone fantasy story called “The Fighting Roses of Sharon”; Twinned Universes, the second book in the science fiction Catalyst Chronicles series; and Scattered Seasons, the first book in the fantasy Season Lords series. 


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