Writing Demons

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Do you write as much as you wish you could? Do you see other writers tapping away each day, producing manuscripts – maybe even a couple a year? Jealous? Envious? You don’t have to be!

Maybe you’ve started many short stories and novels, but you find you don’t finish what you start. Especially your novel.

Is this you? I don’t have the time…My social life is too busy….My day job gets in the way…OR: I want to write, but I’m not really a writer.

We’re good at pointing to things around us and blaming these on our not being productive – or not finishing what we write – on ANYTHING outside of ourselves.

BUT….yes, you got it! The challenge isn’t OUT THERE. Turn those baby blues (or browns or greens) around and search INSIDE yourself. You are the number one obstacle to your own “not getting your writing going.” This isn’t 100% true, but I’ve found that most of the time, this is the “mystery” of why writers aren’t writing or completing what they’ve started. THINGS don’t stop you, YOU are your biggest challenge.

Many times some fear (perpetuated by that negative inner critic) is standing in our way. It might be the fear of failure or of inferiority; it could be fear of success or of some insecurity. Whatever the fear, you need to discover your own little demons, be willing to walk up to them, naked, and exposed them. “I AM a writer, and I WILL write.”

One of my fears was “I’m not good enough…” Once it occurred to me what those nasty little demons were repeating this to me in some form every day, I wrote in my journal for several months about where those thoughts were coming from and what I could replace the negative thoughts with. So I began to write each day at the top of the page: I AM GOOD ENOUGH. BEYOND GOOD ENOUGH.

I’m not saying this is easy. It’s a life-long journey of continual self discovery. Every time you think you’ve figured IT out….a small part of you, hidden deep under rocks and mountains, those little demons begin concocting a new plan to get you stuck once again, devising a millions ways to do you in, sometimes with a thought similar to the one recently reversed and conquered.

Persistence will get you far. Knowing your inner demons (that critical, negative voice trying to beat you down) and replacing those negative thoughts and beliefs with positive ones. Instead of saying “I don’t have time” or “I’ll wait until….” turn that phrase around:

My fear of <WHAT?> is trying to block me from writing, and I will <DO WHAT?> to overcome this by replacing it with <WHAT POSITIVE BEHAVIOR OR THOUGHT?>.

Are you up for the ride?

Question for today: What are you willing to do to face your fears? What do you do when you’ve discovered what has been keeping you from writing or finishing your story?

Best Wishes,

June

A Writer’s Process, Part 4 – First Draft

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We’ve previously explored growing your story idea. Today’s topic – the first draft – needs a bit of introduction as there are several ways to approach creating the first draft.

To recap:

Catching the idea

Evaluating the idea

Growing the idea

First draft

Space

Reading the draft

Revision and self editing

Critique group feedback

Rewriting or recreating

More revision

<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>

Final manuscript

Writers seem to fall into or between one of two categories – those who plan the draft and those who don’t. Some of us fall somewhere in the middle. (I’m raising my hand here.)

NOTE: A short story usually requires much less planning or forethought than writing a novel. Keep that in mind during the rest of this discussion.

This is also the phase where the first bits of research will start. Some stories will require more research than others. It’s up to the writer to determine the right amount of research needed to help produce a story that is believable.

So if you like to plan before you write, what are some of your options? You might use an outline, index cards, storyboard, spreadsheet, or software application, to name a few of the possibilities. Some writers plan a little and others a lot. There are many ways to go about this, so the trick is to experiment and figure out what works best for you. One advantage to planning your story is that is much easier and faster to adjust a plan than it is a story after it’s drafted. For some the disadvantage to planning before drafting is that it takes the excitement and spontaneity out of writing the draft.

After some initial research, I normally freewrite my draft. For my current project, a YA (young adult) urban/paranormal fantasy novel, I’m using software, yWriter5, to track characters and explore scenes and subplots. (NOTE: yWriter5 is freeware, and I’m amazed at what it can do considering it’s no cost to the writer. You can find more information here: http://download.cnet.com/yWriter-5/3000-2079_4-77524.html )

I doubt that I would do anything near this level of pre-planning (at least for me) for a short story. I plan on keeping with freewriting my short stories.

While I usually do not plan my stories, including novels, I do a lot of thinking about my idea before I begin a draft. A lot of this takes place in the background of my mind. I’ll even dream about my plot, setting, and characters That’s why I consider myself to fall somewhere in the middle of those who plan and those who don’t.

No matter if you plan or not, we all reach the time when we’re ready to sit down and write our story. So the next question is – where do I begin? Should I start at the beginning and write straight through to the end of the story? Should I write the ending first? Or the beginning and the ending, followed by the middle section? Try different methods and see what feels comfortable and right for you. You might vary your approach, depending on the story and its length.

Sometimes I like to sit in front of the laptop to write. Other times I use my AlphaSmart Neo (a word processor) when I’m away from the laptop, or I decide to use pen and paper. I sometimes like the feel of writing long hand. When I’m not sure what to do with a scene, it puts me in a different “space” and I can let the writing flow. What works best for you?

Another option is to record your words using a digital recorder. The disadvantage of this is that you still need to get the words into a document of some kind.

Once you’ve figured out how to approach your story, the fun begins. You sit down and write.

To help you finish your draft, consider setting some daily goals. How long will you write? How many pages or how many words? Keep track of your advancement in some way for motivation and seeing your progress.

The objective is to get the words on the page.

Question for today: How do you approach writing your draft?

Best Wishes,

June

My Three Things

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I’m working on creating a new habit: positive thoughts. I’m shifting away from letting negative thoughts interfere with my life and especially with my writing.

This is a topic (shifting!) that my online writing group, Artistic License, is working on and while I was thinking and writing about creating a new habit, a thought occurred to me. What do I need, each day, to help me stay focused on keeping inside of positive thoughts?

The Universe works in strange and mysterious ways. I googled “creating new habits” and glanced through several websites, not finding anything that shined out to me. I looked down the list Google had found for me and one caught my attention. The name: BlissChick Blog. A chill ran though me. I knew this one held something special for me.

The first quote that spoke to me was:

The only sabotage is self sabotage.

A bit more searching and I found a second on:

Bliss is a path and each day we must choose to follow it.

I clicked to a third page and the motherly hand of the Universe gently took me by the shoulders and awaken me.

Our deepest fear is not that we
are inadequate. Our deep fear
is that we are powerful
beyond measure.

–        Marianne Williamson

I read this third quote over and over. I had to see if there was more. I googled the first line and BINGO! One of the most powerful things I’ve read in a long time…

I quote it here:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So I have my three things…powerful quotes that will help to keep me focused on the positive. I read them every day. The thoughts and wisdom they contain guide me, help me with developing new habits that will change my life, uplift me to be all that I can be.

And it’s no accident that things come in threes. Just ask my mother.

REFERENCE

BlissChick Blog

http://www.blisschick.net/2009/02/blissquest-only-sabotage-is-self.html

Question for today: What are your three things? (If you don’t have three things that help you create a better life for yourself, go out there and FIND them!)

Best Wishes,

June