Okay, I admit it: I am writing this blog post for myself today, just as much as I am writing it for all of you, my lovely audience. Why? Because even though I have made a career out of writing, there are still plenty of days when I doubt my own abilities and talents, and I recognize the need to talk myself back into what I know, based on the hard lessons about writing and life that I need to learn and re-learn.
Sometimes writing is fun, but anyone who writes on a regular basis also knows that it can be difficult, even when we’re excited about our particular writing project.
For me, two of the biggest problems when I’m writing a novel are avoiding boredom and staying focused. The issues are a bit counter intuitive since each requires a different solution. After years if experimenting, I started to pay attention to what specifically worked well for me, and so today I am going to share with you the best tips I know for how to stay focused when writing. Continue reading “5 Tips on How to Stay Focused When Writing a Novel”
As writers and artists, we often make things harder on ourselves than we need to and allow distractions to interfere with our writing and our art. There are, however, legitimate times in our lives when we have serious concerns or matters to attend to that draw our energy and attention away from our creative pursuits. At some point, though, it is important to recognize when we have allowed ourselves to stray too far from creating the work that is in integrity with who we are.
In some ways, I feel like my 30’s were my lost years. By the time I was in my early thirties, I had completed my graduate degree in creative writing and lost my father to cancer. Both events had a profound effect on my writing life for longer than was necessary. In an attempt to clear some current resistance I have with progressing with my novel and help those of you who are encountering similar difficulties, I am, today, sharing my writer’s regrets. Continue reading “One Writer’s Regrets”
There are several humorous scenes in the movie Adaptation in which the lead character, Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicholas Cage), struggles with the screenplay he is attempting to write. Well over his deadline, he attends a seminar by the famed Brian McKee. During the seminar, Kaufman asks a hypothetical question about a writer who wants to write a screenplay in which there are no major character arcs and that they continue on, frustrated. Kaufman adds that he sees this as a reflection of the real world.
The response from McKee, played by Brian Cox, is crushing. McKee, in front of an auditorium full of people, tells Kaufman that he’s out of his mind. That is the start of the rant, which ends with McKee screaming at Kaufman that he doesn’t know anything about life. McKee then lists all the things that happen in the real world: murder, genocide, breaking someone’s heart… and the list goes on.
As a writer, I set very high goals for myself, and perhaps you do, too. I have minimum time commitments or word counts for each of my different kinds of writing every day:
Blogging: 1000 words, 6 days each week
Fiction: 30 minutes – 1 hour daily (I spend more time writing fiction on Saturdays)
Non-fiction: 25 minutes daily, 5 days each week (I try to aim for 800-1200 words for each writing session)
There are times, though, where I cannot keep up with this word count and time commitment, and nothing makes me feel I’ve encountered burnout more than when I’m overwhelmed and can’t keep up with my goals. Eventually, I recognized that I needed to have a process in place that would allow me to recover from burnout more easily, and in this article, I will give some tips to avoid burnout with writing. Continue reading “Tips to Avoid Burnout with Writing”
I am a blogger, novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer. I work on my blogs and my novel-in-progress daily, so on any given day, I will end up writing in at least two of these four formats. On occasion, I’ll take a day off from blogging, but that is rare. There is almost always something that I feel I need to express that will allow me to enjoy new insights or that will help someone.
The novelist, screenwriter, and writing coach Alan Watt says that we ultimately write in order to evolve. I believe this is true as well. Part of my evolution includes creative self-expression and helping other writers and artists by providing advice, insights, and encouragements. Continue reading “Persistence with Writing Pays Off”
My guess is that this does happen to you because it happens to most of us. Despite our best efforts to write or create (if you’re another type of artist) every day, there are times when our routine for writing or creating gets hijacked by work, family, life, or some unforeseen circumstance.
This happened to me yesterday after an AMAZING writing streak. Things were going incredibly well. I exceeded the daily word counts I set for my blog and my nonfiction book. And my novel—you know, the one that I have been struggling with for the past seven years—is practically writing itself.
Let’s face it: writing a novel is hard work. And, one of the things that often makes it harder is books on how to write novels. Yes, you read that correctly. I honestly believe the sometimes reading a book about how to write a novel actually gets in the way.
Perhaps you’ve read this elsewhere—and because I absolutely believe this to be true, I think it bears repeating—there are two kinds of novelists:
Writers who write by the seat of their pants (sometimes called “pantsers”) and write each day without planning their novels.
Writers who plan each part of their novels before they write it, complete with character sketches and an outline.