Writers Chatting: Chapter Four


Hat tip to Iowa Old Lady for the chart.

Welcome back.  This week I thought it would be fun to talk about genres –  what are the requirements of particular genres and what drew you to the genre you’re most interested in writing. Anyone write across several genres and want to talk about the challenges of changing things up? Especially if you’re crossing lines like playwriting/screenplays vs. novels or fiction vs. non-fiction. Do we have any technical writers?

I thought the chart above would be a fun way to address the varying stages of self-doubt that we face as creatives during the process. How to handle the stumbling blocks, tricks to move past it and not let it bring creativity to a halt. What do you do when self-doubt creeps in?

In the next chat or two, I would love it if someone wanted to write up a bit about self-publishing, self-promotion, small presses, traditional publishing,  and the ins and out of each. If we need to split it between two separate chats, that would be great. Hit me up with an email.

Ok, have at it – the above talking points are just to get you started – talk about whatever is on your minds today. Have fun and keep it positive. – TaMara



Writers Chatting: Chapter Three

Welcome back. I thought today we could talk about staying focused when things going on in your life and in the world become a distraction and where you work.

First up: Distractions

Our guest post is from Robyn Bennis, a scientist and airship aficionado living in Mountain View, California. Her book The Guns Above, will be published and available May 2017 – click here for book info.

You’d think “where I write” and “how I stay productive in Nyarlathotep’s America” would be separate topics, but they aren’t. In fact, finding a good space is critical to maintaining focus. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t go to Canada to write. I’m not even sure I’m allowed back after I dressed up as a sled dog and tried to hug that polar bear.

Instead, I make my own writing spaces, employing the sort of contextual readiness that Bob Harris describes in Prisoner of Trebekistan. You see, while Bob was training himself for an appearance on Jeopardy!, he re-created as much of the set as he could in his own apartment. That way, when he went on the show, the familiar context primed his brain to perform.

I do something similar, creating pure writing spaces through mental conditioning. I don’t allow distractions to intrude into those spaces, even when I’m not writing. So, if I’m at my favorite coffee shop and I want to catch up on Twitter, I step outside first—even if I’m only there for a cup of coffee. If I’m writing at a maker space and want to check the news to see whether I still have civil rights, I’ll go into the lobby. Even when I’m writing at home and want to take a Netflix break, I turn the desk around first.

Okay, that last example might bear some elaboration. I live in a studio apartment, so a home office is out of the question. Instead, I’ve tricked my brain into believing that it’s in a different space. When the desk is facing the window, I’m only allowed to write. Through many repetitions of this ritual and, most importantly, never cheating, I can make the room where I eat, sleep, and binge-watch Star Trek into a pure, distraction-free writing space.

And that’s the key to any productive writing space. You must never cheat. Never allow yourself to take one step down the dark path of distraction, and any space can be perfect to write in.

Thanks Robyn – and to everyone else, if you want to share your experience and I can fit it into a topic, email me and we’ll make it work. 

Hillary Rettig is out today, so she won’t be able to check in, but I did ask her if I could post a couple of her articles on how to stay focused when life gets in the way,

grab your timer and do short intervals. (Even a minute or two!) You will make progress and, perhaps even more importantly, keep the material fresh in your head so that you can re-enter it more easily when you have more focus.

And who knows? Maybe a couple of minutes will lead to a couple more, then a couple more, etc.

Did I tell you I sometimes use dice? I have a great purple set from Chessex (gamers’ choice; a cheap indulgence). Sometimes I roll a die to decide which part of my manuscript to work on. (Which chapter or section; they’re all numbered.) It adds a bit of color and fun to the process, and randomness is a great tool against perfectionism because you can’t really take a piece of writing that seriously when you’re only working on it because you rolled it.

Click here to read the whole thing…

And another great idea…BINGO:

When you pick a section at random it’s hard to take the work too seriously or otherwise get perfectionist.

Reader Nathan wrote in with another great randomizing technique from Viviane Schwarz: bingo cages (a.k.a., wheels)….

…. these techniques work is that they get you out of the realm of abstract thought and into something concrete that’s right in front of you. (Abstraction can be tiring.) And they inject some fun and color into the process, which always helps

Read more here.

In the get-to-know you potion of our chat – where do you work? Office desk, kitchen  table, coffee shop, bed…or do you pull a Trumbo and work in the tub?

Ok, have at it, talk about whatever. Keep it positive and have fun! Don’t forget to introduce yourself and  let everyone know what you’re working on and what you want to talk about. Let me know if you have a specific topic you want me to cover in future chats. – TaMara



Writers Chatting: Chapter Two

Welcome back!

I asked jacy (who besides doing beautiful cover art, used to teach creative writing and has published several books) to write up a little something about Query Letters and Submission for this week.

I also thought it would be fun to talk about how you write. Do you start at the beginning and power through to the final chapter? Write the end first and then wind your way back there from the beginning? Write scenes and character arcs before putting it all together?

Other than that, remind us what you’re writing and let the discussion begin.  Also, hit me up with topics for the next writing group and I’ll try and find someone to bring us some expertise.

Query Letter and Submission

Self-publishing is now a viable path for writers, but even if you’re wildly embracing self-publishing, you still need to know about querying and submission. Many authors both self-publish and trad publish, and every author needs to know how to submit to contests, magazines, anthologies, publishers, and agents.  Here are some basics, no matter what path you’re taking.

Before you begin, there are three rules:

  • Be finished: Have your manuscript completed, polished, and edited.
  • Know your market: understand your genre and audience, and where your manuscript fits in.
  • Do your research: know who you are submitting to, that they want what you’re submitting, and what their exact guidelines for submission are.

Read more



Writers Chatting: Chapter One

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Welcome.

To get things started, I’m going to propose two topics, but don’t feel you need to stick to them, I just wanted to give us a place to begin.

jacy provided a great suggestion in the last writers post. With your first comment, introduce yourself, tell us a bit about what you’re writing, what experience you have and what you’re interested in. And remember my golden rules: kind, supportive and informative comments only, leave your snarky, critical, discouraging voice for another time and place.

First topic, by popular request: How to begin and how to stay focused. Hillary R has some very helpful advice over at her place and I’m going to start with this piece:

(1) Show it! Often we procrastinate because we’re afraid to show our work to anyone. (“Afraid” is probably putting it lightly—we’re often terrified.) So stop hoarding your work and start showing it. But be judicious: there’s no point in showing to clueless or callous people. Show only to kind supporters who “get” what you’re trying to do.

Start now! Show bits and pieces, or the whole thing. Invite any feedback, or certain kinds of feedback, or no feedback at all. (Tell your audience what you want!) The showing, not the feedback, is the important part.

(2) Finish small stuff. Finishing is a skill you can practice. If you’re a fiction writer, write anecdotes and vignettes. (Bring them to completion, and then show them.) If you write nonfiction, write up (and show) one small point instead of several big ones. If you’re stuck on a complex email, write (and send) several small ones instead. (Here’s how to overcome email overload.)

Click on over to the entire article to read the rest. She’s going to try and stop by to answer questions today. What helpful tricks do you have for starting and staying on your writing task?

Second topic, for those who are farther along, or who have actually published and can offer advice. What to do when it’s time to start the editing process. I’ve spent my life in theatre, film and television, so I understand collaborative art, the whole process is a group effort. But I am stymied when it comes to novels and short stories. How do you go about editing – finding a good editor, incorporating their input in what is a highly personal work, what boundaries to set, etc. So I would love to hear your thoughts and struggles in the editing process.

Okay that’s it, have at it…

FYI, to read all our group posts, just click on the Writing Group tag and it will pop all of them up in a window.

 

 



Writers Chatting: Meeting Reminder

Just a reminder that there will be a writing group thread on Sunday (Dec 4) at 12:30 EST/9:30 PST. For now we are going to talk process, resources and support. We’ll revisit sharing pieces after the new year.

See you there!

Also: There will be no recipe threads for a while, but I’ll probably put together some holiday stuff later in the month. My focus is usually around Christmas stuff, but if anyone wants to send me recipes and info on different holiday celebrations, please do. I would love to post about that – include photos!



Writers Chatting: Prologue

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Let’s talk. First things first – are you still up for a writers group? I thought it would be important to move forward with something that let’s us focus on good things again.

Next, how do you want to approach this? Do you want to use it as a place to share journeys, ideas and ask questions of each other? Would you like me to bring in some people to offer their experiences in the post and possibly hang out in the comments to chat? I have a couple of people who are willing – one is Hillary Rettig – and I think she can provide some good insights.

Do you want to share works to get opinions from your fellow writers? If so, we’d need to discuss how best to do that. I’m thinking a dropbox-type link – as long as you realized there is no way to secure it – it would be available to anyone who clicks on the link (although with dropbox you can put an expiration on it – I don’t know about the other services). If anyone knows a better way, let me know.

Now, let’s talk about the rules here. I taught for years – many of my classes were for adults who needed a safe, accepting place to explore their creativity in a way their careers didn’t allow. That’s how I’m approaching this. I’m going to monitor the comments closely – this is not the place to be snarky, criticize your fellow writers or decide to unload personal cynicism.

While in all my other posts, including my recipe threads, I let you say whatever, here I will delete your comment. If you feel that’s unfair, you can email me and protest. Or, hey, John loves getting your complaints (in all CAPS if you really want his attention) and he can let me know I’m out of  line. But this will be a place where people feel safe exploring their creativity. Period.

Okay, lets’ get started. Let me know how you want this to take shape.

ETA: Next Writers Chat is set for Dec 4th at 12est/10mst/9pst

ETA2: Okay, I’m going to read through this thread tonight and come up with a good plan for our next post. So keep posting comments…..



Calling All Writers: UPDATE

These are my concord grape vines – the grapes were delicious and the fall colors awesome (you can read about my grape jelly escapades here )

There seems to be enough  interest to pursue this. What I’d like to know next is when is a good time? I’d like to do it twice a month (at least to start) and find a time that works for most. We won’t start until after the election. What works best for you – weekend afternoon, weekend evening or week night? I’ll try and find what works for most. Of course we won’t be able to make everyone happy, but I’ll do my best to find a good time.

Hillary and I are still discussing format and how to approach it all. Stay tuned.

Here is the original post:

I have been toying with an idea since Authors in Our Midst.  I really enjoyed the comments on those threads and it seemed like we had a lot of people who were in progress on some writing project or another. Do we have enough interest to start a writing support group here?

I was thinking we could “meet” a couple times a month and encourage each other, offer advice and suggestions. Maybe a secure drop box to share work to critique. I can see if our published authors would be wiling to pop in and offer their experiences and answer questions.

Hillary Rettig has offered her support/expertise with this, too! So if you’re interested, leave a comment in this post and I’ll take it from there if we have enough interest.