Allow me to preface today’s post with a nod to Heather Sellers’ book, Page After Page. As I mentioned in an earlier Baring My Writer’s Soul post, this is about blogging my experience. I truly hope you find something here that appeals to you; however, I strongly suggest that you do yourself the favor of reading Ms. Sellers’ book. Believe me when I say that you don’t want to miss one word of her valuable insight.
With that being said, the following lists are a writing exercise from Page After Page. The simple task jumpstarted my writing when I stalled due to resistance and, I recently discovered, boredom. (Boredom and Burnout: What To Do When Artistic Work Stops Being Fun by David J. Rogers) Even if it’s just a blog post, at least I’m productively writing.
The qualities of my ideal writing guidebook (what is covered):
- Large, easily referenced grammar and punctuation section with examples
- Daily writing exercises
- Visual writing prompts
- “How to” quality to the book, instructional without being preachy or stringent with rules
- Info packed, fast paced
The qualities of my ideal writing class (what I learn):
- How to write a query letter
- Order of items in an e-mail to an agent, what is attached, what goes in the body of the e-mail
- Standards of punctuation, grammar, when to italicize, underline, quote
- How to write in deep POV (my most evil nemesis)
- The art of good story telling (which I’m currently exploring in Steven James’ book, Story Trumps Structure)
- How to write in the present tense when something occurred in the past
- Writing a great first chapter (Again, Story Trumps Structure)
- The best way to conduct research
- Answer the question, “Does every story written these days have to follow an outline with nine-point structure, character arcs, pinches, plot points, etc., etc.?”
My best student-like qualities (who am I when I’m learning, my attitudes when I’m loving the act of learning, what do I look like, what do I wear, what do I have in the palm of my hand):
- Detail oriented
- Takes fabulous notes
- Studies diligently, thoroughly
- Combines book learning/reading with a hands-on experience, admittedly a bit more on the bookish end
- Listens well
- Questions endlessly because I like to get things right the first time
- Loves to learn when it’s interesting, must apply more effort when it’s not
- Wears casual clothing
- Writes information (usually on a McDonald’s napkin unless I’m in a formal setting) but will use my laptop if the info comes fast (I type well!)
- Enthusiastic, passionate
- Loves to be hooked from the first moment of instruction
As expected with me, the completion of this task prompted more self-analysis leading to admissions and questions:
- I discovered that I’m afraid to tell people I’m a writer because I believe if I don’t produce quickly, I’ll be viewed as a failure.
- I feel pressured to publish soon, but I don’t want to crank out garbage.
- Certain people I’ve engaged in life resent when I do something that they perceive as getting ahead of them, being more successful, so I downplay my achievements.
- Other than the occasional, “That’s nice,” I don’t feel as if anyone supports my writing.
- Money factors in to my writing heavily. I make very little working as a substitute at the library, and I feel the pressure to bring in a paycheck especially with the economy the way it is.
- Is my writing a selfish hobby or a real career?
- I don’t really feel as if I have a writing ally, no connectivity in the writing world or to another writer.
- Have I started too late in life to make a go at writing?
- What do I do when there is no money for writing classes, retreats, programs, conferences?
These are the thoughts that usually accompany me as I sit down to write. Unfortunately, they influence my writing habits. I know that most of them are ridiculous self-doubts, so when they arise, I remember to acknowledge them quickly, and then press on with my writing.
Sometimes it is good to let it all out. I hope you feel better now. But push ahead. You have no idea how many people are “rooting” for you and praying for your success. You are a great, exceptional, talented and cleaver writer. I know there will be doubts at times but as I said press on. As for money…well everyone is in the same boat. Times are hard. Don’t stop writing even if you aren’t getting anything published right now. Something will “break” soon. You’ll make connections or something will open up. I have faith in you even if you don’t think anyone else does.
Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________