Tag Archives: writing inspiration

Pardon Me While I Hyperventilate

Standard

We all know that dirty little 6-letter word…change.  Whether it occurs through our own conscious decision or is thrust harshly upon us, change carries with it varying amounts of anticipation and consternation. Often, we have to endure the hard part before we get to the reason we get out of bed every morning.

In the past 2 weeks, my son turned 18 and graduated from high school.  It’s truly a celebratory time in our family, but also a time of reflection.  He’ll be off to the College of William and Mary in the fall leaving his childhood behind him. More importantly, he’s leaving us behind him. It’s everything that I could have ever dreamed for him yet it may take a crane to dislodge that lump in my throat.  There it is. Change.

This post isn’t really about him or me (although I could go on).  It’s more about using change as an opportunity.  The Comic Toolbox equates comedy with pain. The emotional upheaval that comes with change is an opportunity to make your writing deeper, richer and perhaps funnier.  Your characters will come alive with real emotions once you have experienced them for yourself. The results of change may not only shake you out of your box, but send you into a different orbit altogether.  You may be seated behind your keyboard with from a totally different perspective.

Of course, the changes may be more subtle.  For me, after the initial sadness (and subsequent bottle(s) of Chardonnay) with sending my eldest off to college, there will be a time of joy and pride for a job well done. The long term difference will be the time I have that used to be used for soccer games, band concerts, and the art of constantly feeding a hungry teenager. So, what do you do if you have more time?

Maybe that time is best used writing your manuscript or blog or a letter to your mother.  Maybe it is taking the time to get inspired. Take a walk in nature. Take a few pictures. Take yourself to a museum.  Maybe it is spending some time with those you love and meeting some people you don’t yet know.  The one thing that you can control in an uncertain time of change is you.  You will change, too.  How and how much is up to you.

What changes have occurred in your life that have affected your writing or writing life?

Recommended Reading:  Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson

Know the Writing Market

Standard

Writing PublicationsI met with my new critique group last month. There was lots of lively conversation, inspired critiquing, and snacks. I shared a couple of things with the group about an editor moving to another publisher or an agent that was looking something specific. It was met with, “How do you know this stuff?”  I told them I would share what I read about the writing market.  I’ll share it with you, too.

Before I do, it’s important to know why you should read these publications.

  • If an editor moves to a different publisher, they are likely going to be looking for new manuscripts.
  • Editors and agents may reveal what they are looking for.
  • You know what is selling and what is struggling to sell.
  • You don’t waste your time writing what has just been written.
  • You’ll get an idea of how the marketing end of the business works.
  • You’ll get valuable tips and techniques for writing the best manuscript you can.
  • You get to know the players in the publishing industry. This is important to know when you rub elbows at a conference, send your manuscript, and want to market your published book.
  • You don’t waste you stamps on publishers that have shuttered their doors.
  • Agents and editors want to know that you not only can write, but understand the business of writing.

In no particular order, here are some publications that I read. I am a children’s writer. You’ll see some of those listed here, too.

I also read tweets and blogs whenever I get the chance.  That’s for another post.

Don’t let all the reading get in the way of good writing. A great manuscript will always trump great market knowledge. But, set a little time aside for reading about writing and the business of writing. Don’t let lack of knowledge keep you from getting published.

What publications do you read to keep you informed?

Writing When It Counts

Standard

Writing with a messageWe’ve all been there. An issue nags us, tugs at us. We stay awake thinking about it or wake up brooding about it. Not sure of what to do, we turn to writing.

When the problems are small and personal, we write in our journals. It may just take a paragraph or a page, but it sometimes takes pages. After a while, we feel a little better. If not, we wake up the next day and write some more.

When the problems get bigger, the path is less clear. Our voices seem smaller and even feel mute. In your city or town or even on a larger scale, one little voice is hard to hear. As we found out in high school, we probably aren’t the only ones feeling like we do. That why it’s important to write.

Writing not only gives us a voice, it gives others permission to have a voice as well. A well placed letter to the editor will resonate with readers, evoking passions perhaps on both sides. This letter allows the more timid to speak up and the more vocal to focus. A letter to representatives, board members, or local leaders will solidify support for an issue or let them know your opposition.

There is a time to write because we love to and there is a time to write when it counts. Be active in your community, your schools, your neighborhoods. Lead with your actions and your words. Encourage others to use their voices, too. Dialogue can only happen when you are engaged.  Your message matters.  Speak up!

How has your writing been used to influence or persuade people?

World’s Bravest Bloggers

Standard

“You can live 4 months without food, 4 days without water, 4 minutes without air, but you can’t live 4 seconds without hope”

This quote was made by blogger and activist Dalia Ziada. Dalia was named one of the 17 Bravest Bloggers by the Daily Beast. She writes from and about Egypt during turbulent times in her home country.  She stood opposed to the ruling dictatorship and spoke openly to the people of Egypt and the world.   With so much to lose, she used her blog to illuminate the corruption and point to a different way of leading the country. She put herself on the line for the greater good.  Would you?

Dalia’s situation, along with the circumstances of all of the bloggers they highlighted, put them selves in danger. Real danger. Most of us do not. A majority of bloggers used their words to entertain, educate, or enlighten their readers. Some just rant on about mundane issues and use their blog space as a public diary. But all of us use our skills as writers to communicate…something.

While some bloggers have a large following, others are more modest. Would you risk losing your followers to stand up and really voice your opinion, even if it is not popular? Would you stand on the side of conscience even if it meant losing friends? Business? An election?

I find myself in such a situation. While the violence I might encounter would be equivalent to eggs being thrown at my house, the real damage might be more emotional. Speaking truth to power is a daunting task. Perhaps, in this case, a losing task.  In the next few weeks, I’ll stand on the side of conscience against powerful self-interest. I’ll stand up for the voiceless. And I’ll stand against my fear of losing friends and business. Because if I don’t speak, I’ll risk losing so much more: self respect.

I won’t be one of the world’s bravest blogger at the end of all of this. I won’t even be Delaware’s bravest blogger. But, I will use my voice as a writer to stand up for what I feel is right. And if all goes well, maybe my kids will vote for me as their bravest mother.

Using Pinterest for Inspiration

Standard

Just a week into using Pinterest, I’ve found it to be not only another way to suck time from busy day, but also to be a great source of inspiration for writing. Considering I’m a very visual thinker, Pinterest’s visual format is like coming home. Each picture has a story to tell. Listen closely and you’ll hear it, too.

Inspiration for Characters

Main Character

From Leotine de Hollander

Inspiration for Scenes

Setting or scene

From Nikoletaa Argirova

Obstacles for Characters

Obstacles for main character

From Umah

Inspiration for Villains

Villains

From Marlene

Have you found inspiration using Pinterest? I love hearing comments.

Why Go To A Writer’s Conference?

Standard

Why spend the time, the money, and the energy to go to a writer’s conference? Is it really worth it? I believe the answer is yes. Here’s why.

Writers Conference

Improve your writing

Writers at any level can improve their skills. While some conferences offer hands on classes, others talk about technique. But, simply listening to how different writers approach the writing process from brainstorming to outlining to revision can jar you loose from bad practices or just set you on a better course. Methods of building memorable characters or clarifying plot lines can move your manuscript from good to great. While there may be diminishing returns if you have been successfully published, the path to continue to get published is to keep growing in your craft.

Learn the business

Although writing is a craft, publishing is a business.  If you don’t know the game you are playing, you probably won’t win. At the recent SCBWI Conference, we were told that it is best sellers market. Over and over, the message was to put out the best possible work you can produce.  (See reason #1) But, the question is what is that exactly? The publishing industry is facing a time of immense change.  Find out the current trends, the open avenues, how to submit, what to submit, and how not to piss off an editor. Once you are published, even before you are published you need to learn how to market your work so that your book will do well. Fail at that and your next book might not get sold at all.

Network with others

It’s been said that you are 6 people away from the person you need to know in the publishing industry. It’s a little like the Kevin Bacon connection, but a lot more important. Your job at a conference is to meet people, talk with people, and suck up as much knowledge as you can. You will meet others in your genre or local area and have lunch. You’ll talk about writers you know, classes you know and they will tell you in return. Every contact at a conference is incredibly important to you as an author. You can’t afford to wait until you are published before you start making connections.

Energize yourself

The one things all conferences have in common is the energy you bring home.  You’ll have new tricks and technical knowledge that you’ll want to try on your own writing. You’ll have made connections you would like to foster.  But, maybe most importantly, you’ll have seen writers who have “made it.”  The ones that were once writers just like you. Now they are published authors, held on high with awards and accolades. You have dreams that it could be you someday. You are home and truly inspired.

Are you ready to go? Here are 2 writers conferences for children’s writers:

MD/WV/DE SCBWI Spring Conference March 31, 2012
Conference Website

NJ SCBWI Annual Conference – June 3, 4, 5, 2012
Conference Website

What do you think? Have been to one or more? Is it worth it?

Wake Up and Smell the Blogosphere

Standard

Writing gives me a reason to wake up every morning. Don’t get me wrong.  I always had a reason to get up – kids, work, errands – just not right away.  A warm waterbed on a cold winter morning has a certain lure that is a daunting match for less interesting pursuits.

Since I’ve been writing, I wake up in the morning and wonder….What am I going to write about or read about today? Who will cross my path today with a comment on my blog or theirs?  Will an interaction change the course of my writing, or more dramatically, my life?  Do you get that I wonder a lot?

Some days, I don’t have anything in particular to say or anything worth sharing.  It’s no problem.  Someone always has something to say, so I read.  Just this week I found a blog of fellow Delawarean Rachel Simon.  Her most recent post is about her pre-release book tour of her new book The Story of a Beautiful Girl.  I’m inspired by her ability to make meaning out of her work.

Another person I ran across this week was virtualDavis.  A powerhouse in the twitterverse and and blogosphere, he writes about writing and other  interesting stuff.  I’m glad I had the chance to stumble upon them this week.

Now back to my own writing – a personal essay, an early reader, and a picture book that I might just scrap and start all over.  Fortunately, there is always a New Blank Page and a New Post button.  I wonder what I’m going to write about tomorrow……

What do you wonder about? What makes you get up every morning?  Although, I must confess that I am still warm and cozy in my waterbed.