Fiction, Motivation, Musings, Questions, Writing

No, really, why do you write?

I write fiction; if you write non-fiction, most of what I’m going to say won’t apply to you. Why do you write? I’m sure you’ve been asked that question. You’ve probably given an answer.  I have—more than one—but those were quasi-truths. At the time, my answers were valid. I just hadn’t put enough thought into the question.

These things I’ve always known:

  • I don’t write because I have to. Writing is not the reason for my existence. Nor do I need to support myself.
  • I don’t write because I have some great message for the world.
  • I don’t write because I think I’m a better writer than 90% of those published.

So, why do I write?

  • I do write to entertain myself.
  • I do write because I like playing with words. Seriously.
  • I do write to clear some of these stories out of my head.

But, for me, the real question is why do I write what I write? Why are all my stories character-driven? Why are they all set in the real world (or real world plus a supernatural element)? Why are they mostly dark?

What the heck am I trying to work out?!

That’s what it comes down to for me. I write because I’m trying to figure out something. I’m searching for an answer.  Maybe more than one.  Probably more than one. Or am I just trying to discover the questions? I might not be ready for the answers yet.  Hmmm … I must keep writing.

So, tell me—really—why do you write?

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Fiction, Goals, Motivation, Writing

Beware the Blue Muse

Do you think this Blue Muse is pretty? Pretty poison is more like it.

Some of you have read this blog since the beginning, and though I’ve tried to keep my posts in the vein of positive affirmations, I’ve also let through a post or two written after I crashed with “post-critique syndrome.” As most writers do, I struggle with confidence in my writing. But until now, I’ve been able to quickly move past it and press on because I saw it coming or, at least, recognized it for what it was.

My recent experience has been more insidious. This time, it was not one big thing, but an accumulation of small things that turned my Muse blue. I was blind to the process and devastated when discouraging thoughts started flying furiously at me. I can’t write. I’ve reached my limit of ability. I shouldn’t even be blogging. And on and on. Every one of those thoughts presented itself as reasonable. It was time to face facts.

I reached out to a few writer friends who graciously shared their insights and encouragement. And then, three more things happened in as many days. One of my sons, who had no idea of my discouragement, has just completed writing a book of Wynton Marsalis trumpet solo transcriptions. He stopped by and talked about how tedious the work was and how, many times, he had to force himself not to quit. Then, one of my daughters-in-law mentioned that to get ahead in her field of financial accounting, it’s not necessarily how well-qualified you are, but whether or not you’re persistent. And finally, I picked up my copy of More magazine and read this quote from Mariska Hargitay: “The only reason I have the career I have is that I didn’t quit.”

Message received.

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Fiction, Inspiration, Motivation, Writing

Keep paddling

This time last year, my blog was an infant. My posts  were infrequent and much shorter. I had only four regular visitors … all fellow writers from my critique group. So, I didn’t know about the November Nano slump, followed by the December holiday hiatus.

headwater I keep fighting the suspicion that everyone has gone to a party I wasn’t invited to. Frankly, as a blogger, I think the year’s end sucks.

Of course, as a member of the human race, I know you’re all just busy with life and family. And I know that if I wasn’t obsessed with stats, I might not have noticed my blog visitor count plummeting. After all, I’ve been busy too.

But the truth is, I’m a little scared. I hadn’t realized how much blogging inspires me to write fiction. With fewer blog visitors and fewer blog comments, it’s been too easy to step away from writing these last two months. I don’t feel so compelled to talk about writing, so I don’t feel so compelled to write.

To those of you who visit and comment regularly, I say a big THANK YOU! You have kept my head above water. And I’ll focus on that to keep me writing.


Advice, Fiction, Motivation, Tips, Writing

It’s always about chocolate!

First, let me define a “candy-bar” scene. It’s one that you’re just itching to write — something sweet enough that you can dangle it on a stick in front of yourself so that you can say, “When I’ve done these next three chapters, I’ll get to write that one. – Holly Lisle

chocolatesDuring one of my marathon click this link, then click this link, then click this link sessions, I stumbled across the above quote from Holly Lisle.

She advises that you write only one sentence—a teaser—to keep you writing toward it. I do this in my Scenes file. I create a Word document in which I list the scene descriptions, including the “candy bar” scenes. As I write, I go back and detail what happens in each scene, including the story-time date it takes place, if applicable. I also add the page and chapter number after the last scene in a chapter.

But I’m not overly strict about the one sentence rule. Sometimes I “see” the scene played out and I have to write it down. Sometimes I “hear” only the dialogue and need to record it before I lose it. So, I have other files: one for each character, titled [Character Name] Notes, and this is where I write bits and pieces that will be incorporated into full scenes at some point.

For me, chocolate doesn’t get any better than truffles, so I have a pineapple truffle I’ve almost written up to and a raspberry not too far off. Yummmm!