Blog Stuff, Creativity Workshop, Humor, Writing

I’m serious … or not

Yeah, so I signed up for this writing workshop, and guess what? Every person in this workshop is a writer! Who’d a thunk it?

What’s worse, these other writers WRITE … and they do it on their blogs! Most of them craft long, thoughtful, beautifully crafted blog posts. Me? Not so much. I write about bacon … and I don’t even wax poetic about it.

Linda, you might ask, are you taking this workshop seriously? Why, yes I am. Actually, I find it hard to think of anything else now. I even resorted to submitting the opening chapters of my first novel to my critique group, so I didn’t have to use any time writing something new.

The novel and story writer me dwells on serious stuff, about people in pain, but the blog writer me is a different animal. That’s not to say I’m never serious; I was dead serious when I shared my experience with the Blue Muse earlier this year. And I’m serious when I share what I’ve learned about writing, editing, or querying. But a good many of my posts are written with tongue in cheek.

So, if you drop in here and read about pickle jars, Kat Von D, LOST, or a monkey outside my window, don’t think I’m not serious about my craft. Other times, I might actually write something heartfelt, like a walk through my perfect day or my view of an Appalachian heaven or even a little glimpse of Marrakesh from my kitchen window.

But most of the time, after I write all my serious stuff, I just like to come here and laugh a little. I hope you won’t mind.

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Photo credits: afsilvia – afsilvia’s photo stream at Flickr

Creativity Workshop, Fiction, Goals, Poetry, Short story, Writing

Goooals!

Our third instruction in the Creativity Workshop is to formulate three goals to concentrate on during the workshop and to create a task list for each goal. Merrilee’s post defined the difference between wants, needs, and goals. We must decide what tasks are needed to reach our goals.

I confess; my right brain started to whine immediately. “This is too hard.” I never approach writing this way. To even describe myself as a “pantser” insinuates I write more methodically than I presently do. So you see, just attempting this workshop is a challenge for me.

Merrilee told us to choose three from our issues/interests list to set as our goals. First problem: I didn’t compile a good list. I included no interests, for one, and she had already planned to address two of my five issues in the workshop! So … I had to improvise. I decided that incorporating more description and fleshing out dialogue would come into play in writing each story for the workshop. That left one general and one specific issue on my original list. But the general issue (#0) doesn’t really apply for the following reason.

Goal #0: Finish writing a story (or poem) in one week. (Twelve times.) This is the goal for every participant in the workshop, but I am (secretly … shhhh) challenging myself to have critique ready stories (or poems) by the end of each week.

  • Day 1: Choose a story idea. Do research, if necessary. Sketch out character(s) and storyline.
  • Days 2-7: Write. My stories average about 3,000 words, so I will have to write 500 words per day.
  • Days 3-6: Review and edit the previous day’s writing. Determine that I’m still on track with my storyline (or adjust, if one of my characters has thrown me a curve.)

Goal #1 Weeks 2-5:  Linked by theme. Learn about poetry forms and write poems in four different forms. I am not a poet, nevertheless, I occasionally write a poem … badly. So, I want to write four poems I’m proud to claim.

  • Research poetic forms and select four.
  • Choose poem theme.
  • Choose a different form each week and write the poems.

Goal #2 Weeks 6-9:  Linked by genre. Write psychological suspense or horror without giving away too much too soon.

  • Choose and read four published (and acclaimed) stories in this genre.
  • Analyze these stories to understand how and when the author introduced plot elements and details.
  • Write four stories in this genre.

Goal #3 Weeks 10-13:  Linked by characters and location. These will be literary fiction, my usual genre.

  • Write four stories set in the same Kentucky “holler” with one or more of the characters, mostly family members, appearing in each.

Now you know; this is what I’ll be writing for the next thirteen weeks. At the end of each week I will post here about my progress … and I may mention it in another post now and then. Don’t worry, you won’t hear me bitch and moan because this will be a breeze. How’s that for positive thinking? 🙂

Goals, Writing

Yes, I have issues

Our first assignment in Merrilee Faber’s Creativity Workshop will be to list our goals. It occurs to me that I’ve never truly had writing goals before. I just write and write and write until the project is done. I may set deadlines, but I rarely meet them. I’m too much an undisciplined writer.

It appears I should have posted my “issues and interests” to address in this workshop two days ago, so I’m already falling behind. From reading the other participant’s issues and interests, I realize I don’t share most of their concerns because:  I write both male and female characters; I write both happy and unhappy endings; (I think) I write solid relationships; I’ve used mostly local settings; and I certainly don’t need to write something other than fantasy. 🙂 (I’m feeling a little out of my element in this workshop because it seems most of the other participants are fantasy writers. Should be interesting.)

Anyway, here are some issues I want to work on, in general and specifically:

  • Discipline. I’m not sure how discipline and creativity can co-exist, but surely they must for writing to succeed as a career. Setting goals might be the first step toward discipline, but preventing myself from getting sidetracked has to be the biggest step.
  • Procrastination. In my defense, the delay in posting my writing issues was not a result of procrastination, but a lack of time to read Merrilee’s blog. However, I consistently put off what I should write (or critique) today … no matter how many times I curse myself when it comes time to scramble to get a job done. So, I’m hoping to overcome this tendency.
  • Finishing small projects. I have a terrible habit of writing a story and then either not editing it, or starting to edit, but not finishing.  Sometimes, I even take the next step of seeking feedback, but then I do nothing with the feedback. This is why I never have anything ready to submit for publication. (I do not have this problem with novels.)
  • Telling too much too soon. I occasionally do have a problem underestimating the intelligence of my reader, but I don’t think this is the cause of my tendency to give too many clues too soon in my horror or psychological suspense writing. (I don’t often have this problem in my literary writing.)
  • Fleshing out dialogue. I write dialogue first, which means that sometimes I leave long strings of “he said, she said” adding only a couple tags and a gesture. I need to work on fully integrating the dialogue into the narrative.

So there, I’ve confessed my issues. but I reserve the right to add to this list as the workshop progresses. Sometimes I don’t realize I have a problem until it’s pointed out to me. Intervention by workshop could  be a good thing.

Craft, Fiction, Goals, Motivation, Writing

Too much information!

I have read too many writing manuals. For now, my brain cannot process any more how-to advice. It’s likely a few skipped my mind when I compiled this list, but in full or in part, I have read these books in the last year:

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner
  • The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine
  • The Writers Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon
  • Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale
  • Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
  • The Sell Your Novel Toolkit by Elizabeth Lyon
  • How to Grow A Novel by Sol Stein
  • Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner

Add to those myriad articles in writers magazines and online and I think you get the picture. The worse part is that I’m not sure, for all my reading, that I learned that much. That’s not to say these books aren’t good because they are. But since I had read many of these at least once before, more often than not, I found myself checking tips off as something I already know and incorporate in my writing. My brain feels saturated with know-how and I think what I need most now is to do.

I’ve been cheating myself by not stretching my writing boundaries. I write only what I want to write. I don’t write to prompts. I skip over writing exercises. I pass on writing classes. I ignore workshops. Until now. I’ve signed-up to participate in Merrilee Faber’s writing workshop.

Frankly, I dread it. Like I said, I’m spoiled. I expect that I will pout quite a bit during this experience. I will complain that I don’t have time; I have other writing to do; I’m not sure workshops should be given priority right now. But then, I’ll smack myself and do the work required because … the best way to learn to write is by writing.

Have you tried something new with your writing lately?

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