But I should be…

When I was in high school, I wanted to read all the time. Which is great, except I didn’t read. I wanted to read Lord of the Rings or a James Bond story or some other contemporary book, but I was supposed to be reading Shakespeare or The Catcher in the Rye or Beowulf. So I ended up feeling guilty about not doing my studies and punished myself by not reading what I was assigned to read, nor reading what I wanted to read, either. Result = reading nothing.

Forty years later, I’m still suffering from the same crux. I want to write, but I have a million things I should be doing. My 90-year old house is crumbling around me and needs serious work. I’m a hoarder and I’ve got to start purging. I’d like to pick up a book, because I love to read and all writers need to read everything they can. I have a day job and I need to spend some time learning some new skills for it.

But, the house isn’t getting renovated. Once every couple of weeks, I do manage to fill a garbage bag or two. Sometimes I get to the library and check out a book, or read something by a friend. The job skills, well… they’re still on the list of undones.

And the guilt lingers (no, I’m neither Catholic nor Jewish, but I could be). I’m making no progress on my life, nor am I making any progress on my writing. I was excited when I started my blog. I thought it would get me back into the writing habit and wonderful things would happen. But I wrote 2 entries and ran out of ideas.

And there, as Shakespeare would say, is the rub. Has my creativity dried up? Are the ideas gone? Or am I just overwhelmed with the other stuff? I’m not sure I can, or I’m ready to, answer those questions. But I do know one thing. There’s only one thing I should be doing.

I should be writing.

What have you done to spark your creativity? Get some ideas? Start the words flowing again?

http://shankman.com/how-to-find-your-lost-creativity/

http://grammar.about.com/od/yourwriting/a/wblockquotes.htm

Stop Writing! Just STOP!

I’m new to this world of blogging, and it’s fun. I’m finding other writers with views similar and dissimilar to my own, and I can always learn something or broaden my outlook by reading them. I focus primarily on blogs about writing and all its extraneous offshoots. But it’s overwhelming to sort through thousands of posts to find the good ones.

This morning I did. A relevant post, well-written, good information, so I started reading, and reading…and reading… Then I noticed the word count – over 1500 words. So I stopped. Now I can’t find that post to look at it again. That’s too bad, because it was interesting.

As writers, nothing is more important to us than our words, but we need to be aware that not all our words are important to everyone else. Sometimes we need to just stop. Right where we are.

A friend asked me to read her 4-page synopsis yesterday – she had to cut it in half. It’s a young adult paranormal, which I don’t read, so maybe that made me more objective, or maybe I’m just ignorant of the genre (which I am), but I brutally slashed it (I hope she’s still speaking to me). I felt like there was a good bit of it, that while important in the story, was not necessarily important in describing the story.

The sad truth is, we live in an I-want-it-now culture, full of text messages, snippets and sidebars. Either we don’t have time, or don’t want to take the time. Something else out there awaits us.

So, in that vein, whatever you write, edit it! Keep it short. To the point. On your blog, if you hit 300 words, cut it or see if you can divide it into two posts. But above all, just STO-

http://www.j-learning.org/present_it/page/writing_and_editing_a_blog/

http://www.copyblogger.com/edit-your-writing/

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/how-to-revise-edit-and-proofread-your-writing/

You got that idea from where??

One of the most frequent questions any author will hear is “Where do you get your ideas?” And while the specifics of their answers will vary, the theme for all is the same: Life.

Every conversation you hear, event you see (small or significant), tidbit you read, experience you have… all of these can spark an idea. It depends on your interests, your background, your thoughts and emotions. And like the tiniest sapling, it will flourish and grow until it forms a mighty oak.
(Okay, that was a really bad analogy, but I liked this image I found. Which serves to prove my point about inspiration. I didn’t say all of it had to be good.)

During an adult-ed creative writing class at Jacksonville University, one of my fellow students wrote a descriptive passage about the area that was so beautiful, I thought “I can do that!” and wrote a novel based on a nearby town. I’ve also found story ideas in letters to Dear Abby, snippets of overheard conversations, and even from well-meaning friends who said, “You should write about…” I’ve written novels involving hitchhiking (yes, I did that), house renovation (I’m still doing that), and spouse trading (I didn’t do that, but I probably felt like it once or twice).

Oddly, if you read those books today, you probably couldn’t find any of those inspiring moments in them, because they evolved and changed in the process. But one thing all successful writers will tell you, you have to get the words on paper. We all know the person who “is going to write a book someday”, but it can’t happen unless the words hit the paper.

So if you are an aspiring writer, start listening, reading, paying attention. You never know what might spark that next idea. And for my reader friends, the next time you read a novel and think, “I wonder where that idea came from?”, well… you just never know.

For more thoughts on where writers get ideas, check out these links: Where Do Authors Get Story Ideas? and Where Do Writers Find Their Ideas?  Meanwhile, share your thoughts! Where did your best idea come from?

Getting it covered

Because my day job is working at Norfolk Printing Company as a graphic designer, I was thrilled to be able to design a cover for a collection of short stories by my friend, Jenna Jaxon. It was a learning experience and a lot of fun! Let me know what you think – and check out Jenna’s blog at jennajaxon.wordpress.com/