Listening to Your Inner Voice

May 29, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Meg, motivation, writer's block, writing | 2 Comments
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While I was on ‘hiatus’ (i.e. writer’s block from hell), I did a tremendous amount of work on personal growth and transforming myself into the person I’d like to be. You know, what you wish your obituary will say about you. Morbid, I know. During this time, I listened to numerous books on CD including Jack Canfield’s Success Principles, Joel Ostein’s Become A Better You, and Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret.

 

In addition, I finally read a book that had been gathering dust for years. It is by a group of life coaches and focuses on vision. One of the articles helped me when the words wouldn’t flow and inspired me to return to writing. Written by Claudette Rowley, a life coach I had met with when I had envisioned my own coaching practice, the article discusses the Five Pathways to Listening to your Inner Voice. I adapted Claudette’s words to my struggle with writing and thought I’d share them with you:

 

  1. Check in with your heart- Ignore your head, that inner critic or that logical letdown, and open your heart and soul. Your heart is the source of your creative energy and imagination. It’s the place where romance comes alive.

 

  1. Connect with your body- You know when your story is heading down the right path. You feel alive. Energy pulses through your fingertips and you worry the computer will blow up. The same goes for when you’re forcing the story- you become frustrated. Your stomach ends up in knots. The body has the amazing ability to tell you when your writing works and when it doesn’t. Listen to it.

 

 

  1. Allow your intuition to surface- Ever write a scene and when you reread it, you wonder where the hell it came from? This has happened to me often. The words flow like I’m in a trance and I don’t recognize the paragraphs the next day. I know I’ve written them (unless someone has tapped into my computer and kindly left the brilliant scenes for me), but they came from a different level of consciousness. Something greater than my forced cognition.

 

 

  1. Lock the self-saboteur in the closet- Learn to distinguish from the self-saboteur from the self-editor. The editor looks at the writing with constructive criticism- recognizing areas of brilliance and identifying ways to improve the scenes needing work. These ideas don’t come self-doubt or negativity, but encouragement to create the best story possible. It’s important that a writer knows when the inner critic has surfaced and to lock that destructive energy away.

 

  1. Identify limiting beliefs- We all have a belief system that gets us through the day. Unfortunately, sometimes these beliefs hold us back from reaching our goals and dreams. If you always find yourself inches away from the place you’d like to be, it may be a useful exercise to figure out if you have any values or beliefs that are holding you back. Identifying them allows you to become aware so you can change them.

 

Try to use some of these tactics in your own life and see what happens.

 

-Meg

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List of Lists for Writers

May 21, 2008 at 9:08 am | Posted in Bria, inspiration, motivation, writing | 5 Comments

I love lists. I love lists ALMOST as much as spreadsheets. And so, since lists are amazing, here is a List of Lists for Writers.

If you aren’t a member of stumbleupon.com, get in there. It lets you choose what themed pages you jump through and allows you to find things you never would have seen if you were just randomly searching.

Get ready to start bookmarking these!

19 Posts Writers Shouldn’t Ignore: Sharon at ‘Get Paid to Write’ put together a list of sites to help you promote your writing and yourself.

Techniques for Creative Thinking: Collectively, there are several hundred techniques published in books by Michael Michalko, Andy Van Gundy, James Higgins, Dilip Mukerjea and others. Techniques are like tools in a workshop, with different tools for different parts of the creative process. For example, there are techniques for defining a problem, exploring attributes of a problem, generating alternatives, visual explorations, metaphors, analogies, and evaluating and implementing ideas. HERE is a small selection of techniques.

The Top 5 FREE Software Programs Every Writer Should Have 52.novels.com put together this great list. I’ll admit, not the techno person I wish I was, but THIS sure helped me find what I need.

150 Resources to Help You Write Better – This is from OEDb (Online Education Database) I managed to kill an amount of time which shall not be admitted here with this website. I also sucked in a large number of the FlanTastics. It’s worth checking out.

Top Read Writing Information Article Listing: From ‘Writing Information’ – 100 must read articles for writers. Their tagline is “Articles To Hone Your Writing Skills To Perfection!” And they’re right!

List of Proofreaders Marks – Confused by what some of those little squiggles mean? Clear it all up HERE with the visual, the example and the explanation.

Top 10 Grammar Myths: One of my favorite sources, Grammar Girl, did a great Top 10 list. Check it out HERE.

Commonly Overused Words – When I was in fourth grade I had a teacher who took away the words ‘good’ and ‘nice’ from our vocabulary. We couldn’t write them. We couldn’t say them. We couldn’t think them (I’m pretty sure she knew when we broke this rule too.) So, I’m thinking of taking away a new word a week. This list should help – challenge your vocabulary with the list and its suggested replacement words HERE.

The Writinghood has a list of websites dedicated to words HERE: For the Love of Words: Seven Wonderful Websites Where Words Matter

Need resources for proper grammatical usage, citation formats, or paper writing. Check out Internet Public Library’s HERE.

Inkalicious does a “Writer’s Cheat Sheet” with lots of great boiled down summaries HERE.

Every tried journaling and not been able to get into it? Here’s Litemind’s 13 Tools to Making Journaling Work for You.

Every day a new reason to write/edit/live the dream. Start on Day One HERE and see where your at on Day 100.

50+ Open Courseware Writing Classes from the World’s Leading Universities —- Free learning! Enough said.

In the spirit of the list of lists, here is a post called DON’T (a list) at one of my favorite blogs, Ask Daphne. Before you write that query letter, check it out HERE.

Hope you found the list-list helpful. Do you have a favorite? Post it in our comments section! And then, Go Write
-bria 

 

The Four Ps of Publishing

April 28, 2008 at 7:40 am | Posted in career, Jessica, motivation, writing | 3 Comments

Over the years I have heard similar advice in response to the ‘how to get published question’ and almost all of that advice boils down to some variation of the same four things, all words that begin with the letter P.

Preparationto put in proper condition or readiness. I have included a mention of ‘product’ below, but being prepared requires more than having written. It helps to have market research, business savvy, professional contacts, self-awareness, and a plan. Any and all preparation will help put you on better footing when confronted with THE CALL when it comes.

Persistence to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, esp. in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc. There are some people who find publishing gold straight out of the gate while others toil for years with mixed or no success. As Thoreau said, ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams . . .’ If publication is your end goal, may you persist and not be distracted from your goal.

Patience an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. Anyone who has ever sat down to write a book knows that it is a process that takes time. And even if you are a quick, prolific writer, the wheels of the publishing industry tend to move at a slow pace. There are many things you can do to help during the interminable delays — keep writing (of course!), read, volunteer for your writing groups, mentor newer writers, devise and present writing workshops, research, treat yourself to a writer’s date, vent to your writing friends . . . whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane instead of running your imagination in unhealthy circles.

Perseverance steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. No matter how much joy writing may (or may not!) bring, writing is work . . . and is often hard work. And that’s just the act of fighting to sit down every day with the need to produce strings of words, coherent thoughts, and strong sentences. Pages and pages of what we hope is good, intoxicating, evocative prose. In the outside world, there lurks around every corner the villains of rejection, critics, naysayers, thwarters, bloodsuckers. I know of one writer who keeps a rhino (small, stuffed, animal) on his desk to remind him of the thick skin he needs to endure the sharp spears thrown in this business. But he stays steady on his course, determined to persevere and succeed. Which he does.

Do you have any other Ps you would like to add to the four above?

I would like to add two more Ps to that list . . .

Product – the best way to get published is to write and to have written. Write the best book you can, and, when you finish that one, start the next one. Keep learning and growing, but, no matter what, keep writing.

Professional. Nathan Bransford had an interesting post in the past few weeks on how personality counts in increasing ways in the publishing business. And while the product is what sells, having a complete and total professional package can only help you in the long run. As with any job search, you want to put your best foot forward. And I believe that placing your product with the right professionals is akin to finding yourself a new job.

Even with the four Ps (or six, or however many you would like to add), timing also plays a huge factor. I know I have said it before, but I believe that getting published is about having the right product in the right hands at the right time. But if you are doing what you need to do to get yourself published, I also believe that you can create your own luck. Keep minding your Ps and, most of all, keep writing!

-Jessica

The Little Green Monster

March 31, 2008 at 9:20 am | Posted in Jessica, motivation, writing | 7 Comments
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Envya feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc. greenmonster

The idea of professional jealousy has been one that I have thought about on and off over the years. And I have decided that I don’t resent my colleagues’ successes as much as I wish I had what they have. So I think I am less jealous than I am perhaps a little green with envy. It’s a monster I have rarely visited throughout my life (unless Fenway counts) and it feels a little strange to admit it.

Please don’t misunderstand me — one of my favorite things to do is to root for those people — friends and those unknown to me — who are working hard to make their dreams come true. I love to hear success stories and to celebrate such good news. I know how hard it is to tip the point from toiling writer to victories big and small, and to achieve the milestone is a feat we should all celebrate.

The envy comes in when I step back and look at the collective successes. And it feels like everyone is at a party and I have yet to receive my invitation. It feels a little sad and lonely to be on the outside of the publishing ranks and looking in, but all is not lost. I think that as potentially destructive a feeling as envy can be, it can also serve as a great motivating force.

I am an active part of two writing groups — a monthly in-person meeting group and an online one. At each of our monthly in-person meetings, we all take a turn around the room to introduce ourselves and share what we write. We celebrate the good news and share in the bad. In many ways it is a nice support group of people with shared interests, all presumably working toward similar goals but with not such definitive goals that the work reported feels tangible or the motivation contagious.

Then one day someone tosses a question onto the discussion board of my other, online group — a request that we all report in on what we are writing . . . to give these projects a name and report their progress. The flood of responses that came back to the loop blew me away . . . the sheer volume of pages being written . . . the number of projects being completed . . . the enormous productivity that these women shared. In that flood of reported output, I admit I was envious at how much writing progress everyone amassed each day.

Here was evidence of the much-talked-about ball and I was Cinderella. Without the fairy godmother. No one was going to float into my world on a pink cloud trailing sparkling fairy dust and promising possibilities with the flick of a wand. No pumpkin. No ball gown. No glass slippers. And no Prince Charming. (But that’s a topic for another blog post.)

This revelation was a great reminder — if I don’t want to be left behind, I am going to have to work to get to the party. In that way, I don’t think my envy is too terrible a thing to admit — as long as it is channeled for good purposes. I do not believe in climbing over, using, or hurting others to get what you want. I do believe in the reward of hard work and the hope of reaping the benefits of the time invested and practice logged.

So, the next time you are about to ask someone, “What do you write?”, instead ask them, “What are you writing?” The change in word choice is slight, but the differences in the potential answers are enormous.

There is no guarantee that any of us trying to make it in this business will ultimately get published. But I can guarantee that you definitely won’t make it if you aren’t working to get there. Rest assured, everyone at the party has earned his or her spot.

So watch and learn from the people you envy. Keep writing and get those dance cards ready — you’ll need them for when you get to the ball.

-Jessica

Golden Heart – I didn’t final, but I won.

March 26, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Bria, contests, Honorary Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, motivation, romance, writing | 6 Comments

I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d be ready for the Golden Heart deadline and, being the superstitious Boston Irish that I am, I feared I’d final.But I didn’t. No surprise there.

The happy surprise is that, while not moving on to the final round for the national award, I’m pretty sure I won.

When the first deadline came about in December, I had been writing for about six months. I loved my story. I loved my characters. I liked my writing. But I had a lot to learn, and in the last several months I’ve submerged myself in it.

Craft books, workshops on CD, self-editing guides, reading for more than just enjoyment, working with amazing women on the Diva board (the entry never would have been in the mail without Mamad, Kaige, Lanie, Neith and a lot of help from those as I did chat drive-by’s) and partnering with the Lovely Ann as my CP.

The experience has been hair-raising. My Murphy’s Law fear pushed me to be as close to complete and polished as possible. My availability pushed back. And the friction that caused – well, it bettered my writing by an unimaginable amount.

Sentence structure, word choice, tight prose all became more consistent.

And now for the big “author confession” – I’m dyslexic. I can’t see those mistakes that are obvious to everyone. And I thank God every day since January when we started for my CP Ann. She corrects errors and points out potential errors. She also asks the hard questions and tells me straight forward when something doesn’t work or she just plain doesn’t like it.

So, my advice for those aiming for the December’s deadline:
o Get a Critique Partner. Don’t know how to set that partnership up? Read these guidelines
o Don’t fluff the deadline – strive for it as if it were publication, not a contest
o Plan ahead – start NOW
o But most of all, do it for the joy.

I’d like to take this moment to give a very special shout out to KRISTAN HIGGANS – our very first Honorary Heartlette. Kristan finalled in the published author’s equivalent of the Golden Heart – the RITA.

So, pick a goal and run at it, but mostly, Go Write.
-bria

Recovery – Getting Over Writing Roadblocks

February 27, 2008 at 10:16 am | Posted in Bria, getting organized, goal setting, motivation, writer's block, writing | 1 Comment

Writing is wonderful. Writing is difficult. Writing is relaxing. Writing is stressful.

And life multiplies each of those sentiments times ten.

As many of you know I’ve been jobless for 8 months due to lots of things (as you read this, I’m in training on my first day at my new job HURRAY.) During my unemployed time, I tried to make the most of my “struggling artist” phase and got a lot done on the writing front.

It was going so well. Too well apparently.

Flashback to several weeks ago when my laptop died and brought part of my hard drive with it. Now it’s back and I need to get remotivated, reorganized, and generally stop feeling bad for myself.

But how?

1. Assess
What did I lose and how can I replace it?
(ex: This week I must finish comparing paper trail to old saved hard copy)
2. Plan
Whenever taking on a large chunk of work, break it into smaller bits and schedule it. Goals can be motivators if they’re S.M.A.R.T. Goals
3. Act
Wallowing can be a huge barrier. Personally, I spent ½ the week wallowing and now it’s time to really jump into Step One.

A small writing disaster isn’t the only time we need to recover. We all have things that pull us away from our writing.

Computer issues
Family issues
Work issues
Transportation issues
Illness
Weather getting you down
Scattered Priorities

And tons of others – the key is not to let something that slows you down, stop you. I remember the days of growing up in sports and my soccer coach literally yelling “run through the pain” (I hear they don’t yell that until you’re in high school now) – but that is sometimes what you have to do:

Write Thru The Pain

Because eventually, it becomes a joy again.
Go Asses/Plan/Act – but, whatever you need to do, find your joy.
-bria


GMC For the Writer – Conflict

February 25, 2008 at 11:57 am | Posted in goals, Jessica, motivation, writing | 3 Comments
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I have conflict in my life. And it’s not the what we-as-writers-strive-for kind of conflict that results in juicy sexual tension between life’s players. It’s the kind of conflict that gets in the way of meeting goals and staying motivated. Life happens, and I find that, despite my best goal setting intentions, I’m easily distracted when it does. And I admit that I at times play a part in creating my own conflict.

What I’m talking about is the clash of my very own active personal archetypes.

Carl Jung coined the term, archetype, theorizing that humans have an inherited, pervasive idea, image, or symbol that forms part of the collective unconsciousness. [OED, p. 611] These repeated patterns of behavior have spurred numerous publications on the topic, and for the purposes of this article, I consulted the book, Sacred Contracts, by Caroline Myss.

In this book, the author introduces the idea that we each possess a unique combination of archetypes, of which four are universal. She places her discussion within a larger, spiritual context, but I have chosen to keep this article at its most base level, focusing on what Ms. Myss declares to be the four constant and universal archetypes: Child, Victim, Prostitute, and Saboteur.

Despite the negative connotations of their names, these archetypes embody neutral patterns of behavior. Together, they represent the issues, fears, and vulnerabilities that affect our actions and reactions. [Myss, p. 111]

Child

The Child needs to be nurtured and cared for. As writers, we often work in solitary conditions, with a drive and dedication that comes from within. Speaking for myself, my inner child causes constant distraction. The child in me is a creative one, but seldom wants to sit down and write. The child wants to watch a movie, or play outside, or take a nap. But the more I’ve given in to this child, the more off track I’ve gotten with my goals. To get to my end goal, I know that I need to work to find a better balance between the creativity of my child archetype and my want to play.

Victim

“The primary objective of the Victim archetype is to develop self-esteem and personal power.” [Myss, p.118] We have chosen a line of work that does little to foster either self-esteem or personal power. How many rejections can one person endure? Yet we continue to write and submit, write and submit. Not because we’re masochists, but because we have the burning desire to tell stories. Because the voices in our heads will not stop until we breathe air into them . . . and then new voices replace the old ones and we start the process all over again. With so many contingencies in this business the publishing process can often seem beyond the writer’s control, but there are things we can do as writers to chip away at the powerless feeling. We can keep writing, practicing, and learning in preparation for when one of those submissions goes from rejected to requested.

Prostitute

There is an opportunity cost to writing – when we sit down to write, we forego the opportunity to do something else. Friends, family, work, housework, fun, inner child . . . all vie for spots on our already full dance cards. Writing is one more thing to fit in to our often busy schedules. As a group comprised mainly of women, we still battle a subset of demands not incurred by our male counterparts, and have traditionally been the sex to negotiate away our time, power, and resources. These circumstances are what I think of when I think about the Prostitute archetype: giving away the best of ourselves at bargain basement prices and reserving very little to meet our own needs. When faced with so many demands on our time, it can often be easier to do for others than it is to make the selfish decision. The Prostitute archetype helps us learn that it’s okay to say no to outside influences.

Saboteur

The Saboteur “cause[s] you to resist opportunities . . . out of fear of inviting change into your life.” [Myss, p. 122-123] A friend once said to me that she had a fear of succeeding. It wasn’t until I started writing that I found understanding in what she meant by that statement. As I think about this business I realize that there is an inherent pressure on writers to make each book better and more successful than the last one. I sit down to write and at times ask myself, ‘Do I have it in me to do this?’ The Saboteur can easily sabotage creative opportunities and cause you to abort your dreams. [Myss, p.112] Yes, there is a reality to this business but at the root of the high concept, the marketing plan, and the media packet, is the necessity to tell stories.

There are plenty of people out there who will read your story and give you their honest critique about your work – constructive or harmful. Write the best story that you can and share it with the world; don’t you be the one to stand in the way of your success.

Our art imitates life . . . just as our characters have goals, motivations, and conflicts, so do we as writers and as people. And we all possess different facets to our personalities that cause us to act and react in certain ways. Understanding the “why” of those actions and reactions can help us stay true to ourselves and better handle the curves thrown our way when life happens.

Keep writing!

-Jessica

Sources cited in this post:

Cowden, Tami. What Are the Sixteen Master Archetypes? 2003-2005. [Retrieved May 16, 2005]. http://www.tamicowden.com/archetypes.htm

Dixon, Debra. Goal, Motivation, & Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction. Memphis, TN: Gryphon Books for Writers, 1996.

Myss, Caroline. Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. New York, NY: Harmony Books, 2001.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition. Vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press: 1989.

[This article re-reprinted with permission]

Give As Good As You Get

December 31, 2007 at 10:47 am | Posted in career, goals, Jessica, motivation, writing | Leave a comment

While my Christmas was as hectic as I expected, it was much more emotionally peaceful than I imagined it could be. That, in and of itself, is one of the best Christmas presents I could have asked for. But if I dream big and dare to throw those big wishes out into the world, there are just two more things that my heart yearns to find under the tree . . .

An agent and a book contract.

So with this, the last post of 2007, I find myself straddling the line where the tail end of the old year falls on one side and the promise of the New Year awaits on the other. I got to thinking . . . if I toiled away on the groundwork in the old year, what am I prepared to give in the New Year to take the steps that will bring me closer to that desire?

Certainly, I need to find a way to produce the strings of words that will complete the projects I hope to sell. Ideally, I will have a product (preferably more than one!) worth selling. Realistically, I know I have some demands on my time that I will need to plan around to achieve any of my goals. Selfishly, I don’t want to sit down and write as much as I want to have already sat down and written. Grr . . .

Theoretically, if what I want is to get a contract, perhaps it will help if I give a contract. Karmic boomerangs and all that . . .

Julia Cameron, in her amazing book, The Artist’s Way, created a contract that she includes at both the beginning and end of the twelve-week course she lays out in the book. These contracts symbolize the participant’s commitment to the program contained in the pages in between.It is in the spirit of giving and commitment that I share the first of these contracts here (Cameron, p23):

    I, [FILL IN NAME], understand that I am undertaking an intensive, guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the twelve-week duration of the course. I, [FILL IN NAME], commit to weekly reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artist date, and the fulfillment of each week’s tasks. 

    I, [FILL IN NAME], further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I, [FILL IN NAME], commit myself to excellent self-care – adequate sleep, diet, exercise, and pampering – for the duration of the course.

    SIGNED

    DATED

Now, outside the context of The Artist’s Way, some of these references may not make sense, but I would challenge and encourage you to substitute those pieces with something relevant to you. So instead of ‘morning pages’ perhaps it’s your 2,000 words or 2 pages or 1 sentence per day you want to commit to. Or instead of the ‘twelve week course’ you have a four-month window in which to write your book. If you can boil your goals and your needs down to their smallest parts, there’s no reason why any one of us can’t take the steps to achieve what we set out to accomplish in the New Year.

Ready?

-Jessica

PS – I wish you a happy and safe New Year’s celebration – may 2008 be full of joy, prosperity, and success for you all!

Our readers, your comments…

December 28, 2007 at 10:37 am | Posted in inspiration, Meg, motivation | 1 Comment

LOL-I started this entry about this being the last blog of the year and was going to sum up 2007 with a special list of favorite entries and comments by our readers. Then I gazed over my shoulder at the calendar and realized Jessica has the last blog of the year. Silly me. How could I miss New Year’s Eve? My favorite night of the year? I’m an idiot.

However, since I’ve started my annual week of reflection when I think back on the months of the year and remember all the good and process all the bad, I am going to continue on this route (especially since the only other blog in my head is a new year one). Initially, I was going to pick and choose my favorite blog entries of the year, but the task overwhelmed me. My fellow Purple Hearts are amazing and I found myself struggling to choose what NOT to include. So if Jessica will forgive me for jumping the gun, here is a summary of my favorite comments from our readers. (and please note, I will probably miss some great ones since I may not have time to review the whole site, so please don’t be offended if you wrote something inspiring and I missed it!). See if you can find yours…

Great blog. It made me think. One thing I’ve learned is to not worry so much about what other people think, because whether I like it or not, I am not the center of everyone else’s universe. (A hard concept to absorb-lol).

I admit to being afraid. I don’t know why. The same reason I was afraid of my principle in school or my doctor (still, that guy just scares me.) Position of authority. I think we’ve all learned to be scared of anyone who has the right to tell us yes or no. I always appreciate, however, having those people step forward and say, “Hey we aren’t that intimidating” and then I believe it for a few weeks. ) Thanks for dropping by. Since the Knight Agency is my eventually target agency I read all I can about your agents and Bria runs a great blog here so you can’t beat that combination.

Elaine, I so agree with your views on random acts of kindness. I was at the receiving end of one this week. It just doesn’t get much better, and all it takes is a moment of your time.
I am thoroughly enjoying your posts. Wishing you Miles of Smiles )

What I will say about the new book – there’s definitely a vampire cat in it! LOL!

Electric guitars and heavy metal music.
The Tudors (OMG, am I thankful for The Tudors!)
The Man
The Boy
That I brought extra food for lunching today, cause I’m starving already.

I’m thankful for my Man Fan.
I’d lose my mind without him…

You are so much like me, or i’m like you, well anyway, if we knew each other we’d make a good team, hehe, keep up the good work

such horrible luck. quite a string of bad signs. i always try to search for some hidden meaning when I start to see a lot of signs like that. but its always a great sign to keep your head up and keep going in a positive direction. good luck with everything.

I had the delightful opportunity to meet one of my heroines, Elizabeth Berg. I hung around after a book signing, waiting until the last person in line had their autograph and left. I approached Ms. Berg and, with a gulp, told her I was also an author. And she listened, attentively, to my novice anticipation of this new world I’d recently entered and was navigating with some trepidation. When I spoke of how difficult it can be to get started as a writer-searching for an agent, a publisher, a kind word for your work-she said something that has kept me going. “Write first for yourself. If you do, your writing will be true, and the rest will fall into place.” I live by those words. And, when I get discouraged because the agent hasn’t called back, or the publisher said ‘no thanks’, or a kind word isn’t forthcoming, I pull up a manuscript and repeat the mantra: “Write first for yourself.”

It also beats chocolate. Well, most of the time. Writing, that is.

Pop a Mountain Dew or two and relax. I’d suggest locking your editing equipment and your internal editor(s) in the truck of your car or a trusted friend’s. Then, with a Dew and some munchies within reach, read your YA. No critiquing allowed. No obsessing about what needs to be fixed. Just enjoy your accomplishment. Then reclaim your editing stuff and internal editor(s) and put them to work.

Carrots don’t do it for me. I have to keep pushing myself. Chocolate always helps, but that’s a separate issue ;)

Eh, I say live in your own little world. Like Morgan said there ain’t a lot a people in this world to whom we owe accountability. My hubby says I have imaginary friends with all my characters and I say, yes I do. Three cheers for imagination.

Oops. I forgot to leave a comment when I dropped by to read this last week. Crazy week, what can I say?

I have no problem reading sex scenes…I’ve even written a few. There’s an element of ‘thrill’ when two people get to get together. LOL, I almost said cheap…

There was some great advice there! I loved the post; its content, its style. It encouraged me to start writing right away!

Your childhood stories (particularly the one about Animaltown) made me smile and wow at your imagination. I enjoyed reading about your first novel, as I hope for that time to come to me as well (I’m more of a short story writer).

And, I know exactly what you mean about writing being in the forefront. You begin seeing characters and plots everywhere! I love it : ). Anyway, thank you very much for this post! It was truly motivational!And to the other Heartlettes: I’ve been checking out this blog for a few days now and find it fantastic. Keep up the good work, I’ll be hanging around here!

Yayyyyy I can comment. I think my friends and family would all tie me to the computer if I didn’t write. I’m so much calmer when I do. LOL.

LOL- taken out of context with no idea who or what these comments are connected to is rather amusing. So I thank you, devoted readers, for all your time and comments. What started out in May at about nineteen hits has blossomed into almost 1000 hits per month. We couldn’t have done it without you (all our check-ins don’t count!). Here’s to the end of a great year and see you in the next!

-Meg

Quote Me

December 24, 2007 at 9:08 am | Posted in inspiration, Jessica, motivation, writing | 2 Comments
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Well, here we are in the last full week of December and I can hardly believe that another year is nearly over. The last half of 2007 was as productive a writing time for me as I’ve ever had, so it’s with that intention that I offer up this post with the hope to carry the writing momentum into an even more productive 2008.

This post was also in part prompted by an interview I recently read where one writer asked another writer about the best writing advice she’d ever received. To which the responder answered that she didn’t find any writing advice all that helpful. To paraphrase, she said that for every person who told her to just sit down and write (BICHOK!), she equally heard that if the muse fought you every step of the way, it was OK to give it a break. The inconsistencies didn’t make much sense to her . . .

And I see her point, but I’d like to offer this — in any advice we receive, whether it’s a critique, constructive feedback, requested or unsolicited opinion . . . take what works for you and discard the rest. Earlier in the year, Marley Gibson visited us and punctuated her post with two very straightforward words: Writers write.

If you’ve spent any time with us at the Purple Hearts over the past year, you’ll know that I am a fan of quotations, and during the times when I’ve felt like I’ve been spinning my writing wheels I’ve looked to different pieces of advice to help me find some traction while I’ve struggled with what felt like such a futile and frustrating exercise.

So I thought I’d end the year by offering up the top five pieces of advice that I’d either heard or read and then applied to help move me past my stagnant writing spots.

5. Never let success go to your head or failure go to your heart.

I found this saying on a Mary Engelbreit magnet so I bought it and have placed it on my refrigerator as a reminder to keep a level head on this wild publishing ride. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the person who is first credited with this saying, but I still think it’s a good one to keep in mind. And I find it particularly applicable when facing the subjective reactions that color our writing and reading world. It’s nothing personal . . . at least most of the time.

4. Be ready when the lightning strikes.

The first RWA-National conference I attended was in New York in 2003. I went to a luncheon where Jenny Crusie was the speaker, and I left that luncheon feeling so jazzed and able to conquer anything I set my mind to. During that conference and in the years since, I have often heard Jenny say, ‘be ready when the lightning strikes’. It’s a horrible feeling to be presented with an opportunity yet not be poised to seize it. Jenny’s advice encourages us to persist . . . create our own luck . . . and be ready when the stars align and and that lucky day finally dawns.

3. Never hope more than you write.

I read this piece of advice years ago in Rita Mae Brown’s craft book, Starting from Scratch, and it resonated so strongly with me that it’s stayed in my consciousness ever since. It’s such an important piece of advice to me that I’ve blogged about this earlier in the year (and apologize for repeating it here). I think it hits me so hard because it’s so much easier to hope than it is to write. And I don’t want to be one of those people who actively talks about writing but does nothing about it.

2. Worry about writing your break-in book, not your break-out book.

My friend, Jess Andersen, is responsible for pulling me into this crazy, strange, rewarding, and wonderful writing world, and she has not only been a great friend, but a great mentor and teacher . . . not to mention a great writer. She manages my angst and unrealistic expectations with grace and care, and always with a well-tempered response. So when I whine to her that I feel like I write low-concept books she not only helps me think of ways to make them higher concept, she also helps wrestle my learning curve expectations into a more manageable knot. While there are some great publishing stories about breaking out (sometimes on a writer’s first published work!) for me I know I need to focus on just breaking in. And when I think about the slow build for my writing career, I admit that it’s a much more realistic and comfortable place for me to be. Thanks, Jess!

Which dovetails into the most helpful piece of advice I’ve read this year:

1. Applaud every small victory, because every time you do, you create an environment in which a larger victory can grow.

When preparing my GH entry, I turned to Kathy Carmichael’s web site to help me with my synopsis. I still struggle with synopsis writing, but her advice saved me when trying to write the darn thing. In nosing around her web site, I found a resource that she highly recommended reading:

The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus.

I dug into this book about a week ago and it’s changing the way I think about putting a story together. The advice I mentioned as my #1 for the year comes from Chapter Two of this book, entitled The Will to Risk. It’s a great book, and not just for writers looking to write comedy.

So there are the top five things that have helped push me when I’ve been feeling stuck. What are yours? Do you have any themes that will help propel your writing through 2008? Please share!
Thanks for spending a part of your year with us at the Purple Hearts! We have some fun things and some great guests lined up for 2008, and I hope you’ll visit us often!

Have a great holiday – a Merry Christmas if it applies to you – and I hope that you can carve some time to write in this mad dash to the end of the year.

Cheers!

-Jessica

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