The Web Log
of Word's Worth Writing Center
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Thats All...for Now
it July 31 already? This day makes me a bit sad. Not only is summer fleeting, but we are at the end of 31 Days-31 Writing Prompts, July 2008 edition.
I have had a blast planning and writing these
emails and I hope you have benefitted from them in some way. I have enjoyed hearing from some of you and appreciate your sharing
of your writing habits and even some of the writing you've been doing. Keep it up!
Here are a few ideas to keep you going into August and onward:
a routine that works for you. Pinpoint the moments when you are at your best and take 3-4 days a week and dedicate some time
- Don't always expect to be at your best. Some
days you'll be a writing genius, others you just won't. Capitalize on the good days and write through the bad ones.
- A few simple deadlines are great motivation.
an eye out for contests or magazines or journals where you can publish your writing.
a writing buddy, someone to keep accountable and to share writing with.
Meanwhile, stay in touch. I can always
be reached at email@example.com. Also, consider coming to meet other participants and to share about your writing experiences at the August 6 Quick Write. Details are below.
For the time being, I'm going to use this found time to work on my own writing projects...and who knows this campaign
may be back sooner than you think!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Other People's Problems
August 2008 edition of the
names "The One Essential Ingredient Every Story Needs." Can you guess what it is?
...think about it...
Think about all your classic stories: the feuding
families in Romeo
and Juliet and
the stress it put upon the young lovers, the Daisy, Tom, Gatsby triangle in The Great Gatsby, and the personal struggles of young Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. Conflict was at the heart of each
of these twisted, complex plots.
I've been dealing a lot
with conflict lately, not personally thank you, but in a project I've been working on. In putting together the many
parts of an outline of a young adult novel, I've had to decide on the conflicts I would use to serve as major plot points
in the piece. My situation gets more complicated as I decide on the outcome of each of these conflicts and the impact
they will have. Then there's the weighty problem of deciding just how all these conflicts will result in a fitting
A lot to think about, eh? How does one even
start? The best approach is to take each conflict one at a time. I've had to jump around on my outline a lot
just to learn about my character and who he is. For instance, I've had to take on a conflict that occurs near the end
of the story in order to know how he will act in a situation in one of the opening scenes. Luckily, I have the power
of revision to fix any mistakes I might make along the way.
So go at it! Immerse yourself in somebody else's problems...it's a lot more fun than dealing with your own.
Work it out,
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Enliven Your Creative Spirit
engaged are you in seeking out creativity in your life?
often easy to go along taking in creative things as you happen upon them, appreciating what you see, and then going back to
life. It takes a lot more effort to actually go out there, to seek out creative inspiration, and to find ways
for it to motivate you in your own efforts.
about this: chances are that you'd probably create more when you are inspired to do so.
are a few suggestions I have to engage yourself in creativity in the coming weeks:
an art museum, gallery, or festival. Buy something that you like or take your journal and sit down and write about a piece
that catches your eye.
- Read a good book lately? Go to the library and
check out a classic that you've always wanted to read but never got the chance to.
with other creative types. Make a dinner, go to a coffee shop, or plan a weekend outing. Catch up and also talk about your
own recent efforts in your craft.
- Try a new art form. Are you a
writer? Try drawing on a few pages in your journal. Maybe you like creating visual arts...then try writing a page or two.
Exercise your creative muscle with a new and exciting project.
a new place in which to create. Shake up your routine by seeking out a new venue in which to practice your skills--maybe a
new room in the house, a new coffee shop, or even move your desk to the a different place in the room.
an approach to share on how you enliven your creative spirit? Share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org I'd love to hear about what you do.
Finally, thanks Darrell for the inspiration to write
Get busy getting busy,
Monday, July 28, 2008
...and Now a Word From Karen
of my favorite parts of the last 28 days is hearing from other writers. It is encouraging to hear how others are using the
time to write or to even see what others are writing.
am going to dedicate the rest of this section to a writer named Karen who recently sent me an email about her writing
over the past month. Thanks Karen, I appreciate your support and sharing your own writing experience. (If you wish to
share about your own writing experience, drop me a line or few to email@example.com)
...and now a word from Karen:
on July 4 I began a piece using the word list : "suitcase, vibrant, cackling, martyr, distant, brooding, roadkill"
that opened up an area of my biographical writing . Each day I have read the prompts and considered my developing piece from
that particular angle. Today's led me to journal about a hypothetical conversation I would have with a sister--to learn
her perspective on the person I am writing about; her memories.
not good at describing scenes, and I get frustrated at being able to visualize exquisite beauty in nature for example, but
only finding flat, trite words when I write. I used another prompt--to create a scene connected to the bio piece--focusing
on painfully small but provocative, powerful details in a very simple
scene with little action.
I have also found it helpful to generate my own word lists specific to the biographical material.
So as we are drawing near the end of "31 Prompts" I am printing them for a binder:)
So, what are you doing?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Everyone's Doing It-Why Aren't You?
spent most of the day with my family yesterday. It was a much-needed visit since I had not seen them for over a month.
It was a great day and always too short, leaving me with a desire to return sooner than I will actually get the opportunity
I was driving home last night I began to reminisce about my family and some of our stories, in between good songs on the radio
and desires to pull over and buy caffeine. Those who know me well always encourage me to write some of those stories down.
They enjoy the humor with which I look at myself and some of my friends and members of my family.
have taken the occasion three or four times to write stories with myself as the main character and friends and family members
as my supporting cast. I truly had fun reliving these moments through words. While I don't have any sense of what
my memoir may look like yet, it's been a great endeavor to see my younger self act out in light of who I am now.
at the stacks of memoirs on the bookshelves these days, everyone is doing it. If you've not taken the chance yet to write
your story, give it a try. If you are somewhere in the process, see it through to completion. Edit it, title it, and share
it with your fans.
You've got a story-tell it,
Saturday, July 26, 2008
A Bright Idea
had the best idea for a story the other day, it happens to me occasionally. Then, somehow in the hustle and bustle of the
day, I let it get away. I find it quite frustrating when this happens.
is an easy fix for this, steal a few minutes to write it down. If you're in a rush, scribble it on a post-it note, receipt,
or a napkin. Dedicate a page in your journal for an idea collection, for those times when ideas are hard to come
Friday, July 25, 2008
Take It Easy On Yourself
talked to many people over these past 25 days, or should I say 25 prompts, who have said they've not written a lot, but
they have made some small attempts or have been thinking a lot about it. So what's wrong with that? Not a thing!
writing process is so different for so many people. If you were expecting that you would get these daily emails, sit down
and type furiously, and produce the next new bestseller, you're probably learning by now how wrong you were.
heard from a writer/friend yesterday who shared that she had written some memories down for her daughter's birthday. Her
struggle was in how to capture the memory realistically, while embellishing the piece with appropriate details. My
advice to her: You took the first step, the memories are now written down on paper. Now walk away a bit, let the memory simmer,
look at some photos, or talk to someone else who was a part of this moment in time (or make a list as yesterday's
email discussed). Then, revisit your writing when time allows, and add those necessary details. Remember the details are your
way to connect with the reader. Your tools to help them see the memory as you do.
line: the first step is to get the words onto paper or the computer screen. The next steps will follow naturally. There's
even nothing wrong with staying at step one for a while. I fondly recall Annie Lamott's term for this part of the process
(I'll give you the g-rated version): [Crappy] First Drafts. It is so true. If you're interested in writing and never
read her gem, Bird
by Bird, it might
be worth investigating.
Wow...I'll step down from my
soapbox for now. Thanks Mari Lou!
Take the First Step,
Thursday, July 24, 2008
A big YAHOO and YIPPEE goes out to Word's Worth Writer Chris Menart, a winner in the Dayton Daily News Poetry Contest. His
poem, "Every Single Darn Day" was published in last Sunday's Life section.
Let me tell you a bit about Chris: He is a disciplined writer, and is in the process of finishing his third novel.
He's written each book in a series during the last three summers (Not short stories folks, 100+ page works!).
He has already been approaching publishers and building interest in his project. He has prepared query letters, plot outlines,
and a synopsis of his work to share with interested parties. On top of all this, he is driven to build upon his
writing experience by entering contests that challenge him to write poetry and short stories.
Oh, and I guess I should mention that Chris is a teenager. That's right, he's accomplished more by the age of 14
than most writers accomplish in their lifetime. I have a feeling that this young man is going to go somewhere.
Congratulations, Chris. And thanks for giving us older writers the kick in the behind that we need to get busy on our
You can view Chris' poem, and view the other winners, by clicking here.
Chris has also started his own blog. You can check him out by clicking on this link.
Way to Go,
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
My Very Own List
A couple of weeks ago I shared with you a list of books that I had read that were featured as some of the New Classics by
a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. This
list made me think about a personal reading list of my own that I had made at a writer's retreat a while back. Our
task: List ten book that we can't live without. On Sunday morning we shared our list with the group and were amazed by
many of our common reads and were inspired by fellow writers to pick up a few books to see what we were missing.
I ran across that list yesterday while going through my journal and wanted to put it out there to inspire and motivate
you. What are books that you think everybody must read?
Books Darren McGarvey Can't Live Without
no specific order) March 25, 2007
- A Prayer for Owen Meany-John Irving
- Grapes of Wrath-John
- The Great Gatsby-F. Scott Fitzgerald
Known World-Edward Jones
- Salem's Lot-Stephen King
- Middlesex-Jeffery Eugenides
Things They Carried-Tim O'Brien
- Where the
Wild Things Are-Maurice Sendak
huge shout-out to Jill, for executing this thought-provoking and beneficial interchange.]
Don't like my picks? Want to share a read of your own? Write an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now Get Busy,
Monday, July 21, 2008
Building the Perfect Portfolio
been trying to put together a portfolio of some of my work. What a task! I'm slowly finding out how disorganized my organization
system really is.
While undertaking this lofty
feat, a few ideas have come to me:
- When you complete
a piece and feel "finished" (yeah, in the writing world that's a loose term) print a copy out for your portfolio.
Put it in a safe place with other finished copies.
- Speaking of
that, find a nice three-ring binder with plastic sleeves and keep your finished work in it for safe keeping.
- Collect clips as you go. I've had a few things out there in the past couple years
that I'm just now tracking down. It's a harder process when you wait and aren't clipping as you go.
- Keep a detailed record of publishing info, contacts, and conversations you
have with others regarding your work. It makes finding material down the road a lot easier.
you have something that's ready to go, send it! Don't sit on material that's ripe for a contest, query, or sharing
with other readers. It's frustrating to run across items that you let "expire."
by these suggestions? Then get busy putting your portfolio together. You never know when you might need it. If you
don't feel portfolio-worthy, then take the first step. Complete one of your current writing projects and
call it: Entry #1.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I've been wracking my brain all day trying to
write this portion of the 31 Days-31 Writing Prompts email. Most days when I sit down to the do this part,
the words come so easily, but today they just aren't coming at all.
My dilemma reminds me of one of my high school
creative writing students. Let's call him Johnny, to protect his identity. Johnny usually doesn't finish his work
on time, in fact, he rarely finishes it at all. His excuse--writer's block. Each time he attempts to use this
excuse, I shut him down cold. My response, "There's no such thing as writer's block. I know you can
sit down and write something. That's all I ask from you." Johnny doesn't believe me and most days he just
settles for the zero on his assignment.
Well, Johnny, point proven (He's not a subscriber, so maybe I should send this to him). I did
sit down and write something. And now as I look back over it, I'm thinking "Hey, that's kinda
block, no. Writer's detour, maybe. Which will you choose?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Make the List
Patterson, Coulter, Steel, Meyer...I'm sure the first four names might sound a bit familiar to you, but how about
This list of names is the top 5 (in that order) from The New York Times Best Sellers list. Of course
I look for my name every week and am always a little aghast that my name is nowhere to be found.
do owe a shout out to Meyer, Stephanie Meyer, that is for making the top 5. I am often bored with the other names, beach reads,
genre-lit, though I have to admit I've never read a word of what they've written. Meyer's book, The Host, is the author's first foray into adult mainstream
fiction after a more-than successful run in the young adult field with the Twilight trilogy. The kids in my classes just love her. In fact, Entertainment Weekly recently called her the next J.K.
Rowling! (Fascinating article, by the way). All this from an almost unknown, housewife/mother from Arizona. You Go Girl!
list are you aiming for? Find one and work toward it. I'm not giving up on seeing my name in the top 5 someday, I just
have to write something worthy enough to make it there.
Go for It!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Flow with the Go
I was talking to a writing friend of mine yesterday about the writing life. As we talked I was surprised that so much has
changed about him and his routines. His usual writing spot at Starbucks has moved to his desk at home. The planned prologue
to his novel-in-the-works has now become part of a chapter later in the book. The timeline on his current project has been
moved up in light of a recent rejection.
As the topic turned to my writing,
I was surprised to talk about change as well. The time I spend on professional pursuits is undergoing some major realignment. The deadline
to get my current writing project finished by year's end has moved into 2009. My ability to write comfortably
in the morning has crept into the early afternoon.
Things change, and we need
to as well. No matter how badly we crave to work and exist in the same routine, reality always proves that stability doesn't
last long, especially in the writing world. Stick to your goals, stay flexible, and always be ready with Plan B.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
16 Prompts Down, 15 to Go
Day 16 of this campaign--It's a little hard to believe. July is half-over and summer if fleeting!
15 writing prompts have been sent and I've heard from a lot of you. Some have talked about the efforts they've
made to write. One writer has been stuck on one of the prompts from earlier in the month and hasn't been able to move
on. I've been told by a couple of folks that they're stock-piling the prompts for another day. I've also been
told that it's just fun to read my daily musings.
I've been pleased with 31
Days-31 Writing Prompts movement as well. Not only have I enjoyed putting together the daily emails, but it's
been helpful to take a look at myself and my own writing, and I've even been making progress of my own.
I'd love to hear from more
of you. How is it going? Have you been writing? Are you still struggling to write? Have you written a piece, a paragraph,
a sentence you'd like to share. Please let me know. Email me at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, fasten your seat belts! There are still 15 prompts ahead...you're not finished yet.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Do you feel like a slave
to your email? I sure do, so I often try to stock my email with little treats, rewards you might say, for times when the in-box
is full of replies to be made, bills to pay, or silly forwards from friends. A little something to read, be entertained by,
or to ponder before getting down to business.
I've just discovered, and was pleased to add, another little find
to my inbox.
used to go to sleep every night right about the time that Garison Keilor's Writers
Almanac played on a local NPR station. I loved to listen to the occasional writing/author factoid and was even
more delighted to hear the poem he read for the day. Alas, those were back in the days when I had a daily schedule, now I
sleep at crazy times and many times I sleep when I should be awake and vice-versa, so I'd lost touch with this little
the fates were with me today and I caught the show in its entirety while getting ready for the day. I heard I poem that I
absolutely loved and made a mental note to look up the poet when I got online. While doing my search I went ahead and Googled
Writer's Almanac and found that this show
had a site of its own. Not only that, it offered podcasts and sends out daily emails as well. Needless to say I signed
a fan of this show or slightly interested in what I'm raving about, check out the site at http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Things to Do
Do you ever look at a new week as a clean slate? Each Monday I usually do an assessment of the days
ahead and think of the things I'd like to get done. I am always fueled by knowing that there are things to do. Yeah, sometimes
it's a little stressful, but oh, the feeling when I get to mark something off my imaginary list.
For example, this week I have a piece that I want
to get submitted to a contest that has a deadline at the end of the month. So it's on my list--give it one more read,
change one small part that's been bugging me, and get it sent. I also hope to get to a chapter in a novel that I've
been working on.
it a try, set a deadline or two for yourself this week and see if it helps to life to your writing practices.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Take It Easy on Yourself
Ahhh, the weekend...time to get caught up on everything--laundry, sprucing up the house a bit, phone
calls, visiting a few friends, going through the TIVO, and other important things like that. Sometimes on the weekend there
just isn't time to write. That's okay, isn't it?
Of course it is. It is great to get into a writing routine and important to stick to it as much as possible,
especially when your writing goals includes deadlines, but a day off every now and then is good to clear the mind. Plus,
hopefully the time away will make you desire to return to writing sooner.
So take it easy on yourself and go get something
Friday, July 11, 2008
Hurry Up, Write!
One of my favorite writing contests is coming up in a couple of weeks. Writer's Weekly
, an weekly freelance
e-zine, sponsors a quarterly 24-Hour Short Story Contest. The Summer run of this event will be on Saturday, July 28th.
I've participated in this contest a few times and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It's always good to test your limits
and face a worthy challenge. For one, I usually don't write a lot of flash fiction, so this contest made me work on narrowing
my plot and forced me to be more selective in word choice. I am also not known to write a piece and turn it over
to others so quickly, this was a really hard thing for me to do. In the end, I have two pieces of fiction that I am really
proud of and hope to get published someday.
You can find out more information about this contest by clicking on
the link below. It only costs $5...what do you have to lose? Good luck and....
Thursday, July 10, 2008
A Little of This. A Lot of That.
I spent the afternoon at lunch catching up with a couple of very good
friends of mine--sort of an idea session, how you doing, birthday celebration, talk about movies, tv, and books, laugh and
have a good time kind of thing. We lasted way past lunch and if you can't already tell, it was a good time. No, it was
a great time.
It's wonderful to have people in your life to keep you in check, not only to your goals,
and dreams, but also to yourself. I always leave my time with these two gals feeling a little better about things and sometimes
with some inspiration. Like this...
These Get Yourself Started articles will begin to appear on Words,
Words, Words, the blog for Word's Worth Writing Center. I've been looking for ways to get my blog going and this
was the perfect idea. To view the blog, click the link below. And if you ever want to write anything for it, email me
thanks, Andrea and Sarah. Love ya!