Tag Archives: FM Merry Go Round

Writer’s Block

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

Now that I’m taking Karate classes, this term has a new angle of thought for me. When we block, we’re defending ourselves from incoming force. In writing, when we cite a block, we claim we are blocked, kept away from something we want. Sometimes it can be procrastination, or a lack of knowledge of a particular topic, but it could also be that we’ve come up against an obstacle we’re unable to overcome on our own at this point in time.

I really don’t like the term writer’s block. It’s too easy to use when something in your writing isn’t going along the way you want it to. So the writer claims, “I’m blocked on this project”, and now they have an excuse to put it down, which leads to an incomplete story languishing in a drawer forever. Using this rationale, I never experience Writer’s Block. That doesn’t mean I never have issues though.
I believe issues are based on knowing enough to know that something isn’t working, but lacking either the skill to identify the problem or the resolution. For example, I attempted to write a fantasy story about this girl being followed and having an encounter with a wolf and a goddess. I literally wrote it ten different ways. After some time in a decent critique group, I looked at the story again, threw out everything I had previously written, and started over. The new version earned me a semi-finalist in a highly competitive contest.

In my mind, a block is an excuse. Any time I start thinking I’m blocked, I make myself take another angle on the problem. Sometimes, the problem is something in the story that simply can’t be fixed. It can happen. What writer has never written themselves into a corner only to find it’s round not square…and then you get stuck in the hamster ball. You get my point, right?

We learn by doing and sometimes what we’ve written sucks. In these situations, it’s okay to toss the story into a drawer. But after you do that, go pick up something else. Start a new story. Don’t whine about what you can’t write. Move on to something else. And sometime in the future, come back to that round corner you painted yourself into. You just might surprise yourself.

Speaking of surprising yourself… do you have a drawer with half finished projects? What would happen if you took a peek inside?

Happy Writing
Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic, “Writer’s Block”. If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Next up is Raven on the 7th.

Advertisements

Professional, To Be or Not To Be…

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

This is an interesting topic for me right now, considering the workshop I’ll be attending in a few days. My definitions may change between now and its finish. If it does, I’ll post a follow-up to this.

In my mind, there are two levels of professional writer.

The first and most important is the manner in which you handle your writing, regardless of how many stories (if any!) you’ve published. Do you treat your submissions with care, reading the guidelines each time and making sure you have the correct editor’s name and address? Do you follow instructions regarding simultaneous submissions (the same story to multiple markets) and multiple submissions (several stories to the same market)? Do you take the feedback some took the time to provide you and –if you’re not ready to use it– secure it someplace to analyze later?  In my opinion, if you’re writing to submit, you really should be acting professionally. The publishing industry is not about the writers, it’s about the readers, and the editors do their best to satisfy those readers. If they send you a form rejection, it’s not because you suck; it’s because they have a magazine to run to keep their readers happy so they can maybe buy your next story instead.

How do you treat your writing? Do you try your hardest to give it life? Do you sit down and write on a schedule? Do you claim responsibility to yourself if you don’t get done what you planned because you were lazy? Your written work is important, a learning experience at the very least. If you act professionally, you’ll learn from your mistakes, not just make the same ones repeatedly.

The second level of being a professional writer is synonymous with success. Writing and selling enough fiction to transfer your passion into your day job. This is the dream for many of us. Some fear it as much as they yearn for it. Some of us read Whatever and sigh, knowing John Scalzi’s got it made. But, does he? If he stopped writing tomorrow, would he be able to keep up his income and support his family? Maybe. But the mortgage isn’t paid on maybes. (Sorry for picking on you JS, but I’m slightly miffed that I missed you at VP by two years. So there.)

If you can’t tell by my goals and the pressure I put on myself to meet those goals, I want the dream. I want the day-job-writer so I don’t have to wake at 4:30 in the morning so I can get words on my novel. It’d be much nicer writing them at 6:30. Then going for a run or a swim. Then writing some more. Get some lunch, prep dinner for the family, work on revisions while the kids do their homework. Family time after dinner. Leisurely reading before bed. Maybe I’d even be able to play video games again–no, the jury’s out on that one.

So that’s the fun side, the daydream. The reality I see is a calendar with dates circled in red and maybe occasionally getting up at 4:30am so I can make a tight deadline or simply because I had such an awesome scene to write, I couldn’t wait until 6:30 and had to get up and get to it right away.

There’s more to it, I know. And maybe one day, I’ll see for myself. If that’s your goal too, I wish you a healthy sprinkling of muse-dust.

Happy Writing

Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic,  “What Professional Means To Me”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Bonnie is up next at Cowgirl in New England.

Rating The Writer: My Strengths

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

So now you want to rate myself? That really is what this topic means. One a scale of 1 to 10, where am I a 10? Or at the very least, an 8? This is all a matter of perception of course, so if you’ve read my writing, feel free to comment on how wrong I am.

10: Ideas. I always seem to have these awesome world or conflict or character ideas. Every story I finish is fun to write (sure, some are tough trying to make my ideas actually, you know, work.) or rewarding in some way. Most of my stories begin as an idea story and develop into something more.

9: Dialogue/Description: let’s face it, these guys are best buds. If you’re lacking one, the other has to compensate big time.  Dialogue. I’d like to think my dialogue is clever and snappy. Some of my older stories are a bit lacking; the dialogue really was just a way to convey information (unartistically, I might add). I’ve gotten better at it, and I think my current stories has the dialogue a bit more natural but still advancing the story. Description. I try to treat my setting as a character to the point of why is it in the story in this manner and what effect does it have on the story. As such, I try to incorporate it into the narrative from the get-go. Some stories have had better results than others. Fortunately, there’s always the next revision to fix what I’ve missed.

8: Conflict. I always have conflict and often try to place it on two of  a possible three levels: a) how it affect the character physically, b) how it affects the character mentally (internal conflict), and c) how it affects the world. Sometimes I do overcomplicate it with all three, and have to tame it back down to two. (Three is okay in a novel, just overwhelms a short story).

7. Characters. My characters usually have rich, complicated backgrounds filled with childhood trauma or angst of another nature.  I’m still playing with how much to show and sometimes how to show it.

6. Worldbuilding. I like to think my fantasy and science fiction is unique in its own way, whether it’s the magic system or a religion I created. I’ve had a couple of early flops, and my editorial feedback has been “generic fantasy”. I’ve been working on that!

5. Voice. I have to be honest, voice is something that either pops in my head full blown (both my published and accepted stories came into being this way), or I need to spend time growing the character and learning their voice. Some of them, I never quite hear myself. Those are the stories that need more work, but alas, I’m trying to work on these in my next stories.

4. Humor. I suck at humor. One of my better stories has a humorous edge to it, but it was a complete and utter accident. I didn’t do it, my character did. I keep asking him for help with my other stories, but he’s off somewhere having a drink.

3. Twist Endings.  These are extremely difficult. Endings are tough in general, but getting one that really snaps into place takes a lot of work. I’ve gotten the perfect ending a few times, and some simply feel right, but I need to keep working on these.

2. Horror Stories. Seriously. I am so afraid of scaring myself, I have to be careful what I write. I will never ever in a million years write horror. Well, maybe dark fantasy but not straight hell-demon fiction. No way, mama.

1. Sex scenes. Fade to black, FTW. Sex is one of those things that I know my characters do, need them to do for their romance subplots to work out properly, but do I need to sweat out those details word for word? The way I see it, you’ve got just as active an imagination as I do. You want a sex scene? Then you take that fade to black and knock their socks off. Or yours. Just don’t tell me about it.

This doesn’t include every element of writing, of course, but enough to know I’m keen on what I need to work on. I hope I’m on the right track.

Happy Reading & Writing!

Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic, What I Do Best (My Writing Strengths)”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Bonnie is up next at Cowgirl in New England.