I’m chatting about writing, prompts and what it takes to build a writing habit on this weeks’s Pencils&Lipstick #podcast
If you don’t know what to write in your bio…steal!
Plus a writing prompt from Michael X. Wang, author of the short story collection “Further News of Defeat”
The Writing Prompt: https://storyaday.org/2021-day-12/
Michael X. Wang’s “Further News of Defeat”: https://stada.me/mxwang
The 3-Day Challenge, a short story course: https://storyaday.org/3dc
You have to talk about yourself and your work. I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. The good news? If you can give yourself permission, you CAN learn to do this.
What is the difference between writing a scene and writing a summary and when should you do each? I’m sharing notes from my upcoming workshop on that topic, in this episode. Learn why it’s important to write scenes not just summary. And learn when to use them.
Register for the workshop
Take the 3-Day Challenge
Find the story ‘Escape from the Dysphesiac People’ by Brandon Hobson in The Best American Short Stories 2021
Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland
(These book links help support indie bookstore Reads & Company in Pennsylvania)
Here at StoryADay I talk a lot about the importance of not just starting, but also finishing your work.
Finishing (and sharing) your stories allows you to improve your craft with words, but just as importantly it helps you get to grips wiht your process as a writer.
You might wish you were the kind of writer who could get up at 5 o’clock every morning and write 2,000 words and then get on with your day. And maybe you can white-knuckle it for a week or two.
But maybe your process is different.
And would it be so terrible if you allowed yourself to start with what comes naturally and build on that?
My Customary Freak-Out
I’m preparing a new workshop and was getting discouraged about my apparent lack of progress.
I had a little freak-out as I sat down at the blank page to make myself start work on the outline.
Then I laughed.
Because the words ‘customary freak-out’ popped into my head and I remembered that this isn’t new. This is my process when i’m creating anything new, whether it’s a workshop, a story, or a whole course.
It goes like this:
- Come up with an awesome idea
- Mention it to people, who say ‘yes, please do that’.
- Do loads of research and get excited.
- Back away and look at my project only out of the corner of my eye.
- Berate myself for procrastinating
- Have a small freak-out
- Realize that what looked like procrastination is actually percolation and what looks like me backing away from the work is actually me backing up, so I can see the whole thing clearly.
- Sit down to create The Thing, and have it pour out of me in one messy-but-promising first draft.
- Revise and polish and get excited all over again.
- Deliver the thing. Have a blast. Help people.
The Upside of Knowing Your Process
Since we’ve been through this before, my brain has started to move the ‘freak out’ date further from the delivery date (thanks, brain!) so there’s more time between the messy first draft and the production copy.
But it has only done this because I’ve finished and delivered things (workshops, essays, books, articles, speeches, launches) so many times before.
You Can’t Be Someone Else
I envy people who can work on a project for an hour a day for a month, making steady progress. That doesn’t seem to produce my best work, or make me happy.
I’m reluctant to say that I can’t change that, because clearly things can change. I’m not pulling all-nighters. I’ve discovered I can work at any time of the day, not just my beloved vampire-hours. Mindset controls a lot.
But I suspect that working with, rather than against, our natural inclinations, makes for an easier route to productivity. My process isn’t all rainbows and sprinkles, but it works for me.
Finding Your Process
Your process may be different from mine (I hope it is!) It very likely is.
If you think you don’t have a process, it may be that you’re not paying attention OR that you’re not finishing and ‘shipping’ products.
There is an inherent stress in making all the decision needed to call a piece ‘finished’. There is anxiety in showing it to people. You’re raising the stakes. But raised stakes cause us to pull out all the stops. Extra effort builds muscle. The adreneline rush of promising to show your work makes you strive to do your best work.
The more often you go through the whole process of producing and sharing work, the better you will your own process.
And the sooner you can recognize your process for what it is, stop fighting and start tweaking it so that you can produce more, get more creative, and be more fulfilled.
Have you noticed what your creative process is? What do you do that other people might not recognize as forward progress? Leave a comment!
Welcome to the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group!
Post your goals for this month and let us know how you got on with last month’s goals.
Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.
(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)
Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.
And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!
Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month
Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months
- Finish first draft of story and write 3 articles for my school paper. – Courtney
- Write on seven days this month – Clare
- Extend my reading and to read with a ‘writers eye’- Wendy
- write 10,000 words – Mary Lou
So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)
(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends!)
If you want to improve your writing you know you have to revise your writing. But, in my work with writers I encounter a lot of resistance when it comes to revision.
Some of this resistance comes from myths around the best way to revise and edit your own writing.
I’m here to bust seven of those myths.
1. Revision is all about seeing where you’ve failed
As I talked about last week, seeing where you’re succeeding can be just as important, if not more than seeing what’s not working. You don’t want to cut out your best lines!.
It can be helpful to get other people to look at your work, both for a fresh pair of eyes on a project we may be too close to, and because we do tend to be a little hard on ourselves.
Experienced writers tend to have a well-developed sense of what’s working in their writing as well as what’s not…but it’s not flawless and we all need a little feedback from time to time.
And when you DO find something that needs to be reworked (let’s not call it a ‘failure’) work on celebrating.
- Seeing what’s not working gives you an opportunity to fix it.
- Going back to older stories and noticing what’s not working, is a measure of how far your skills have advanced.
2. You must walk away from your work for two weeks, before you reviseContinue reading “7 Myths About Revising your Writing”
Seven peices of ‘advice’ you NEVER need to hear again, on the topic of revision. Come with me on a myth-busting adventure.
Plus a writing prompt called The Post-Modern Pop Song
This episode: storyaday.org/episode228
3-Day Challenge: storyday.org/3dc
The Writing Prompt: https://stada.me/prompt-pop
After a challenge like StoryADay (or a lifetime of writing) you may be asking, “How can I revise my writing so I can get published, without becoming distracted, discouraged or overwhelmed?”
I have a system for figuring out that very thing, that will help you identify and work on the stories that will keep you making consistent progress towards your writing goals.
Part 1 of this process is to assess the material you have, to see what you should work on, first. That’s what this article is about. Part 2 is about identifying what’s working and what needs to be improved in your writing. Part 3 is about strategies and techniques for making those improvements as you revise your writing.
Part 2 – Identify What’s Working
It can be hard to see what’s working and what’s not in your own writing when you’ve stared at it for so long…and that’s when you need to get it in front of fresh eyeballs.
Do you freeze at the thought of revision or feedback, because you think it’s all about seeing how badly you screwed up your story?
It’s as important to identify what’s working in your story as what isn’t, to ensure you don’t revise away what made it special.Continue reading “Getting Great Feedback – A Process”
Sharing your writing with other can be fabulous, but also a scary and, occasionally, can dent a writer’s confidence. This episode shows you how to give and recieve critique in a way that will make you and your writing stronger.
This week’s writing prompt: write a story in three sections about two characters who love each other. (at 32 minute mark)
StoryADay’s Critique Week: https://storyaday.org/critique