Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why You Should Join a Writing Group, Part 1

Last winter I was made co-organizer of a group on Meetup.com called Southcoast Part-time Authors.  It's a great group of people who love to write and are pursuing the ever elusive successful writing career.  I've met some great new people and it's helped me get my butt in the seat and accomplish something useful.  There are plenty of reasons why every writer should join a writing group, and here are some of mine.

1. The Group Write

The first of my reasons is the Group Write, which is basically where we all get together at one place, and we sit and work on our own projects.  It's great because no matter how badly you want to get up and do absolutely anything other than wrestle with your characters or twist that plot some more, you feel guilty if you do get up.  It calls attention to you, which, as most writers will tell you, is one thing we don't want - that's why we write, not act.

The Group Write is also great for having a set amount of time put aside for writing.  Even if you spend the entire time moving paragraphs around or changing everything from present tense to past, you are still committing yourself to working on your project for a couple hours that day.  For some writers, especially part-time authors who have that whole full-time non-writing career to spend 40 hours a week with, those hours with the group can sometimes be the only hours all week that get spent on their project.

Finally, I love a Group Write simply because it brings writers together.  Ask any writer and they'll tell you: writing can be a lonely job.  And it can be frustrating as hell.  Writers spend a lot of time in the world of our characters.  We step into their worlds, sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours, surrounded by "people" we have become attached to, "people" we know better than some of the people we know in real life.  And when it's time for us to step back out of that world and into the one with the three-dimensional people, well, sometimes we've been gone so long we simply can't find any 3-Ders. 

Which is why a Group Write can be so beneficial.  It brings writers, who are loners by trade, together, yet it still lets them be in their own fictional world where they need to be to play the role of creator.  It helps ease the transition from Almighty God to Plain Jane.  If nothing else, it reminds you that you're not the only one insane enough to listen to the voices in your head and write down their stories.


Next up on Why You Should Join a Writing Group: Getting Feedback

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cheese Shit Ambiance

(Originally published on 6/23/12)

Well isn't this just fucking great.

I'm at a Group Write with the writing group I'm a co-organizer in.  Only six people signed up to be here today, including myself, and only five of us are actually here.  We were in a nice room with comfy chairs, plenty of outlets for our laptops, and a nice surrounding.

But no, one of the fuckheads, aka, the only fucking guy, had to open his fat fucking mouth and bring up the fact that the other room was bigger and so we should move there.  You know, to the BIGGER room, the one with metal folding chairs, 8 foot long folding tables, and cements walls, and only ONE fucking outlet, which is, of course, right next to the doorway so no table can go there.  Oh, except for the one I'm at, because my little laptop battery decided to die on me and needs to be juiced.  You know, that table with the dirty, stained tablecloth on it?

Yeah. Great.

So now I'm sitting, alone, at my own fucking Group Write, in an ice cold stone room, on a rusty metal chair, by myself in a corner that smells like the place where a dog ate a pound of rotton cheese and then shit it out.  Yes, it's true.  My very own private corner of this stone cell smells like Cheese Shit.  I'm sure this ambiance will totally help me write the seduction scene I had outlined last night and planned on whipping through this afternoon.

Fucking wonderful, motherfucker.

Writing Resolutions

(Originally posted on 1/2/11)

 A friend of mine sent me a link to a website called Wordplay that had a post which talked about New Years resolutions for writers.  I love the top 10 ideas they came up with, so I'm sharing it here with you.  I you want to visit the page yourself, you can see it here.  And even if you don't want to see the page, you should check out Wordplay.  It's a very cool site! :)

10 Writing Resolutions You Can Fulfill

New Year’s goals can be notoriously whimsical, erratic, and just plain unrealistic. When we focus on the goals that are slightly more achievable, we’re not only more likely to pull them off, but we’ll also feel much better about ourselves come next year. Following are ten writing resolutions that you can fulfill this year:

1. You can write every day. Or at least on a regular basis. Plan a reasonable writing schedule and stick with it. Perhaps you’ll write for two hours every day, as I do, or perhaps you’ll only be able to save twenty minutes from the general frenzy of life. Whatever the amount of time, make up your mind to stick with it relentlessly.

2. You can finish that first draft. Let this be the year you type “The End” on that story (or stories) you’ve been tinkering with. Unfinished stories are unread stories, and unread stories are unpublished stories. Start building the habit of finishing every story you start.

3. You can study the craft / read more. Invest in some worthy books on the craft, subscribe to writing magazines, or sign up for writing workshops either online or at a conference. And don’t forget to read like crazy. The best way to study the craft is to learn at the feet of the master wordsmiths.

4. You can enjoy every minute of it. Okay, maybe not every minute. You’re entitled to the occasional headbang against the keyboard when your main character is blowing raspberries instead of cooperating. But don’t let yourself forget that, as a writer, you’re one of the most blessed people on the planet. Embrace the ups and downs of the craft, and don’t let the rough moments get to you.

5. You can find a critique partner. Every writer needs at least one pair of objective eyes to catch the glaring mistakes in his manuscript and cheer him on when the going gets tough. If you’re not already lucky enough to have such a person, start frequenting writing groups, forums, and blogs. Strike up friendships and offer to trade manuscript critiques.

6. You can banish writer’s block. Learn to cultivate a lifestyle that will encourage inspiration, and master the skills that will send writer’s block packing whenever it threatens.

7. You can stretch your comfort zone. Safe is boring. Try something new this year—whether it’s a new genre, a new format, or a wildly unpredictable new character.

8. You can set realistic goals. Focus on what you can achieve on your own. You can’t ensure you’ll find a publisher for your novel this year, or any year—but you can send out five queries every month.

9. You can help others. The writing community is all about sharing. We learn from and are assisted by others, and, in turn, we should make it a point to share our own knowledge and encouragement. Join writing forums and groups, offer to read a less experienced author’s manuscript, or maybe just leave a good review on one of your favorite author’s books.

10. You can call yourself a writer. If you write, you’re a writer. Don’t ever let yourself believe differently. Make it your goal to better your writing skills and habits with every new year, but don’t feel you have to wait to claim your title as a “writer.” Claim it and wear it with pride.