Writers: We’ll Never Have Your Lives All Together. Let’s Accept and Embrace It.

It’s time to get real.

Yesterday, after steering clear of them for a while, I ate a bunch of potato chips.

Some might call this a victory. Others, a setback. I prefer to call it A Completely Normal Reaction to the End of A Very Long Week. Mostly because I only got around to eating a handful or two. More on that later.

For some reason whenever I’m sitting in front of a bag of chips, I’m overwhelmed with the sensation that everything is falling apart around me and sour cream and onion Lays are my only salvation. This is not true, of course. Snacks to me, though they haven’t always been, are a reward, not a sin or a punishment.

But it’s the late-night stillness, the absence of sound beyond the rustle of the bag and crunch of the chips, that forces you to be mindful of your surroundings and all the things that are going on in your life. And that’s when you often become aware that things might not be happening the way you’d like them to.

I’m not usually disappointed in my consumption of flavored potato chips. The chips just happened to follow an otherwise seemingly perfect day.

Continue reading “Writers: We’ll Never Have Your Lives All Together. Let’s Accept and Embrace It.”

To All the Ideas I’ve Ever Lost On My Hurried Way to Writing Them Down

I hope you found a place to land.

The moment inspiration strikes — that feeling you get when a new idea wraps itself around you and refuses to let go — is so wondrous that it’s difficult to describe with words. Even for a writer.

I tend to compare this feeling to receiving a surprise gift in the mail. Not to bum you out or anything, but I don’t think anyone has ever sent me a surprise gift in the mail before. But I assume that holding it in your hands and being filled with awe and gratitude probably feels the same way a new idea feels.

It’s not just shiny and new and exciting. It’s unexpected in the best way possible. Even people who don’t particularly enjoy surprises certainly won’t complain when it’s a brand-new idea ringing the bell.

The adrenaline rush that comes with trying to figure out what to DO with your new idea is something quite unique. You have options. Do you scramble to the nearest disposable surface and write it down before it’s too late? Do you have the luxury of sitting down right this moment to start working on it — at the very least, constructing a rough outline of what it might look like? Do you tell someone? Announce it to the world?

The truth is that when it comes to transferring ideas from your head to your hand (and preferably from your hand to something else, like a blank document), it doesn’t matter how you do it. As long as you do it, and release it from the tight cage of your mind so that it can begin to grow outside of your brain.

But sometimes you never get to that point. You truly believe that this time “I swear I’ll remember it and write it down as soon as I’m done doing this other more important thing that might not actually be more important but whatever.”

And by the time you do come back to it, the idea is — or so it seems — long gone.

Continue reading “To All the Ideas I’ve Ever Lost On My Hurried Way to Writing Them Down”

12 Reasons No One Is Reading What You’re Writing (Yet)

It’s frustrating but YOU GOT THIS.

1. They just haven’t found it yet.

2. You’re still finding your voice and developing your style. I know everyone says this, but they say it because it’s true.

3. You’re trying to write content you’re not passionate about just because it’s “popular.”

4. You’re not putting things out there consistently. Unfortunately, the less you publish, the easier it is for people to forget you — or never discover you at all.

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Why I Struggle to Remember What It’s Like to Be a Beginner

Most days, I barely remember what it’s like to be in that place.

Being a beginning writer is hard. I know this because everyone, everywhere, is always talking about it. As they should. We need to be more honest about the fact that aspiring to write professionally is not “easy” or “safe.”

Many beginning writers know what they know about writing from school and books. They know that to get a book published you first have to write one, and many of them try. But it turns out telling a story that is interesting and unique and “publishable” is … well. It’s not nearly as simple and straightforward as it looks.

But this isn’t just hard when it comes to the writing itself. It’s hard emotionally and mentally and creatively. Here you are with an idea and a blank page in front of you and you may know how a story is generally told and you know HOW to write, but how in the world do you write a book and also live the rest of your life? What do you do when you want to write but can’t focus? How do you handle it when someone asks you to read their book two seconds after you’ve told them you’re in the process of writing one?

Yes. Being a beginning writer is a major challenge.

Most days, I barely remember what it’s like to be in that place.

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Should Writers Focus More On Writing Or Reading Other Writers’ Books?

Is one more important than the other?

I set way too many goals this year (as I often do — when will I learn?). One of them was to read 52 books — a book a week, on average, seemed like a totally manageable feat.

Another goal was — and still is — to write a whole bunch of words in a span of 365 days at a continuous pace that is probably not achievable for most humans (uh … myself included).

Some days I’m really good at balancing these two very time-consuming tasks. I’ll read my 25 pages in one sitting (dog willing) and I still have time left over to squeeze in about 3,000 words, which is what I typically need to write in order to stay slightly ahead of my overall word count goal.

But as you likely already know, life doesn’t always run on a predictable schedule. You can plan to sit down and read for an hour at 8 p.m. like you usually do, only to realize your dog has made the executive decision to not go to bed at her normal time and instead wants to play with every toy you have ever purchased for her simultaneously with no signs whatsoever of slowing down (!!!!).

It’s no secret that both reading and writing consistently — not necessarily every day, just regularly from week to week — are essential elements in a developing writer’s routine. Reading inspires creativity and showcases different types and skill levels of storytelling (some teach you how to craft a story, and some show you how NOT to). And writing is how various skills are developed.

You can even read books specifically about writing, though you can’t just read about Stephen King’s advice and instantly produce a bestselling novel — you have to, you know … close the book and actually write things.

But when it comes to those moments you have to choose between reading a book of any type or genre and actively engaging in writing practice in its various forms … is one more important than the other?

Continue reading “Should Writers Focus More On Writing Or Reading Other Writers’ Books?”

15 Secrets of Happy, Productive Writers

3. They set out to always tell the best story they can.

1. They always write with snacks or a delightful beverage of choice. Or both!

2. They write, to the best of their ability, when they are naturally most productive.

3. They set out to always tell the best story they can even if it’s not a great story in the beginning.

4. They set goals and work toward them at their own pace.

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Putting Your Writing On Hold DOES NOT Make You ‘Weak’

Perhaps, at the end of it all, it will have made you stronger.

I’ve been trying to write this post for two hours. I have gotten distracted by every possible thing. I have debated just not bothering to write it at all. But I also know that if I don’t finish it, I won’t sleep tonight, and if I don’t sleep tonight, everything will just feel a thousand times worse.

As I write this, dear readers, I am not as okay as I would like to be. And I’m not feeling great about it.

I am fine, and everything will BE fine. There are just some things completely out of my control that are spending all my energy. And that is making it very difficult to accomplish more than the absolute minimum.

Maybe you’ve been in a place like this before. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, I hope you at least somewhat understand that as I am writing this, I am sitting here wishing it has already been written, I do not want to continue writing it, I do not feel I am giving my audience my best words, and that is how I know it is time to slow down.

I’m going to be real with you in the paragraphs that follow. Because the writing life, in its true form, is at times ugly and unpleasant and dark and not at all enjoyable.

The year I decided I wanted to write more than I ever have before has suddenly become the year I may take my first writing hiatus since 2012.

Because of course it has.

I’m still going to stick to my blogging schedule — I honestly don’t think I could function as a human being if I didn’t “talk” to y’all every day. But things like my book and my articles … basically everything outside of my “normal” work day, I just can’t handle it right now.

And do you know what? Even writing that makes me feel weak and sad.

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Feeling Motivated to Write, But Too Exhausted to Create

Well this is frustrating.

It’s been a long day. A long week. A long month, really. I’m behind on basically every project possible, there’s a lot of external drama I have to co-exist with for the time being, and honestly, I’m starting to wonder if I set too many “challnging” writing goals for myself this year. Or … too many goals in general. It’s a bad habit. I know.

Right now I’m sitting at my desk trying my best to stay awake, knowing this post has to get done (even though, if we’re being honest, the world really wouldn’t end if it didn’t). Knowing that I’m risking writing Not a Great Blog Post, though the hope is that you come here for real talk and not perfection.

Real talk: I still haven’t learned how hard is too hard when it comes to pushing myself.

Real talk: I’m worried I can’t keep going at this pace … and also that if I slow down, I’ll never speed back up again.

I’ve been awake for nineteen hours. I want, and need, to go to bed.

But my brain won’t turn off. Ideas for articles and stories are floating casually around in my head simultaneously begging for my attention. And I really want to sit down and start working on some of them. I’m EXCITED to start writing. I feel more motivated to write All The Things than I have in a few weeks and it feels pretty great.

Just the thought of having to put in the effort to write anything beyond a blog post — and even this is barely coming together as it is — exhausts me even more. Which is almost unfair, because I know I shouldn’t be mad at myself for not feeling “up to” writing, but I can’t help it. Motivation often kicks in after you start working on something — it seems backwards, I know, but trust me — and to have it greet you before you start a task is such a delightful treat.

I can’t enjoy it if I’m falling asleep at my desk. Desperate to write, but physically spent beyond reversal. No amount of coffee could fix this now. The day is done. I’m done.

I know I’m not the only one who has ever dealt with this. And if you’re looking for some kind of reassurance amidst your frustration, well the good news is, you’ve stumbled upon the right blog.

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One Word, and Then Another Word, and Then Another

Maybe that’s all it takes.zx

How does a book get written?

How does a story get old?

It turns out writing is, when you get down to the most basic elements of it, nothing more than composing a single word, followed by another word, followed again by another word.

Is it more complicated than that, when you pull back and really look at the order and structure and meaning of the sequence of words on the page? Of course.

But in the beginning, when all the complexities of crafting a story seem the most overwhelming and intimidating, perhaps the only thing that matters is that you are putting words onto a page.

How long that takes, how quickly the process moves along — and, obviously, how “good” that story ends up being — might not be as important, at least right now, as you might think.

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12 Reasons You Haven’t Started Your ‘Dream’ Writing Project Yet

It’s OK to feel intimidated. But don’t let that stop you from trying!

1. You’ve never taken on something this big/important.

2. You don’t think you can do it alone.

3. You’re not sure if your idea is “good enough.”

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