Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

A decision

Friday, August 31st, 2012

As I mentioned in my last post, fall is a time when the pace of my life quickens. My preschool dance classes start up again, Pilates clients who’ve been on vacation return, and requests for school and library visits start to trickle in. The result of all this is that while, happily, my income goes up, the number of available hours for writing goes down. That’s why I’ve come to a decision.

I began this blog in July of 2010, and since then I’ve written 186 posts (including this one). I’ll be honest here and tell you that I started blogging because I thought that, as a writer with her first novel coming out in a little over a year, I had to in order to establish some online presence. At the time that seemed true, but now it’s not so much the case. There are so many avenues for connecting online, with blogging being only one of those. But like many debut authors, I thought I had to do it all.

At first thinking of something to blog about twice a week was a chore, but over time I started to enjoy writing my blog posts. I was always aware, though, that the time I spent blogging was time I could have been working on my latest draft or revision.While maintaining this blog has been fun (mostly), I don’t feel that the venture has been all that successful. I rarely get comments, and I don’t feel much more connected to the blogosphere than when I started. All of which is entirely my fault, since I know I haven’t made the effort I could have to reach out to other bloggers. But to tell the truth, I think that’s because blogging just isn’t where my heart lies.

My heart lies with writing novels, and I’ve decided that that is where I’m going to invest my scarce and precious writing time. One of the things I’ve learned about writing novels is that you have to write regularly, even when you don’t feel like it. But I’ve decided that that philosophy doesn’t have to apply to my blog.

 So I’m not planning to abandon this blog completely, but I do plan to blog only when I’m inspired to. I’ll be posting on an occasional basis to let you know about upcoming events and to share news and writing tips. But from now on, I plan to do most of my day-to-day online communication through Facebook and Twitter.

So to those of you who read my blog, thank you. I hope that my posts have been of value to you. And I’m not saying goodbye completely, so be sure to check in every one in a while to see what’s new.

But only if you feel like it.

 

 

Writing life vs. “real life”

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Yesterday my friend Megan Bostic wrote a post on her blog about whether writers market too much on social media. She mentioned a formula, which I’ve encountered before, that says you should share 25 percent about your books and writing on social media and 75 percent about “real life.”

I understand the principle, but I also started wondering if it’s really possible for most writers to separate their writing and their personal lives. I find that writing permeates every aspect of my existence. I adore my family, my pets, and my friends; I’m dedicated to my work as a dance and Pilates instructor; and there are plenty of activities besides writing that I enjoy doing in my spare time. But if I’m being really honest with myself, I’d have to say that when I wake up in the morning, my first thought isn’t about my family or my work or my hobbies – it’s about my plot or my characters.

I feel guilty saying that. Does the fact that I think more about the people I’ve created in my head than the actual human beings around me make me some kind of sociopath? Does it mean that I don’t care about the people in my life? I don’t think so. I think that, like many writers, I’m just hard-wired to make my creative work my top priority.

I try to share about my personal life on social media, I really do. Take this blog for instance. I’ve posted about cancer survival (and how it affects my writing), about my husband (and what he’s taught me about book promotion), and about trips we’ve taken together (and how I managed to write during said travels.) You see, writing is so interwoven with the rest of my life that I can’t simply set it aside or separate it out.

So I apologize if I’m talking to much about my writing process and too little about what I did on my weekend. That’s probably because I spent most of it writing.

What do you think? Do you wish writers would share more about their personal lives and less about their writing processes?

 

Crash Course

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The other day on the phone, my mom asked me what it’s like to be a published writer. My reply was, “It feels like I’m taking a crash course in everything!”

I wasn’t referring to the actual writing of the book, the submitting to agents, or the revision and editing process. Instead, my proverbial crash course covers everything surrounding the promotion process – and most of its lessons have to do with technology. First there was the setting up of my author website, which I happily farmed out to the talented Barrett Dowell. Then there was the creation of a book trailer, which was handled with grace and flair by Megan Bostic of Angsty Girl Video.

But some stuff, I’ve simply had to do myself. In the past year, I’ve mastered (well, to some degree, at least) blogging and using Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, and Twitter. I’ve set up a Facebook Author Page, organized online events and giveaways, and learned the difference between low- and high-resolution photos.

For a child of the sixties like me, none of this was easy. I look around me and see younger people who seem to have technological know-how imprinted in their DNA. These are the people who laugh when I say I’m struggling to import a YouTube video into my blog. If they only knew!

What’s my next challenge? Creating a Powerpoint presentation for an upcoming high school visit. I know, I know. Powerpoint is a snap; even elementary school kids can put together a slide show in a matter of half an hour. But for us old folks who weren’t raised on technology, this is complicated stuff.

There’s something to be said for having to learn a boatload of new skills in a very short time. I’ve had to set my fears aside and simply plunge ahead. And there’s a kind of satisfaction in knowing that I can post to my blog, update my Facebook status, and check my Amazon sales figures now without batting an eyelash. But I’m looking forward to the day when my crash course is complete, and I can go back to doing what I do best: writing books.

Have you had to take a crash course in anything lately?

 

101 blog posts and Goodreads giveaway

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Wow. I just realized that I’ve now written 100 posts for this blog (this is post #101). I can hardly believe I’ve been blogging this long, especially since I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to blog in the first place. But I’ve stuck with it, even though there was one period when I was on the verge of quitting. To celebrate, I’m writing today about the gifts my blog has given me and what I hope to gain from it going forward.

Skills: It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but before I started this blog, I had, like, zero technical skills. I didn’t know how to publish a blog post, much less upload a photo or add a link. I’m still not a computer wiz by any stretch of the imagination, but blogging has given me the confidence to try new things online.

Practice: I hesitated to start a blog for a long time because I thought it would take hours and energy away from my fiction writing. Instead, it has become part of my writing practice. I think of writing here as a warm up, a way to get my thoughts flowing and my fingers moving so that when I sit down to my draft or revision, I’m ready to dive right in.

Connection: The most important thing I get from blogging is a sense of connection to other writers. I don’t get many comments (more about that in a moment), but when I do, I feel so grateful that someone has taken the time to reach across virtual space and tap me on the shoulder.

So, what do I hope for from my blog in the future? Mostly, more of the above – especially connection. I don’t get many comments on my posts, and I’d like to see that change. I know some of you are reading, and if you saw how excited I get when a response pops up in my inbox, I know you’d leave comments, too. And I plan to give as good as I get. My life gets crazy busy, but I’m going to make more of an effort to leave comments on the blog posts I read.

Before I sign off, I want to let you know that I’m giving away two FLYAWAY ARCs on Goodreads! The giveaway ends Nov. 25th (the Friday after Thanksgiving), so you’ve got plenty of time to enter – but why not scoot over there now?

A quick question before you go: What would you like see more of on my blog? What types of posts are most interesting and useful to you?

Embracing the Muse

Monday, September 26th, 2011

I had an epiphany this week. But before I tell you about it, I want to take a moment to congratulate two of my friends and former critique group members.

First, a big congratulations to writer/illustrator extraordinaire Erik Brooks, whose picture book POLAR OPPOSITES just received a Washington State Book Award!

Congratulations, also, to Barbara Jean Hicks, a wonderful writer of everything from picture books to romance novels, who now has her own column on Tina Nichols Coury’s blog. Every Friday, Barb will be sharing some of the nuggets of wisdom she’s gleaned from classes, workshops, and conferences over the years. As a huge admirer of Barb’s talent, I’m looking forward to learning and being inspired by her weekly posts.

And speaking of inspiration…on to the epiphany. This week, I realized that instead of embracing my muse as I write my first draft, I’ve been rejecting her. Here’s what this looks like: I’m writing along, following my story plan, when all of a sudden an unexpected idea pops into my head. Oftentimes this comes as an unplanned line of dialogue which spins my plot in a whole new direction. To my credit, I usually follow these inspirations. It’s only later, when I realize that, at least for the moment, I’ve abandoned my pre-written synopsis, that I start to second-guess my decision. I get into negative self-talk, telling myself that not only does this new idea stink, the whole dang draft stinks. And even worse, that I stink as a writer.

So here’s the epiphany: I believe that those out-of-the-blue ideas come from my subconscious mind, a.k.a. my inner creative self, a.k.a. my muse. When I use her inspirations to fuel negative thoughts about my work and my worth as a creative artist, I’m essentially slapping her in the face. Nobody likes being slapped, and if I continue to do that, she’s not going to come around any more. And if she decides to stay away, I can kiss my writing life goodbye.

Writing a first draft is, for me, a dance between the conscious and the subconscious. The initial inspiration for a novel is sparked by the subconscious mind. Then the conscious mind steps in and turns that inspiration into a “story” with a beginning, middle, and end. All well and good. But then, in actual drafting, there must be room for the subconscious to continue to play. Only later, when the first draft is done, is it appropriate to call the conscious mind back into the mix to determine what’s working and what needs to be changed or cut.

From here on out, I’m going to embrace my muse. That doesn’t mean that every notion she sends me is going to end up in my final manuscript. But it does mean that I owe her the courtesy of at least trying out her ideas and giving them a real chance, without judgement, even if doing so means temporarily derailing my well-thought-out plan.

How do you balance your conscious and subconscious mind when writing your first draft? What do you do to embrace your muse?