Monday, January 31, 2011

Encouragement 3: Finding Time To Write

Sometimes, I feel like sitting down at the computer is invoking Murphy's Law. Something will go wrong/happen. The phone rings, the tea-kettle boils dry and melts on the stove (yes, this did happen to me), I'm suddenly thirsty, I remember that I've yet to make the bed/fold laundry/get the mail, or Justin gets home/we have to leave to go somewhere (what? It's already 3 o'clock?!). Thankfully we don't yet have pets who choose that second to insist on an outside trip or kids who suddenly get hurt. Those days will come when they come.

How do we find time to write with everything going on?

Here's some tips:

  • Set a specific time to write--and do nothing but write. (I don't personally use this one, as my writing time can change according to Justin's work schedule. However, I do set a time for every day..."OK, today I'm going to get everything done by XXX, and start writing by XXX).
  • Do the "work" first--then play. :0)
  • Make sure that you have everything you need--be it a bottle of water, earbuds, CDs, whatever--before you sit down. Then limit your breaks to absolute necessity.
  • Set a goal for the week, and stick to it. Most people use a witing goal. That's too intimidating for me, so I set chapter goals...finish Chapter 1 by this day, chapter 2 by this day, and so forth.

I hope these encouragement posts have helped you kick-start your new year of writing! What are your goals for the year?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Encouragement 2: Discoveredaphobia

I have this strange illness. It afflicts only writers. It's technical name is Procrastination Due to Beingdiscoveredaphobia. Commonly, it's referred to as Discoveraphobia. What are the symptoms of this illness? It affects the writer's creative processes, slows down the fingertips on the keyboard, and can cause bouts of irrational irritation, anger, depression, or fits of staring at a blank page or computer screen. It may also result in throwing things at the best target, so if you know any writer afflicted with this horrifying disease, please use caution in entering the room said writer occupies at the moment.

All silliness aside, I really do think some authors have a fear of "making it". I know that sometimes, in the deep dark night when I can't sleep, my brain starts whirling. I think, Can I really do this?

Can I be a successful author, a loving wife, AND a homeschool mom without sacrificing anything?

What if my first book is a total flop and no one ever signs me on again?

What if critics hate it?

What if...what if...can I...can't I...should I...and the list goes on. I get up the next morning, cranky because of my sleepless night, kiss Justin off to work, do housework, finally get to sit at the computer...and nothing comes. I get crankier and crankier, because I know I should be working, not scanning blogs or checking email and Facebook every five seconds. But nothing will come, because there's that little evil voice in me, saying: If you never finish a book, you'll never have send anything out. You'll never have to face the rejection, the scorn, the poor sales. You won't have to worry about not fulfilling your duties as a wife/mother/daughter/friend.

And on and on... Ech.

The thing is, procrastinating will get you nowhere. It only results in less time for the tasks that have to be done. Not only that, but procrastinating because you're afraid of the future is not what God created you for. As a writer, God created you with a love to explore, to think, to create, to ask what if. The problem is, if we ask what if in our own future, that can focus our attention on that, causing us to forget what God wants us to do here and now. Don't worry about the future--let God handle it and trust that He'll give you the strength and resources necessary to deal with what comes when it comes. Don't let worry lock up your creativity.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more than clothes?...Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25, 27, and 33-34

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year Encouragement

There are times when writing seems to come effortlessly. When you pound the keyboard, breathless, eager to see what comes out next, blood rushing through your veins. But how do you avoid getting stuck on days when it's not going so well?

One piece of advice I've found helpful is this: Don't edit on the first draft. It slows down your creativity, forces your thinking from your right brain to your left. The first draft is also called a "rough" draft for a reason. This is where the story comes to life; where you work out the characters and their knotty little personality issues (if you're lucky); where your imagination is supposed to soar.

This draft isn't going to be set in stone. Nor is it going to be pretty. This is where you just write and enjoy it.

Here are some ideas that help me:

*Don't fuss over whether or not its the exact right word. Write down a similar word or a comment that conveys the meaning you want, then move on. Come back and fix it during your edits.

*Find your inner editor and say, "Hey you--yeah, you, Mr. Critical. Shut up!!!" Critiquing yourself belongs in the editing stage, not the creative stage. This can be a toughie to master, but well worth it.

*Don't slow down or stop. Grab your bathroom break, drink, meal, or whatever as fast as you can. Or skip the breaks if at all possible.

*Don't look back at what you just wrote. This is an invitation to start critiquing. Keep looking forward, keep your brain moving to the next logical (or unlogical) step. Leave the editing and the grouchy left-brain stuff for the second, third, and however-many-more drafts you're going to have. Mr. Critical will have plenty of opportunities to show off, don't worry! :0)

Hope these ideas help your creative juices start flowing for the new year!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


(Since I'd alrady posted a review of my 2010 Book of the Year, I thought I'd post a movie review today).

Disney's newest fairytale, Tangled, was one of the cutest movies I've seen in a while. The story is loosely based on the fairytale Rapunzel.

Before Rapunzel was born, her mother was deathly ill. In order to heal her, the king ordered his men to search for a healing flower that had grown from a drop of the sun that had fallen to earth. They found it, but earned the wrath of a lady named Mother Gothel, who used the flower to keep herself young. Mother Gothel decides to steal Rapunzel when she discovers that her hair holds the healing power of the sun-flower, but only if it isn't cut.

Years later, Rapunzel is eighteen and very, very eager to get out into the world on her own. But "Mother" won't let her leave her tower. Enter Flynn Rider, a rakish, over-confident thief who tries to use the tower as a hideaway. Rapunzel promptly clocks him with her trusty frying pan, hides his treasure and bullies him into taking her out to see the lanterns set every year for the lost princess. And so their adventures (and love story) begins.

I laughed until I cried during most of this movie. The animal "sidekicks" were, of course, unrealistic but completely lovable: Maximus, the police horse with an attitude; and Pascal, Rapunzel's cute chameleon. The soundtrack was beautiful. The scene when Rapunzel finally sees the lanterns was so gorgeous that it almost brought tears to my eyes. The characters were fun and unique and well-built.

Of course, the film had its issues, namely an old man playing Cupid (wearing a diaper), Mother Gothel's curve-hugging outfit, a "healing incantation" disguised as a pretty little lullaby, and Flynn Rider's comment that a "little rebellion is healthy." However, those are little and nitpicky. The two things I remember most about the movie are sweet and wonderful and, quite frankly, amazing.

The first is when Flynn comes to rescue Rapunzel toward the end of the movie and is fatally stabbed by Mother Gothel. Instead of allowing her to even heal him, he cuts her hair, making all the healing magic in it dissolve. Wow. It was an exquisitely wonderful scene with something that's not often seen anymore--a hero who is self-sacrificial even to the death.

The second, and the one that made the most of an impression on me, was when Rapunzel's real parents, the king and queen, are getting ready to light the lanterns for their missing daughter's birthday. The devotion of the parents was wonderful to see, but what made the scene a tear-jerker for me was the king. He doesn't speak in the entire movie, but as his wife adjusts his cloak, movie-goers see a single tear running down his face. To see that tear spoke volumes of his sorrow and devotion that giving him lines wouldn't have done. Beautiful and exquisite! It ranks among my top favorite movie scenes ever.

So, my recommendation? Go see this movie. Buy it when it comes out. I give a hearty 5 stars to Disney's Tangled!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book of the Year 2010

I know I've already reviewed this book, but it was the best book I read during 2010.


THE MENDING BOOK 1: STARFIRE by Stuart Vaughn Stockton.

Rathe is a late-hatch saurn with something to prove. Someone born into such a low caste has no hope of achieving much of anything in this life--unless he can prove himself as a warrior. Through his own skill and a fortuitous encounter with a massive creature, Rathe seeks to rise through the trials to secure a position within the imperial army.

But larger forces are at work in the world, and Rathe has been chosen for a grand and terrible destiny. Through an enemy invasion, revitalized technology from an ancient civilization, and supernatural entities beyond his understanding, Rathe is presented with an unfathomable choice. No matter what he decides, it seems an empire--or a world--will be destroyed.

And the only things informing Rathe's decision are affection for a small saurin under his care and the admonitions from the mystical representative of a god Rathe doesn't believe in.

~Blurb from the Marcher Lord Press page for Starfire

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 In Retrospect

What did I learn this year?

1) Marriage is fun, wonderful, challenging, and hard, and I wouldn't change it for anything else!

2) Justin is so willing to help me with every aspect of my life that he'll listen to me rant for an hour about how my novel isn't working out, then sit down and help me figure out how to fix it. How did I manage to marry such an amazing guy?!?

3) Because my husband is so sweet, I'll do anything for him...including clamping the lid on my fear of heights and letting him push me out of my comfort zone. It's always good to have such a person in your life, yes? :0)

4) Facebook does have practical uses.

5) Apparently it is possible to write a novel on Twitter.

6) Just because you get an offer of publication doesn't mean that it's good for you or in God's plan for you.

7) Parkboard softball has harder rules than adult softball.

8) Despite what everyone says, planning a wedding can be relatively stress free and an enjoyable experience!

9) Just when I think I'm getting it, life/God/writing/marriage/insert-whatever-you-wish-here will throw me another curveball, and that's the only thing I can count on to be consistent in life, besides the love from my husband, family, and God.

10) Living in Michigan is just as cold as I thought it would be, but it's starting to make me wish that our families could move up here!

11) Dumping an egg white into the kitchen sink, then running hot water to wash it down the drain, only succeeds in in cooking the egg white to the bottom of the kitchen drain. :0)


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