Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Focus, Or Lack Thereof

By David Sharp

There's a lot of advice out there for writers on how to stay disciplined. No doubt, that's a vital component of getting the work done. If we don't train ourselves to sit down at that computer and put one word after another, we won't have anything to show for it. We must be consistent and diligent.

But that's for another blog post.

Today, I want to talk about the other side of writing. It's the invisible side. The part for which I often admonish myself. The part that looks an awful lot like wasting time. I'm talking about daydreaming.


It's awesome.
Daydreaming is Step Zero for Writing. Everybody daydreams. The only difference for writers is we snag those ideas while they're floating over our heads and hammer them out into a narrative. Most of my best "writing" happens while I'm standing in the shower, walking through the park, savoring my coffee or waiting at a red light. -At least it was red last I looked. Why is everybody honking?

Nothing is Worse Than Staring at a Blank Screen. But there's no rule that says you have to. Why not get out of that chair and burn some calories while you muse? (Or gain some calories if that works for you. Donuts can be very inspirational!) Roll the ideas around in your head and go back to the blank screen when you've got something to fill it. Your computer isn't going anywhere. And if it is, you've got other problems to deal with.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Poor Writers

By Kristin Owens

Financially successful writers are a work of fiction. At least the majority of them. I’ve come to a dismal conclusion there is no way – no way possible – a writer can support herself. And those who do – you must have sold your soul. Or enjoy eating instant noodles. Writers fit into one of two categories: Retired and Collecting a Nice Pension OR Married to a Thoughtful, Patient Spouse Who is Gainfully Employed with Healthcare. Lucky me.

Instant Noodles Are A Bargain!

As I continue my hiccupping journey learning about the nonsensical writing industry – I can’t fail to notice writers do more than write. With fierce competition for so little money, writers must find other ways to support themselves. This is what I dub "craft support" or the Spanx of Writing. They edit. They blog. They coach. Give workshops. Present at conferences. This must force introverted scribblers to shovel Xanax by the handfuls, albeit an evil necessity to keep their writing flowing.

It’s unfortunate, but poor writers are resigned to do anything BUT write. I believe writing must be the only job that needs another job to support itself... or maybe that’s what the term "starving artist" is really all about. And I thought it was just for actors. We’re apparently not alone.

But, wait there’s more! In addition to the small pay for articles and essays, a writer may get the fantastical idea to, gulp, write a book which gets no remuneration at all. None. No weekly paycheck for the multitudinous hours crafting meaningful dialog, scenes providing stunning visual clarity and memorable iconic characters. Which is why, sadly, most people consider writing a hobby. Since you can’t possibly make enough to support yourself, you must be doing it for fun. Please. Writing is work whether you get paid or not.

First Paycheck.

I also contend there’s a lot of nonsense that keeps one from writing. Two words: social media. The required platform expected for writers is a lot of hooey. Industry informs us that writers need a healthy following on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get noticed by publishers. Tell me, how many friends are enough? All the precious time tweeting, posting and linking takes us away from, guess what – writing. So, let’s collectively stop doing the Procrastination Dance and get back to writing good stuff. Wait, I feel another march coming on.

Poor writers, let’s not despair. We may not have stacks of cash to balance our Haut-Medóc on, but we are rich in other ways. We have boundless enthusiasm, motivation and hopes that someday, yes someday, that agent will call, that publisher will email and your book – your baby – will take its first breath in the big wide world of Amazon. Ahhh. Someday.

But until that day, keep slogging. It’s all part of the improvement process. Plus, you need to make 10¢/word in order to appreciate 20¢. Keep dreaming about bigger and better, because when that magic day happens, you’ll think back to the simpler days of being a poor writer. And laugh. And that, my friends, may be worth the book advance itself.

* * *

Kristin Owens continues to slog. She is a Fort Collins writer and member of the Northern Colorado Writers and Lighthouse Writers groups. She is completing her debut novel and dreaming of someday. Her published works can be found at

Additional resources to ponder:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Top Ten Edits to Help You Get Your Manuscript Ready for the NCW Conference

By Ronda Simmons

You finally finished that manuscript.  Awesome. You’re ready to pitch that bad boy at the NCW conference in May, right?

Not so fast.

Papa Is Preaching

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Whiners Not Welcome

By JC Lynne

As writers, it's our job to create multidimensional characters. Characters in whom readers will see something of themselves. Some characters take a lot of fleshing out. Some characters arrive in full and frequently irritating glory. 

If you've ever attended a class on character development, you know strong plots are generally character driven. You've also heard the adage: A happy character is a dull character. Torture them. Hurt them and then hurt them some more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Being Your Own Worst Critic

by David E. Sharp

Nobody likes a critic. And for many writers, that sentiment is the source of a lot of self-loathing. Your very own inner critic is always with you, looking over your shoulder, making little remarks along the way, pointing out all your flaws. Is that REALLY how you want to say that? Where is this story going, anyway? You're not going to SHOW this to anyone, are you?

Aren't you glad you have an inner critic?

It could be worse. You could not have one. Think of the opening episodes of any talent-related reality show. How many poor souls are convinced they are exceptionally gifted singers or dancers or cat jugglers, only to be informed in the cruelest way that they're not? Some friendly advice: try to schedule your reality checks before you're on national television. So maybe an inner critic isn't all bad.

But that's not to say we shouldn't keep our critics on a short leash. Here are a few of my own thoughts
on how that's done.

Treat Yourself Like a Stranger.
Okay, but I know how to fix it.
I'll need a shotgun and a shovel...

Why do we seem to think we can be so much harder on ourselves than on others? To whom in your critique group would you say, "This is rubbish! Rubbish! You're a failure as a writer! You're not fit to sign greeting cards! Fail, Fail, FAIL!!!" And yet, when critiquing ourselves, we feel that unbridled savagery is somehow appropriate.

We must remember that tearing ourselves down is not a mark of humility. It really means we've lost objectivity. That's not the way to be a better writer. Instead, we should try to give ourselves the same advice we'd give to our peers. And with only as much name-calling too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My (new) Life as A (new) Writer

By Kristin Owens

Twenty years in university administration, a marriage, and successive military moves, necessitated a new way of using my brain. So, I selected an easier career, one that I could make a ton of cash, work normal hours, while being completely validated – writing. Ha! Hello daily rejections, a learning curve so steep my nose bleeds and the eternal mystery of commas. I couldn’t have picked a more challenging field.

In my first year as a professional writer - which I define as a fortunate soul who gets paid to write – my goal was to publish three articles. By December 31, 2016, I had 40 articles and personal essays published and made about $1,500. My hair cost more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mr. President, Your Modifier Is Dangling.

By Laura Mahal

Three writers met at a coffee shop. I know, it sounds like a joke, but I take my grammar seriously. My copy editor ears perked up when I overheard several colorful renditions of Dump the Trump Talk.The writers were discussing the political importance of punctuation.

Writer #1: ‘Dump the Trump talk.’ Finally, a writer who is ready to move on! I can’t wait to read what she has to say.

Writer #2: Umm, I think she meant, let’s have a ‘Dump the Trump’ talk. There is no way this author supports that particular President-Elect.

Writer #3: No, you are both wrong. She clearly means, dump the ‘Trump talk’ – the meanness of the things he has to say.

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