The Write Stuff: Stalled, but Learning

Writing Challenge: The Write StuffHoly crap, it’s March! I’m three months into The Write Stuff. Life’s gotten crazy (doesn’t it always?), so it’s a mixed bag this month. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Goal 1: Finish four short stories in 2017

Breaking out the old spreadsheet, things are looking pretty good.

The Write Stuff

I’ve made progress, but it hasn’t been consistent. I’ll work on a story like a madwoman for a few days, then get distracted by a new cross-stitch pattern or a book…or two seasons of The Great British Baking Show.

Frustratingly, I’ve also had to add another round of edits, mostly for “Beginnings.” I got a ton of fantastic feedback on the second draft, and re-worked big sections of it so much I feel like it needs another round of critiques.

Still no idea for a fourth story. Coming up with ideas is the hardest part. Or maybe it’s coming up with a first line. Or a last line. Damn it.

Goal 2: Do as many of the 642 Tiny Things to Write About as I can

I’ve done several of these, but I’m not sure how I feel about them. I did some very quickly, and others I agonized over for so long that I just gave up.

642 Tiny Things to Write About

I don’t know how seriously I’m supposed to take these exercises. Should I look at the page and just vomit something onto it in five minutes, so should I take more time thinking about it?

Either choice is challenging for me. I’m a perfectionist, so I hardly do anything quickly. I second-guess my writing choices, which slows me down even further.

I wonder if making a smaller goal of doing at least one little exercise every day would help me get into the swing of things?

Goal 3: Join a writing community (and actually share stuff for feedback)

I still think joining Scribophile is one of my best decisions of the year. Members seem genuinely interested in helping each other improve their writing, and I’ve learned so much already (more info under Goal 4 below).

I’ve got a third draft of “Beginnings” ready to go, but word count limits on Scribophile mean that I need to post it in two parts. I have to critique a lot of other people’s writing to save up the “karma” to post it again.

Goal 4: Document it all on this blog

Get ready for total nerdery.

Some of the lessons I’ve learned from posting to Scribophile are the basics. For example, the Motivation-Reaction Unit. First describe what the character feels, then what they do, then what they say. I might have learned about this concept in high school, but in college I wrote mostly stage or screenplays — and those don’t use MRUs in the traditional sense.

My mind was truly blown when a commenter talked about a newer trend in writing: Deep Point of View (Deep POV). I’m still wrapping my head around it, so I’ll quote from the article to explain:

Deep POV is third-person subjective taken a step farther than the normal. The third-person subjective shows story through the eyes of one or more characters…Deep POV goes beyond that to take readers into the head and heart of a character, allowing the story to be seen and felt through the characters experiences and history and thoughts and feelings.

Instead of using phrases like “She felt” or “He worried” or even “She saw,” you simply describe how the character is feeling, or show how that worry manifests itself.

This probably isn’t earth-shattering stuff to people who have been writing for many years, but for me it’s all a revelation. And it’s incredibly rewarding to see my writing improve.

Onward!

The Write Stuff: Off to the Races

Writing Challenge: The Write StuffI kicked off The Write Stuff last month in an effort to force myself to exercise my creative writing muscles in 2017. I’m trying to be my own accountability buddy, so I set some goals and am doing my best to meet them.

It’s early days, but let’s see how it’s going.

Goal 1: Finish four short stories in 2017

It wouldn’t be a true Amy effort without a spreadsheet!

The Write Stuff progress, February 2017

The first couple columns are self-explanatory. Once I have a decent first draft (column C), I post it to Scribophile (column D — more on Scribophile below). I use feedback to create a second draft (column E), then post the new draft to Scribophile again (column F).

I’m planning to consider a story “finished” once I incorporate feedback on the second draft. That’s probably not how it works in the publishing world, but I’m not planning to submit these for publication. Plus, I need to set some definition of “finished” so I know when it’s okay to stop futzing with my writing.

You may recognize a couple of the story names from my 2016 writing prompt exercises. I’ve taken those simpler versions and blown them out extensively. Does this count as cheating? Maybe, but I needed to start somewhere.
Right now I’m well ahead of this goal, but as you can see I haven’t even had an idea for a fourth story yet.

Goal 2: Do as many of the 642 Tiny Things to Write About as I can

I got 642 Tiny Things to Write About as a Christmas present, but I’ve barely touched it. I’m trying to be more purposeful about doing a couple of these a day. They really are tiny things, and I’m hoping one of them will give me an idea for another story.

Goal 3: Join a writing community (and actually share stuff for feedback)

The only thing scarier than making a goal to write is making a goal to let strangers critique that writing.

via GIPHY

I talked to my good friend Google, who suggested I check out Scribophile. And gurl, it is awesome!

The first thing that impressed me was the website itself: it looks fantastic, and the voice they use is clear and personable. I love that you have to critique others’ writing before you can post your own, and so far every user I’ve interacted with has been kind and offered helpful suggestions for my work.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of Scribophile’s offerings, but joining has already been the best decision I’ve made in 2017.

Goal 4: Document it all on this blog

I’m planning to post an update once per month. I want to keep my momentum going. I don’t know if my writing will ever “see the light of day” in any kind of publication, but I’m not worried about it. For now I just want to enjoy the ride!

The Write Stuff: I’ve Made a Terrible Mistake

Writing Challenge: The Write StuffHave you ever done something that scared you, and you didn’t die and it was actually kind of fun, but then you got cocky and bit off more than you could chew? Welcome to my world.

After my marginal success with writing prompts last year, I decided it was time to get back into creative writing. I was a theatre major, after all, and wrote a healthy number of scripts and short stories. I fell off the fiction-writing wagon after college, and it’s something I want to jump back into.

The only problem? It’s hard as shit.

Fiction writing is so much harder than writing about the books I read. I’m stretching muscles I haven’t used in eight years, and it’s brutal.

My goals

I need some, or this whole thing is going to collapse like a poorly-made souffle.

  • Goal 1: Finish four short stories in 2017.
  • Goal 2: Do as many of the 642 Tiny Things to Write About as I can.
  • Goal 3: Join a writing community (and actually share stuff for feedback).
  • Goal 4: Document it all on this blog.

Got any advice?

I’m hoping things get easier as I go, but I’d love any advice from readers who are also writers. What’s your ideation/writing process? How do you stay focused when writing? How do you ignore the little voice in your head that says everything you write is terrible?

Oh…that last one’s just me? Awesome. How could this end badly?