The Art of Discipline

clockDecember 1, 2016 I made a choice. To be fair, I decided earlier that week that it was time for me to take my writing to the next level. I vowed to attempt to wake early and get to my computer a wee bit before the family rose and try to get a few words that were rattling around in my brain and fold them into a story I had been toying with off and on for some time.

The spark was magnificent. As the words were exploding from my fingertips I realized, in those moments, I wrote without guilt. It was my time. My house was silent, the only creature stirring was myself and my faithful, yet annoying Dachshund, Dash. She was snoozing louder than I like to admit for her sake while snuggled behind me acting as a heating pad on the chilly Arizona morning. Yes, you may laugh it was about forty-five degrees.

As I sat weaving my tale and when the rustling began another room and the house began to wake,  I knew soon I would be on the world’s clock. I scurried to pump out a few more words, and finally I was torn away from the images in my head and left longing for more. The remainder of that first of December two thousand and sixteen I though back to my morning rise and I could not shake the story. It was there, it begged me to return to it. That is when I decided to do it again, wake early I mean.

Thus day two of my discipline,  I struggled to rouse myself at what I believed to be an ungodly hour of 7:30 am. Before you tisk or shake your head at my idea of ungodly hour, you must understand I am one that is up until the wee hours toiling away at my work.  I often am scratching my head when the sensible people are all yawning and longing for the siren song of their pillows.  For me, waking early to do this thing, this writing was a true struggle.

However, once I sat and the blinking curse was moving rapidly across my screen, it was exhilarating. I forgot about the hour.  I felt alive in those moments that slipped too quickly by and myself again,  another day I said to myself I will try again tomorrow. I woke a third day, albeit not without a good fight from my covers to keep their hold on me. It was not long after this third day that found myself awakening  without the aid of any of the several alarms I had set.

I discovered over those days of December, a month that shows no mercy, that my words words became stronger, the story clearer, and my heart happier for it.  One may say, that because I have gained so much joy from it that it is simply a discovery, not truly a discipline, but let me assure you, it is indeed a discipline.

I set a course that day, an undertaking of some magnitude.  I was not just writing a story but rewriting my own. I fight the same demons as you. Those fears that creep in as we undertake something new. In this new discipline, I took on all the frightening things of my mind, those things horror stories are made of and began to open myself up to them.  Fears so deeply rooted that I am still not sure how to battle them.  It is my discipline that will see me through.

Each day I use this discipline to  chip away at the fear of failure, self doubt and worse yet of disappointment. Inside my choice to wake and make something of my longing to put pen to page by means of the art of discipline I achieve in creating a mind of can do’s verses the devils of can nots.  A novel, a picture book, poem or any form I can put out my truth, enables me to hone my skill and take on the ugly giant that is lurking about the recesses of my mind seeking to hold me down again and steal away this hope, this thing of joy, my dream.

I will succeed dear giant of doom, because each day I practice the art of  discipline and you shall shrink eventually  you shall be cast into the void that is prepared for you by the art of discipline.

Ia m stronger. I am a writer. I finally have the piece to my missing puzzle, and no more will I be held down. I will write. It is after all, my art.

 

NaNoMoExDec = National No More Excuses December

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) occurs in November every year. If you are not familiar  with this event,  it is a time of year that accomplished and  aspiring novelist have a mental break and attempt to write a novel in 30 days. Yes, you heard me a novel in 30 days. I totally ignored NaNoWritMo this year, like straight up ignored it.  On December 1, 2016  I decided I was tried of excuses. I claim that I am a writer, but have I taken the steps to actually be that person?

I love working with my husband and I love being a mom, but in my heart deep down where no one has access but me I know there is a writer.  I have scribbled in journals and played with prose my entire life. I have volumes of hidden thought and stories. I even write my prayers.

After 2016 NoNaWriMo month passed away  gently and mercifully into the night, I was working on my planner, (yes I am a planner person and I use stickers and washi tape to make it beautiful), and thinking how it is almost time to write out those New Year’s resolutions.  Something came over me, I felt the cold fingers of fear wrapping around my hope for a successful new year, what if I fail again? Another year, the paper still blank my stories still hidden deep inside.  I felt tears pushing up and my eyes stung, I realized if I am ever going to accomplish my desire to be a published writer, I must conquer my fear.

It is stifling, it is paralyzing, it holds me down, it causes my chest to tighten and sends me seeking frantically other ways to fill the void . It is the fear of rejection and possibility of truly being a failure that resonates so loudly that I have spent years refusing to comply with my God-given urge to write. I am not one that most people would peg as fearful or even more so, a failure.  Truth, I am when it comes to sharing my words all these things. I am horrified at the thought of not being good enough. To fulfill that one longing in my heart that would expose me and allow others to see I am not as tough as I pretend.  I simply don’t talk about it. I am surprised that I am sharing it now. It’s hard to be honest with yourself to lay bare the possibilities of your own failure.

I guess what I am trying to share is all people have fear.  It is how you deal with it that matters.  I have decided that I am going to face it, and trust that God gave me a gift and to not use it is actually failure.

In an effort to begin the process of overcoming my fear, I made a tracker for my writing, and put it in my planner.  I set a writing goal of 1500 words a day, takin

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This tracker is available for download for members of Write.Now.  My facebook group for writers.

g Sundays off of course. I decided to wake up at 7:30am and conquer my writing time first thing, and not allow myself any excuses. (NaNoMoExDec = No More Excuses December). Additionally, I created a private group on Facebook (Write.Now.) Send me  request and you can be added, to encourage and hold other writers accountable.  I made this declaration on the 1st of the month, right smack dab before all the craziness of the holidays.GUESS WHAT!

I am happy to report that just a few days before the hustle and bustle comes to a conclusion, I have met and surpassed my goals. I have over 45,000 words in my first draft and of those 45,000 words I have written 31,260 have met the page since December 1.  In addition to the my Sunday off policy, I have had to take 2 days of travel time which left me doing editing for an hour and one day I simply had to take off because of prior commitments.  That adds up to 16 days of writing to put 31,260 word on the page.

I am sharing this in hopes that it can inspire some other passion, to let you know you can do it. It is a choice to allow your fear to keep you from blooming into the beautiful, amazing, fantastic, purposeful human being you were created  to become.

Me and Mojo – Have a Chat

I wrote this for a class and just rediscovered it while I was cleaning up some old files.  Thought I would share it. It made me chuckle as the assignment was to write a dialogue, any dialogue.  So here it is!


Me and Mojo- Have a Chat

Image result for dialogue

“Hey mojo, why after all the things we have been through, why would you just walk out on me?” Wringing my hands I hold my breath silently praying that mojo will return to me.

“I needed a break.  You just don’t understand. When we get together I feel like we are going 100 miles per hour and I am just exhausted.”

“I understand, but together we get so much done.  Mojo, how will I get those assignments written if you are taking a coffee break?”

“I need coffee, you really push me hard.”

“PUSH YOU?!?  It’s your own fault.  When you are in full gear, I can’t keep up with you.”  I pause for dramatic effect.  “Do you understand that when we are in sync that we do great things.  I really need you to come back so I can get this assignment done.”

“Let’s compromise, I will stop by just long enough for you to like the start of the assignment then I will take my bre—“

“—Oh no you don’t,” taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly and quite audibly, “not again! Please.  When you do that – OH the trees I waste!  So many rewrites. You need to be here for this.  I need you to finish this assignment!”

“I just want to chill, and the assignment means I have to be all creative.”

“Well you know once you get started you will have fun.  You know that you just need a spark. Remember our last assignment?  Remember how good it felt when we started creating that plot line?”

“Oh yeah I remember it was pretty awesome!”

“So come on Mojo, you wanna  give it a shot? Come on back and we can start with a mind map.”

“NO! Free write—if I come back—I wanna do a free write!”

“Free write it is!  I am so excited you’re here!”

“Yeah me too so, grab a pencil and paper. OH get the highlighters too!”

“I already have them—so what should write about?”

“I think we should work on our book. Maybe do some dialogue work?”

“Great idea!  Thanks mojo for coming back.  I missed you!”

“I missed you too!”


 

 

If you enjoyed this please leave a comment below.  I would love your feedback!

 

 

Janet Evanovich = HOOKED

Click here to purchase on Amazon

Talk about a writer that used POV and characters in an elegant way.  I started reading this series on the recommendation of my beloved husband.  He started listening to them last year on audio and I would often hear him chuckling are outright laughing.  He got me to watch the movie of One for the Money with Kathrine Heigel and I thought, sure I will read the books this was a cute story.  I read One for the Money quickly dived into Two for the Dough which was just as good as the first. I am in the que for the third book and am very excited to read it.

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I have been reading many books on the craft of writing alongside these books and one of the things I noticed is the POV and character depth in this series of books is awesome.I love the voice of Stephanie Plum.  She is a no nonsense gal that is willing to admit her faults.

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She does however always seem to  persevere, even if it is with help, over adversaries.  I love that the characters in her books all have depth.  I feel like I understand Stephanie.  She has a past with the cop in the first book and it causes struggles for her that so far has continued through the books. This relationship adds a rich component to the stories. Morelli is both a friend and to quote Stephanie “pain in the ass”. Her relationships are not just deep with one character but all the characters in the books. I enjoy seeing and experiencing the relationships the other characters have with Stephanie.  I especially love that she and Rex are so close and her reaction when he is in peril in book two.  It was memorable.

One of my favorite things about how Ms Evanovich writes these novels is that she takes the first person POV.  I personally have been unable to perfect this POV and I study her work, because it is perfected here.  I truly enjoy this POV because I feel like the person telling the story is vested.  I feel like the story is much richer by using this POV.

 

Finally, these books envelop the people that read them. You truly feel like you are in the middle of Trenton with Stephanie, Lulu, Ranger, Morelli, Grandma Mauzer, Mom, Dad, Uncle Vinne, Connie and of course Rex.  I enjoy returning to her world and disappearing from mine.

I not only feel comfortable recommending these books but encourage you to take the time to read them.  Truly enjoyment reading.

If you are a writer, take note of how well Evanovich pushes the reader through the chapters, leaving the questions at the end of each chapter thrusting the reader forward into the book.  She is truly a master at this and is worth studying.

Enjoy!

Keep Reading!

Writer’s Digest – Short Story Competition

OH I am doing it!  I just finished cutting a short story to meet the 1500 word max for the  2016 Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition.  I am nervous and excited all at the same time.  Let me tell you cutting 500+ words from something you already felt was bare bones was tough–but I realized something in the process.  Cutting can be liberating.  This story had a few places that lagged.  I didn’t realize it at first.  Then I cut, and then sliced, and then cut again. Words that I felt were anchoring the story really were re-workable!  At first the words battled for their rightful place, then as I removed them and worked on finding better more concise ways to keep the imagery and meet the word count I found the ship didn’t need as many anchors.  It as a challenge, there are still some words that were sent to the story graveyard that are begging for resurrection but alas, they are doomed to rest in peace. What have I come to understand from this process?

  1. Concrete Details can be over used.  I like to be descriptive in my writing, but I found that I may tend to over describe. This can be tedious. I suggest looking in your work for repetitive descriptions.  *Finding that I like to mention that my protag likes to “shift” in chairs, from foot to foot etc.  While this does SHOW nervousness, tension, boredom and a host of other feelings it can be over used.
  2. Cutting words can make a better story – sometimes, our words get in the way of a good story.  Reader’s may need to be able to read what we see in our heads, they also can be overwhelmed with too much information.  If you can convey a mental picture of your setting, then do it in a few words. Do they really need to know that the desk your protag sits at is the third one in from the main door?  If that will come into play in the action portion of your writing then write it, if not leave it out!
  3. How to find places to cut – First look at your speech tags, are they needed?  NO, cut it! easy way to get rid of unneeded words. Next, look at the descriptions, have you used two words that essentially mean the same thing?  An antag that is vicious and cruel can be described once as vicious and later as cruel– have you made her both in one sentence? Yes? cut one of them.  Also look for words that steal space: very, really, just and the ever overused “so” well, you get the idea. Finally if you have dialogue it is a fast place to find unneeded words- often we can say what we mean in less words but don’t!  Give it a try not only in your story but the real world too!
  4. It is scary to decide to enter a contest and have the possibility of rejection. The good thing about rejection is it is only one more knocked on door to success.  Each time you put yourself out there you are one step closer to a “yes”.

This concludes my thoughts on the 2016 Short Story Contest for Writer’s Digest, now I need to go proof-read and submit.

You have until January 15th to enter the contest. I look forward to the competition.  Check it out here. Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest. 

Keep Writing!

Review: Outlining Your Novel

41bO5othBNL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewing is one of those things that writers both love and fear.  Why?  One day the shoe will be on the other foot.  Someone will hopefully think enough of my book to write a review (all good stuff I am sure with like six out of five stars given).  I suppose that is why I like to reserve my reviews for the books I find worthy of ownership.  I have a few that are on the craft of writing that have profoundly changed my writing and made me all the better.  K.M Weiland has written a series of books on the craft of writing that have filled the requirements to earn a place on the bookshelf. I often read a book on loan from the library, and when and if a book falls into the “I think everyone should read/own this book” category, I take the leap and share those feelings.  The book I am sharing today is Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland.

This book is as the title suggest about how to effectively and creatively outline your novel. While I have tried, on several occasions, the pantsing method of writing. Think of pantsing as  running down a hill at full speed, you start in full control of your body moving really fast then you hit that small dip which transforms you from a graceful gazelle bounding through the grassland to an awkward 12-year-old girl trying to walk in heels for the first time. Your arms jut out to the side and you begin that fledgling bird rotation, that is a clear indication that badness is coming.  Then legs fight to keep you upright as you feel your body go airborne for a moment making that funny slow-motion “Oh no” sound before you are face first in a pile of, well you know. That is pantsing, or some call it writing without an outline.

When I am in that pantsing mood,  I often find myself eventually stuck and my stories lose the mighty steam that started the train of thought.  I admit it, I am an “outliner”.  I love this book mostly because the author takes an approach that allows for huge amounts of creativity to be inserted into the outline. There shall be NO Roman Numerals in her suggestions.  (If you are a Roman Numeral writer, no offense but I feel I need to lather on some Shea butter cream every time I try a standard school outline.) This book takes an in-depth look at the pluses and minuses of using an outline.  I also went out on a limb and purchased the workbook companion.  It was lovely. While you can use it without the accompanying book, I would warn that you miss a great deal of meat and may be frustrated.  The book is stand alone, and is perfectly good without the workbook, however, the workbook allows for you to break down the suggestions and creates an engaging challenge to complete.  Word to the wise, don’t write directly in the workbook, get the suggested notebook and move forward as you will use these both as reference manuals.  At almost 400 words already, I need to move this review along. Here are the highlights.

  1. The book is not long and drawn out, the author gets to the point.
  2. Suggestions are more than useful, they are inspiring
  3. This book if used correctly, will help you develop a useful outline that will eliminate plot holes and tragic characters that are dull and flat
  4. This book will inspire you to dig deeper into your story, and develop a unique and fresh ideas that could alter the entire story direction– and for the better.
  5.  The author puts fun excerpts from published writers that explain there is more than one way to outline.  Which may push you to try something new that inspires further.  As well as reminding us that not every outline method will work for each of your stories, you may need to expand and try a new method.
  6. This book is an encouragement because that story inside you my need some coaxing out but you will end with a good road map and oh yeah, you are writing!

I encourage any writers looking for real suggestions that will build your confidence, pick up this book.

Happy New Year!  Oh and make this the year that you finish that book.