Do you have good intentions? Making good use of writing resources.

I don't know about you, but I have better intentions than actions. For example, I sign up for a lot of writing-related emails. I have an email account specifically for these emails, and I know that there is a wealth of good, solid information on the craft of writing in that email inbox. But some days, going through it is absolutely exhausting. Most days, I have 100 unread emails in my assorted email accounts, with most of those coming from my writing email. Every few weeks, I sit down and wade through the emails I've received, skimming over all of them and deleting the ones that don't contain useful information, while archiving or bookmarking ones that do. But still, it's a gigantic time-waster to have to go through so many emails.

Lately, I've been increasingly overwhelmed by writing resources at my fingertips. It's time that I take an honest look at myself and how I use these sources. I want to maximize my time and benefits, since social media and emails and the Internet can be such a drain on time. I need to get some good information and then get back to writing. So I've crafted some questions to ask myself before I unsubscribe to some mailing lists.

1. Does the email consistently send me information that applies to me?

This is going to be the main issue. In the information useful? Some emails, like the Writer's Digest email, can be hit or miss for me. Somehow, I'm on several email lists from them, and I'd like to narrow that down to the ones that pertain to me. There are often a lot of great, short articles that speak to an aspect of the craft I need, but there are often ones that don't. As a result, it's one of those emails that I want to keep receiving, but in moderation, and I have to be diligent about determining which ones apply to me.

2. Do I more often than not delete the email without opening it?

I confess. Sliding my finger across the iPhone to delete a message is easier than opening it, going to the link inside, and then returning to delete the email. There are some mailing lists I am on that I usually delete the emails from after only skimming the four-line preview. I think it's safe to say I can delete myself from these email lists.

3. Is it information that I will refer to in the future?

I subscribe to Publisher's Lunch, an email that contains daily information about book deals and agents who represent those authors. I may not always be at a querying place, however these are emails that I will absolutely refer to in the future when looking for an agent. If I were super organized, I would write down the names of agents that seem like a good match for me and books that seem similar to mine, and keep them in a file folder somewhere. If I were super organized. That'll be my next project.

Any of my subscriptions that don't pass these three questions, I will be unsubscribing from. My writing time is too valuable to waste.

And on that note, I return to my WIP!


My Second Writers' Conference (October IWSG Post)

Wow, how has October arrived already? Time to face up to my insecurities again, I suppose. 

This month's insecurity is easy, really. This weekend I'm attending a local Writers' Conference in the greater Seattle area. Cool, huh?

Well, I have to admit, I have a few moments of insecurity about it. Okay, more than a few. In fact, I have shoved the idea of this weekend to the back of my mind. Repeatedly. Just so I don't wimp out. 

First of all, I don't know anyone else going. Not one. I don't even recognize the names of some speakers. 

Now there's something I have to admit. I am not a joiner. I'm not one of those people who sees a group they'd love to be a part of and immediately joins, figuring I'll meet people as I go. No, I'm one of those quiet, wallflower type girls, watching a group until I feel comfortable enough to not get rejected to try joining. 

Groups of people I don't know scare me. Large groups terrify me.

I know, I know. I'm an adult. I should be over this phase in my life. And I've gotten better, trust me. But it still gives me a little tingle thinking about stepping into a room full of writers that are probably better than me, more experienced than me, more published than me, more than I'll ever be, and trying to talk to them. What on earth will we talk about? Small talk? Ugh. Just shoot me now.

Yes. My pessimist really comes out in situations like this. Now I pep talk myself, telling myself that not everyone is better than me, I am probably not the most inexperienced in the room, I could be one of the better ones in the room, I could be...well...that's about where my pep talk falls short. I am not published, I am not truly "experienced." That's not pessimism, that's just honesty. Now, I want to be published, and I've put a lot of work these past few years in feeling up to achieving that goal. I don't think any of my writing and editing over the past few years has been a loss. In fact, it's been a highly valued time of learning the craft of writing and expanding my skills so that when I am ready to query again, I can strike out with confidence in my WIP and pursue publication knowing I have a novel I can be proud of. 

So a part of me looks forward to this weekend, to meeting new local writers, both published and unpublished, seasoned and naive, hopeful and bitter. You see, I do believe that every writer can teach another writer something, and I look forward to learning. 

So I'm going to stuff my insecurities away and feign confidence. In myself, in my writing, in others' advice. After all, what do I have to lose? If I don't find anyone I like, I'll probably never see them again... 


Writing Quote Friday #15

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” 

― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing


Demanding the Muse's Presence

This past weekend I went "camping" with the hubby. I put "camping" in quotes because this was lightweight camping unfamiliar to this Alaskan. This was camping in a campsite with neighbors camping twenty feet away in their RVs and with running water and toilets. This was not real camping.

However, despite this Washington camping experience, I was hoping that it would jumpstart my Muse and reinvigorate my writing. Sadly, I am several days returned from "camping" and have found that not to be the case. So now comes the moment when I must demand my Muse's presence. 

Who was it that said, "I write when I am inspired, and I see to it that I am inspired at nine o'clock every morning?"* That is the point I am at this week. While there are a million things I could be doing and a million others that must be done, I intend to carve out 15-30 minutes for myself today and write. 

I am working on a new WIP, a short story, for a class I am currently taking, and I have a deadline for it. I've got to get about half of it written by that deadline. While this is a short story, I've made it more complex than some of my classmates', and I've got several thousand words to write before I meet that halfway mark. So I'll be powering through that soon, I am sure. I just need the time to sit down and write.

So instead of pretending that I don't have to write, or taking a break while my family is in town, or while we work on some projects around the house, or otherwise making excuses, I intend to demand my Muse's presence by sitting down to write and placing my fingers on the keyboard. 

Time to write.

*footnote: And after a quick Google search, that appears to be Peter De Vries.


Writing Quote Friday #14

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

― Madeleine L'Engle


A problem...

I am in the middle of cleaning out my office. I'm not quite sure if this is a distraction technique from my writing (entirely possible), or something else. It needs to be done, sure, as it's become a dumping ground for things that I don't want to deal with at the moment, receipts, boxes, chairs, blankets, etc. In beginning to clean it out, I've been slowly realizing that I am a book hoarder. My shelves have long since been full, with books stacks sideways upon books and doubled, sometimes tripled up on shelves.

There's just something about me that makes me reluctant to give up a book. I can always find some excuse to keep it. Oh, I loved it? Better not get rid of it; I like to reread favorites. Oh, it was only so-so? Well, its resale value is low, I'd better keep it. Oh, I liked it, a friend gave it to me? Better keep it. 

I have a problem. I'm reluctant to part with a book. Any book. Especially a favorite. I'm one of those who buys multiple copies of a favorite--one reading copy, one copy to keep pristine.

But I'm trying to change. In my office, I ruthlessly went through each shelf and removed books I didn't enjoy the first time around, but had purchased for a book club or other reason, and put them in a box. I filled up two boxes in this way. My plan is to sell them on Amazon or give them away if their resale value isn't worth the headache of selling.

It's a slow process to let go of books, but…it can be done.

(Note: I also hoard ebooks, but I'm denying that as a problem until my iPad fills up…) 


IWSG September--Making Time for Writing

Okay, I'm a few days late on this insecure post. I thought I would have time to write this before Wednesday, then Wednesday came and went, and I fell far behind. Which is kind of my insecurity this month. While I'm feeling more confident about my writing these days, feeling like I've gotten the hang of things a bit, the thing I have been struggling with is making time for my writing.

This is an age-old problem, I know. But it seems the more "adult" I get, the less time I have to do what I want. There are always other things battling for my time: laundry, cooking, cleaning, errands, writing critiques, relationships, sleep, etc. It seems there are a million excuses I could throw out there to not write. My heart wants to, but there have been some days where I have felt so under the weather with headaches or from lack of sleep lately, that although I've had "time" to write, it feels like I don't have the concentration to accomplish anything. 

As a result, I've had a couple of no-writing days, and that's just bad--no matter how you look at it. 

On the plus side, I am in an online class right now which is on developing a short story from start to finish, so it's at least gotten me thinking of writing and planning and plotting. I try to remind myself on these days of no writing to pick up a book and read a lot, for I know there's much to be learned from reading. But on days with a horrible headache/neck-ache (remnants of a car crash years ago), it's hard to even do that.

So this month I am going to focus on getting back on a schedule which carves out specific time for myself. Perhaps I need to revisit making weekly goals for myself and meeting those goals. Since there has been so much more going on lately, I know that I will have to keep my goals simple, but if I have goals, I will be motivated meet them and more motivated to get work done. 

So here's to a productive September!